|Linux Laptops Home|
Last updated: 2011-01-23
General Hardware Specifications of Dell XPS L501X:
Status under Linux
|Intel Core i7-740QM 1.73GHz||Works||No special procedure required.|
|15.6FHD TLF LCD L501X Display||Works||No special procedure required.|
|NVIDIA GeForce GT 435M 2GB graphics US||Works||Download NVIDIA Linux driver|
|4GB, DDR3, 2 DIMMs||Works||No special procedure required|
|500GB 7200 RPM SATA Hard Drive||Works||No special procedure required|
|Intel Corporation Centrino Wireless-N 1000||Works||Install package firmware-iwlwifi|
|Integrated Network Card (Realtek)||Works||No special procedure required|
|HL-DT-ST 8X DVD+/-RW GT32N||Works||No special procedure required|
|Integrated webcam||Works||No special procedure required|
|Integrated microphone||Works||No special procedure required|
|92 WHr 9-cell Lithium-Ion Battery||Works||No special procedure required|
|Intel High Definition Audio (chip: Realtek ALC665)||Works||Download ALSA sound driver|
|Backlit keyboard||Works||No special procedure required|
|Touchpad||Works||No special procedure required|
|USB 3 ports||Works||No special procedure required.|
|Bluetooth||Detected but not tested||No special procedure required.|
This laptop is operating under Kernel version 2.6.32-5-amd64
To start the Disk Management program, click on the Windows Start icon, and enter Disk Management in the search box. Select the partition labeled OS (C:), then defragment it : Action > All Tasks > Properties > Tools > Defragment now. When this action is completed, shrink the partition: Action > All Tasks > Shrink Volume.
Result: 238.0 GB out of 500.1 GB of hard disk space were made available for installing Linux.
The firmware for the WiFi card could not be loaded during the installation, so a wired connection was used. Note that GRUB 2 was chosen as the boot loader and was installed on the MBR (Master Boot Record). The dual boot works fine. Note however that the screen resolution is only 800x600 after installation.
I had no success configuring xorg.conf to get some of the open-source drivers to work at high resolution with the 435M card. It was however fairly straightforward to install the NVIDIA driver.
During installation of the driver, the NVIDIA installer complained that the version of gcc (gcc-4.4) didn't match the version used to compile the kernel (gcc-4.3). I simply removed the gcc link and recreated it with the proper gcc version. Obviously gcc-4.3 has to be installed on your system for this to work.
root# rm /usr/bin/gcc root# ln -s /usr/bin/gcc-4.3 /usr/bin/gcc
The 1900x1080 screen is correctly detected by the NVIDIA driver. The resolution, brightness, contrast, and color gamut of this FHD screen are excellent.
You may check your ALSA version with the following command:
cat /proc/asound/version Advanced Linux Sound Architecture Driver Version 1.0.21.
If you have the version 1.0.21, download the file alsa-driver-1.0.23.tar.bz2 (or a later version) from www.alsa-project.org. I installed using the procedure outline here. In Debian Squeeze, alsa-lib-1.0.23 and alsa-utils-1.0.23 exist as packages, so there is no need to download and compile them but make sure they are installed. (It is puzzling that the ALSA driver shows up as version 1.0.21 when the ALSA packages are version 1.0.23. Perhaps this will be resolved by the time you read this page.)
Below is an outline of the steps taken to compile the modules. This first attempt shows that the installation fails. It is shown here to justify further steps required to install the modules successfully.
Download some debs root# apt-get install build-essential ncurses-dev gettext xmlto libasound2-dev root# apt-get install libncursesw5-dev Shut down ALSA root# /etc/init.d/alsa-utils stop Open archive user> tar jxvf alsa-driver-1.0.23.tar.bz user> cd alsa-driver-1.0.23 Compile and install user> ./configure --with-debug=full --enable-dynamic-minors --with-moddir=updates user> make root# make install-modules ERROR: Kernel configuration is invalid. include/linux/autoconf.h or include/config/auto.conf are missing. Run 'make oldconfig && make prepare' on kernel src to fix it.I ran 'make oldconfig' and 'make prepare' on the kernel source, but the error message remained. There are a couple of solutions I am aware of to solve this problem. One of them involves copying the missing files to where they are expected to be found. This post gives all the details. Another approach, used for the present installation, is to recompile the kernel (see instructions). After either of these options is applied to correct the problem, the modules should install without error this time.
