Lenovo Thinkpad T540p (Strobopeep)

Strobopeep Front
ArcaOS license type

Overview

The Lenovo Thinkpad T540p is a replacement for a desktop computer. It has a with powerful CPU, graphics and a DVD Writer. The keyboard is large enough to have a numeric keypad. The VGA adapter is suited to an external monitor. The dock provides an easy way to take the computer with you and then later return to your desktop. The built-in screen has a screen resolution of 1920 x 1080, also known as FHD, and The IPS technology provides a display that is bright and clear.

Accessories

These are some useful additions you can buy to customize this computer. If more customizations are needed see the section named Custom orders below.

External WiFi

There is not yet support for the internal WiFi. I use the VIX Mini Travel Router with this laptop to access local WiFi or my phone's hot spot. VIX Mini comes with everything you need to connect to an access point.

VIXMINI Travel Router

VIXMINI Thumbnail

VIXMINI Travel Router: $49.00 USD

In the past, I have also used a TP-Link AC750 Wireless Travel Router, an Asus RP-N12 Wireless N300 Range Extender, and a TP-Link Nano Router. I include a folder of URL links to the admin pages of each of these routers to make it easy to set up the first time.

Instructions and details about external WiFi: Travel Routers

Dock

Strobopeep is compatible with Thinkpad Ultrabase Dock 40A1 and 40A2. ArcaOS cannot dock/undock a running computer. You must shutdown the computer when docking and undocking. The 40A1 dock has 6 USB ports, VGA, DVI, audio and Ethernet.

Lenovo Ultrabase Dock

Strobopeep Dock Thumbnail

Lenovo Ultrabase Dock 40A1: $90.00 USD

If a dock is included, here's how it works: The computer is set to the native screen of 1920 x 1080. If your monitor is the same, then nothing needs to be done docking and undocking. If the computer monitor is different than 1920 x 1080, then the screen resolution can be adjusted to the optimal values. For example, I tested with a computer monitor with a resolution of 1920 x 1200. When I plug into the dock, the computer changes to 1600 x 1200. I enter 1920 x 1200 into the screen applet and reboot for optimum resolution. When I leave the dock, the computer switches back to 1920 x 1080, and no further action is needed.

Hard drive upgrade

The hard drive can be upgraded to a 2 TB drive. Either a hard disk or an SSD is available to upgrade.

Hard drive upgrade

Strobopeep hard drive upgrade
Storage type

USB Floppy Drive

An external USB Floppy drive can be used to read and write 720K and 1.44M 3 1/2 inch floppy disks.

USB Floppy Drive

USB Floppy Drive

USB Floppy Drive: $50.00 USD

Custom Orders

If you want to buy a customized version of this computer, fill out an order form and submit it to Blonde Guy. Blonde Guy will review your order and send you an invoice, payable using PayPal or any major credit card. If you prefer to pay by check, note that in the notes field of the order form, and I will e-mail you an invoice payable by check.

Enter the customizations you want on the computer in the notes portion of the order form.

Specifications

Model: Thinkpad T540p
Model number: 20BE-004ENUS
Year introduced: 2014
CPU: Intel Core i5-4300M (2.60 GHz)
Screen: 15.4 inch Color LCD, 1920 x 1080 pixels
RAM: 8 GB
Hard drive: 500 GB SATA
Optional hard/solid state drive: 2000 GB SATA
Optical drive: DVD-RW
Intel HD Graphics 4600
USB Ports: 3

Physical Dimensions

Height: 1.3 inch
Width: 14.8 inches
Depth: 9.8 inches
Weight: 5.31 lbs

Power Consumption

Power consumption is 16 Watts, measured with the computer booted to the desktop. This computer consumes less than 1 Watt if it's plugged in, but switched off. When charging a depleted battery, it consumes up to 45 Watts.

WebCam

The built-in webcam can be used with WebSee software. WebSee requires iso-synchronous transfers over USB, so Arca Noae USB 11.17 is needed, rather than the newer USB 12.x because iso-synchronous transfers are not yet available in USB 12.x.

RAM drive

The laptop can use any memory left over from 32-bit usage as a RAM drive. For 8 GB RAM models, this RAM drive has 4.7 GB, and is formatted HPFS. For 4 GB models, the RAM drive is not configured. If activated, the RAM drive would have 700 MB.

Defects

This laptop boots to the desktop in under 60 seconds. That's important, because suspend/resume does not work. To make up for that, the laptop can do a clean power down when the lid is closed.

The USB 3.0 support support for Mass Storage is not curently working. With the USB 3.0 Enabled setting in BIOS enabled, mouse and keyboard is not reliable while docked and not at all without the dock.

USB driver version 11.17 works well, including mass storage, mouse, keyboard. USB 2.0 support is unreliable while docked.

There is no ArcaOS support for the bluetooth or fingerprint reader. Support for the internal WiFi is under development at Arca Noae.

Disk Layout

The disk is partitioned to provide a bootable operating system volume and a bootable installer. Space is left for addtional bootable volumes. User data is stored on a separate volume.

This is the layout for the 500 GB HD. The Air-Boot boot manager is installed to select the volume to be started.

