Dell XPS 15 L502X & Ubuntu 12.04 Linux

This is a simplified tutorial for those interested to Install/Use Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin on their Dell XPS 15 notebook (laptop) and not sure if things would go fine. (This is an update to this post which covered Ubuntu 11.10).
The following instructions apply to Sandy Bridge models (64 bits).

Dell XPS 15

Dell XPS 15

Tested System:

  • - CPU: i7 2670QM with Turbo Boost up to 3.10 Ghz.
  • - Graphics : Integrated (Onboard) Intel HD 3000.
  • - Graphics 2: Discrete Nvidia GT 525M with 1 Go of memory.
  • - Standard 720p screen (1366 X 768)
  • - Backlit keyboard.


Installation of Ubuntu 12.04

  • - Download the iso image from Ubuntu.com (64 bits), then use the USB DISK CREATOR using another Ubuntu Live CD to create a bootable Ubuntu on your USB key.
  • - Boot the notebook using this USB Key (Make sure it is plugged to the USB 2.0/E-Sata port instead of the USB 3.0 port, otherwise, the installation will fail).
  • - Follow installation instructions (The installation goes smoothly). But Don’t INSTALL THIRD PARTY SOFTWARE. INSTALL ONLY UPDATE PACKAGES.
  • - Upon installation, all hardware is recognized but some manual commands may eventually be necessary to activate the 9/1 card reader and the Nvidia card.

Please refer to this page for the commands : https://wiki.ubuntu.com/HardwareSupport/Machines/Laptops/Dell/XPS/15#preview

Graphics

  • Upon installation only the integrated graphics card is active (Intel HD 3000).
  • To enable the Nvidia card, you have to install bumblebee project (Optimus Enabler for Linux). DO NOT INSTALL THE NVIDIA PROPRIETARY DRIVER manually (If you do, you won’t be able to boot); let Bumblebee installation take care of it.

NOUVEAU DRIVERS SUPPORT

Alternatively, you can configure Bumblebee to install Nvidia Open Source drivers NOUVEAU instead of the proprietary ones (We’d cover this in the future.). Meanwhile, check the following links:

https://github.com/Bumblebee-Project/Bumblebee-old/issues/18

http://nouveau.freedesktop.org/wiki/FeatureMatrix  (Nvidia GT525m / GT540m are categorized under NVC0 version)

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NVIDIA OPTIMUS SUPPORT FOR LINUX:


Bumblebee 3.0 Installation

Bumblebee Logo

bumblebee Logo

The official web site is : http://bumblebee-project.org/install.html
– Follow the README instructions through : https://github.com/Bumblebee-Project/Bumblebee
– Installation is straighforward and fast.
– More infos are to be found here:
Once bumblebee installed, basically you’d be able to run applications using the Nvidia Card, this way:
– Open Terminal and type optirun someapplication (for example: optirun firefox )

Optirun

Optirun


Test 3D on your Nvidia Card:

Open terminal and append:   optirun glxspheres   or optirun glxgears  instead, (a bug affecting GLXSPHERES in 12.04 affecting the performance of graphics https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/compiz/+bug/944627)

a window will open with 3D spheres animated, and you should read the Frame per Second values on your terminal.

Repeat the same thing but without optirun, on Terminal, append:  glxspheres

The same Windows should appear, but with lower FPS values.

In the following screencasts (with the bug of course), our FPS ranges from 33 to 81 fps when the Nvidia GT525m is used, and from 1 to 3 fps when the Intel HD 3000 is used.

Laptop powered:

Laptop on battery:

Browser 3D:

You can also benchmark your two cards using the web browser (Firefox  – google-chrome – chromium-browser – opera):

optirun google-chrome http://webglsamples.googlecode.com/hg/aquarium/aquarium.html

or (if you want verbose information displayed on your terminal):

optirun -v --debug google-chrome http://webglsamples.googlecode.com/hg/aquarium/aquarium.html

Aquarium 3D Test on browser

Aquarium 3D Test on browser

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BUMBLEBEE GUI

Otherwise, you can install the Bumblebee GUI (it is still not official and has two or three -easy to live with- bugs):

https://github.com/Bumblebee-Project/bumblebee-ui

Notice that the first time you open an application with Bumblebee, it’s reltively slow, because it has to load the whole Nvidia driver.

Bumblebee Indicator

Bumblebee Indicator

Launch with Bumblebee

Launch with Bumblebee

Bumblebee Notification

Bumblebee Notification

Bumblebee Configuration Applet

Bumblebee Configuration Applet through Panel Indicator

The great Bumblebee Team has also thought about a RUN VIA OPTIRUN script for nautilus. You can browse -using nautilus file manager- to an executable application and execute it with OPTIRUN, using only the mouse (RUN VIA OPTIRUN):

Screencast of Bumblebee Nautilus RUN VIA OPTIRUN Script:

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Unity 2D & 3D

  • With or without Bumblebee, Unity 3D and 2D work fine.
  • If you want to tweak Unity 3D install CCSM (CompizConfig Settings Manager) (You might encounter a freeze when you try using CCSM, in this case, relogin using Unity 2D, then open CCSM, search for Unity plugin and check the unity plugin. Reboot and login using Unity 3D then retry CCSM, everything should be fine).