After a reboot we have amazing sound for a laptop and we note that:
cat /proc/asound/version Advanced Linux Sound Architecture Driver Version 1.0.23. Compiled on Dec 30 2010 for kernel 2.6.32-5-amd64p (SMP).
If you recompile the kernel, you will have to reinstall the NVIDIA driver. Practically, this extra work is not very significant considering that all the packages are already in place and that the procedure is now known to the user. You may wish to recompile the kernel first if you want to avoid this extra step or use the other method mentioned above that consists of copying the missing files to /usr/src/linux-headers-2.6.32-5-common.
I hope these tips will be enough to guide you in getting sound on your laptop. If not, refer to the ALSA web site for a wealth of information about testing and debugging. In particular, the link Help To Debug Intel HDA is quite useful. Also, you can use alsamixer, invoked in a terminal, to check or modify the mixer settings.
I had concerns about installing a 64-bit OS on the laptop because of the expected difficulties of making non-free 32-bit applications work. The multimedia repository takes care of this at least for the packages I care about, that is acroread and flashplayer. Don't forget to install the ia32 libs such as ia32-libs, ia32-libs-gtk, ia32-libs-xulrunner. Another advantage of the repository is that when there are new versions of acroread or flashplayer available, you will see them appear as packages to update.
Note: install the mozilla-acroread plugin to be able to view pdfs in mozilla and konqueror.
SUSPEND_MODULES="xhci"Note that on my installation the file unload_module had to be created.
See this web page for a description of the bug and the origin of the solution proposed above. After this modification, the system usually suspends correctly.
After these steps and a reboot, the module coretemp is still not automatically loaded on my system although I believe it should have been. A solution to this problem is to force the module to be loaded using the rc.local file. Simply add the following line to /etc/rc.local:
/sbin/modprobe -q coretempOnce this is in place and that the module coretemp is loaded (you can check that it is loaded with the command lsmod | grep coretemp), you can read the sensors temperatures using the /usr/bin/sensors command. With the laptop used here, I get:
user> sensors acpitz-virtual-0 Adapter: Virtual device temp1: +26.8°C (crit = +100.0°C) temp2: +0.0°C (crit = +100.0°C) coretemp-isa-0000 Adapter: ISA adapter Core 0: +44.0°C (high = +84.0°C, crit = +100.0°C) coretemp-isa-0001 Adapter: ISA adapter Core 1: +43.0°C (high = +84.0°C, crit = +100.0°C) coretemp-isa-0002 Adapter: ISA adapter Core 2: +47.0°C (high = +84.0°C, crit = +100.0°C) coretemp-isa-0003 Adapter: ISA adapter Core 3: +43.0°C (high = +84.0°C, crit = +100.0°C)For more information on the subject, please visit lm-sensors.org.
First and foremost the hardware of this laptop is well supported by Linux. The screen resolution and colors are excellent and the video card is well supported by the NVIDIA driver. The sound quality is very good for a laptop. The powerful processor and fast memory give this laptop much computing power and speed. The large touchpad (11.5 cm diagonal) is also a definite plus.
There are a couple of minor details about the laptop that could be annoying to some people. One is a slight surface vibration felt left of the touchpad caused by the hard drive. This was annoying at first, but I don't notice it anymore. Another is the placement of up arrow key underneath the Enter key. The Shift key size has been reduced to accommodate the up arrow key. This unusual key placement, likely for aesthetics, required an adjustment of my typing habits.
The battery is said not to last very long because of the power hungry processor and video card. If long battery operation is important, this laptop is probably not a good choice. It is also not the most portable of laptops, but it is a good size for working at a desk to do some serious work or run multimedia applications. The fan runs more frequently than I would like to evacuate the processor and video card heat. Fortunately the fan noise is relatively quiet.
Each person will have different tolerances to the various laptop characteristics, so the qualitative assessments given here should be looked at as indicators only.
Overall I am quite pleased with this laptop's look, feel, performance and compatibility with Linux.