Lenovo notebook updates

It has now been close to half a decade since acquisition of my Lenovo Y720-15IBK, so I thought about writing an update this machine, given it is still my main personal machine, seeing almost daily usage for general browsing and a bit of programming. I also game on it semi-regularly, having played a good deal of Forza Horizon 4 (Ultra @ 1080p) and ETS2 over this holidays season.

Hardware

Upgrading to a Kingston A2000 was the only hardware change I had done in this machine, mostly because I needed 1TB of storage. I haven’t seen the need for an upgrade to a better machine, as I can still run the games I like to play (disclaimer: I only have 60Hz displays and I don’t care much about graphics quality anyway) and all my programming happens on Linux (no VMs), so the i7-7700HQ should be plenty for a little while.

Unfortunately, opening the back aluminium case to replace the M.2 disk seems to have affected the touchpad negatively. It was never an outstanding touchpad, I often had to click more than once to produce a click with it, but I feel it became a little worse and the percentage of misclicks went up a bit. The keyboard also had its quirks since purchase (I missed the return window and was lazy to send it to Lenovo to investigate), but given I use it mostly attached to a external screen/keyboard/mouse, it’s not a big deal.

The battery always felt it wasn’t enough given the machine has a NVIDIA GTX 1060, but it didn’t degrade much so far. I can still squeeze a good couple of hours out of it when running Linux, which I consider a huge feat for the size of the machine.

Fedora

I haven’t switched away from Fedora since my attempt back in 2018. I’m now on Fedora 34 and most of the quirks from my Fedora blogpost are long gone. Eventually the NVIDIA drivers from RPM Fusion became a “it just works” approach, and given I have no need for a dual-GPU setup, I’ve been using them ever since. Secure Boot was neglected though, since the new M.2 disk I’ve just ignored it completely, as the reinstall was done in a rush before travels.

Keyboard backlight

For years I accepted that the keyboard backlight wouldn’t work with Linux. Last year I’ve found Izurii/Lenovo-Y720-KB-Led-Controller, which is an Electron-based app to emulate what the Lenovo Nerve Sense for Windows did for the keyboard backlight. And it works, but given Electron is such a resource hog compared to a single CLI tool, it didn’t made sense to keep it.

I had a day off work this week and decided to play around a bit. I reviewed what the Electron app did and it’s core was just a bunch of ioctl system calls with the right payload. I eventually made it work with static colors and decided that was enough, only to realize that someone already rewrote the app in a more old-school Linux friendly way. Alas, at least I dusted off my C skills and still got a tool with all the configs!

In general, I’m still happy with the machine, I feel like I got out of it what I paid for and thankfully it is still a decent machine that will see several more years of service.