Ubuntu 12.10 Quantal on Dell XPS 15 L502X

This Post discusses further information about installing Ubuntu 12.10 Quantal on a Dell XPS 15 L502X.

Following the former post “Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin on Dell XPS 15″, There is no need for redundancy, so we’d like to put only what might be different and mention some issues that come only with Quantal.

1- One can follow all information on the previous post that applies to 12.04. It also applies t 12.10 (Optimus Support by Bumblebee project, etc).


If you fresh-installed Ubuntu 12.10 ou just updated, you likely now have a sound issue.


– When you open your user session, sound is enabled, but you hear nothing except sometimes, tiny power explosions that indicates, the internal speakers are powered. Besides, the sound is back only when you plug in your headphones. It’s a matter of plug/unplug and sound routing awareness.
You might experience this issue also after a wake-up from a suspend.

Fortunately you can work around it :

On TERMINAL type: alsamixer

an interface will be displayed showing volume bars. Check the last one if it’s enabled or not (AUTO MUTE MO). It should be disabled.



If enabled, disable it and exit.

Type again : sudo alsa force-reload

You’re done. SOund should be back to normal.

But what if the above does not work? Don’t panic, let’s try some more advanced commands:

Follow these commands one by one :

sudo add-apt-repository -y ppa:ubuntu-audio-dev/ppa
 sudo apt-get update
 sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

 sudo apt-get -y install linux-sound-base alsa-base alsa-utils libasound2

 sudo apt-get -y install gdm ubuntu-desktop linux-image-`uname -r`

 sudo apt-get -y --reinstall install libasound2 linux-sound-base alsa-base alsa-utils

 sudo apt-get -y --reinstall lightdm ubuntu-desktop linux-image-`uname -r`

 killall pulseaudio

 rm -r ~/.pulse*

 sudo usermod -aG `cat /etc/group | grep -e '^pulse:' -e '^audio:' -e '^pulse-access:' -e '^pulse-rt:' -e '^video:' | awk -F: '{print $1}' | tr '\n' ',' | sed 's:,$::g'` `whoami`


Some folks may encounter this issue: When playing audio files, sound gets distorted, chunky and creeky. You might not notice it untill you increase the volume of your speakers.
Even though they are JBL, sound might get distorted and ugly. It’s a software issue rather.

Solution 1:

On Terminal enter: gksudo gedit /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf
the alsa-base.conf will be opened in your Gedit text editor.
Then, add the following line to the content of the file:
options snd-hda-intel model=generic
At last, reboot.

Solution 2:

If you have VLC installed on your system, try playing your audio files in totem instead of VLC and see if the audio sound is still distorted. If not, then uninstalling VLC likely should fix the problem.

HDMI Video/Audio Support

Thanks to ‘Reverse Prime’, HDMI Support for Nouveau Driver is now partially supported. It’s promised that it gets full support by the release of 13.10.
See also Bumblbee Github Issue tracker for more information.


conky on ubuntu

Conky on Ubuntu Quantal

1- First install conky
sudo apt-get install conky conky-all
2- Download the customized script: https://www.dropbox.com/s/6shmby2dm3ond2t/conky.tar.gz?dl=0
3- uncompress it and you should have a folder with the following content : two hidden folders (.conky & .lua) and a hidden file .conkyrc.
4- Copy these three files to your home directory.
5- then: killall conky && conky
6- open the DASH and type “startup“; this will open start up applications applet.
7- Add another entry for conky : conky -p 10
8- Now Conky should be launched on every login in (10 seconds of delay after user session is unlocked).
9- Optionally open the .conkyrc or lua scripts for more tweaking that suits your taste.

PS: Notice we modified slightly conkyrc script so that conky fits better in the xps 15 screen while you still have space for your desktop icons.
————————-BUGS ———————————————-
Intel GPU : https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/linux/+bug/1140716


We’ll continue soon, by adding other issues and tips.


