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RE: [External] Re: ThinkPad laptops preinstalled Linux


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Thomas Goirand <zigo@debian.org>
> Sent: Wednesday, June 3, 2020 8:10 AM
> On 6/3/20 4:30 AM, Hideki Yamane wrote:
> > Hi,
> >
> >  I've found an article about Lenovo ships Fedora pre-installed machine.
> >  https://news.lenovo.com/smarter-technology-for-all-extends-to-the-linux-
> community-this-summer/
> >
> >  At past DebConfs, I saw a lot of ThinkPad devices so many contributors
> >  love it, and they're even Platinum sponsor for this year.
> >  Can we talk to them to happen the same thing for Debian? :)
> I guess it should be possible, but the biggest challenge is probably to
> get the right contact to talk with. Do we have such a contact ?
I started replying to this thread late last night and after a few iterations I gave up and went to bed 😊 Here goes attempt 5....

Short answer - you have the right contact.  I'm the linux technical lead at Lenovo for the PC team and I'd *love* to improve the Debian experience on Lenovo platforms. It's something I have actively been trying to work on for the last 9 months (with limited success). I'm really happy to see this question and the responses - I would really like to have this conversation with the wider community as to what Lenovo and Debian can do to work better together. Debian is an important distro with a lot of users and an amazing community. I was hoping to be at Debconf 2020 and use that as an opportunity to actually get to meet Debian devs as frankly email has been working poorly and maintainers are just very busy people. Sadly I think Covid has likely stomped on that plan.

So and let me start the ball rolling by highlighting some good and bad:

The good - Lenovo are expanding what they offer on Linux (we had another big announcement yesterday about doing full config on our workstations with Ubuntu and RHEL). We're asking HW vendors to have Linux support upstream including firmware on LVFS which I think is important. It's not perfect yet but it's getting better and better. We're starting to contribute to open source projects.
I'm an open source user and a lot of what I see from Lenovo internally is positive and makes me very happy to advocate for what they are doing. Sometimes our process is a bit slow but there is a commitment to doing Linux and doing it right which I'm personally excited by. The Fedora collaboration has worked really well - I think for both sides (obviously talk to your Fedora colleagues for their perspective). They have been a really positive community to work with and it's been productive showing that Lenovo can collaborate with an OS community in the right way.
Internally at Lenovo there is still a lot of learning about Linux and how it works - and that is happening. Linux is catching on - I have more customer engagements and our Linux sales have been increasing and we haven't turned our websales on yet (coming soon 😉)

The bad - I love Debian but I don't think as a distro you are ready or capable for being pre-loaded on our platforms. I can explain why and I'm very happy to be corrected but more importantly if it can be solved then we can for sure explore the next steps - that would make me really happy! 
Debian moves somewhat slowly. The general approach seems to me to be to wait for updates to trickle down from the upstream community and I completely understand that approach - I'm sure it is important to maintaining stability *but* it means that Debian is usually broken on our platforms for the first year they are available because that whole process takes a long time. By the time Debian works it's too late for a pre-loaded offering.  As an aside RHEL has the same problem but they put a lot of effort into backporting fixes so that their customers get the fixes - and that infrastructure doesn't seem available on Debian to my limited knowledge.

As an important example - the X1 Carbon 7 (which is a popular machine) still doesn't work well with any version of Debian (including experimental or testing) as the audio is broken. Debian users have to jump through a few hoops to get it to work. I've let the maintainer know a number of times what is involved to fix that but it's obviously not a priority (as a heads up - Debian on most Lenovo 2020 platforms is going to suck because of this too). I'm not meaning to point fingers - but just explain why it feels as if Debian and the latest hardware is an awkward fit.

From my point of view what I've been trying to do is to get more involved so I can contribute/backport fixes directly. I get good insight into what issues impact our platforms and when fixes land upstream. It seems the best way to make contribute and make a difference. Unfortunately I've still got a *lot* of learning to do and it's a really slow process because the loop between offering a fix, getting it reviewed to find out what you did wrong and contributing the update is crazy slow (for example I have kernel MR 240 open for four weeks for an OLED brightness issue that a lot of users think is important).  My expectation is that as I make fewer mistakes and earn some trust that will help - but until that point (which I'm guessing will take years 😊) I have limited handles that I can pull on to make things happen. 
My *impression* is there is limited desire to accelerate fixes for Lenovo platforms - I suspect mostly because people are just plenty busy with the things they care about instead and I understand that.

A shout out for Hector Martinez who has been helping me a whole bunch. Without his help I likely would have given up and wouldn't even be reading the threads on this forum. If there are more people like Hector (particularly in kernel, audio and graphics) let me know! 

This email took me a long time to write - I'm *very* aware that I'm new to this and don't want to cause offence. Please take all of the above with the recognition that my viewpoint into Debian is still limited and if I've said anything dumb/wrong/offensive let me know so I can learn what I'm missing.


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