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Multi Display (External Monitors)

  1. - Unfortunately it is impossible to have more than one external screen along with the onboard laptop screen for now (it should be possible in the near future depending on Bumblebee / Kernel drivers evolution and maybe if the X Server is repalced by another more performant and modern display compositor – Wayland  - ).
  2. - For information:
  • –> The Intel HD 3000 (Graphics card) is linked to the mini DisplayPort
  • –> The Nvidia graphics card is linked to the HDMI port.
  • –> The HDMI port is disconnected and cannot be enabled for now (Bumblebee project team is working on it. See Bug: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/xserver-xorg-video-intel/+bug/844307).
  • –> The mini DisplayPort is enabled by default and works out of the box.
Displays Settings

Ubuntu 11.10 Displays Settings

Display Settings in Ubuntu 12.04

Display Settings in Ubuntu 12.04

If you want to use an external monitor you have to get a mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapter or a mini DisplayPort to DVI adapter (You can find it on ebay for a good price. We used a china made adaptor that supports 1080p and which cost 15$)
The Intel HD 3000 through the mini DisplayPort is capable of driving up to 2560X1600 as a resolution (We tested with a Dell ST2310 1920X1080p and a Samsung XL 2370 SyncMaster 1920X1080p).

If you have a VGA only capable monitor, then get yourself a MiniDisplay to VGA adapter. be sure to get a high quality one to be able to drive the 1920 resolution. Most market VGA adapters allow up to 1024 resolution only.

Mini_DisplayPort_DP_to_HDMI_Adapter


HDMI

As mentioned, the HDMI issue is still on and we hope developers will address it soon. A bug is reported here, join it: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/xserver-xorg-video-intel/+bug/844307

yet, if you want to make sure your HDMI port is physically operational, connect your external monitor to the HDMI port on your XPS 15 and do the following:

open terminal and type:

optirun nvidia-settings -c :8

The Nvidia Settings Applet should appear:

Nvidia X Settings

Nvidia X Settings

then

DISPLAY=:8.0 firefox

This will activate your HDMI external monitor and display Firefox in it.

If you do not get the full resolution for your external monitor plugged to the HDMI port, modify the Bumblebee Nvidia Xorg config file, by changing the value of “readEDID” from false to true (X Restart or reboot  is necessary for changes to take effect).

Otherwise, if you xant to have a pseudo extended desktop using your external monitor hooked to the HDMI port  along with another monitor hooked to the miniDIsplay Port (The laptop screen should be deactivated), then check this:

https://github.com/MrMEEE/bumblebee-Old-and-abbandoned/issues/75#issuecomment-2798937

Remark:  In Ubuntu Displays settings it is not possible for now to select the main output monitor (you can use XRANDR utility to set it manually).

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POWER MANAGEMENT

In 11.10 with previous kernel version, Power management was still an issue; now with the 3.2 kernel and Bumblebee 3.0, Power management works like a charm even better than Microsoft Windows OS.

There is no manual tweaking to do.

  • Normal CPU Temperature when the laptop is in passive cooling (Almost no CPU activity), peaks 44°C.
  • In normal tasking, the CPU temp peaks 54°C. Quiet Cooling.
  • During multi-tasking, the CPU temp reaches 64°C. Normal Cooling.
  • During heavy Memory and CPU usage, CPU temp reaches 75°C. / 80°C. Noisy Cooling.
CPU Temperature

CPU Temperature

The tool we use to monitor temperature in real time is HARDWARE SENSORS INDICATOR.

Be sure to install the package sensors-detect and run it (answer YES to all questions).

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LAPTOP SCREEN COLOR PROFILE

If you have the model with the 720p 1366X768 screen, you might have already noticed that its color profile is not suitable for most applications, especially video and photo viewing. You might also be annoyed by the blueish mediocre brightness.

Hopefully, Ubuntu comes with an utility that allows the user to load and apply what we call a Color Profile. As far as we can tell, DELL support does not provide any color profile database for users. Luckily, many color displays for monitors and laptop screen are available for downloading. As well as tools for customizing your own color profile (Open Ubuntu Software center and type COLOR, you should find a multitude of tools for ICC profiles).

Ubuntu 12.04 Color profiling

Ubuntu 12.04 Color profiling

For those having Ubuntu One account, here is a link to some profiles: https://one.ubuntu.com/files/shareoffer/34a3ac3d-2013-4534-8e01-ac815857ac94/

And for those who do not, a google document link : https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B-Sn4N_QK9abXzFHUkFIYjBUT1Mtd25fMlVxdHc0QQ

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BUGS affecting the Dell L502X (Hardware issues).

If you’re affected by these bugs, please create a launchpad account (if not yet done) and mark yourself as being affected.

  1. https://bugs.launchpad.net/unity/+bug/950160 (Fn + F1 does not work in 12.04 anymore)
  2. https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/alsa-driver/+bug/897427 (Sound volume is at low level upon login)
  3. https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/unity-greeter/+bug/874241 (Unity Greeter support for multi monitor is still disabled for Laptops)
  4. The Indicator panel keys:
Dell XPS 15 Panel Keys

Dell XPS 15 Panel Keys

  • KEY 3 : is binded to “Audio next”. Open Rhythmbox for example, play a playlist of songs, and click that key, it will trigger “Next Song” just like ( Fn + ->->| ) .
  • KEY 2 : is binded to “Bightness down”.
  • KEY 1: is not bind to any keyboard shortcut, so you can set a new shortcut for it.

In order to force the key to use a custom shortcut for the application of your choice, install the tool: Ubuntu Tweak.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:tualatrix/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install ubuntu-tweak

Open Ubuntu Tweak and go to ADMINS panel. Click SHORTCUTS and add your customized keyboard shortcut and command.

