Friday, 4 May 2012

ThinkPad X121e: running 64-bit guest operating systems

Like many programmers, I like to run virtual machines to isolate development and test environments from everything else I do on my laptop. My Lenovo ThinkPad didn't support all the virtualization features I wanted out of the box, but it was relatively trivial to enable them.

Errors from virtualization software manifest as complaints about missing VT-x support or a failure enabling long mode. Virtualization support needs to be enabled in the BIOS. Instructions are provided in the user guide.

  1. To enter the BIOS: "Turn on the computer. When the logo screen is displayed, press the F1 key. The ThinkPad Setup opens."
  2. Navigate to the Security menu.
  3. Select the Virtualization menu.
  4. Set the Intel Virtualization Technology and Intel VT-d Feature to enabled.
  5. Save and exit.

After enabling this feature, my X121e started trying to boot off the network. I fixed this by going back into the BIOS and disabling this option.

The manual contains these notes on the options:

VirtualizationIntel Virtualization Technology
  • Disabled
  • Enabled
If you select "Enabled," a VMM (Virtual Machine Monitor) can utilize the additional hardware capabilities provided by Virtualization Technology.
AMD-V Technology
Intel VT-d Feature
  • Disabled
  • Enabled
Intel VT-d is Intel Virtualization Technology for Directed I/O. When enabled, a VMM can utilize the platform infrastructure for I/O virtualization.

Note: This sub-menu is not supported in AMD models.

Information pertains to ThinkPad X121e, 3045 - the Intel i3-2367M CPU. BIOS version 8QET54WW (1.15), 11/01/2012. You can check the BIOS version in Windows 7 by running msinfo32. Similar features exist for the version with the AMD CPU.

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