Mint Sarah on Alienware 17 Laptop (R3 UHD screen)

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Mint Sarah on Alienware 17 Laptop (R3 UHD screen)

Post by shx »


Newbie on Mint, I tried to install Sarah amd64 on my new Alienware laptop.
Basically nearly everything worked out of the box: amazing job, guys!
I thought I'll documented the process for others but this is my first try so be ...tolerant.

0. Hardware:
Alienware 17 R3
CPU: Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-6700HQ CPU @ 2.60GHz
Memory: 16 GB (sync 2133 MHz)
Screen: 17.3 inch UHD (3840 x 2160) IGZO IPS
GPU: Intel on the CPU and NVIDIA GM204M [GeForce GTX 970M]
Network: Killer E2400 Gigabit Ethernet Controller + Killer 1535 QCA6174 802.11ac Wireless
Bluetooth:Atheros Communications
Audio:Sunrise Point-H HD Audio
Disks: SanDisk Z400s M SSD (128GB)+Seagate ST1000LM044 HN-M (1TB)

- Create an install USB key as usual.
- Optionally before install, start Windows 10 and resize the partitions to have enough place for Mint.

I create on the SSD:
- a 16G partition for the swap (I have 16GB of RAM and want to use hibernation)
- a 20G partition for Mint OS
- Kept 100G on the 'spin disk' for W$ and use the rest for my home partition
I changed the settings in W$ to put the data on disk D instead of C:, as the reduced partition became quite short for the data on Windows. Incredible the memory used by an empty OS. Mint uses less than half with all programs installed....

- Reboot (Be aware, you cannot hibernate Windows and then start Linux, you have to do a shutdown/reboot)

Press F2 to enter
- Normally nothing has to be changed except maybe if you want to use Function keys or multimedia keys). I choose multimedia and F6/F7 are then not recognized (both on Windows and Mint). BIOS problem or hardware problem on my laptop? No idea!
Select F12 on boot to select the USB key and start Mint live.
If not done automatically, select Preferences->General->Scale desktop to 'Double' in order to have HiDPI support.
Install as usual.

3.After first boot
You may have to do again the selection for HiDPI screen.
Select your mirrors and update using the cabled connection (wifi will not work until the drivers are installed) but cable is recognized automatically.
Install linux-firmware in order to configure the WIFI card (Killer 1535 is using ath10k drivers).

That's it the computer is fully usable. Some programs are not yet well supported in big screens.

4. Solving the details

Go to ... enware-kbl
and install Alienware-kbl to have access to your beautiful leds.
Create a script somewhere to start the daemon at boot with the following:

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sudo /usr/bin/setsid /usr/bin/alienware-kbl --start-daemon &
Change the permission of this script so it is not modifiable by anyone but root!!
Change the sudoers file so you don't have to type the password

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sudo visudo

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yourusername ALL=(ALL:ALL) NOPASSWD:/usr/bin/alienware-kbl
yourusername ALL=(ALL:ALL) NOPASSWD:/usr/bin/alienware-kbl --start-daemon
Go to Preferences->'Applications at start' and create a new application with this script so it is start when you start your session.

Having extra keys recognized
create a file with :

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# Provides:          keys on alienware
# Required-Start:    $remote_fs $syslog
# Required-Stop:     $remote_fs $syslog
# Default-Start:     2 3 4 5
# Default-Stop:      0 1 6
# Short-Description: Slect the correct keys on alienware 17 laptop
# Description:       This file should be used to construct scripts to be
#                    placed in /etc/init.d.

# F1
setkeycodes e040 59
# F8
setkeycodes e03a 66
# F12
setkeycodes 69 88
# F11
setkeycodes e001 87
# Alienware keys
## key 0
setkeycodes e011 171
## key 1
setkeycodes e012 148
## key 2
setkeycodes e013 149
## key 3
setkeycodes e014 202
## key 4
setkeycodes e015 203
## key 5
setkeycodes e016 184
## key 6
setkeycodes e017 185
## key 7
setkeycodes e018 186
## key 8
setkeycodes e01a 187
## key 9
setkeycodes e01b 204

#   put in /etc/init.d
#   To make it start during boot
# 	sudo chmod +x /etc/init.d/keyremap
#	update-rc.d keyremap defaults
#   To remove it from boot
#	update-rc.d -f keyremap remove
and follow the instruction at the end of the file. This should have your 'Alienware' special keys recognized. Note the keys code are for MY version (French keyboard), check dmesg to correct with yours if different.
Go to Preferences->keyboard->shortkeys and create a new one with
Name: Alienware-kbl

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sudo /usr/bin/alienware-kbl
And use the "AlienFx"/F12 key to start it.
Configure the rest of the keys to your liking.