In our case, the command is gnome-control-center and the keyboard key corresponds to KEY 1. When you click on the shortcut cell, you will be prompted to press the desired key, here KEY 1.

Ubuntu Tweak

Ubuntu Tweak

You’re done. Now when you click on KEY 3, the Gnome Control Center should open. (Of course, you can set the key to open the application of your choice, we set it to GCC, just because it matches the printed logo).

Please, in case you find another hardware bug, please report in Launchpad and in by commenting on this blog post. Thanks in advance.

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BUGS Workarounds

Workaround for Bug #874241

The workaround can be found here for instructions: http://askubuntu.com/questions/119843/how-to-force-multiple-monitors-correct-resolutions-for-lightdm

The workaround script is the following (Assuming your external monitor is digital):


#!/bin/bash
# V-1.0 by Hanynowsky - April 2012. I am a very basic script that works around bug 874241 reported in launchpad.
# Put this script in /usr/share/ and add this line display-setup-script=/usr/share/lightdmxrandr.sh to
# /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf
# then retart lightdm (sudo service lightdm restart)
# N.B: This script assumes your laptop's screen is identified as LVDS1 and has a resolution of 1366x768
# and assumes your external monitor is named HDMI1 and has a resolution of 1920x1080
# Use the command xrandr -q to identify these values accurately and modify them in variables XCOM0, XCOM1 & XCOM2
# e.g. You might have DP1 or VGA1 instead of HDMI1 or 1920x1200 instead of 1920x1080
# Also this script does not override your default desktop displays configuration after login.
XCOM0=`xrandr -q | grep 'HDMI1 connected'`
XCOM1=`xrandr --output HDMI1 --primary --mode 1920x1080 --output LVDS1 --mode 1366x768 --below HDMI1`
XCOM2=`xrandr --output LVDS1 --mode 1366x768`
# if the external monitor is connected, then we tell XRANDR to set up an extended desktop
if [ -n "$XCOM0" ] || [ ! "$XCOM0" = "" ]; then echo $XCOM1
# if the external monitor is disconnected, then we tell XRANDR to output only to the laptop screen
else echo $XCOM2
fi
exit 0;

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Workaround for bug – Slow Wifi connection speed on Intel Centrino Wireless -
Check your wireless connection information and note the name of the driver (in our case it’s iwlwifi)
If it’s iwlagn, then replace iwlwifi by iwlagn.
Open terminal and type:

sudo rmmod iwlwifi && sudo iwlwifi 11n_disable=1

This will desactivate your wifi connection and reactivate it.
Check if your connection is fast. If it is, then make these changes permanent by creating a file and appending a line on it. On Terminal type:

sudo gedit /etc/modprobe.d/options.conf 

This will open an empty text file. Then append the following line and save:

options iwlwifi 11n_disable=1

or (if you have a slightly different intel card and using another dirver)

<code>options iwlagn 11n_disable50=1</code>


TROUBLESHOOTING

Bumblebee: Please check this page for proper installation of Bumblebee: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Bumblebee

68 thoughts on “Dell XPS 15 L502X & Ubuntu 12.04 Linux

  1. Carlos Zubieta

    Hi

    I have a l502x with Oneiric in it, but the sound jacks doesn’t work properly, i was changing some configurations of ironhide(bumblebee fork) and after a reboot i got the sound problem, i don’t know if the graphic card and the sound are related, looking in some blogs i found that the problem is my alsa/pulse configuration, so i reinstalled alsa but the problem still, so my question is if you know how to restore the default configuration, or where can I get the default configuration files?

    Thanks

    PS. Sorry about my English.

    Reply
    1. mediterran81 Post author

      Hello,
      Actually I have a sound issue. When I plug the headphones or Monitoring speakers, I need to go to the System sound preferences and select Analog output instead of Headphones Output. In the middle you have a SPIDF output which is not to use unless with digital devices. This is related to the alsa driver which is not capable of autodetecting the input/output choice. Ironhide or Bumblebee can affect the sound configuration for HDMI sound (NVIDIA audio) but not the native onboard sound card.
      Normally reinstalling the Alsa should do the trick.

      Go to Sound Settings under HARDWARE tab and tell me what is in there, you should have several Sound outputs (HDMI ones, Analog and Duplex…). Make sure the Duplex is the choosen one.

      Reply
      1. Sachith Dhanushka Withana

        There is no fix yet for the sound jack issue. Still rather than going to the sound manager and changing the settings to analog, what I do is press the mute button twice (it mutes and then unmutes : for Dell XPS) then it works

        ——————–

        Reply by @Hanynowsky: What version of Ubuntu are you using. Indeed the issue is still there and developers are aware of it. Now the sound does not get muted but is in low volume, so as a workaround, you mute/unmute or volume Down + Volume up.

        Reply
  2. The Rifter

    Hi – thanks for this info.
    I’m trying to use Fedora 16 on a Dell XPS 15z (note the z). I haven’t had success with bumblebee so far, and was wondering if anyone knows if the 15z also has the Intel card driving the miniDisplayPort rather than the nVidia card? My main objective is using a second monitor with the laptop, and currently have an HDMI capable external monitor. So would getting a DisplayPort to HDMI convertor solve my problem? TIA!

    Reply
    1. mediterran81 Post author

      As far as I can tell the 15z is similar.
      Using a miniDP to HDMI should work.
      I am using a miniDP to DVI cable and it works fine.

      The 15Z is optimus enabled so Bumblebee should work fine.
      Please go the bumblebee official page and follow instructions on how to install.