59 thoughts on “Ubuntu 12.10 Quantal on Dell XPS 15 L502X

  1. CliffCurtis

    Thanks alot! The extended solution worked for me, the first one not. How the hell is someone supposed to know those commands to fix his audio :-/

    1. Hanynowsky Post author

      🙂 That’s an advanced way of working around a bug. Intermediate linux users are not supposed to know this. Actually, this is a bug that should be addressed. It started in Ubuntu 12.04 but was partially fixed and now it’s back. If not fixed soon, we’ll post another better solution.

    2. xedni

      Hi I’ve tried the commands above for dealing with the no-sound issue, but when doing line 11, I get “E: Invalid operation lightdm”.

      1. Hanynowsky Post author

        You mean this line: sudo apt-get -y --reinstall lightdm ubuntu-desktop linux-image-`uname -r` ?
        Ok split it into three commands:
        sudo apt-get -y --reinstall ubuntu-desktop
        sudo apt-get -y --reinstall lightdm
        sudo apt-get -y --reinstall linux-image-`uname -r`

        The error you’re getting means that the light weight desktop manager (lightdm) is not installed in your system. Instead, you have GDM or KDE or other DM. replace lightdm by the desktop manager you have.

  2. gorkon

    This one was driving me batty. By the way you don’t have to do the alsa-reload. ALSO once you disable the auto mute it WILL not mute the speakers. You can reroute the sound with the built in applet.

    Yeah this is a BUG for sure. Do you have a link to the Launchpad doc?

    1. Hanynowsky Post author

      Thanks for the confirmation. The first time I did not use alsa-reload, yet the second time the bug occured it worked for me! Rerouting the sound with applet also works as it did in 12.04.
      I already file a bug for 12.04. I’ll be filing a new one tomorrow if I don’t find a duplicate!

  3. HMH

    hi, thanks so much for all the information, it is has been very helpful.

    Any suggestions for the poor sound quality?

      1. HMH

        Sure. Maybe it’s just a whim, you know, but one of the best things that this laptop has, are the speakers… when I’m playing music in windows the definition is sharp and gives good use to the JBLs (I think in part it has to be by the Wave MaxxAudio) even at the complete volume, but in ubuntu the sound is poor compared with that, it sounds as if the laptop was inside a can or something like that, and at 100% volume the speaker are overcrowded. I tried with some equalizers and some players but the sound do not get better. Is that a comun issue?

        1. Hanynowsky Post author

          Sure! JBL speakers are incredibly great speakers. Probably the best in the market for laptops.
          The proprietary driver for the sound card in MS Windows takes full advantage of the HD audio of the sound card while Alsa/Pulse audio do not. You can get a very good sound quality in Ubuntu though. VLC with its equalizer for example. And as you guessed. THE MAXXAUDIO equalizer adds good equalization that makes the sound crisp.
          I am still investigating myself on this matter (audio) and how to make it crisp as it should be. Once I find a concrete explanation. I’ll post it in the blog. You can follow the Blog in order to get notified! Thanks.

          Have a look at this article: http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=MTE3MTQ

  4. Philipp

    Hi, I have installed Ubuntu 12.04 and 12.10 on a Dell XPS 15 L521x but can’t get the external monitor to work on the miniport. Are you aware of any changes in terms of graphics card hardware ?

    1. Hanynowsky

      I see. I still haven’t tested the new L521x yet. Probably my next purchase.
      The l521x comes with Ivy Bridge CPU and HD4000 graphics card instead of HD3000 in the L502X. However, design seem to be almost the same.
      Please type in a Terminal: lspci | grep VGA to see what cards you have.
      Then, plug your external monitor in the miniDP port and type on Terminal:
      xrandr -q in order to see if it’s really connected. And tell us.
      Otherwise, please describe in details your issue, so maybe we could help (type of screen, miniDP adapter?, errors? what do you see in the monitor when plugged, does the monitor works under Windows 7? Does it work under Ubuntu 12.04? Did you try with a LIVE CD for both 12.04 and 12.10…..etc)

    1. Hanynowsky Post author

      Sure. The latest KDE desktop environment fixes many issues found in Unity and/or Gnome shell. I am using KDE too as a secondary desktop Env. I play with them all depending on the need. Thanks for sharing though 🙂

      1. sec0rit3y

        Actually Gnome or Unity is not for Power users. The design is really sucks!

