Installing Fedora 15 on a ThinkPad W520
You should set the graphics mode as in the Video section below. The graphical Fedora 15 install works perfectly.
The first decision is whether you want to use the NVidia discrete graphics (faster) or the Intel HD integrated graphics (more power-efficient). Both are more than fast enough for office graphics, the only noticeable speed difference is in 3D. I don't see any speed difference in the gnome shell (which uses 3D acceleration to draw 2D windows). You must set the graphics mode in the BIOS accordingly to discrete or integrated only. Do not leave it at the default "Optimus" as it is undocumented and unsupported.
I set it to "integrated only".
If you install the binary nvidia driver, 3D performance is awesome, but screen brightness stopped adjusting for me, and would sometimes dim with no way to un-dim. Similar bug in ubuntu here: Ubuntu bug #72669.
To solve it add
Option "RegistryDwords" "EnableBrightnessControl=1"
to your /etc/X11/xorg.conf file in the "Device" section. Dim buttons then work after restarting X.
Works out of the box.
Finger print reader
Works out of the box.
Works great out of the box. Two devices show up, the intel one plays through the laptop speakers, and i presume the nvidia drives the HDMI port (but I have not tested it).
Like most thinkpads, the speakers are too quiet, and often frustrating when trying to watch movies in a noisy environment. In gnome's volume control applet now you can set the volume past 100%, but in KDE or with the keyboard buttons, it is not supported. If you are daring you can install a pulseaudio sound "sink" with an amp plugin:
yum install ladspa-swh-plugins pavucontrol
Next edit /etc/pulse/default.pa, add the following two lines to the bottom:
load-module module-ladspa-sink sink_name=amp master=1 plugin=amp_1181 label=amp control=10 set-default-sink amp
This creates a new device in pulse called "amp" which sends through the amp ladspa plugin (here we ask for +10db) and then sends the sound on to device 1 which is the intel device (see pacmd's list-sinks command if yours is different)
I also suggest installing pavucontrol which provides a nice gui to show the various pulse sources and sinks and lets you switch apps between sound sinks.