      I did not test Fedora yet with my Laptop and could not give you accurate information but there is no reason it shouldn’t work.

      Could you tell me what exactly was wrong while trying to install Bumblebee?

      And could you tell me the output of this command :

      lspci | grep VGA

      Reply
      1. The Rifter

        Thanks for your reply!
        I have bumblebee running (without bbswitch, as I’m not interested in switching off the nvidia card, just using an external monitor).

        # systemctl status bumblebeed.service
        bumblebeed.service – Bumblebee C Daemon
        Loaded: loaded (/lib/systemd/system/bumblebeed.service; enabled)
        Active: active (running) since Fri, 23 Mar 2012 21:13:55 +0000; 2 days ago
        Main PID: 1166 (bumblebeed)
        CGroup: name=systemd:/system/bumblebeed.service
        └ 1166 /usr/sbin/bumblebeed –config /etc/bumblebee/bumblebee.conf

        But in /var/log/Xorg.8.log :

        [ 21702.285] (II) NOUVEAU driver
        [ 21702.285] (II) NOUVEAU driver for NVIDIA chipset families :
        [ 21702.285] RIVA TNT (NV04)
        [ 21702.285] RIVA TNT2 (NV05)
        [ 21702.285] GeForce 256 (NV10)
        [ 21702.285] GeForce 2 (NV11, NV15)
        [ 21702.285] GeForce 4MX (NV17, NV18)
        [ 21702.285] GeForce 3 (NV20)
        [ 21702.285] GeForce 4Ti (NV25, NV28)
        [ 21702.285] GeForce FX (NV3x)
        [ 21702.285] GeForce 6 (NV4x)
        [ 21702.285] GeForce 7 (G7x)
        [ 21702.285] GeForce 8 (G8x)
        [ 21702.286] GeForce GTX 200 (NVA0)
        [ 21702.286] GeForce GTX 400 (NVC0)
        [ 21702.286] (–) using VT number 1

        [ 21702.286] drmOpenDevice: node name is /dev/dri/card0
        [ 21702.287] drmOpenDevice: open result is 13, (OK)
        [ 21702.287] drmOpenByBusid: Searching for BusID pci:0000:01:00.0
        [ 21702.287] drmOpenDevice: node name is /dev/dri/card0
        [ 21702.287] drmOpenDevice: open result is 13, (OK)
        [ 21702.287] drmOpenByBusid: drmOpenMinor returns 13
        [ 21702.287] drmOpenByBusid: Interface 1.4 failed, trying 1.1
        [ 21702.287] drmOpenByBusid: drmGetBusid reports pci:0000:00:02.0
        [ 21702.287] drmOpenDevice: node name is /dev/dri/card1
        [ 21702.290] drmOpenByBusid: drmOpenMinor returns -1
        [ 21702.290] drmOpenDevice: node name is /dev/dri/card2

        [ 21702.338] drmOpenByBusid: drmOpenMinor returns -1
        [ 21702.338] drmOpenDevice: node name is /dev/dri/card15
        [ 21702.342] drmOpenByBusid: drmOpenMinor returns -1
        [ 21702.342] drmOpenDevice: node name is /dev/dri/card0
        [ 21702.342] drmOpenDevice: open result is 13, (OK)
        [ 21702.396] (EE) [drm] failed to open device
        [ 21702.396] (EE) No devices detected.
        [ 21702.396]
        Fatal server error:
        [ 21702.396] no screens found

        And :
        # lspci | grep -i vga
        00:02.0 VGA compatible controller: Intel Corporation 2nd Generation Core Processor Family Integrated Graphics Controller (rev 09)
        01:00.0 VGA compatible controller: nVidia Corporation Device 0df5 (rev a1)

        And :
        # lsmod | grep nouveau
        nouveau 801804 0
        ttm 79585 1 nouveau
        mxm_wmi 12823 1 nouveau
        drm_kms_helper 40299 2 nouveau,i915
        drm 242071 7 nouveau,ttm,i915,drm_kms_helper
        i2c_core 37991 7 videodev,i2c_i801,nouveau,i915,drm_kms_helper,drm,i2c_algo_bit
        video 18932 2 nouveau,i915
        wmi 18697 3 dell_wmi,nouveau,mxm_wmi

        And then :
        # optirun glxgears
        [ERROR]Cannot access secondary GPU – error: [XORG] (EE) [drm] failed to open device
        [ERROR]Aborting because fallback start is disabled.

        Any ideas?

        Reply
        1. mediterran81 Post author

          go to /etc/bumblebee and open the file xorg.conf.nvidia wiht a text editor (you might need to use something like : gksudo gedit /etc/bumblebee/xorg.conf.nvidia
          and modify the option: Option “AutoAddDevices” “false” to Option “AutoAddDevices” “true” Logout ad login and check if optirun works correctly.

          Check also the bumblebee github to confirm the bug if it does not work.
          Your stacktrace is very similar to what I had and what others had recently! Actually it is xorg/kernel issue….

          Reply
  3. Jhon Cruz

    I can confirm that external monitor work with a mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapter and with a mini DisplayPort to VGA adapter. The last one (VGA adapter) only works with resolution 800×600 and 1024×768. If you want more resolution buy a mini DisplayPort to HDMI adapter.

    Thank you for this post!!

    Reply
    1. mediterran81 Post author

      Thank you John for this feedback.
      Actually, there are some expensive VGA adapters that are capable of driving 1920X1080i resolutions. Yet, the best option as you said, is to go with digital displaying instead of Analog (VGA).