        How Ubuntu 12.10 for WIFI on L502x? Sometimes it disconnect, multiple attempt for connecting to WIFI? The Wifi did not really work for me on 12.04.

        Let me know your experience and possible solved please…

        1. Hanynowsky Post author

          Desktop Shell or env is a matter of taste and needs. I love Unity, KDE and other Envs like XCFE, LMDE…On the POst about Installing Ubuntu 12.04 on XPS 15, there is a fix for the Wifi Issue.
          It worked fine for me except some specific Wifi Hotspots;

  5. Jeet

    Hello buddy, this looks really pretty so i tried it but I am getting some errors, if you could plz help me with it

    Conky: can't open /sys/class/power_supply/BAT1/uevent: No such file or directory
    Conky: can't open /proc/acpi/battery/BAT1/state: No such file or directory
    Conky: unknown variable 
    Conky: unknown variable .................................................

    Thanks in advance

    1. Hanynowsky

      That’s no fatal error. Conky has a set of variables that it gets from the system. In order to get information on Battery state it points to /sys/class/power_supply/BAT1/uevent
      and /proc/acpi/battery/BAT1/state
      Those files do not exist in an Optimus Enabled laptop running Ubuntu with Bumblebee.
      Conky should rather point to : /sys/class/power_supply/BAT0/uevent
      So basically the error message is:

      Conky: desktop window (1800092) is subwindow of root window (c3)
      Conky: window type - override
      Conky: drawing to created window (0x5c00001)
      Conky: drawing to double buffer
      Conky: can't open /sys/class/power_supply/BAT1/uevent: No such file or directory
      Conky: can't open /proc/acpi/battery/BAT1/state: No such file or directory
      Conky: unknown variable 

      Solving this, needs us to recompiling/rebuilding conky with the right Battery file path to point to.
      Or just file a bug in Launchpad (change BAT1 to BAT0 )

  6. harsh

    hey, i just did a fresh installation of ubuntu 12.10 . the last few times i did, it was working fine, but this time it goes off after some time. its there when the system boots, everything seems fine, but suddenly it stops working all of a sudden, alsa mixer still shows the driver and other settings to be right, but system setting>sound settings don’t show any driver.
    i tried all the tests in shown here https://help.ubuntu.com/community/SoundTroubleshooting
    but none of them show any problem
    I tried the detailed solution you mentioned, but still its not working.
    Its there everytime i reboot the system, but just vanishes randomly and then the only way to get it back seems to be reboot.
    It was working fine all the previous times i installed 12.10.
    Thanks for your help in advance

    1. Hanynowsky Post author

      First of all, is your laptop the Dell XPS 15 L502X?
      Second question; Did you try with a Live CD? I hope it’s not a hardware issue.
      What does give this command? : lspci | grep Audio

      1. harsh

        It says “00:1b.0 Audio device: Intel Corporation 5 Series/3400 Series Chipset High Definition Audio (rev 06)”
        Mine is Dell XPS 15 L501X which was the previous version of the L502X, so i assumed it would work for mine too.
        I have installed 12.10 in my computer many times, but this is the first time i am facing this, also it doesn’t happen everytime, it just happens randomly sometimes, and then i have no other options but to restart it.

  7. Goutham

    I am getting this error message whenever I start up my ubuntu.

    System program problem detected
    Do you want to report the problem now?

    How do I get rid of it? I am dual booting windows 7 Home premium and Ubuntu 12.10 and my laptop is Dell XPS L502.