Volume NameDisk FormatDrive LetterVolume SizeDisk Name
RecoveryFAT16 X:2,000 MBInternal
ArcaOS-QJFS Q:10,001 MBInternal
Data-D JFS D:100,000 MBInternal

This is the layout for a Seagate Hybrid 2 GB hard drive.

Volume NameDisk FormatDrive LetterVolume SizeDisk Name
ArcaOS installationFAT16 X:2,000 MB2 TB SSHD
ArcaOS-Q JFS Q:10,001 MB2 TB SSHD
Data JFS D:1,847,749 MB2 TB SSHD

ArcaOS version

ArcaOS 5.0.5 (Jun 6, 2020) is the version used for this installation.

Performance Benchmarks

This table reports the SysBench 0.9.5 benchmarks for this computer. You can download SysBench 0.9.5 here: http://hobbes.nmsu.edu/

CategoryMeasurement
PM-Graphics-marks 282
CPU integer-marks 10264
CPU floating point-marks 434
DIVE-marks 11243
File I/O-marks 50431
Memory-marks 14103
Simultaneous I/O-marks 47
Disk I/O-marks 597
CD I/O-marks 260

Software

Suntan Special

I use Suntan Special to install the software on all Blonde Guy computers. Suntan Special software can be used to install all updates to the system and its applications and to install additional applications. When newer versions of software are released, Suntan Special can keep your Blonde Guy computer up to date.

Recovery DVD

The recovery DVD supplied is a bootable ArcaOS DVD with a backup of the hard drive as delivered. You can boot the machine from DVD, and perform maintenance functions. The maintenance folder is available on the recovery DVD. The factory backup is stored in the \Factory directory. The backups are simple zip files. You can use 7z or unzip to extract some or all of the files in a backup.

DFSee

DFSee is a generic disk, partition and filesystem utility for maintenance and data-recovery. It supports partition tables (FDISK, LVM), FAT, FAT32, HPFS, NTFS, and partly JFS, EXT2/3 or REISER filesystems. DFSee is commercial software which requires a license key for continued use.

Build Notes

This laptop computer is configured to boot ArcaOS. ArcaOS 5.0 has modifications specifically to support this computer. Nevertheless, Wifi is not yet supported. I have not been successful in getting any version of eComStation to run on this computer.

I have tested several T540p configurations. My ArcaOS installation DVD would not boot on a T540p that has the NVidia graphics. This Thinkpad, with Intel graphics boots the ArcaOS installation DVD with no problems. Thus, model number 20BE-004ENUS is suitable, and model number 20BE-003ENUS is not suitable. The two models are identical except for the graphics chip.

This section documents what I did to get this computer to work under ArcaOS. It is intended to show what goes into this computer, and also as a guide to the user who wants to build it himself.

BIOS changes

BIOS update

I made sure the BIOS was updated to the latest version. This may not be necessary, but I did it anyway. The installed BIOS was 2.23 and the EC is 1.14. The current BIOS is 2.37 and EC is 1.15 released on 2019/09/17. I updated the BIOS to the current level with the BIOS update CD downloaded from the Lenovo support website.

BIOS settings

I made the following changes to the default BIOS settings. Then I powered the Thinkpad down and up.

Hard drive preparation

I bought a 2 TB hard drive for Strobopeep, and installed it according to instructions in the Lenovo Hardware Maintenance Manual. The drive can be prepared using the ArcaOS installer or with DFSee. This is how I prepared the drive with DFSee.

  1. install new SSHD to Strobopeep
  2. Using DFSee, change geometry to 127-255
  3. Wipe the hard drive (first 0.5 percent is sufficient)
  4. boot ArcaOS 5.0 CD and use diskutil to make new MBR
  5. boot ArcaOS 5.0 CD and install ArcaOS from response file
  6. configure Samba client to autoconnect to the Blonde Guy server
  7. install Suntan Special and run strobopeep.seq
  8. backup
  9. create recovery DVD

ArcaOS Installation

I installed one bootable volume, Q:. The Q: drive has a Custom installation that includes some developer tools. I made a recovery partition on volume X:. A System Dump partition is now included.

Audio

As of ArcaOS 5.0.5, sound is working normally on the laptop. Both UniAud and USB audio are installed and working. ArcaOS now switches between UniAud and USB audio automatically when a USB audio device is attached. The UniAud driver should be configured as follows to make sound.

Driver=F:\MMOS2\UNIAUD32.SYS /A:1

A fix included in ArcaOS 5.0.1 does allow DOS Full-Screen to work. Alt-Home from a DOS Full-Screen then allows a DOS Window to work.

Using Suntan Special I run sequences ArcaOS50, apps, games and cleanup. This is saved as the Factory image. This is normally what would be supplied on the computer.

The disk driver, OS2AHCI.ADD, needs to have the following parameters or else boot will sometimes fail.

BASEDEV=OS2AHCI.ADD /N /F /V:2

Photos

Front and Right

Strobopeep Front and Left

Right

Strobopeep Right

Left

Strobopeep Left

Back

Strobopeep Rear

Keyboard

Strobopeep Keyboard
Last Modified: 5 Jul 2020
Graphics by Colorful Language
Copyright 2020 by Blonde Guy