      Reply
  4. crunchiness (@ecrunchiness)

    “Power management works like a charm even better than Microsoft Windows OS.”
    No, it does not. (I don’t know, maybe it did when this was posted).
    I have successfully installed Bumblebee to my XPS l502x, but the fan is very annoying on Ubuntu, turns on every 3 minutes, even though I am not doing anything, whereas on Windows I don’t hear it at all.
    Is there a way to somehow set it to “passive cooling” mode as in Windows?

    Reply
    1. mediterran81 Post author

      I used to have this issue of Power Management when using Ubuntu 11.10 and Bumblebee 2.0 and before manually modifying the ACPI calls for the DELL L502X. The fan used to be running like hell and the temperature was peaking to 70°C minimum.

      I have bumblebee 3 installed on my XPS L502X and the fan is quiet unless I run CPU hungry applications or activate the Nvidia card.

      Could you provide me with the output of these commands :
      1- optirun –version
      2- uname -a

      You have to know that Bumblebee is the community effort to enable Nvidia Optimus for Linux. As Nvidia do not support it for now. Nvidia Optimus support for Linux is in progress, starting from Linux Kernel 3.3. So if we have to blame someone, it’s Nvidia.

      Reply
      1. crunchiness (@ecrunchiness)

        Yes, I know the whol,story about Optimus and how nVidia completely ignored us, linux users, I even considered to send them an email about that but there is no point in doing that now, that Bumblebee is working…

        Here is the output:
        $ optirun –version
        optirun (Bumblebee) 3.0
        Copyright (C) 2011 The Bumblebee Project
        License GPLv3+: GNU GPL version 3 or later .
        This is free software: you are free to change and redistribute it.
        There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.

        $ uname -a
        Linux crunchiness-Dell-System-XPS-L502X 3.0.0-17-generic #30-Ubuntu SMP Thu Mar 8 20:45:39 UTC 2012 x86_64 x86_64 x86_64 GNU/Linux

        Reply
    2. mediterran81 Post author

      Actually you’re running a different Kernel from the one where power management regression was fixed.
      There is a power management regression from 3..0.0-6

      here is the output of uname -a in my XPS L502X:
      Linux L502X 3.2.0-22-generic #35-Ubuntu SMP Tue Apr 3 18:33:15 UTC 2012 x86_64 x86_64 x86_64 GNU/Linux

      Ubuntu 12.04 comes with Kernel 3.2.0 and patch that fixes power regression.

      It definitely might be your case. So all you have to do is upgrade to 12.04 or upgrade your kernel to 3.2.0.

      Check the bug: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/oneiric/+source/linux/+bug/818830

      As you can see, the power regression bug patch is triaged for Oeniric but was fixed for Precise. AFAIT.
      And keep me informed with the results.

      PS: By the way your uname says it’s from March 8th! ?????

      Reply
      1. crunchiness (@ecrunchiness)

        Ok, I installed Ubuntu 12.04 (64bit version). Now the power management is better (but still fan turns on from time to time (like once every 5-10 min) while just browsing. Okay maybe I want too much here :D ). But I got a “system problem” error which turned out to be “known bug”, an error with Chromium also a “known bug”. I could live with these actually. I suppose they will be fixed soon anyway.

        But the strangest thing for me is this: on Ubuntu 11.10 when I had Bumblebee installed and ran “glxspheres” test without the optirun I got something like 60 fps (can’t remember exactly but it looked quite smooth), whereas now on 12.04 without optirun I get 1.8 fps. Don’t know, maybe this is because of better power management or something but it looks strange to me. (fps with optirun is unaffected)

        And I think that was release date of the kernel version I had. (Now I have 3.2.0-22-generic, it sats “Apr 3″)

        Happy Easter!

        Reply
    3. mediterran81 Post author

      Congratulations! :) Well the behavior of the fan is just normal.
      You should not underestimate the Intel HD 3000 that benefits from CPU Turbo Boost and Onboard Memory! You can live happy without the Nvidia card for common tasks ^^
      Yeah, there’s still some bugs triaged, they’re expected to be fixed by the release date.
      I got the Chromium bug too, nothing special, a compiz issue and fixing it is in progress.
      If you use the laptop on battery mode, it might be normal that you get a low FPS.
      In performance mode, I get a value between 75 fps & 30 fps, while with the HD 3000 I get a very low value between 1 & 2 fps :(
      I’ll screencast a benchmark for glxspheres later in both performance and battery modes to check.

      Thank you for the indication about the screen resolution (yes I am the author of this post), I corrected it :)
      And happy easter to you!

      Reply
  5. jdhoek

    Hello, I’m looking to buy the XPS 15 and using it dual-boot with Precise Pangolin. I was wondering about the following; when you use the laptop with an external monitor via the DisplayPort, and disable the laptop screen, do you get the same functionality as with only the laptop screen active?

    Thank you for this informative blog-post. Precise looks like a good release for the XPS 15. Have you tested Gnome-Shell as well with Optirun?

    Reply
    1. mediterran81 Post author

      Hello.
      When you plug an external monitor to the L502X and disable the laptop screen, you get the same thing that you get with the active laptop screen (The screencast above are from the external monitor plugged to the mini DP). I sometimes switch off my laptop screen to work only on the external monitor and sometimes, switch on both to have an extended desktop (useful when you open so many applications and want to have a closer look to something in a second screen). I tested Gnome Shell and optirun works fine with it.
      I hpe you will enjoy Precise :)

      Reply
  6. gvlax

    Hm, my Dell does not start after reboot. I installed ubuntu-12.04-desktop-amd64 from USB without any problems (during the installation I checked download required packages from internet — was it mistake?) Now I can boot again using my USB. During booting from HD just blinking cursor … Any hints?

