Having failed the 3rd repair attempt at the Thinkpad E540  I gave up and bought the next best laptop from the nearby store that somehow is usable for programming. Behold: the Acter Inspire E15. 8GB RAM, i5, matte screen (1920×1080). It worked out of the box with the SSD transplant from the old Lenovo, so the Aspire gets a check for Ubuntu 14.04 LTS compatibility.
[update 2015-07-01] There is a serious problem with rendering text , I’m currently looking into it. Fixing requires creating the file /usr/share/X11/xorg.conf.d/20-intel.conf:
Section "Device" Identifier "Intel Graphics" Driver "intel" Option "AccelMethod" "uxa" Option "DRI" "true" Option "TearFree" "true" EndSection
The E15 is another laptop with a hybrid Intel/nvidia graphics system. The bad news is that I couldn’t get bumblebee running so far, so I can’t use the nvidia card. The good news is that the default Intel graphics system is fast enough to play Civilization V at the maximum resolution and the laptop stays pleasantly cool. So, in a weird way, that’s quite an improvement over my previous laptops.
Things that work:
[update 2015-07-05] Useful boot parameters in /etc/default/grub:
GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT=”i915.semaphores=0 drm.vblankoffdelay=1 intel_pstate=1 i915.lvds_downclock=1″