Alienware M11x

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This wiki page documents the configuration and troubleshooting specific to the Alienware M11x laptop.

See the Beginners' Guide for installation instructions.

System Specifications

The M11x base model comes with the following options :: (BLUE = OPTIONAL)

Alienware M11x R1

  • Intel Pentium Processor SU4100 (2M Cache, 1.30 GHz, 800 MHz FSB) -OR- Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300 (1.3GHz, 800 MHz, 3 MB)
  • 2GB, -OR- 4GB, -OR- 8GB DDR3 - 800MHz RAM
  • 11.6-inch WideHD 1366x768 (720p) LCD
  • 1GB GDDR3 NVIDIA GeForce GT 335M discrete video
  • Mobile Intel GS45 Chipset
  • Intel 4500HD onboard video
  • Intel Internal High-Definition 5.1 Surround Sound Audio
  • Braodcom 4353 802.11a/b/g/n 2x2 MIMO wireless
  • 160GB 5,400RPM hard drive -OR- 250GB, 320GB, 500GB - 7,200RPM hard drive -OR- 256GB - Solid State Drive
  • Internal Wireless Bluetooth 2.1
  • Internal WWAN Mobile Broadband
  • Two Built-In Front Speakers
  • AlienFX Illuminated Keyboard Keyboard
  • 8 Cell Prismatic (64 whr) - Primary Battery

Ports

  • IEEE 1394a (4-pin) port
  • Integrated Ethernet RJ-45 (100 Mbps)
  • 3 Hi-speed USB 2.0 ports
  • DP / HDMI / VGA - Video Output
  • 3-in-1 Media Card Reader
  • 2 Audio Out Connectors
  • Audio In / Microphone Jack (retaskable for 5.1 audio)

Dimensions & Weight

  • Height: 32.7mm (1.29 inches) x Width: 285.7mm (11.25 inches) x Depth: 233.3mm (9.19 inches)
  • Preliminary Weight: Start at 1.99kg (4.39 lbs)

Template:Codeline output

00:00.0 Host bridge: Intel Corporation Mobile 4 Series Chipset Memory Controller Hub (rev 07)
00:01.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation Mobile 4 Series Chipset PCI Express Graphics Port (rev 07)
00:1a.0 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) USB UHCI Controller #4 (rev 03)
00:1a.7 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) USB2 EHCI Controller #2 (rev 03)
00:1b.0 Audio device: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) HD Audio Controller (rev 03)
00:1c.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) PCI Express Port 1 (rev 03)
00:1c.1 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) PCI Express Port 2 (rev 03)
00:1c.4 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) PCI Express Port 5 (rev 03)
00:1d.0 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) USB UHCI Controller #1 (rev 03)
00:1d.1 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) USB UHCI Controller #2 (rev 03)
00:1d.2 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) USB UHCI Controller #3 (rev 03)
00:1d.7 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) USB2 EHCI Controller #1 (rev 03)
00:1e.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801 Mobile PCI Bridge (rev 93)
00:1f.0 ISA bridge: Intel Corporation ICH9M-E LPC Interface Controller (rev 03)
00:1f.2 SATA controller: Intel Corporation ICH9M/M-E SATA AHCI Controller (rev 03)
00:1f.3 SMBus: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) SMBus Controller (rev 03)
01:00.0 VGA compatible controller: nVidia Corporation Device 0caf (rev a2)
01:00.1 Audio device: nVidia Corporation High Definition Audio Controller (rev a1)
02:00.0 Ethernet controller: Atheros Communications Atheros AR8132 / L1c Gigabit Ethernet Adapter (rev c0)
08:00.0 Network controller: Broadcom Corporation Device 4353 (rev 01)
1a:00.0 FireWire (IEEE 1394): JMicron Technology Corp. IEEE 1394 Host Controller
1a:00.1 System peripheral: JMicron Technology Corp. SD/MMC Host Controller
1a:00.3 System peripheral: JMicron Technology Corp. MS Host Controller

Alienware M11x R2

The M11x R2 is similar to the R1, but it has some processor and chipset differences.