    Reply
    1. mediterran81 Post author

      You might have probably installed nvidia-current package (which includes the Nvidia driver). Once the Nvidia Driver is installed on a Nvidia Optimus Laptop, it conflicts with the Intel Graphics driver at boot time and you get stuck to a black screen.
      I imagine the nvidia-current was installed during installation when you checked ‘Download packages from Internet). But I am not yet 100% sure.
      Ok! you can reboot using recovery mode to access command line and type the following:
      nvidia-settings –version
      And report the output to me.

      Reply
      1. gvlax

        Thanks mediterran81.

        I did not realize that I could still verify the nvidia settings after the unsuccessful installation. But I am not sure if I was able to access any boot options then at all. What I saw it was just a black screen with a blinking cursor at the top of a screen. No Ubuntu logo at all.

        Ok, but to the point.
        Of course I tried to install the system again.
        But this time I left unchecked the “Install this third-party software” option (on the 2nd installation dialog window). I checked “Download updates while installing”.
        I established the internet connection (like previously) and proceed further.
        After rebooting the system started as expected. I also ran Update Manager afterwards.
        I did not touch the BUMBLEBEE stuff yet.

        Reply
  7. gvlax

    BTW, maybe I should add that my DELL XPS L502X hardware has the 15.6″ 1920 x 1080 display and NVIDIA GeForce GT 540M (DirectX11, SM 5.0, PureVideoHD – whatever it means :-) )

    Reply
    1. mediterran81 Post author

      HAHAHAH :) As I expected. Indeed this was a matter of Driver conflict.
      Now to benefit from Nvidia Card you have to install Bumblebee ( Though you can live happy without bumblebee if you play no games and don’t use Graphics consuming applications).
      The GT540m is slightly better than the GT525m and your screen is a very good one for watching movies and playing games.
      This hardware doesn’t make a difference when it comes to the nature of your notebook which is a Nvidia Optimus enbaled one, that means that Bumblebee is necessary in order to use the Nvidia Card.
      Also for the screen I don’t think you need a color profile as it is well calibrated from Factory! :)

      Reply
  8. Julian

    Ever since i installed bumblebee (on 11.10, upgraded since 12.04 since), my acpi seems slightly buggy:

    i followed these instructions: http://www.ivegotavirus.com/blog/2012/01/23/installing-bumblebee-3-0-tumbleweed-on-ubuntu/ and http://www.ivegotavirus.com/blog/2011/11/06/how-to-get-optimus-working-on-ubuntu-11-10-oneiric/

    when i boot to linux, then go to shutdown or restart, linux will end all programs, and power down/restart just fine.

    when i however boot up linux, then go to standby, wake up from standby and then try to shutdown/restart, it’ll NOT restart or power down (screen turns off, but the device isn’t turning off/restarting).

    could that have to do with the kernel parameters? are any of those obsolete with the 3.2 kernel as compared to the 3.0 kernel?

    i want good power saving, so they *seem* important to me for now.

    Reply
    1. Hanynowsky Post author

      Hello! This has nothing to do with Bumblebee as far as I can tell.
      The kernel 3.2 came with Power management enhancements, yet, you still can suffer a bug. Personally for me, Power Management has improved from 11.10 to 12.04
      The thing you should know is that the HIBERNATE operation is still buggy in both kernels (3.0 and 3.2).
      But what do you mean by Standby? Hibernate? Suspend? or a simple Activity standby?
      And is your Laptop a Dell XPS 15 or something else?

      Meanwhile, if you get this problem continuously, use terminal to force shutdown :
      sudo shutdown -h 0 or sudo shutdown -h now

      In case you forget and click the shutdown button from the panel and the system freezes at shutdown :
      -> click CTRL+ALT+F2 (you will be prompted to login in console mode)
      -> then enter the command : sudo shutdown -h 0

      The command for restarting instead of shutting down is : sudo shutdown -r 0

      And by the way, I never tweaked the GRUB parameters in 11.10 nor in 12.04.

      I recommend to revert the changes if you upgraded to 12.04 (not the same kernel at all).

      Reply
      1. Julian

        sorry about being so imprecise and thanks for responding!

        by “standby”, i mean suspend to ram (by closing/opening the lid). i have an xps15 with sandy bridge — l502x. the one with the fullhd screen and nvidia gt540m, rest of the specs should be the same as in the blog post.

        i instantly assumed that it was bumblebee because i remember it happening with the installation of bumblebee; before, it worked just fine. i assumed that during the bootup -> suspend to ram -> shutdown/reboot process, the wakeup from suspend breaks some acpi-related thing with the discrete graphics card. but that’s just a clearly undereducated jab in the dark.

        the shutdown-commands seem to work nicely, too bad they’re not in a menu.
        switching to a different tty doesn’t work — when i hit the restart/shut down entries in unity’s menu, it stops all processes, the screen turns off (i.e. no backlight), but it doesn’t power off, as indicated by the lit power button.

        i’m gonna try out removing those kernel parameters now. i added them because they supposedly improved powersaving for the integrated HD3000 graphics, and powersaving is important to me.

