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.
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.
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. Note that Oleh's mods have nifty bonus features, that cost a premium of 1500 Rubles.
Here is a list of mods, with installation files archived at the Internet Archive:
|Model||Author||Date of Creation||Version||Download||Notes|
|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?