      1. Hanynowsky Post author

        Sorry for being late. Well. the workaround in mattrudge blog is somehow not recommended. As long as a software triggers a system error, you will get this modal crash window.
        removing the content of /var/crash/ won’t help you get rid of it. Basically it only stores the information about the crash report, information to be uploaded to launchpad and information already uploaded to launchpad. The root problem comes from some software which has high level bug which prevents Ubuntu core from interactively functionning correctly, like /usr/bin/samba_dnsupdate , tracker-miner-fs, my-weather-indicator, evolution-calendar-factory, gwibber-service, …..etc.
        So first thing to do is when you get this error dialog again, click yes and enter your password, you will get right away another APPORT crash reporter with information about the root cause. Tell us then what is the name of the software or library behind the trouble so we could help.

    1. Hanynowsky

      When the battery is new, it lasts almost 4 hours (Bumblebee installed). The more you use the battery the more its life decreases.
      Remember that the more applications you use and the more memory and CPU you consume, the faster the battery will run out of power!

      1. Alvaro

        4 hours with 6-cell battery?. My battery is 6-cell and my l502x already two years. My battery indicator shows 1:17 but then I take less than 1 hour. You think it’s normal?

        Thank you.

        1. Hanynowsky

          That’s pretty normal. In Two years the battery loses almost 60% of its capacity!
          CPU & Memory usage varies a lot, so the indicator value is only approximative. Don’t rely on it much!

  8. Goutham

    I am having this weird problem with conky. Whenever I start up ubuntu, conky comes in front of every application. That is, every window including terminal go behind conky. But if I log off and log in again, it fixes the problem. I think it happened recently(after I was trying to change wallpapers and all). How do I fix this? I haven’t tweaked conky, just used your customized package.

    1. Hanynowsky Post author

      This is a bug proper to CONKY (SOme issue with Nautilus). You can work around it by setting the number of seconds to a higher value: (instead of conky -p 10), do : conky -p 20.
      This means conky will be executed 20 seconds after session startup.

      If the bug occurs randomly anytime: type : ALT+F2 and then: pkill conky && conky

      1. Goutham

        Thanks, but the problem solved itself somehow. I will remember this the next time it happens 🙂

  9. Rahul Rai

    Hi, I am new to Ubuntu but after reading numerous posts & articles I’m still not able to fix the graphics issue. I have even installed bumblebee. Issues that I’m facing is while working on ubuntu, irrespective of what I’m doing, everything will just freeze.nothing works. If I try to open terminal still nothing, no key board or sometimes even the mouse or touchpad stops. I’m on dualboot with win8 on dell xps 15z l502x. Please help me out.

    1. Hanynowsky Post author

      What you have is bug: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/xserver-xorg-video-intel/+bug/993187
      The 15z is diffrent from the standard 15.
      This bug has been fixed for some configurations, yet others still suffer it! I had this bug once and it suddenly disappeared after I reset Unity :
      unity --reset
      compiz --replace
      Your last bet is to upgrade to 13.04 which seems to have fixed many Xorg/Graphics/Kernel problems!:

      sudo do-release-upgrade -d

      1. Rahul Rai

        OK got it, will try as advised. So you are saying after carrying out the above commands will it upgarde to 13.04 or I will have to again reinstall through a thumb drive? Sorry for being a noob.

        1. Hanynowsky Post author

          Yes, you do not need a thumb drive.
          You need internet connection.
          Just: open your terminal and carry : sudo do-release-upgrade -d
          And follow instructions (quite easy).
          Don’t interrupt the upgrade process. It will take some 2 hours before it finished, depending on your connection speed!

          1. Rahul Rai

            ok got it…will do this. My connection speed is pretty fast….depending on restrictions from the update server…i can download upto 100 mbps. Will get back 2u if the problem gets resolved.
            One more question
            If the update doesn’t fix the issue then should I use the below commands
            To reset Unity :
            unity –reset
            compiz –replace

            or not?

          1. Rahul Rai

            did the whole thing and spent the night..but the same problem. going to do a fresh install. Any specific link to download ubuntu 13.04 from?