        Reply
    2. Hanynowsky Post author

      You’re welcome.
      If the machine does not power off after suspend, that means some processes hang without being killed. I had a similar problem in 11.10 with LibreOffice (soffice).
      I am going to test also suspending when the discrete card is used and report to you.
      Know that Power management with Kernel 3.2 in Ubuntu 12.04 without no tweaking is just fine for the Intel HD 3000.

      You need to see what in your file : gedit /home/yourusername/.xsession-errors
      That file contains tracing of your logout/shutdown errors if any. That might indicate the name of the package blocking the complete shutdown.
      I tried to reproduce your issue but in vain. When I wake up from suspend, and click shutdown from menu, it kills all process and shuts down.

      Reply
  9. Malco

    Hi – thanmks for this page. Very useful for someone new to Ubuntu/Linux. Especially the help on the Optimus video card. I started off following the Ubuntu advice of running nvidia-xconfig, which of course screwed everything up. But managed to find a tutorial explaining to get back to normal resolution, it might be worth including a warning NOT to run nvidia-xconfig if you are using an L502x.

    Reply
    1. Hanynowsky Post author

      Hi Malco! You’re welcome.
      The warning was already in this post from the beginning: DO NOT INSTALL NVIDIA…..
      But I will make it clearer very soon.

      Reply
  10. Ruben

    Hi Everybody, I have been working on Ubuntu 11.04 and everything was “cooking on gas”, then, I decided to upgrade to 12.04, but, after rebooting the system I realize that the Ethernet and Wireless adapter stop working.

    Is there a way I can turn this on? In the Network System Configuration window everything appears greyed out… I’m very new with linux but I’m sure there is a way tho find the solution.

    Reply
  11. Pingback: Ubuntu 12.10 Quantal on Dell XPS 15 L502X « Hanynowsky

  12. Damian (@acevedodamian)

    Hi ! thanks for this great article, i want to ask you if you have any problem running virtual machines with Ubuntu as host. I have the same machine and when i try to run a VM, ubuntu crashes with a black screen with something like a core dump , and i have to reboot … You have any experiences running VMWare or VirtualBox under ubuntu on this machine ?? Thanks a lot for any suggestion.
    Dam

    Reply
    1. Hanynowsky Post author

      You’re welcome.
      I am running VirtualBox on Both 12.04.1 and 12.10, witvh no problems.
      Actually running the latest version of VirtualBox. I did not encounter any problem running version 4.1 neither. So it must be your configuration or something else that triggers that crash.
      I tested Fedora, Ubuntu, Windows Xp & 7, Debian, TinyCore, Mint, …as virtual machine, with no problems.
      Did you check the LOGS to check if there is any error retalted to Xorg, VirtualBox kernel Modules…
      Check also in VirtualBOx VMs folder in your home directory, each VM has its logs. Also in .VirtualBox hidden folder in your home directory.
      You need to be more specific in describing your issue. What crashes exactly? The VM or the whole system (Ubuntu)? Is the black screen recoverable? Could you have access to tty : CTRL+ALT+F2 when you screen goes black? IF you’re able, then you will be prompted to enter your login and password, do so and run : ps -A | grep VirtualBox
      to identify the process ID. Then kill it using : kill -9 thevboxID (example: kill - 9 23098).
      Then click on CTRL+ALT+F7 to get back to your desktop environment.
      Awaiting your details to help spot the problem.

      Reply
  13. sec0rit3y

    Have you tried ubuntu in your xps l502 for more than 24 hours(non-stop) ? I was having serious problem . I am also using this Laptop and installed 12.04 and i use most of time is vm, firefox so these apps was opened . But my system freeze after 24 hours. I dunno what is the problem so I newly installed the 12.10 in case if it fixes. Just testing it now.

    Reply
    1. Hanynowsky Post author

      I had the same bug (complete freezing and no Xorg or TTY). A hard reboot was necessary.
      I got rid from that bg by resetting unity ( ~$ unity –reset && compiz –replace). But I am not sure this was the real cure. This bug is very ambiguous (it’s in launchpad since the release of Precise.). Go to launchpad and search for : Ubuntu 12.04 amd64 freezes completely). I am using Ubuntu 12.04 and 12.10 on the L502X and do not have this bug no more. And I use the laptop for more than 24 hours.

      Reply
      1. sec0rit3y

        Thanks for reply. I installed the Ubuntu 12.10 and tested for 24 hours and it is not freezing anymore(Perhaps fixed!). I actually don’t use the Crazy Gnome or Unity which only for browsing web, game, social network etc. I use KDE .

        I have seen this bug on Lunchpad and they said that it will not fixed. I believe it is problem of the Kernel which fixed on 3.5.

        Do you feel any fan issue (Moving in full speed?)? Not sure though.

        Thanks

        Reply
        1. Hanynowsky Post author

          Hi. Happy you got the issue fixed too. No, The fan acts normally. Don’t expect too much for your XPS :) It’s a laptop after all. The fan reacts correctly to CPU and RAM usage. No worries ;) Just make sure when you discover abnormal fan activity, that’ you’re not running a CPU/RAM leak application (sometimes VLC or Kazam triggers a fan super activity).

          Reply
          1. sec0rit3y

            Hey, Thanks for fast reply. Sometime start sounding to much . Not sure where the sound is comming from it is fan or other things or just the Laptop. It happened on Microsoft too sometime. So i considered it as normal. Do you know anything about Battery Life yet? Is it good ? How long?

          2. Hanynowsky Post author

            Battery life is good. It has now a capacity of 75% after 12 months of use. It lasts almost 4 hours when using minimal power (Power Save).