  • Processor: Intel® CoreTM i5 520UM (3M Cache, 1.066 GHZ, 1.866 GHz Max) or Intel® CoreTM i7 640UM (4M Cache, 1.2 GHZ with 2.266 GHz Max)
  • Chipset: Mobile Intel® QS57 Express Chipset
  • Uses NVIDIA Optimus to automatically switch between graphic cards when using Windows 7 drivers. There is no option on th BIOS to manually switch graphics.

Ports

  • The VGA port is not present in this model

Ethernet

The AR8132 10/100Mb fast Ethernet controller uses the atl1c module and works out-of-the-box with Linux kernel 3.x.

# lspci -kv
02:00.0 Ethernet controller: Atheros Communications AR8132 Fast Ethernet (rev c0)
	Subsystem: Dell Device 0443
	Flags: bus master, fast devsel, latency 0, IRQ 48
	Memory at f1100000 (64-bit, non-prefetchable) [size=256K]
	I/O ports at 3000 [size=128]
	Capabilities: [40] Power Management version 3
	Capabilities: [48] MSI: Enable+ Count=1/1 Maskable- 64bit+
	Capabilities: [58] Express Endpoint, MSI 00
	Capabilities: [6c] Vital Product Data
	Capabilities: [100] Advanced Error Reporting
	Capabilities: [180] Device Serial Number ff-xx-xx-xx-xx-xx-xx-xx
	Kernel driver in use: atl1c
	Kernel modules: atl1c
# modinfo atl1c
filename:       /lib/modules/3.0-ARCH/kernel/drivers/net/atl1c/atl1c.ko.gz
version:        1.0.1.0-NAPI
license:        GPL
description:    Atheros 1000M Ethernet Network Driver
author:         Jie Yang <jie.yang@atheros.com>
srcversion:     4E5E179060C0F8631076B4A
alias:          pci:v00001969d00001083sv*sd*bc*sc*i*
alias:          pci:v00001969d00001073sv*sd*bc*sc*i*
alias:          pci:v00001969d00002062sv*sd*bc*sc*i*
alias:          pci:v00001969d00002060sv*sd*bc*sc*i*
alias:          pci:v00001969d00001062sv*sd*bc*sc*i*
alias:          pci:v00001969d00001063sv*sd*bc*sc*i*
depends:        
vermagic:       3.0-ARCH SMP preempt mod_unload 
# dmesg | grep -i atl1c
atl1c 0000:02:00.0: PCI INT A -> GSI 16 (level, low) -> IRQ 16
atl1c 0000:02:00.0: setting latency timer to 64
atl1c 0000:02:00.0: version 1.0.0.2-NAPI
atl1c 0000:02:00.0: irq 30 for MSI/MSI-X
atl1c 0000:02:00.0: atl1c: eth0 NIC Link is Up<100 Mbps Full Duplex>

Wireless

The Broadcom Corporation Device 4353 (rev 01)(14e4:4353) 802.11a/b/g/n MIMO adapter is the stock wireless device for the M11x (R1).

  • I have brcm80211 working with my 14e4:4353 "Broadcom Corporation Device 4353 (rev 01)" wireless adapter, using arch + compat-wireless-patched AUR package.
    • Alternately you could just build the compat-wireless-brcm80211 AUR package which ONLY installs the brcm80211 module driver.
      • I used to use broadcom-wl AUR package and implemented some tips from the Broadcom_BCM4312 page.
        • Currently, the brcm80211 driver in AUR and the 2.6.37 kernel have a particularly crippling bug on multicore systems. This is fixed in 2.6.38-rc3 - the driver works great and is much faster (both in terms of initial connection and transfer rates; YMMV).

UPDATE: As of Kernel 2.6.39 brcm80211 was renamed to brcmsmac, that should not give you any problems, BUT when using Kernel 3.0 you need to add brcmsmac to your modules array in Template:Filename, because of some bug in which the wireless interface does not show up, that should solve it.

