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Tag: linux-laptop

Switchable/Hybrid Graphics and Linux Mint 14

I decided yesterday to take the plunge and move my laptop (HP dv6t Quad with an Intel i7, 8GB RAM, AMD 6770M and Intel graphics) from dual-booting to Linux only. I had been using Linux Mint 14 as a secondary OS on my desktop for a while and really liked what I saw. So, I grabbed the install disc and booted it up.

As usual, the install went without a hitch. I ran all the updates and then went to go install the proprietary AMD/ATI graphics driver (which is now done via “Software Sources” in the Preferences menu). That’s where everything went to hell. Xorg failed to start after rebooting, leaving me at text-based login. Not that I mind playing on the command-line, but vim hardly meets my needs as an IDE and it’s going to be really hard to debug graphical applications that way. So, I began my search. After piecing sources together, here’s what got me running:

First, we need to add the PPA from xorg-edgers so that we can install the ATI/AMD Catalyst Driver 13.1 without having to build it ourselves. The PPA works with Ubuntu 13.04, 12.10, 12.04, Linux Mint 14 and 13.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:xorg-edgers/ppa
sudo apt-get update

Next, we can install the driver itself. While I highly recommend doing this just after running updates (and before breaking Xorg), it still works from the command-line after the broken drivers have already been installed.

sudo apt-get install fglrx

Now, everything I’ve read says that you need to remove the PPA before restarting, but nothing says why (if you know, please comment below).

sudo add-apt-repository --remove ppa:xorg-edgers/ppa 
sudo apt-get update

Finally, give the system a reboot. Everything should be working smoothly now… at least until the next Xorg update.

Linux on my HP dv6t Quad… At Long Last

HP dv6t QuadReaders of my blog may be aware that I’ve been searching for a Linux distro for my laptop for some time. I’ve tried Linux Mint 12 (“Lisa”), openSUSE 12.1, Fedora 16, and others. All of them had their quirks:

  • Linux Mint 12 – ran too damn hot. Even disabling the ATI card wouldn’t keep it from burning down.
  • Fedora 16 – couldn’t get all everything working with Xfce and hate Gnome 3 too much to use it. I could have tried a KDE spin, but figured I’d move on. I’m more of an apt-get kind of guy anyway.
  • openSUSE 12 – like Linus said, has some design flaws. Plus, I can’t find anything in the SUSE file structure.

So, you might ask, what did I end up with? Ubuntu. That’s right. The “beginner’s” distro. Why? Because it works. I might hop to Kubuntu or Xubuntu, but right now, I’m just running Ubuntu 11.10 amd64.


Resolving Issues

Post-install, it still runs hot/battery life is crap and you can’t adjust the backlight. Easy fixes.

To reduce heat/increase battery life, I’ve decided to disable the AMD graphics card. As my use for the Linux side is mostly coding, browser-based things, and network configuration, the 3D features of the AMD card are not needed. The Intel graphics built into the i7 are more than adequate for watching 1080p content.

The first thing we’ll do is blacklist the radeon module. To do this, create (via sudo) /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist-radeon.conf. Inside this file, insert:

blacklist radeon

Next, (again via sudo) edit /etc/rc.local and add the following line before “exit 0”:

echo OFF > /sys/kernel/debug/vgaswitcheroo/switch

After a reboot, the AMD card will be disabled and powered off.

In order to enable the backlight adjustment (also important for battery life), we’ll have to edit the GRUB boot parameters. They are located in /etc/default/grub, so (via sudo) edit that file as follows:

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT=”splash acpi_backlight=vendor”

Once you’ve saved your changes, run sudo update-grub and restart. Voila! Your laptop is now actually usable on your lap (not too hot) when you’re not plugged in (has more than 2 hours of battery life).

EDIT: Fixed typo. Thanks, EU.

No openSUSE on My Laptop

As I said before, I was trying openSUSE 12.1 on my laptop. I was liking it, but there was a problem. About the time I noticed it, Linus Torvalds posted about the same thing: root password required to add a wireless network and change the timezone. Not a “hey, let’s run sudo here real quick; type in your password to confirm,” but a “I NEED ROOT!!!”

