Tag Archives: linux

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):

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:

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

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

And copy and paste this:

Then make the file executable:

Power optimizations

To keep power consumption low, install the following tools

then TLP:

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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Install Adobe Reader in Ubuntu 12.10 Quantal Quetzal 64bit

Acrobat Reader used to be available from Ubuntu Partner repository, but it is not available anymore in Ubuntu 12.10 Quantal Quetzal!

So you have to download the .deb package from adobe.com and install it:

http://ardownload.adobe.com/pub/adobe/reader/unix/9.x/9.5.1/enu/AdbeRdr9.5.1-1_i386linux_enu.deb

However, if you have a 64bit system, do not forget to install also these packages:

Otherwise, acroread will fail

acroread: error while loading shared libraries: libxml2.so.2: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory

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Accessing your remote Ubuntu machine with VNC and ssh

If you want to access your remote Ubuntu machine with VNC, in particular by tunnelling through ssh, there is already some documentation which can be found here. However, at least for me, the procedure explained there does not work out of the box. So here’s what I had to do to make it work.

First of all you need to install in the machines the following packages:

  • remote machine: xvfb x11vnc openssh-server
  • local machine: xtightvncviewer openssh-client

Then, the script to run on your client machine to access the server has to be slightly modified as follows

where you will have to replace USER with your user on the remote machine, and REMOTEIP with the address of your remote machine.

Basically, the changes I had to make to the original script were to add the -auth command line option specifying the path to the .Xauthority, and the command line option -create to actually start an instance of the X server on the remote machine.

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