  • FN+F3 controls the internal radio on the wireless internal adapter - this allows you to turn it off/on.
  • Currently, this device does NOT support monitor mode, nor packet injection =(

Above in the rc.conf NETWORKING section, I am not using eth1 (actually commented out), as I like using wlan0 for wireless interface, it is just my preference. I am using the following config taken from Broadcom_BCM4312 Interfaces swapped every time section, namely to create my wlan0 interface, and to ensure eth0 and my wireless interface do not get swapped around ::

Create a file called Template:Filename and bind the MAC address of each of your cards to a certain interface name

SUBSYSTEM=="net", ATTR{address}=="aa:bb:cc:dd:ee:ff", NAME="eth0"
SUBSYSTEM=="net", ATTR{address}=="ff:ee:dd:cc:bb:aa", NAME="wlan0"

Where:

  • NAME="eth0" is the name of the interface that you want, for example the same name "eth0". You can use other names, for example "lan0" or "wlan0".
  • To get the MAC address of each card, use this command: Template:Codeline. Please, note that this is case sensitive and you must use lower-case.

Sound

Works out-of-the-box. See ALSA.

Touchpad

Until 2.6.38-rc2, the touchpad seemed to have issues. It jumped around, and was temperamental. This appears to have been fixed, and it now works great - even two finger scrolling works perfectly.

Video

- For Alienware M11x R1 owners: The Alienware M11x R1 has 2 video cards, and can be manually changed with the system BIOS (accessed by pushing F2 during system POST) ::

  • Switchable => Linux will use the Intel 4500HD internal video
  • Discrete => Linux will use the NVIDIA GeForce GT 335M

Alienware M11x R1 users running Linux have some tools available which will interact with the hybrid video cards in this laptop.

  • Bumblebee is a software implementation based on VirtualGL and a kernel driver to be able to use the dedicated GPU. Alienware M11x R1 users CAN use this method to switch between the Onboard/Intel and the Discrete/NVIDIA without a system reboot and/or BIOS change (yet the BIOS would need to be set for Switchable).
  • acpi_call allows you to disable+power down the Discrete/NVIDIA card when the system is booted while BIOS Graphics mode is set to => Switchable
  • vga_switcheroo allows one to switch between the Onboard/Intel and the Discrete/NVIDIA without a system reboot and/or BIOS change (yet the BIOS would need to be set for Switchable). vga_switcheroo has been reported as non-functional at this state for Alienware M11x users.

linux-hybrid-graphics.blogspot.com is a great site to check out for up-to-date information regarding the state of hybrid graphics in Linux.

- For Alienware M11x R2 owners: There are detailed instructions on how to switch on/off the discrete NVIDIA graphics card on the Optimus (R2) models for the Alienware M11x laptop.

Bumblebee

"Bumblebee is a solution to Nvidia Optimus hybrid-graphics technology allowing to use the dedicated graphics card for rendering. It was started by Martin Juhl".

  • The Arch Linux Wiki page for Bumblebee explains in detail how-to use Bumblebee. Be aware it talks about Optimus technology, yet the Alienware M11x R1 does not have Optimus - later revisions of the M11x (specifically, the M11x R2 and R3) DO have Optimus.

Alienware M11x R1 users have reported success with Bumblebee here.

Below is quick overview on how-to get Bumblebee up-and-running specifically with Arch Linux, on the Alienware M11x R1. The best resource for Bumblebee on Arch Linux is the Arch Linux wiki's Bumblebee page.

# modprobe nvidia
  • To have the nvidia module load at boot, add the Nvidia module in the "MODULES" array in your Template:Filename:
MODULES=(... nvidia ...)
  • Permission to use 'optirun' is granted to all members of the 'bumblebee' group, so you must add yourself (and other users wanting to use bumblebee) to that group:
# usermod -a -G bumblebee <user>
where <user> is the login name of the user to be added. Then log off and on again to apply the group changes.
  • Bumblebee provides a daemon, to start it simply run:
# rc.d start bumblebee
 # DAEMONS=(... @bumblebee)
# DAEMONS=(syslog-ng dkms_autoinstaller ... )
 DRIVER='nouveau'
-TO-
 DRIVER='nvidia'

Bumblebee Usage

To launch an application using the dedicated graphics card:

$ optirun [options] <application> [application-parameters]

For a list of options for 'optirun' run in a terminal:

$ optirun --help

If you want to run a 32-bit application on a 64-bit system you may install the proper 'lib32' packages.

  • All applications will by default run on the integrated/Intel card, calling 'optirun' is required to run any applications on the dedicated/NVIDIA card.
  • Power Management is still being worked on by the Bumblebee developers, for now it is suggested not to use the power management features of Bumblebee until this area of code matures.
    • If you desire to power down the discrete/NVIDIA card while it is unused you can run into issues while running Bumblebee, this is completely unsupported and not suggested by the Bumblebee developers. To do it, follow the 'acpi_call' section in this wiki, just be aware you may very well run into "issues".