Pretty crappy.

There were some other things, too:

  • Didn’t care much for zypper. It’s alright, but kinda meh.
  • I can’t find anything. I’m used to Debian file locations, but I can go look in the Red Hat spots, too. openSUSE doesn’t conform to either. And really? /srv? It makes sense for server software, I guess, but is just an odd choice.

Installing ATI Drivers and Fixing the Backlight

This article described the first post-installation tasks on an HP dv6t Quad Edition running openSUSE 12.1.

Installing the Proprietary ATI Drivers

After the openSUSE 12.1 installation was complete, I went to install the newest ATI drivers, which support switchable graphics. The driver’s are pre-built and available for 1-Click Install through openSUSE.

Run the installer while connected to the Internet. Once completed, you’ll need to restart. After restarting, you can go into System -> Configuration and run AMD Catalyst Control Center (Administrative). This will allow you to select the graphics card in use (I am using the Intel chip). Once done making changes, you’ll have to restart to apply them.

Making the Backlight Work

Launch Administrative Settings (YaST) and go to System -> Boot Loader. Highlight ‘Desktop — openSUSE 12.1 ….’ and click Edit.

At the bottom of the next screen, there’ll be a box for Optional Kernel Command-Line Parameters. Add acpi_backlight=vendor to the end of the text currently in the box (make sure there’s a space separating what’s currently in there and the new command).

openSuSE: My Best Option

I’ve decided that because every Linux distro I put on my laptop is alright and they all eat up the battery just as fast, I’m going to stick with openSuSE 12.1 and do what I can to get it perfect. Therefore, I will have a long running Draft post, documenting my tweaks, changes, and fixes from the stock install.

Behind me, my HP dv6t Quad Edition is running the installer. I will be running KDE (and will possibly be putting Xfce on there as well). My goal is to have the GPU drivers installed (trivial with 1-click Install), have the system playing nicely with my Windows network, all of my development tool installed, VLC and relevant codecs installed, and something like Banshee for my music/podcast enjoyment. I’d also like to find a way to improve the battery life and get all the function buttons (brightness, volume, etc.) to work properly.

Once these (or most of these) are resolved, I’ll post again.

Another Search for a Linux Distro

So, after some time of using Xubuntu, I’m looking at other distros: namely Fedora 16.

This guide, on howtoforge, explains how to add all the software to Fedora that would make it extremely usable. I’m downloading the Live CD as I type and will give results as they become available.

Oh, for the record, I’m installing this on an HP Pavilion dv6t Quad Edition, which includes the switchable Intel/ATI graphics that are the bane of Linux’s existence.

The Winner is: Linux Mint

After playing around with all those distros in VMWare Player, I’ve decided on Linux Mint. It’s interface is familiar enough for Windows users, is similar to Ubuntu under the hood, and has a large user-base.

So far, the only thing I haven’t got to work is Minecraft, which I’m attributing to it running in a VM. There are plenty of people who have it working on real machines, so I’m not too concerned.

EDIT: It runs REALLY hot. Don’t know if I can keep it around.

Searching For a Linux Distro

So, I plan on getting a new laptop in the near future and have decided that I would like to dual-boot it with Linux. The problem is that I’ve been out of the Linux desktop game for a little while now and my formerly beloved Ubuntu is not something I enjoy anymore. This Unity desktop environment is a nightmare.

So, I’m taking a look at Kubuntu, which is essentially Ubuntu running KDE. Considering that its Ubuntu underneath, this is an attractive option.

I’m also looking at Linux Mint. It, like Ubuntu, is Debian-based and is the most popular Linux distro behind Ubuntu. The ISO for this one is downloading as this posts.

Nowadays, Linux on a laptop is easy to do and the laptop I’ve selected has some common components, which will mean better driver support. I’m not too concerned about one distro working on it any better than another.

EDIT: I’m also looking at Ubuntu 10.04 LTS.