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Thinkfan is a fan controlling deamon provided by app-laptop/thinkfan and is aimed specifically towards IBM/Lenovo Thinkpad laptops. It can read multiple sensors, but control only a single fan.

Kernel configuration

The kernel needs to have the Thinkpad ACPI driver configured:

KERNEL Enable Thinkpad ACPI support in the kernel
Device Drivers  --->
    [*] X86 Platform Specific Device Drivers  ---> 
        <M>   ThinkPad ACPI Laptop Extras

This will create a module called thinkpad_acpi, which needs to be configured to allow for controlling a fan.

Edit or create /etc/modprobe.d/thinkpad.conf as follows:

FILE /etc/modprobe.d/thinkpad.conf
options thinkpad_acpi fan_control=1

Most Thinkpads provide /proc/acpi/ibm/fan as a path to the fan device.

Manual fan control

It is possible to manually control the fan speed:

root #echo level 7 > /proc/acpi/ibm/fan
root #cat /proc/acpi/ibm/fan
status:         enabled
speed:          3957
level:          7
commands:       level <level> (<level> is 0-7, auto, disengaged, full-speed)
commands:       enable, disable
commands:       watchdog <timeout> (<timeout> is 0 (off), 1-120 (seconds))

There are a few special values:

  • level auto: the fan RPM is controlled by the BIOS
  • level full-speed: the maximum speed while being monitored
  • level disengaged: even faster, where the controller does not monitor the fan speed.

Thinkfan software installation

Automatic speed control can be achieved through a package app-laptop/thinkfan.

Review thinkfan's USE flags prior to installing it:

USE flags for app-laptop/thinkfan Simple fan control program for thinkpads

atasmart include libatasmart support to get disc temperature
nvidia allow thinkfan to read GPU temperature from the proprietary nVidia driver
yaml use YAML format for config file

Install thinkfan as per normal:

root #emerge --ask app-laptop/thinkfan


The configuration file of thinkfan is in /etc/thinkfan.conf. It requires manual configuration and supports as of version 1.0 configuration based on yaml. An example of a simple mode configuration is as follows:

FILE /etc/thinkfan.conf
- tpacpi: /proc/acpi/ibm/thermal
  indices: [0]

- tpacpi: /proc/acpi/ibm/fan

  - [0, 0,  41]
  - [1, 38, 51]
  - [2, 45, 56]
  - [3, 51, 61]
  - [4, 55, 64]
  - [5, 60, 66]
  - [6, 63, 68]
  - [7, 65, 74]
  - [127, 70, 32767]

Details about the configuration can be found in /usr/share/doc/thinkfan-1.2.1/thinkfan.yaml.bz2, and in thinkfan.conf man page.

Thinkfan also takes commandline parameters, see thinkfan's man page for details. Take special note of the bias value, which will exaggerate or dampen a sudden increase or decrease between two temperature samples.


Test the behaviour of thinkfan as follows:

root #thinkfan -n -b -5 -c /etc/thinkfan.conf
Temperatures(bias): 46(0) -> level 1
Temperatures(bias): 51(0) -> level 2
Temperatures(bias): 59(-3) -> level 3
Temperatures(bias): 64(-3) -> level 4
Temperatures(bias): 68(-3) -> level 5
Temperatures(bias): 69(-2) -> level 6
Temperatures(bias): 62(0) -> level 5
Temperatures(bias): 69(-3) -> level 6
Temperatures(bias): 62(0) -> level 5
Temperatures(bias): 66(0) -> level 6
Temperatures(bias): 62(0) -> level 5

It may take a few cycles of configuration update and testing to find the optimum between all the different settings that are possible.

Start thinkfan as a service

Update /etc/init.d/thinkfan as per the selected commandline parameters:

FILE /etc/init.d/thinkfan
#command_args="-q -s5 -c /etc/thinkfan.conf"
command_args="-q -s2 -b0 -c /etc/thinkfan.conf"

Start the thinkfan as a service and enable it as follows:

root #rc-service thinkfan start
root #rc-config add thinkfan

External resources