Kubuntu 16.04 and Dell Inspiron 7559

Problem:
Recently, I was more and more than fascinated by development convenience under the modern Linux distributions, not in the last place because I started to use Ubuntu on daily basis at work.
So I decided to try Linux on my home laptop (Dell 7559).

Options were:

  1. Install it as a virtual machine
  2. Dual boot

At first, I tried installing Ubuntu/Kubuntu inside VM but it turned out to be a bad decision because of the 4K display of the laptop - interface was too slow for the normal usage.
I tried both VMWare Player 12 and VirtualBox, tried even setting the scaling of the display in the latter to 200% so Ubuntu will have only 1080p virtual screen but it lagged even more.
No go.

Then I decided to try the dual boot approach. Luckily, when moving my system to SSD, I had to shrink the Windows partition and had about 200 Gb of the free place in the end of the disk where I decided to put the Kubuntu 16.04. Why Kubuntu? When trying out Ubuntu and Kubuntu inside VM, I found the scaling in the KDE working a bit better. But there is no real "why" here - just was interested in trying KDE instead of Unity/Gnome, maybe I will install Unity and/or Gnome later on.

Though the official page says that I will have no problems with 14.04, I decided to try sticking with the latest 16.04 and it turned out to be a good choice.

To make it work right, I had to make the several quirks which could be interesting to someone wanting to install Ubuntu on their laptop.
Here is the list of these "quirks":

  • Add "nomodeset" to grub parameters (press 'e' when in the menu and type it in) when booting from USB stick (it should be fixed in 16.04.1)
  • Select "try kubuntu" and after it boots, click on "something" in the top left corner of the screen to start the installation (I guess, some scalability issue screwed up the actual widget starting installation)
  • Installation passed smoothly for me so nothing to talk about here though should mention that disabling secure boot and installing 3rd party codecs (first screen?) could  have make my life easier - I just had to disable secure boot and install the codecs manually.
  • After the first boot, I had to address the scaling - everything was too small by default. To make it right I had to:
  1. Change the scaling: System Settings > Display and Monitor > Scale display > drag Scale to 2.
  2.  System Settings > Fonts > Force fonts DPI to 168
  • Install the NVidia drivers or system did not properly shutdown or restart: 
sudo apt-add-repository ppa:graphics-drivers/ppa
sudo apt-get install nvidia-367

  • Hook up the subwoofer pin for internal Realtek ALC3246. This answer helped greatly - I only had to find the right pin ID:
sudo apt-get install alsa-tools alsa-tools-gui
launch HDAJackRetask and:
  • Check "show unconnected pins"
  • Remap 0×1b (“Not connected”, which is the subwoofer) to “Internal speaker (LFE)”
  • Install Boot Override 
  • Restart
So as a result, I am typing this text now on the Kubuntu 16.04, and it works just fine: interface is fast, faster maybe than Windows 10/though has several minor crashes, but they were really minor.
Audio, Video, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth (tried headset) - check!

In the future, I think I will play more with the interface/try Unity and/or Gnome.
But for now - solved!

UPDATE: according to comments and reviews on the internet, 7559 is still not the best choice for Linux. Though if you are OK with ~2 hours on the battery, everything else is more or less solvable.
I decided to try Ubuntu-Gnome and it worked out even better. With nouveau.nomodeset=0, gnome handles the HDPI display natively and on ubuntu-gnome I did not have the subwoofer issue (maybe I just forgot to install something on Kubuntu). Video drivers though should be nvidia-367, any other open-source/pre-built binaries did not work right.

Comments

  1. I read on some forums that most people had problems with fans : with skylake CPU it seems that the fan's controlling isn't that good with actual kernels.
    So my question is : do you have this problem on your 7559 ? Full time ventilating ?

    Second question : what about the Intel graphic card (530) ?

    I'm very interesting in trying Linux Mint in dual boot !

    Thanks ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi. I have 7559 with i7 cpu and yes, I'm experiencing this problem with fans (like all Inspiron 7559 users), actually with other guy we were initiated the bug on ubuntu launchpad and bothering Dell (they are pretty good ignorants).
      Once the fans are started to spin, they are spinning forver, even when cpu is cooled to 27C.
      https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/linux/+bug/1602888
      If possible click "this bug affects me on the top left corner" to increase bug importance please.
      Second question: Intel HD is fully supported fine with kernels 4.6 and later (currently I'm running on Mint 18 and 4.7 kernel and even nvidia-prime works smoothly since 4.6)

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  2. I have the 7559, and yes the fans are pretty much always spinning under Linux.

