Comparing Lenovo's Active Pen and Active Pen 2 for writing on a ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 2 using Debian Linux

When I have a document to review, I like to flip my ThinkPad into “tablet” mode, and scribble notes in the margin of the document, highlight sections, and generally annotate it.

For this, I use Xournal++ (also called XournalPP sometimes).

It’s great.

Up until recently, I’ve just been using the stylus embedded in the ThinkPad. It is convenient, always charged, and just there, ready to be used.

But it is also small, thin, uncomfortable to hold for longer periods of time, and I hit the button - which triggers the eraser mode - more often I would like.

So I went in search of a larger, more “normal sized” pen/stylus.

Working out what pen works with the X1 Yoga Gen 2 was tricky

I struggled to work out definitively which pens worked with the X1 Yoga Gen 2. It might be because it is an older machine, but I couldn’t get any useful information out of the Lenovo website.

So I took a punt, and bought two pens - the Lenovo Active Pen, and the Lenovo Active Pen 2 - on eBay. Together, they were about £20. Secondhand, but it perfectly usable condition.

Active Pen and Active Pen 2 both work

The headline is that both the Active Pen and the Active Pen 2 work.

I can open a PDF in Xournal++, and scribble away.


Both pens have two buttons on the shaft. The lower button turns the pen into eraser mode, and, because of the size of the pens, it is easier to avoid doing this accidentally than when I use the integrated stylus. So that’s another positive.

I haven’t worked out what the uppermost button does. As far as I can tell, nothing.

Picking between the two is hard

There is very little to choose between the two pens:

Basically, I’d be perfectly happy with either and, importantly, both are better for me than the integrated stylus.

And, since the stylus is there, if the pen I’m using runs out of battery, oh well - I can just use the stylus until I get round to replacing it.