ACPI_CALL

ACPI_CALL is a kernel module that enables you to call parameterless ACPI methods by writing the method name to Template:Filename, e.g. to turn off the discrete graphics card in a dual graphics environment. acpi_call works on the Alienware M11x R1 for disabling the discrete video card + powering it down successfully. Make sure you boot with BIOS set to switchable' ::

  • Grab the acpi_call-git AUR package(IMHO it is working pretty stable), and skip the manual installation/compilation of acpi_call.
    • OR you can grab acpi_call and compile manually. Please see the acpi_call site for details on compilation if you wish to compile manually.

acpi_call Usage

# modprobe acpi_call
# grep rate /proc/acpi/battery/BAT1/state
# echo '\_SB.PCI0.P0P2.PEGP._OFF' > /proc/acpi/call
# grep rate /proc/acpi/battery/BAT1/state
  1. Modprobe the acpi_call module
  2. Check the current battery mW usage (not necessary)
  3. Echo '\_SB.PCI0.P0P2.PEGP._OFF' to (the now existing since acpi_call was loaded) /proc/acpi/call
  4. Check the current battery mW usage again to see that it dropped (not necessary)
  • Both #2 and #4 as noted are not necessary, they just demonstrate that the battery usage is dropping as long as you do them in the order listed here.

VGA_SWITCHEROO

Currently, Alienware M11x R1 owner reports indicate the vga_switcheroo method is not functional.

This explains how-to use VGA_SWITCHEROO for troubleshooting ::

  • kernel configuration flag - ensure CONFIG_VGA_SWITCHEROO is set as module, or built-in :: CONFIG_VGA_SWITCHEROO=y/m
sudo modprobe vgaswitcheroo
sudo mount -t debugfs none /sys/kernel/debug
cd /sys/kernel/debug/vgaswitcheroo
cat switch
  0:+:Pwr:0000:00:02.0
  1: :Pwr:0000:01:00.0

Template:Codeline <= switch to discrete card
Template:Codeline <= switch to onboard card
Template:Codeline <= power-down the card not in use

Use 'nvidia-settings' to configure the video card, and multiple screens if using the discrete/NVIDIA card.

Backlight Brightness

  • When booting into Arch Linux using NVIDIA/discrete video card just change brightness using the FUNCTION+F4 = brightness up, and FUNCTION+F5 = brightness down - also 'nvidia-settings' should allow brightness settings changes too.
  1. create a file @ Template:Filename
  2. Template:Codeline
  3. Template:Codeline
  4. make sure to add the username allowed to change the backlight settings to the video group in Template:Filename
  5. create an alias in your shell startup, and turn the brightness up or down via command, in turn you could tie this to a button combination in your xwindow manager settings.
.bashrc
alias brup='/sbin/backlight up'
alias brdown='/sbin/backlight down'
alias brget='/sbin/backlight get'
.tcshrc
alias brup '/sbin/backlight up'
alias brdown '/sbin/backlight down'
alias brget '/sbin/backlight get'

/sbin/backlight

#!/bin/bash
# increase/decrease/set/get the backlight brightness (range 0-255) by 16
#
#get current brightness in hex and convert to decimal
#
# REQUIRES: bc, and setpci
var1=`/usr/sbin/setpci -s 00:02.0 F4.B`
var1d=$((0x$var1))
 case "$1" in
       up)
              #calculate new brightness
              var2=`echo "ibase=10; obase=16; a=($var1d+16);if (a<255) print a else print 255" | bc`
              echo "$0: increasing brightness from 0x$var1 to 0x$var2"
              sudo /usr/sbin/setpci -s 00:02.0 F4.B=$var2
              ;;
       down)
              #calculate new brightness
              var2=`echo "ibase=10; obase=16; a=($var1d-16);if (a>15) print a else print 15" | bc`
              echo "$0: decreasing brightness from 0x$var1 to 0x$var2"
              sudo /usr/sbin/setpci -s 00:02.0 F4.B=$var2
              ;;
       set)
              #n.b. this does allow "set 0" i.e. backlight off
              echo "$0: setting brightness to 0x$2"
              sudo /usr/sbin/setpci -s 00:02.0 F4.B=$2
              ;;
       get)
              echo "$0: current brightness is 0x$var1"
              ;;
       toggle)
              if [ $var1d -eq 0 ] ; then
                      echo "toggling up"
                      sudo /usr/sbin/setpci -s 00:02.0 F4.B=FF
              else
                      echo "toggling down"
                      sudo /usr/sbin/setpci -s 00:02.0 F4.B=0
              fi
              ;;
       *)
              echo "usage: $0 {up|down|set <val>|get|toggle}"
              ;;
 esac
exit 0