    Also, once you install the nvidia driver, it does fix the suspend/shutdown problems, but you can never again switch to the intel graphics, or the laptop hangs on the next bootup.

    All in all, this laptop sucks for Linux and I regret ever getting it.

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  3. @Max.R: I had no issues with fans and running on the integrated video with no problem:
    pavel@pavel-kubuntu:~$ lspci -v | grep VGA
    00:02.0 VGA compatible controller: Intel Corporation Skylake Integrated Graphics (rev 06) (prog-if 00 [VGA controller])

    My only guess is I have i5-6300HQ which has the slightly different video than its i7 counterpart...

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  4. @Unknown: I have seen 7559 certified for 14.04 on Ubuntu site, what distribution have you tried?

    ReplyDelete
  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I've tried pretty much every distro you can think of. Arch, Antergos, Fedora, Ubuntu, etc. Fan issue is present on all of them. Fans work properly under Windows.

    There are lots of forum posts about the fan under linux with the 7559, so I don't think its an isolated occurrence. Yours may actually be running and you're not aware of it as they run queit at the lowest speed. It takes a few minutes for them to kick on as the laptop warms up. Then they run at the lowest speed (very quiet) indefinitely.

    I've also seen the "7559 Ubuntu Certification" page. All I can say to that is they must have very low standards for their certification.

    I have the i7 version so maybe that has something to do with it, I don't know...

    ReplyDelete
  7. Bob, thank you for clarification!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Another thought is that it could be BIOS which I remember Dell utility updating when I was on Windows. My laptop is now running BIOS v1.1.7

    ReplyDelete
  9. BIOS updates seem to make no difference for the fan issue. Running the newest 1.1.8 here.

    Funny thing is the fans run even when the CPU temp is cool. For example right now my CPU is at 36c and the fans are spinning away.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I installed Mint but now I have various problems :
    -Cinnamon sometimes crashes when booting, it works only in secure mode
    -I can't reboot or logout properly, sometimes I have a black screen...

    So yes I'm a little disappointed too about this computer.
    I have a question for owners of 7559 : do you have a touchpad with a little gap (vertical axis, before clicking you can feel a little gap, really annoying) ?

    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My touchpad does not feel solid. Like there is a tiny amount of play in how its seated into the case of the laptop. I think that's what you mean by vertical gap? It doesn't bother me too much, but yes it feels cheaply made.

      How are your fans behaving under mint?

      Delete
    2. Ok, because I sent back my 7559 in DELL's hands to fix this problem, they changed the touchpad and the problem is still here so I think it is a factory problem, maybe we can try to fix it by disassemble the whole computer ...

      The fan system seems to work correctly, but I'm not using it now because Cinnamon can't work properly and there is still this problem when waking up the PC after sleep mode !

      Maybe I'll try Debian, since it is the mother of Mint maybe the drivers are up to date with this distro :)

      Delete
    3. The sleep issue seems to be fixed in Ubuntu 16.04 but only if I use nvidia-367 from the PPA as Pavel mentions in his post. After using the nvidia driver from the PPA I was able to suspend and wake from sleep several times so far without a hitch. First time I've been able to do that with this laptop :) So now my only issue left is the fans.... sigh.

      Doubt there is any fix for the touchpad. I've learned to live with it. It does not seem to affect the functionality of the touchpad. It just feels kind of weird/cheap.

      Delete
    4. I will try this !

      Yes it woks but it is reallly cheap, especially for a 1000€ computer ...

      Delete
  11. Ok I'm now running kubuntu, I can manually switch between Intel graphics card and the Nvidia 960M, and thanks to you Pavel I connected the subwoofer !

    And the big question is : what about the fans ? Right now they're off (just a few tabs in chromium) but sometimes they spin at low speed ...

    Maybe I'll keep it as a daily driver !
    Thanks !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. UPDATE : fans are spinning constantly, aaarrgh.

      There is a bug report, you can check "this bug concerns me" : https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/linux/+bug/1602888

      Delete
    2. Yep... It takes a few minutes for the fans to kick on, but once they're on they run constantly. I'm actually the guy who filed that bug.

