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Installing Linux Kubuntu on a Dell Precision M3800

Dell-m3800I recently had to install Linux Kubuntu 13.10 Saucy Salamander (at the time of writing I’ve already upgraded it to 14.04 Trusty Tahr) on a Dell Precision M3800 (a really cool and powerful laptop, see the details here).

The installation went really smooth, and I’m enjoying a very fast and stable Linux OS on this laptop.

In this blog post I’ll detail only a few tips and further tweaks after the installation.

As for the initial setup (Hard disk resize, Backup and UEFI Boot issues) I followed this really nice detailed guide, http://www.everydaylinuxuser.com/2013/09/install-ubuntu-linux-alongside-windows.html, and I strongly suggest to do the same, especially if you have the same laptop.

Tweaks after installation

Here some tweaks after the installation.

Adjust Screen Resolution

This laptop comes with the “crazy” resolution of 3200×1800! Unfortunately, this is barely usable at least in my experience: everything is so small that I can’t read almost anything… adjusting the DPI as suggested here really did not help: the fonts, window border become readable and usable, but the system looks ugly… (by the way, the same problem holds in Windows 8, at least for my everyday program, i.e., Eclipse: most fonts and icons are not readable)… until these resolution problems are fixed in Kubuntu (and in some applications as Eclipse), I reverted the resolution to something smaller (and still the resolution is high :), that is 1920×1080.

kubuntu-screen-resolution

Enable Hibernate

First check that hibernate actually works by running (remember that your swap partition is at least as large as your available RAM):

sudo pm-hibernate

After you computer turns off, try and switch it back on. If your open applications re-open you can re-enable hibernate: run below command to edit the config file:

sudo kate /var/lib/polkit-1/localauthority/50-local.d/com.ubuntu.enable-hibernate.pkla

Copy and paste below lines into the file and save it.

[Re-enable hibernate by default in upower]
Identity=unix-user:*
Action=org.freedesktop.upower.hibernate
ResultActive=yes

[Re-enable hibernate by default in logind]
Identity=unix-user:*
Action=org.freedesktop.login1.hibernate
ResultActive=yes

Enable Scheduled Trim

First of all, make sure you enable the anotime option for your SSD partition in /etc/fstab to avoid further writings to your SSD disk.

As reported here, http://askubuntu.com/questions/18903/how-to-enable-trim/, scheduled trim seems to be the preferred way to keep your SSD performant.

Run the following command to create and edit the file in cron.daily

sudo vi /etc/cron.daily/trim

And copy and paste this:

#!/bin/sh
LOG=/var/log/trim.log
echo "*** $(date -R) ***" >> $LOG
fstrim -v / >> $LOG

Then make the file executable:

sudo chmod +x /etc/cron.daily/trim

Power optimizations

To keep power consumption low, install the following tools

sudo apt-get install smartmontools ethtool powertop

then TLP:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:linrunner/tlp
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install tlp tlp-rdw
sudo tlp start

Also run powertop when you’re on battery to check for further optimizations.

Install Bumblebee, as detailed here: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Bumblebee.

The problem with Fn keys

At first, I thought that Function keys were not working at all… then I discovered that on new laptops like this one F-keys are default to their media mode (!). You can change the default behavior of the F keys in the BIOS, but I prefer the F-Lock icon on the Esc button: this will take them back to their standard behavior.

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The book on Xtext is out

My book on Xtext, “Implementing Domain-Specific Languages with Xtext and Xtend” is now available on Packt website! Get it while it’s hot! :)

You can find the outline and an example chapter at

http://www.packtpub.com/implementing-domain-specific-languages-with-xtext-and-xtend/book

Many thanks to the reviewers of the book: Jan Koehnlein, Henrik Lindberg, Pedro J. Molina, and Sebastian Zarnekow!

The sources of the examples presented in the book are available at https://github.com/LorenzoBettini/packtpub-xtext-book-examples

0304OS_mockupcover_normalI would also like to thank all the people from Packt I dealt with.

 

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Back from EclipseCon Europe 2012

I’m really sad that EclipseCon Europe has already finished, it has been a wonderful edition with lots of very interesting presentations!

My favourite ones were:

And last but not least… “be nice to nerds…” :)

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