Lenovo X1 Carbon Touch :: Opening, Setup and Failure

X1 Carbon with all the standard parts that come in box. (Click for full size image)
X1 Carbon with all the standard parts that come in box. (Click for full size image)

Yesterday I received my X1 Carbon Touch from Amazon. First part of this whole adventure is that I sent it to my old address in one part of town so that led to a little sleuth action to track it down. After a short bike ride up the street I arrived and the office staff had my X1 Carbon. Whew, disaster averted.

I went down to Ace Hotel were one of the local Stumptown locations is to open it up and see what I was in store for. Nothing like a good macchiato while I unpackaged the new machine. When I arrived I ran into Nathan Aschbacher and Eric Redmond. Two of my fellow Basho comrades. We all grabbed coffee and headed up to the roost for some hacking and conversation.


In the package, laptop sitting on the table at Ace Hotel's Stumptown Coffee.
In the package, laptop sitting on the table at Ace Hotel’s Stumptown Coffee. (Click for large image)

Unpacking the Lenovo X1 Carbon is a straight forward process. A simple box, no elegance, just a box with some labels and logos on it. Pulling the laptop out of the box, still just the bare minimum. No bells, no whistles, even the documentation is a 2-3 page pamphlet. Personally, I’m totally cool with this approach. I find Apple’s packaging to be an experience of sorts, however extensively wasteful.

One of the applications I found not available for Windows 8 was a native HipChat client. This actually makes sense, since most of their customers are likely using Linux or OS-X. It really shows how Windows has seriously lost the edge with developers.

Nathan and Eric both give a feel to see how light and strong the laptop is. Nobody actually threw the laptop, but we all wanted to, just to see how it would hold up. Maybe with somebody else’s hard earned Lenovo purchase. 😉

Nathan gives it a look.  (Click for full size image)
Nathan gives it a look. (Click for full size image)
Gleefully smiling at the laptop, Eric proposes we throw it over the guardrail to the first floor below. (Click for full size image)
Gleefully smiling at the laptop, Eric proposes we throw it over the guardrail to the first floor below. (Click for full size image)
No start? (Click for full size image)
No start? (Click for full image)

After Nathan and Eric threaten the poor laptop, I set her down and try and get her booted up. First thing I notice, it doesn’t start. I’m puzzled? Why doesn’t it start? I pick at my PC Tech experience and think, “oh yeah, probably gotta do something stupid an unintuitive like plug it in for some magically arbitrary amount of time first”.

Lenovo lives! (Click for full size)
Lenovo lives! (Click for full size)

So I plug it in and try again. A small light around the power button, kind of a halo, lights up and immediately I get the happiness. The machine is coming to life. A bright Lenovo logo pops on the screen with the notorious Windows 8 swirly working image below.

Move ya mouse! (click for full size image)
Move ya mouse! (click for full size image)

Windows 8 then shifts into a preparing windows workflow which basically means you fill out a few things and it does something to the OS to make it ready to run. I sit through a solid 7-10 minutes of these screens, these fluctuating colors. It’s rad, in a psychedelic waste of time kind of way. However, I’ll admit, my Mac Book Air is sitting beside me running just fine that I’m using to do work while I wait for all this process to finish. I’m no amateur at loading operating systems, I come prepared. 😉

A Problem Arises

I relocate to Bailey’s Taproom after setting up some basic things and installing Visual Studio 2012 on the machine. While working through updates and installing patches my track pointer (the little red button thingy in the middle of the keyboard, that Lenovo is famous for) stops working.

I toy around with the settings and see why the track pointer is shadowed out in the settings. I battle with Windows 8 trying to find the easiest way into the settings and out of the settings and to the desktop and to the start screen and back and forth. It’s somewhat tumultuous but in the end it’s helping me get used to the new system and where everything is. But still, I’ve no idea why the track pointer thingy doesn’t work. I consult the great Google.

Apparently the drivers that it ships with are the suck. I get pointed to this video by Jesse Anderson.

After I get the drivers installed, everything is working flawlessly again. Onward!

Flakiness o’ Windows 8

As I’m working on Windows 8 setting up some of the cool applications for the start menu (or whatever the metro dealio is called now) I get a really flaky behavior. This is the kind of behavior that screams “we don’t really pay attention to usability” or maybe it screams “we’ve no idea what we shipped” or maybe it’s just a simple example of “oh shit we shipped that stupid user experience“. Whatever the case is, this is it…

Notice something redundant here?
Notice something redundant here?