Some programs, I managed to improve a bit. We will have to wait for new version to have it working as in 'normal' screens.
Stellarium: after install, edit ~/.stellarium/config.ini and change in

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base_font_size = 32
You can also change the rest of the font size in that file, but that change should make it usable.

Go to ... agree.html and download the 32 bits Debian.
After install, it works with menu at normal size. Icons are still way too small. The version from the Mint mirror or amd64 was unstable or unusable (fonts way too small and not responding to changes in the ini files but YMMV)

Gimp 2.9 (unstable)
The 'menu' not displayed is due to a conflict with the theme. Switching it to Linux Mint solves the issue. Again, YMMV and a new version may solve it.

What remain to check/problems:
- HDMI output: not yet checked
- Suspend/hibernate: works but network does not come up after wake-up. I will try some idea in found on the web before crying on the forum.
- some error messages in lshw and dmesg that may or may not be relevant of a problem and need more checks before I disregard them.

Hope it may help somebody

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Re: Mint Sarah on Alienware 17 Laptop (R3 UHD screen)

Post by pdeyoreo »

Dude! Thank you!! That keyboard issue has been a plague on my OS for too long. How did you get those scancodes?

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Re: Mint Sarah on Alienware 17 Laptop (R3 UHD screen)

Post by Moem »

pdeyoreo wrote:How did you get those scancodes?
Pretty old topic, and the OP has not been back, so I doubt you'll get a reply from them.

If your issue is solved, kindly indicate that by editing the first post in the topic, and adding [SOLVED] to the title. Thanks!

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Re: Mint Sarah on Alienware 17 Laptop (R3 UHD screen)

Post by shx »

Sorry I forgot to check the notify box but I am still alive :-)
To find the scancodes, if I remember I just check dmesg for key not recognized, if you are still needing it I can search.

To keep everything in the same place, I finally manage to have to suspend/hibernate working. The problem is pci bus is suspended but not rescanned after wake-up so network (wifi,wired, bluetooth,..) device don't exist anymore.

The solution is to force a rescan manually with an

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echo 1 > /sys/bus/pci/rescan

Here how I do it but please note, I am not a developer and my solution is probably way more complicated that it should be...

Create a file (I name it Alienware_pci_rescan ) somewhere on the computer with

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#! /bin/sh

# This script rescans the PCI bus after resume from suspend to fix
# broken WiFi, wired ethernet, and the card reader on the Alienware 15 R2.

# This rescan the whole pci bus
echo 1 > /sys/bus/pci/rescan

#####################   not needed
#just put that as it may give ideas to someone, it just rescan one device at a time
#echo 1 > /sys/bus/pci/devices/0000\:00\:1c.4/rescan
#echo 1 > /sys/bus/pci/devices/0000\:00\:1c.5/rescan
#echo 1 > /sys/bus/pci/devices/0000\:00\:1c.6/rescan
Don't forget to put correct permissions for that file, not writable by normal user, executable by root

Put a file in systemd to call the script

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Description=Rescan pci bus to recover network cards after resume



Don't forget to correct the ExecStart line for ie =/home/zozo/myscript/Alienware_pci_rescan

Create the links to call the unit after suspend/hibernate/hybrid

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ln -s /lib/systemd/system/alienware-resume.service /etc/systemd/system/
ln -s /lib/systemd/system/alienware-resume.service /etc/systemd/system/
ln -s /lib/systemd/system/alienware-resume.service /etc/systemd/system/
It should be possible to put everything directly in systemd but I prefer to have all my script at the same place, and it permit to add other things easily without messing with the configuration.
For instance, OwnCloud doesn't like that you remove its connection, it is easy to add a forced restart in the script instead of creating another systemd configuration but that's just me....

Hope it may help someone

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Re: Mint Sarah on Alienware 17 Laptop (R3 UHD screen)

Post by shx »

Just a detail, I update to 18.2 without any issue.

Many thanks to the developers

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