      The other thing you'll notice -and I think this is tied to the fan issue- is that the CPU doesn't get into low power mode. There's a discussion about that here for the 7559 with the Ubuntu hardware certification guys: https://answers.launchpad.net/ubuntu-certification/+question/293705

      Strangely, I have noticed some users say their fans work properly. For example Pavel says his fans work fine. It would be interesting to compare the hardware between laptops where fans work, to laptops where fans don't work. Possibly there is some slight variation in hardware/drives/etc that's not letting the CPU go into low power mode.


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  12. If it helps, here is my configuration: http://pastebin.com/KRBmmcAn

    Should mention that fans on my laptop are maybe running too but too silent to bother me...

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Pavel. I checked your hardware specs to mine, and the only difference I see is i5 vs i7 and mine has 8 GB more ram and a SanDisk z400s m2 ssd (Which I removed to test, and fan issue is still present) I can’t imagine there’s really any diff between i5 and i7.

      Delete
    2. A friend of mine he has i5 7559 and says his fans occasionally stops on Linux but as he noticed, on Windows they are off much longer. So yes, there might be a slight difference between i5 and i5 but not so marginal.

      Delete
  13. It is strange now my fans are working at full speed just to cool down a bit the CPU/GPU but they're not spinning constantly ! See here : http://hpics.li/e48b34e

    I'm running the nvidia card. I can't come back from sleep though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Looks like your CPU is really hot so it's OK.
      Who is using this much CPU is another question...

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    2. Installed psensor too, looks like my fans are really not spinning at all - running from battery:
      https://s31.postimg.org/gqucwvrzv/Screenshot_20160716_070626.png

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    3. Max, you are saying your fans are not spinning constantly now? Strange. Were they before?

      If you download powertop and then look at the "idle stats" under CPU package, do you have anything other that 0% for C3 - c10?

      sudo apt-get install powertop

      then start powertop with:

      sudo powertop

      Delete
    4. Well I am about to give up on this laptop and just take a loss on it. I need to use Linux for work, but the fan, power issues, and poor battery time and make it almost unusable for me. Anyway, for any other 7559 owners who might stumble across here’s some additional info about the fan issue...

      I know of at least 4 other users that have the fan issue under Linux. Yet other users say their fans work ok. It's hard to figure this out. The fans are very quiet at the slow speed they run at, and it takes them a few minutes before they get stuck on.

      For example, when I boot up my laptop it can take up to 10 - 15 minutes for the fans to get stuck on if I am not really pushing the laptop. It's like the laptop has to hit a temp threshold before the fan bug kicks in. However, once the bug kicks in, the fans run constantly. Even when the CPU temp gets down below 35c.

      So, I am not sure if the users who say their fans work ok just aren't hearing them because they are so quiet, or if they aren’t staying in Linux long enough for the bug to manifest itself. Or, if they really don’t have any problem with the fans.

      A good test to see if you actually do have the fan issue would be to use the laptop for an hour or so. Push it as hard as you can for a while, and then let it sit an idle for a few minutes and check the fan speeds and CPU temp with psensor. If the fans are ok, then it seems like there has to be some difference in the laptops that have the issue and those that don’t... Like maybe BIOS version, motherboard revision, ssd, card reader, or who knows what. Ugh, frustrating.

      Delete
    5. This problem is really annoying ...
      I hope Nvidia+Intel+Linux community will fix this bug !

      Here is the result with powertop :
      https://postimg.org/image/w43ibgymv/

      Today my fans are spinnning at 2krpm, as before, so strange...

      Bob, can you wake up after sleep mode with both graphics cards ?

      Delete
    6. I do not seem to have any issues waking from sleep with either graphics card. I just double checked and suspended the laptop 5 or 6 times under each card and it seems to be working properly either by closing the laptop lid, or manually putting it to sleep from the shutdown menu.

      However, this only works as long as I am using the nvidia-367 nvidia driver from the PPA.

      If I do not install the nvidia driver, or if I use the nvidia driver that Ubuntu provides, then I have all kinds of sleep issues.

      Only other difference I can think of is that I am using Ubuntu 16.04 with the standard Unity desktop. I have not tried any other desktop environments with the new driver.

      Delete

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