Yup, on a laptop with a HARDWARE LAPTOP ATTACHED Windows 8 is showing me the keyboard. WTF kind of pure idiocy of a UX is this? My mind is blown. After years of the iPad having this problem figured out (and Apple doesn’t even sell keyboards themselves). When you have a HARDWARE keyboard NEVER show anybody the stupid SOFTWARE keyboard EVER. Seriously, this has to be one of the dumbest UX situations that I’ve seen in ages. This is a total failure of logical flow. Note also, this screen doesn’t fold all the way around, this is a laptop pure and simple, not in any way a tablet. But there’s the SOFTWARE keyboard that one should only see on a tablet! Oh well, it aint the end of the world, it’s just DUMB.

I get everything else setup, zonk for the night after working through all the software installations and patches. All is right. All is cool.

Loading Ubuntu Linux

Loading Ubuntu (Click for full size)
Loading Ubuntu (Click for full size)
Ubuntu (Click for full size)
Ubuntu (Click for full size)

The next morning I rise early and get to working on the next phase of my installation. I don’t, by any means, intend to use Windows 8 all the time on this machine. I want to have a dual boot of Ubuntu and Windows 8 on this laptop so that I can have every OS (OS-X, Windows 8 and Ubuntu) running natively on at least one machine that I have.

I do a little research and find this information about making a bootable USB Stick for Ubuntu from Windows. That information points me to this application that makes it a no brainer to get a bootable USB stick ready for use via Linux Live USB.

Just As I Got Ubuntu Installed…

I shut down the computer after getting all of these things installed. Windows 8 was finally fully patched, Ubuntu was installed and running with all patches too. The X1 seemed to hang on the shutdown. So I held down the power button for about 8 seconds to hard reboot the machine. Thinking that it would startup no problem at a later time I packed it in my messenger bag and headed off to a meeting I had scheduled. I arrived at the meeting and went to start the laptop again.


So I tried to hold the button down for 7 seconds to start it back up.


I packed it back up and returned to a place I could plug it in and try to start it. I swung into Backspace and found an electrical jack. Plugged in, counted a few seconds just for good luck. I then held down the power button for 8 seconds to see if it would start plugged in.



(Click for large image)

I then sporadically pressed the button. I then used morse code to spell S.O.S. on the power button.


I resigned myself to now owning a large paper weight. Albeit a much lighter paper weight than what laptops traditionally weighed. My X1 Carbon Touch was dead. I called tech support.

Impressive Support

First thing that happens, I navigate through support quickly. The automated voice tells me I am now being connected to Lenovo Support in Atlanta, Georgia. At this point I was impressed. I’m getting to speak to someone in the country where I’ve bought the machine. That is cool.

I get connected to Tom in support. I fill him in on my sitrep. We walk through some basic troubleshooting. Such as the “pin in the battery reset hole” trick“.


Tom wastes no time as I’ve already laid out everything I have in this blog entry. He declares it dead and gets a box on its way to me for returning it to Lenovo. With a promised 7 day return after I ship it to them. Well hot damn, my laptop is dead by I’m stoked to have support like this. I don’t recall support this good since the late 90s!!

As I tweeted about this I got a lot of responses like this. I concur and I already have a mac, this is an machine specifically NOT for using the mac.  😛

So in the meantime, it’s back to Windows 8 via VMware Fusion on a good ole’ mac!

Windows 8 via VMware Fusion on OS-X. (Click for full size)
Windows 8 via VMware Fusion on OS-X. (Click for full size)

…so stay tuned, for the ongoing saga of Windows 8 & Ubuntu Linux Development on a Lenovo!

14 thoughts on “Lenovo X1 Carbon Touch :: Opening, Setup and Failure

  1. Sorry to hear this. I was shopping for a Lenovo a couple months ago – I really wanted to see an X1 Carbon in person but couldnt find anyone with one. I ended up getting an Ideapad Yoga 13 from OfficeMax. I really miss the eraser-mouse – touchpads are horrible. Other than that, the yoga has a beautiful form factor and the most surprising thing is the touchscreen is amazing to have on a laptop! im convinced all laptops will be touchscreen soon. I blasted win8 off the laptop right away and Im using Ubuntu 13.04 (with a couple quirks.)