          1. Rahul Rai

            Hi, I did as u suggested and don’t know what went wrong during the installation & I landed up in GRUB Rescue. It took me almost 10hrs to fix the whole thing. I got Bootiting software & got a disc burnt & wiped out the complete linux partitions out & was successful in coming back to win8. But I would like to install Ubuntu, can u help me out the proper way so that I don’t get the freeze & also run it normally. Is Kubuntu better than Ubuntu or they are all the same. Thanx for ur guide.

        2. Hanynowsky Post author

          I installed 13.04 last week and every
          hing was successful.
          First of all, download the CD Image that corresponds to your XPS architecture (64 bits or 32 bits). Then burn the ISO image into your Flash Disk or DVD disk, and boot from one of them, and install it. That should take less than one hours if you do it from USB flash disk.
          When you launch the installation at some degree the installation process will ask you if you want to install Ubuntu alongside with win8; click ok and continue.
          When you fully install Ubuntu 13.04. Play with it for several hours to see if it would freeze!
          You can find troubleshooting on http://www.askubuntu.com

          1. Rahul Rai

            ok, so u don’t have the nvidia graphics problem on the 13.04? or do we have to again install bumblebee / nouveau driver? & if so then is it the sam way as in 12.10 or different. I should install the “PC (Intel x86) desktop image” or “64-bit PC (AMD64) desktop image” i have the L502 X 64bit. Also anything special I need to keep in mind?

          1. Rahul Rai

            Hi I have already tried 13.04 thru live usb, but it’s asking me for a id & password. But none of the id & password works. Pls help.

  10. Alok Singh Mahor

    thanks a lot of this post. I could sort out audio problem from your post 🙂
    beside this I am facing more problems on Ubuntu 12.10 64bit
    1. too much heating
    2. fan is running continously
    3. ticking sound of subwoofer
    4. WAVES MAXXAUDIO3 key is not working
    will you suggest me something to get rid of these problems?
    will swichting to KDE sort out some of these problems?
    what problem will be sort out automaticlly in Ubuntu 13.04?
    sorry for so many question in one comment 😛
    thanks in advance

    1. Alok Singh Mahor

      problem (1) too much heating (2) fan problem have solved by installing bumblebee and bumblebee-nvidia.
      now I am using ubutnu 13.03 but still probelm (3) and (4 ) is unsolved.
      how to control bass of subwoofer. woofer’s volume is too high. how to lower the bass/volume of subwoofer?

      1. Hanynowsky Post author

        Hi. There is no way to control the subwoofer directly in Ubuntu and I don’t seem to have such problem. In what use cases you get a thick sound from subwoofer? When using VLC, Totem, Any other application….What Desktop Env are you using, Unity? Gnome Shell?
        Check this: http://askubuntu.com/questions/211201/how-to-activate-subwoofer-in-inspiron-17r
        For the MAXAUDIO key, it’s normal, it does not work. You could use the Compiz Manager to bind that key as aan application or script shortcut (Remember this key triggers a proprietary Sound control app in Windows). Check my former posts, there is something on how to do it.

        SUbwoofer issu is a bug: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/alsa-driver/+bug/993914

        1. Alok Singh Mahor

          thanks for quick reply 🙂
          great you are not facing any problem related to subwoofer. but I faced problem of wubwoofer in Ubuntu 12.10 as well as in 13.04. woofer volume is very high. our model is same then how come I am facing problem?
          I am sharing output of lspci -v at http://paste.ubuntu.com/5622559/
          please check whether we really have same hardware or not.

          I am facing this problem on both vlc, totem or any other player. I am using Unity Desktop.
          please share if you get any clue
          thanks 🙂

          1. Hanynowsky Post author

            Hello! We have exactly the same hardware!
            I searched before how to reduce.increase the volume of the subwoofer but couldn’t find a clue since this is a driver issue. This got my interest now as that might frustrate many of us! I’ll update this post with the correct information related to sbwoofer! If any solution available, you’ll find it in this post during current week!

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