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Introduction and Disclaimer
Somehow, I need to shake this ThinkPad addiction. Maybe buying this T400 that I didn't need and the ensuing pain will help with that.
This writeup (like the T61 notes) is so late it probably won't do the computing world much good. Maybe there's something here useful to someone...
The T61 wasn't even a year old when I spotted the new T machines on the Lenovo website. The immediate appeal was the available Vista with XP Pro downgrade, LED backlight, switchable graphics, and a 9-cell battery. The T61 was a nice machine except for its poor battery life (around 2.5 hours with the 7-cell battery). With the aboveT400 hardware options battery life can be 8 hours. That's the good news. The bad news follows.
Like the T61, this machine ended up being single-boot Vista Business 64 with VmWare Player supporting a flock of Solaris, Linux, and Windows virtual machines. Multi-boot just isn't very useful or necessary any more. I can do *nix driver and application development (but not testing) in a VM, and don't have to risk damaging the fancy (and fragile) Lenovo MBR and track 0 boot code that supports the "Thinkvantage" button and the Rescue and Recovery service partition. I did experiment with *nix Live CDs and found that to have its dangers too.
The T400 came with Vista Ultimate 32 bit, 3G of RAM, switchable graphics (both integrated graphics for battery life and discrete graphics for performance), an Intel 5300 wifi card, and 160G 7200RPM hard drive. The idea was to experiment with Vista but downgrade to XP in the long run. Bzzzt! There is no switchable graphics support available for XP, and no hint that there ever will be. Eventually the configuration morphed into Vista Business 64 bit (so most of RAM could be used), 4G of RAM (to support the virtual machines), an Intel 5100 wifi card (to make wifi usable!), and a 320G 7200RPM drive just because.
READ THIS: like all my previous ThinkPads, the T400 has a built-in capability to restore itself to factory configuration and to make factory recovery media and ongoing backup media. Like later ThinkPads, it does not come with factory recovery media. You MUST make your own, and should do this immediately. The factory recovery image takes (in my case with Vista Ultimate, anyway) one CD and two single-layer DVDs. Start with the CD. That will hold the recovery utilities. The DVDs will hold the actual image.
Start->ThinkVantage->Create Product Recovery Media (Recovery Disks)
You only get to do this once. Some kind of silly MS licensing thing. Not to say you can't copy the resulting media - and you should. You will get to do it again if you upgrade the rescue and recovery software at some point.
You can also make the factory recovery media via Windows explorer or Disk Management. The Lenovo Vista install on this T400 consists of 3 partitions. C: is the Vista working partition, S: contains the bootable rescue and recovery utility, and Q: is the actual factory image. If you access Q: (right click?) you are given the option to delete the partition and strongly advised to make recovery media first. You can elect to create media from there. Once done your are given the option to delete Q: and add the freed space to C:. That removes the option to restore the machine to factory configuration via the on-disk recovery image (that you just deleted). Use the just-burned recovery media to restore to factory configuration.
Do not take any of this as guaranteed fact. I hope the little bit of information I provide here will prove helpful, but I take absolutely no responsibility for any misfortune which may befall you or your laptop. Please do your own homework before making any irreversible modifications to your computer.
I welcome comments, additions, and corrections (please!). You can reach me at williamDOTwaddingtonATbeezmoDOTcom
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