AlienFX - lighting and colors

AlienFX description quoting from the author's page "AlienFX Lite is a simple cross-platform program to create profiles and set the AlienFX lightning to the set colors. This application was done for the Allpowerfull M15x and only tested on this machine. It should also work on the M17x. The application will most likely accept the Area 51 m15x but it was untested. The current supported platforms are: Linux (32 bit), Linux(64 bit), Mac OS X(UNTESTED), Windows 7(64 bit), Windows 7 (32 bit), Windows Vista (32bit), Windows Vista 64bit, Windows XP"

yaourt -S alienfx-lite

This really is a slick Java app!

FBSplash + FBcondecor on the M11x

A quick summary: quote, "Fbsplash (formerly gensplash) is a userspace implementation of a splash screen for Linux systems. It provides a graphical environment during system boot using the Linux framebuffer layer. .... If you have a kernel that supports Fbcondecor, you can get nice graphical console backgrounds beside the splash screen. Just search the AUR for fbcondecor" unquote.

Make SURE to check out the Fbsplash page for more information, links to themes, syntax, and suspend to disk details, etc.

FBcondecor Usage

this is a plagerization of Fbsplash#Console_backgrounds for syntax :: quote, "After installing your patched kernel and fbsplash, add fbcondecor to your Template:Codeline array in Template:Filename:

DAEMONS=(... fbcondecor ...)

There is also a configuration file Template:Filename to set up the virtual terminals to be used.

You may even boot up with a nice console background and the plain Arch Linux boot messages instead of a splash screen. Just change your kernel command line to use the verbose mode:

quiet console=tty1 splash=verbose,theme:arch-banner-icons

" unquote.

Install the following packages

  • yaourt -S linux-fbcondecor fbsplash fbsplash-extras fbsplash-themes-arch-banner uswsusp-fbsplash

FBcondecor tailored for M11x

As I posted here, I am using the following configuration on my M11x as an example (posted beneath). when it comes time to boot your system, choose whatever in BIOS [discrete/internal], then once @ the GRUB boot menu, select "Arch64 linux (intel -fbcondecor)" for the internal/Intel, and "Arch64 Linux (nvidia -fbcondecor)" for the discrete/NVIDIA.

/etc/mkinitcpio.conf

MODULES="intel_agp i915 nvidiafb"
HOOKS="base udev uresume fbsplash autodetect pata scsi sata filesystems"

The above Template:Codeline line is mine, letter for letter. Template:Codeline is REQUIRED to be able to use fbsplash + fbcondecor

/boot/grub/menu.lst

# (3) Arch64 linux (intel -fbcondecor)
title  Arch64 Linux (intel -fbcondecor)
root   (hd0,2)
kernel /boot/vmlinuz26-fbcondecor root=/dev/sda3 resume=/dev/sda6 i915.modeset=1 quiet \
video=1366x768 console=tty1 splash=silent,fadein,fadeout,theme:arch-banner-icons ro
initrd /boot/kernel26-fbcondecor.img

# (4) Arch64 linux (nvidia -fbcondecor)
title  Arch64 Linux (nvidia -fbcondecor)
root   (hd0,2)
kernel /boot/vmlinuz26-fbcondecor root=/dev/sda3 resume=/dev/sda6 vga=0x317 quiet \
video=1280x800 console=tty1 splash=silent,fadein,fadeout,theme:arch-banner-icons ro
initrd /boot/kernel26-fbcondecor.img

laptop-init-script

laptop-init-script is small rc.d script located in (Template:Filename) that is quite helpful for many laptop optimizations, check it out if interested.

You can install laptop-init-script from the AUR.

...to be continued...