Dell Precision M4800

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The Dell Precision M4800 laptop is a mobile workstation released in late 2013.

Note: The author of this article ordered the system pre-installed with Ubuntu, so some assumptions made in this article may differ if your system came pre-installed with Windows (e.g. Secure Boot).

System specifications

Parts list

CPU: Intel Core i7-4800MQ Processor (Quad Core, 6 MB Cache, 2.7 GHz, w/HD Graphics 4600)

Memory: 16 GB (2x8 GB) 1600 MHz DDR3L

Storage: Samsung 840 EVO 1 TB Solid State Drive

Display: 39.6cm (15.6") UltraSharp QHD+ (3200x1800) Wide View Anti-Glare LED-backlit Premium Panel

Graphics: NVIDIA Quadro K2100M w/2GB GDDR5

Optical: 8X DVD+/-RW Drive Slot Load

Wireless networking: Dell Wireless 1601 2x2 802.11n+BT+60GHz (WiGig)

Keyboard: Internal English Backlit Dual Pointing Keyboard

lspci

# lspci
00:00.0 Host bridge: Intel Corporation Xeon E3-1200 v3/4th Gen Core Processor DRAM Controller (rev 06)
00:01.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation Xeon E3-1200 v3/4th Gen Core Processor PCI Express x16 Controller (rev 06)
00:14.0 USB controller: Intel Corporation 8 Series/C220 Series Chipset Family USB xHCI (rev 04)
00:16.0 Communication controller: Intel Corporation 8 Series/C220 Series Chipset Family MEI Controller #1 (rev 04)
00:19.0 Ethernet controller: Intel Corporation Ethernet Connection I217-LM (rev 04)
00:1a.0 USB controller: Intel Corporation 8 Series/C220 Series Chipset Family USB EHCI #2 (rev 04)
00:1b.0 Audio device: Intel Corporation 8 Series/C220 Series Chipset High Definition Audio Controller (rev 04)
00:1c.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 8 Series/C220 Series Chipset Family PCI Express Root Port #1 (rev d4)
00:1c.2 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 8 Series/C220 Series Chipset Family PCI Express Root Port #3 (rev d4)
00:1c.3 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 8 Series/C220 Series Chipset Family PCI Express Root Port #4 (rev d4)
00:1c.4 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 8 Series/C220 Series Chipset Family PCI Express Root Port #5 (rev d4)
00:1c.6 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 8 Series/C220 Series Chipset Family PCI Express Root Port #7 (rev d4)
00:1c.7 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 8 Series/C220 Series Chipset Family PCI Express Root Port #8 (rev d4)
00:1d.0 USB controller: Intel Corporation 8 Series/C220 Series Chipset Family USB EHCI #1 (rev 04)
00:1f.0 ISA bridge: Intel Corporation QM87 Express LPC Controller (rev 04)
00:1f.2 SATA controller: Intel Corporation 8 Series/C220 Series Chipset Family 6-port SATA Controller 1 [AHCI mode] (rev 04)
00:1f.3 SMBus: Intel Corporation 8 Series/C220 Series Chipset Family SMBus Controller (rev 04)
01:00.0 VGA compatible controller: NVIDIA Corporation GK106GLM [Quadro K2100M] (rev a1)
01:00.1 Audio device: NVIDIA Corporation GK106 HDMI Audio Controller (rev a1)
03:00.0 PCI bridge: Wilocity Ltd. Wil6200 PCI Express Root Port (rev 04)
04:00.0 PCI bridge: Wilocity Ltd. Wil6200 PCI Express Port (rev 04)
04:02.0 PCI bridge: Wilocity Ltd. Wil6200 Wireless PCI Express Port (rev 14)
04:03.0 PCI bridge: Wilocity Ltd. Wil6200 Wireless PCI Express Port (rev 14)
05:00.0 Network controller: Qualcomm Atheros AR9462 Wireless Network Adapter (rev 01)
15:00.0 SD Host controller: O2 Micro, Inc. Device 8520 (rev 01)

lsusb

# lsusb
Bus 004 Device 003: ID 0a5c:5800 Broadcom Corp. BCM5880 Secure Applications Processor
Bus 004 Device 002: ID 8087:8000 Intel Corp.
Bus 004 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Bus 003 Device 003: ID 0c45:64d0 Microdia
Bus 003 Device 002: ID 8087:8008 Intel Corp.
Bus 003 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Bus 002 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0003 Linux Foundation 3.0 root hub
Bus 001 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub

Pre-installation notes

The M4800 comes with a legacy BIOS and UEFI. The Arch installation media, version 2014.04.01, may not properly boot or install if using legacy BIOS and/or a MS-DOS partition table. Using the UEFI option with a GPT-partitioned hard drive was required to successfully complete the installation process.

The M4800 will not give you a usable system unless nomodeset is added to the kernel command line. This is required for both the Arch installation media and post-installation. Because nomodeset is required even after booting, use of the Nouveau driver is not possible because Nouveau requires KMS.

If following SSD memory cell clearing, after boot the SSD drive (SK hynix SH920 2.5 7MM 512GB) may be set to the frozen state. Ejecting the SSD and then re-inserting the SSD cleared the frozen state. After clearing the frozen state, the instructions in SSD memory cell clearing were followed successfully and the drive was cleared.

What does not work

  • The brightness up/down buttons do not work in Cinnamon or at the virtual console without X (untested on other desktop environments). Interestingly, redshift is able to adjust the display brightness.
  • When Cinnamon locks the screen due to inactivity, pressing keys or moving the mouse does not automatically turn the display back on to allow unlocking the screen. A workaround is to press Ctrl+Alt+F2 followed by Ctrl+Alt+F1, which switches from TTY1 to TTY2 and back again.
  • Switching TTYs with Ctrl+Alt+FX after X has started does not present the user with a usable TTY.
  • When closing the GUI (e.g. by logging out of Cinnamon), the screen goes black, and the virtual console does not appear like it should.