I don’t like to get new equipment if I have old equipment that still works fine. My Asus A2500S laptop is now more than 10 years old, and although it has received a few small repairs and a memory upgrade over the years, it still works fine. Its Pentium 4 Mobile processor may be a power hog, but it’s not slow. Its main bottleneck is memory. The full Ubuntu is getting a bit too heavy for the old guy, but Xubuntu still runs like a charm. On the other hand, at over 5 kg (including power-supply) the thing is HEAVY. And two-thirds of the litium-ion-cells in the battery crystallised when I accidentally got the laptop overheated in my bag two years ago, which reduced battery life to about 20 minutes. So, as I increasingly need to work when traveling or on location, I finally decided to get a new laptop.
After some searching around, I settled for a Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 14. The version with an Intel i3-4010U, a 500 Gb harddisk (rather than SSD) and 8 Gb memory was priced at a very reasonable 600 euro. Furthermore, the 14” touchscreen is just big enough to be workable, but the device is small and thin enough to easily fit in my backpack. With some tweaking, you can easily make the battery last for 4 hours of work, and that’s with wireless networking enabled.
Given that these newfangled Windows 8 devices use UEFI-booting, I expected a long and painful procedure to get Ubuntu installed. However, after enabling “legacy booting” in the BIOS, installing Ubuntu 14.04 from a bootable USB-pendrive was surprisingly smooth. Moreover, most of the hardware “just worked” out-of-the-box. Video, network, USB, HDMI, sound, touchscreen, camera and cardreader all work just fine, without any customisation (although the default power-settings are not optimal). The only issues I had were with Bluetooth and with the touchpad.
Bluetooth in itself worked fine, but apparently the Bluetooth hardware on the motherboard is slow in initialising. This in turn, causes the entire USB3-stack in the current Linux-kernel to be seemingly randomly disabled after booting, or when resuming from sleep-mode. In other words, sometimes USB-devices (including Bluetooth, the touchscreen and any USB-drives you may have attached) work, sometimes they don’t. I don’t really use Bluetooth, so I simply disabled it in the BIOS, and after that all USB-devices work without problems. But that’s obviously not ideal.
The second issue is that the ALPS GlidePoint touchpad used in the Lenovo Flex 14 and 15 uses the new ALPS v7 protocol, which is not yet supported in the current Linux kernel (3.13.0). A patch has been submitted, but is still under review. Until the driver has been included in the kernel, you can simply install this DKMS-kernel-module to get support for full touchpad-features: https://github.com/he1per/psmouse-dkms-alpsv7
Unfortunately, the default settings of the touchpad are not great. I got lots of spurious click-events when moving the mouse-cursor, especially when using two-finger scrolling. This was highly annoying, so I tweaked the Xorg touchpad-settings until I got something that worked from me.
You can use
synclient to list and change the settings on the fly
(useful for testing), and
man synaptics to get a description of the
available settings. To make the settings permanent, add them to an Xorg
configuration fragment, e.g. in the
For instance, do
gksu gedit /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d 51-touchpad-tweaks.conf &” and insert
Section "InputClass" Identifier "touchpad tweaks" MatchIsTouchpad "on" MatchDevicePath "/dev/input/event*" # I used these settings to greatly reduce spurious clicks, but you may prefer # to use a slightly less narrow range of values for FingerLow/High # and a somewhat higher value for MaxTapTime (the default is 180 ms). Option "FingerLow" "50" Option "FingerHigh" "55" Option "MaxTapTime" "90" Option "TapAndDragGesture" "false" # I prefer edge-scrolling to two-finger scrolling Option "VertEdgeScroll" "true" Option "HorizEdgeScroll" "true" Option "VertScrollDelta" "50" Option "HorizScrollDelta" "50" Option "CornerCoasting" "true" # This disables synaptics driver pointer acceleration Option "MinSpeed" "1" Option "MaxSpeed" "1" # Tweak the X-server pointer acceleration Option "AccelerationProfile" "2" Option "AdaptiveDeceleration" "10" Option "ConstantDeceleration" "2"EndSection
You’ll also need to disable the Gnome mouse-settings plugin, to stop it from interfering in your settings:
gsettings set org.gnome.settings-daemon.plugins.mouse active false
Or you can try the alternative method described here: http://askubuntu.com/questions/248290/enable-both-edge-scrolling-and-two…
Finally, I extended the battery-time by installing
and tweaking the power-saving features of the Linux kernel a bit (as
powertop). I added the following lines to
gksu gedit” to edit):
# NMI watchdog should be turned off echo '0' > '/proc/sys/kernel/nmi_watchdog'; # VM writeback timeout echo '1500' > '/proc/sys/vm/dirty_writeback_centisecs'; # Enable SATA link power Management for host0 echo 'min_power' > '/sys/class/scsi_host/host0/link_power_management_policy'; # Enable SATA link power Managmenet for host1 echo 'min_power' > '/sys/class/scsi_host/host1/link_power_management_policy'; # Enable SATA link power Managmenet for host2 echo 'min_power' > '/sys/class/scsi_host/host2/link_power_management_policy'; # Runtime PM for PCI Device Intel Corporation Haswell-ULT Integrated Graphics Controller echo 'auto' > '/sys/bus/pci/devices/0000:00:02.0/power/control'; # Runtime PM for PCI Device Intel Corporation Lynx Point-LP SMBus Controller echo 'auto' > '/sys/bus/pci/devices/0000:00:1f.3/power/control';
More agressive power-saving settings are available (check
powertop --html”), but some seemed to give me warnings in
I disabled them. I also added several options to the
GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT line in
pcie_aspm i915.i915_enable_rc6=1 i915.lvds_downclock=1
However, I did not test how much difference this makes on my laptop. Check out this article for more information on these settings: http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=intel_i915_power