Custom BIOS

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Revision as of 06:35, 16 August 2015 by Antonizoon (Talk | contribs) (Whitelist Removed BIOSes)

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Some ThinkPad fans have created Custom BIOSes to remove whitelists, disable annoying errors, do Fn-Ctrl keyswaps, and add more functionality.

  • X200, X60, T60, Macbook 2,1 - Libreboot - Based on Coreboot, this BIOS (approved by the FSF) removes all proprietary blobs to create Free Libre Open Source Laptops, where everything from the motherboard to the computer can use Open Source Software. Richard Stallman famously uses a Libreboot X60.
  • T61, R61, X61/X61s/X61T, X300 - Middleton's BIOS - Enables SATAII, removes whitelist, thermal fixes, Fn-Ctrl swap.
  • T43/T43p, R52, X41/X41T - TTav134's BIOS - Removes Error 2010 for aftermarket hard drives, and the BIOS whitelist.

Middleton's BIOS

A user on NotebookReview named 'Middleton' made these alternative BIOSes to enable SATA2 on certain Thinkpad models (X61/T61/R61/X300). These ThinkPads are limited to SATA1 in their BIOS even though the hardware is SATA2. This is a huge drawback for anyone wanting to use SSDs, because it is so much slower.

Also, it is not possible to install some wireless cards, because only certain models are whitelisted by IBM/Lenovo. Middleton's BIOS removes this limitation as well.

See the wikipage Middleton's BIOS for installation instructions, downloads, and more description.

Note: If your BIOS-Update tool says that no update is needed, then simply downgrade the Bios first: On Lenovo's drivers download page, the old Bios files are listed at the very bottom of the page.

Hardware Flashing

The xx30 Series of ThinkPads (X230/T430/W530) and up introduced new Intel security features that make it impossible to flash the BIOS using software. You must use hardware flashing methods to modify these laptop BIOSes.

Model Author Date of Creation Version Download Notes
X230 Tablet BIOS-Mods: kemod, sovem 2014-03-12 (2.57) N/A Although the author desolders the chip to flash from an external programmer, you can actually just use a solderless Pomona 5250 Clip with a Bus Pirate. More info about that later.

Possible Mods

  • Install Classic Keyboard on xx30 Series ThinkPads - You can actually insert the 7-row keyboard into a T430, and it will work: except for the 7th row. However, given that the T430 Japanese Keyboard has 4 extra keys vs the US English 6-row, and it gets auto-detected perfectly, so there must be a way to add the 7-row keyboard as a new layout.
    • A great feasibility study for this mod is to do the mod in reverse: modify the T420 BIOS to allow a T430's 6-row keyboard to work. That way, we can learn to add a new keyboard layout without hardware flashing (or at least sacrifice the Japanese layout).
  • Fix 16GB Memory instability in the X230 - The X230/X230T has a strange bug that

Oleh's X220 eGPU + 16GB Instability Fix

The [[Category:X220|ThinkPad X220 has long suffered from a crippling bug that causes 100% CPU usage when an eGPU and 16GB of RAM are installed simultaneously.

Lenovo has never bothered to release a patch, but recently in August 2015, a BIOS-Mods user named Oleh has fixed the issue. Note that, due to the amount of work needed for these nifty bonus features, Oleh's mods cost a premium of 1500 Rubles (~USD 25).

Model Author Date of Creation Version Download Notes
X220 BIOS-Mods: Oleh 2015-08-06 8DUJ26US (1.40) Oleh Adds Advanced Menu. Oleh's mod also unlocks higher memory speeds, AES, and Intel vbios.

Whitelist Removed BIOSes

All known ThinkPads implement a BIOS mPCI Whitelist, which only allow certain Lenovo-approved mPCI Wifi cards to work. This makes it difficult to upgrade the wireless card to newer standards such as Wireless-N (Although it apparently allows all mSATA drives)

At bios-mods.com, there are a few skilled users who are able to remove mPCI whitelists upon request, such as Sovem. If you like their work, please donate a few dollars to help them continue their efforts.

Here is a list of mods, with installation files archived at the Internet Archive:


| T420 | BIOS-Mods: Sovem | 2013-09-24 | 83ET76WW (1.46) | EXE | Also works on T420i (i3 edition) |- | T420s | BIOS-Mods: Sovem | 2015-08-06 | 8CET59WW (1.39) | EXE | Adds "Advanced Menu". |- | X220 | BIOS-Mods: Various | 2015-08-06 | 8DUJ26US (1.40) | EXE: Sovem - Oleh | Adds Advanced Menu. Oleh's mod also unlocks higher memory speeds, AES, and Intel vbios. |- | X301 | BIOS-Mods: Sovem | 2013-09-25 | 6EET56WW (3.16) | EXE | |- | X300 | Middleton | 2015 - 2010 | (1.10) | EXE | Includes SATA II Mod and other goodies. |}

DIY Whitelist Removal

The wikipage Problem with unauthorized MiniPCI network card gives deeper technical details about how the whitelist works and how to remove it. There is a section on that page that also provides information about successful/unsuccessful attempts.

These methods may be necessary for older and more obscure ThinkPads. They do not work on modern ThinkPads, over T43. Maybe a table of compatible ones should be made here?