The ThinkPad X40, an all-time favourite


I got something awesome a decade ago to the day:

After just over a year of searching online, offline and everywhere in between (subspace?) I finally managed to procure myself an IBM ThinkPad X40 and USB powered IBM combo drive in excellent condition for less than AU$300 from an Adelaideian.

Netbooks were the rage at the time; remember when all the pundits said Apple was doomed and stupid for not shipping one? One day these talking heads will make a prediction about Apple and be right, but I don’t think any of us are holding our breath. Anyway I made the comparison at the time that for the same price as a junky netbook, you could have a premium-grade machine. And here it was:

The ThinkPad X40

I’d still say my iBook G3 is my favourite laptop of all time, just because it got me through high school. It was also one of my first forays into BSD, specifically the PowerPC version of NetBSD which just worked. People so often ask why I keep a toe in the NetBSD pool despite having moved most of my stuff to FreeBSD; that’s the reason :).

But that ThinkPad X40 was easily my second favourite laptop. It was second hand, but it was built like a tank, the battery still lasted forever, the keyboard was an absolute pleasure to type on, the trackpoint was still better than any touchpad, and I loved the fact it didn’t have a useless widescreen. It dual-booted FreeBSD and either Debian or Fedora for the entire time I had it.

Alas, many years later it was lost when the battery leaked and corroded all the way through the case and screen. I know now that if I care about maintaining vintage hardware in my small museum, remove the damn batteries.

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Ruben Schade is a technical writer and infrastructure architect in Sydney, Australia who refers to himself in the third person. Hi!

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