  14. Rich

    After running google chrome using the optirun script, I still experience lags in flash wesbites notably omgpop.com. Moreover, scrolling down a webpage with several images also lags the scrolldown. Now, why does this happen?

    One more thing is that, the startup volume is muted and when I unmute it after login, it is almost close to zero. This happens everytime. I am not sure if the bug given above on low volume after startup is exactly this one.

    Reply
    1. Hanynowsky Post author

      Nvidia Driver previous to 310.19 has issues with web flash content. You should wait shortly before Bumblebee Team supports this new driver which likely fixes your issue.
      For the sound it’s a known bug since 11.10. This may happen when you plug/unplug headphones.

      Reply
  15. Andrzej

    Thank you for the tutorial. However, Dell XPS has other hardware problems. The card reader is not detected at startup unless it contains a card. This results in cards not being mounted after insertion. As a workaround, re-detection can be forced with:

    sudo echo 1 > /sys/bus/pci/rescan

    Also, the built-in DVB-T tuner is not supported in kernel, and probably will never be.

    Reply
    1. Hanynowsky

      Thanks for this useful feedback. As I lost my phone card, I was not able to thouroughly test the card reader, yet the startup issue has been there since long and it affects several brands not only Dell.
      As for the DVB-T tuner, I did not bother to include it when I first purchased the laptop, because some Dell support guy told me it would never work under Linux. The only use case where the DVB-T could work is when Dell decide to build a driver binary for Linux. I don’t know if the new Dell XPS 13 designed for Ubuntu 12.04 has a card reader and whether it works or not. Should check.
      Please do not hesitate to feedback again if you encounter other hardware issues.
      Regards.

      Reply
  16. Goutham

    I am not able to access the shortcuts menu in the Admins panel of Ubuntu tweak. I am using Ubuntu 12.10 and Windows 7 on Dell XPS L502
    More precisely, here is my window:

    Reply
    1. Hanynowsky Post author

      Weird! What version of Ubuntu Tweak do you have? enter the command: ubuntu-tweak –version

      Alos, try to run ubuntu tweak with root privilege and see if you have access to admin shortcuts: gksudo ubuntu-tweak

      Reply
      1. Goutham

        Thanks for replying so quick :)

        I used the following commands as you said to install ubuntu tweak:

        sudo add-apt-repository ppa:tualatrix/ppa
        sudo apt-get update
        sudo apt-get install ubuntu-tweak

        Running with root privilege doesn’t help unfortunately.

        As for the version(and other details), here you go:

        FYI, I just want to set my Key 3 to run the terminal command:
        gnome-screenshot –area

        Reply
  17. spm

    Hi Could you paste your idle power raport from powertop?
    8.92 W 7,3% CPU use
    5.10 W 15,7% Display backlight
    4.18 W 0,0% Display backlight
    749 mW 77,1 ops/s GPU
    23.3 mW 3,3 pkts/s Network interface: wlan0 (iwlwifi)
    I think 9W is quite much, but I need some reference.

    Reply
  18. Sienna

    Great site you have here but I was wanting to know if you knew of any forums that cover
    the same topics talked about here? I’d really love to be a part of online community where I can get suggestions from other knowledgeable individuals that share the same interest. If you have any recommendations, please let me know. Cheers!

    Reply
    1. Hanynowsky

      Hi, Happy you liked it ! Just go to Ubuntu Forums and type Dell as a search keyword ! You’ll find many threads that may have something useful for u! Cheers!

      Reply
  19. wobblefoot

    Gidday Hanynowsky, I stopped by here around a year ago for something and stumbling on you again, I thought you might be interested in a recent post (https://wiki.ubuntu.com/X/HybridGraphics) that has backported raring and nvidia’s early optimus work (319 and prime) to 12.04.3. Although primitive, it is working well for me on a 32-bit Ubuntu 12.04.3. I need the 32-bit Ubuntu to run the excellent Bricscad application (sadly, Bricsys can’t produce 64-bit packages that (1) install or (2) are actually built on 64-bit libraries) and nvidia-319 is the first solution on Optimus that actually runs the RedSDK/Bricscad 3D stuff. Anyway. In case anyone cares…the XPS 15 with Optimus is now working for that application and so, I assume, other 3D rendering applications that faltered with Bumblebee.

    Reply
  20. Pingback: Can't restore from Hibernate (sudo pm-hibernate) on new Dell XPS 15z laptop in 12.04 LTS | Ubuntu InfoUbuntu Info

    1. Hanynowsky Post author

      As I said via Email, Hibernation is very buggy in Ubuntu starting 11.10 up to 13.10. It is really discouraged to try to activate it! But if you really want to hack the kernel settings and activate it, that’s another story! Check Bumblebee GitHub repo!

      Reply
  21. geoff

    Anyone else has problems with Bumblebee in Ubuntu 13.10? I tried to fix it by re-installing Bumblebee, the command optirun is still recognized, however there is not the performance one should expect, neither as there the possibility to right-click programs and select “run with bumblebee” or something alike.

    Reply
  22. Ankhaa

    Any news on Ubuntu 14.04 on L502x? Wanted to make a dual boot system: Win7 as primary OS and Ubuntu as an optional, but a bit confused with the partition etc. my 1TB HDD is split in two volumes+100Mb system files? Should I shrink the (C:) like 50GB for Ubuntu or something? How does this swap area work and will my Win7 start automatically if I don’t choose Ubuntu from the boot menu?

    Reply

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