    1. I almost got one of those too, but the Yoga just made me uber paranoid about the folding parts – however they are SUPER cool. The Carbon is really nice, albeit the fact that mine bricked. I’ll have a lot more about it when the new one comes in.

  2. So why do you need to run Windows and Linux natively? I’m not a Mac person, but if I were I’d get a MacBook Pro with 16GB. Should have no trouble running a VM or two without thrashing.

    1. Couple of reasons. It still isn’t “as fast” as running it natively but honestly, that isn’t why I’m heading away from VMs. The main reasons is because of the actual touch interactions. I want to make sure the applications that I build interact appropriately with the interface. There is no substitution when building for touch responses than having actual touch devices. Overall, I’d also add that the best devices so far for running Windows 8, if one isn’t looking for pure touch interactions, are actually as VMs on an actual OS-X Mac. The key reason is the touchpad and other interfaces are far more solid and responsive in feel than anything that seems to be out there and available from existing manufacturers. Including the Lenovo or other devices that I’ve bought – but alas, the Mac doesn’t have touch. So that’s a non-starter for me trying to build applications that will actually have touch interactions.

  3. I have an X1 Carbon (w/o touch) and run Ubuntu natively without issue. However, I also completely removed the Windows partition during install. Admitedly, I’m a ThinkPad fan, and I’ve owned countless ones since 2001, but I can say with 100% belief, it’s been the best laptop I’ve ever had.

    1. I’ve used other Lenovo laptops in the past and they’ve been absolutely great. It’s really crazy that I ended up with one that bricked. I’m sure the next one will be ok and I’ll get years of good use out of it. At least, that’s the plan. 😉

      When I get the new one, I’ll definitely be running Ubuntu on it, however will be dual booting. I need a Windows 8 partition to do some Win8 Dev w/ Visual Studio 2012/2013. I figured what better Windows 8 machine to get then one that I barely have to spend anytime using windows 8 on. 😉 The Lenovo seemed like a prime choice!

  4. Same thing just happened to my X1 Carbon. Just finished loading everything, sent one email and it shut down.
    I agree, tech support was great, but I think Lenovo has a problem with this one.
    Complete system failure a few hours out of the box?

    1. I’ve actually heard this happening on a frequent basis with new laptops. However, this isn’t something that’s entirely uncommon with laptops anyway. Usually a 5-10% failure rate occurs anyway. It used to be about 15% back in the 90s. But yeah, overall a total bummer with the X1s. 🙁

  5. I have had a very similar experience. My CX1 bricked. This was after setting up dual boot for Kubuntu 14.04 and Windows 8.1 (that came with the machine). I was actually setting up the VPN on Kubuntu, and the screen just became scrambled, like noise on an old TV. I finally got the machine to turn off, and it never came back. Well, it came back a little a few times. It has been at Lenovo in Atlanta for about two weeks. I’m still waiting.

    I am also a Lenovo fan. I have a W540 with a 1 TB SSD running Kubuntu 14.04, and I use the VBox for the VM manager. It has 32 gig of memory. A great lap top.

    I wanted to try one more time to use Win 8.1. So far I just hate it. Every time I touch Win 8.x I just want to throw the machine over the balcony. The CX1 is my attempt to give Windows a chance. So far, everything is as expected. The metro/modern/(whatever interface) is brain dead. Maybe OK for a tablet, worthless on a Desktop, and just garbage on a laptop. Why, in Gods name, would I want to throw away all the context I need on my desk to a single app.

    I use VMs a lot. They are a lot slower than native. They should not be, but they are. My networks run at about 50%. The performance numbers that Windows gives in the VM look great, but my builds take 10X longer, and my large DBMS activities take 10 to 30 X longer than on native hardware. Also, Windows in a VM is a lot slower than Kubuntu, or Ubuntu server in a VM. The Linux KVM has worse performance than VBox, and VMware on Linux was unusable and when it did work it was very, very slow. I guess, these are all driver issues,

  6. my Lenovo x1 carbon powers up. the Lenovo logo comes up and says to interrupt normal startup, press enter … if u don’t it goes to Boot Menu / App Menu and can only use the arrow to move to one or thee other or tab…… if u push enter it goes to startup interrupt menu then takes u straight to the Boot Menu / App Menu… I have tried everything , so is it not fixable or what I need help

    1. You probably want to ping somebody at Lenovo or even post a comment on their support boards. It sounds like your main drive either isn’t setup as the bootable partition or the main drive is unreadable/dead or something of that sort.

Comments are closed.