Saturday, September 3, 2011

I've been being lazy!

I'm amazed by all the folks out there looking for more help. To answer many of the questions that I've seen on here, the reason I've not addressed any of the issues with 11.04 is that I've not upgraded! After I got 10.10 working as I wanted I decided to wait it out a bit. Basically with working full time in the marine corps, a baby on the way in a matter of days and taking 9 hours worth of class my time has been pretty full.

With all that being said, here's what I can do for y'all. After I finish my homework today I'm going to pick up a new external hard drive and backup my current setup and do a fresh in stall of 11.04 and try to start addressing some of the issues.

With that as a goal we might want to look at starting up a wiki or similar page that allows for group editing so that those of you with fixes can post your results.

The LennyX iso is something I still have but have not used, for the same lack of time as above. The reason that there is no info about it is that shortly after Sudeep put up a site hosted by himself it got hacked. Same with his wiki site. For some reason despite my endorsement of his project on this blog he didn't get much in the way of support so I think he ran out of energy. I can't say if it is safe or not. Shouldn't be too hard to do a security audit on it though. The most simple answer would be to install it and boot into it with nothing going on ( network services, browser, etc) then open up a netstat -a and watch for strange connections. I will say that I don't think there was any reason not to trust it. It is a default Ubuntu distro, it just has the updated configurations for our drivers.

As of right now the issues that seem to be the most prevalent are:
1) Battery Life
2) HDMI Out Not working
3) New Catalyst driver needs some testing
4) Touchpad issues (?)


  1. It's been a while since I swapped to 11.04, but here's what I recall from my install:

    The touchpad works fine on a clean install. I grabbed the gsynaptics package anyways as it allows for better customization/tweaking.

    After a clean install both the discrete card and integrated card show up and work for the most part. I've only used the open source Radeon drivers, so I'm not sure if the closed source drivers offer any improvements. A few notes on video:

    1) If you use the catalyst drivers, vga_switcheroo won't work. As a result your discrete card will always eat up power, even if it's not being used.

    2) I'm not sure how Ubuntu decides which video card to use on launch, but I had problems with a hanging black screen on load whenever my system used the discrete card. I mentioned the problem along with its solution in the following post:

    3) After a suspend/hibernate the discrete card starts eating up power even if it's powered off using vga_switcheroo. The only way to avoid it is to completely disable the discrete card in the bios. I posted more details here:

    Battery statistics
    The most recent power package doesn't properly display battery info (power use, estimated time remaining, etc). That can be avoided by reverting to an older version from Brian Rogers' ppa.

    sudo add-apt-repository ppa:brian-rogers/power

    sudo apt-get update

    sudo apt-get upgrade

    Battery life
    I've been able to get between 4 and 5 hours while coding/web browsing with wifi on. Jupiter and laptop-mode-tools can reduce power usage pretty significantly (5 watts or so in my experience).

    That's all I can recall. Hope it helps!


  2. I'm running Lenvyx and very happy about it. As opposed to my experience with Fedora 15 and Ubuntu 11.04 everything worked right out of the box. WIFI, graphics and everything.
    The scripts for switching gpu are even set up with a shortcut (believe it's ctrl+g) if I remember correctly.
    I do have a problem that if I push my f10 to switch of WIFI the computer freezes and I have to go through a delicate process of rebooting and pushinng f10 at the right moment during startup. Very annoying, but I can live with it. Also I'm pretty sure this problem only started after an update (and after I updated to ugr aka Gnome 3).

  3. Also, as to the suspend bug. I remember a while back it was said that you needed to turn on your discrete card (with vgaswitcheroo) before turning off the computer or some bug caused the fan to go crazy (I think that has since been fixed but not sure).
    Maybe we need to turn on the the discrete card when going into suspend and then turn it off again when coming back in. That should be possible with sleep.d right? Just a thought!

  4. Succes! I put a script in my /usr/lib/pm-utils/sleep.d which switches the discrete gpu ON when suspending and turns it back OFF (if it was OFF when suspending). Now my power consumption is the same before and after suspend. Just like when disabling the discrete gpu in bios. I first tried putting the script in /etc/pm/sleep.d, that didn't execute on my system (Ubuntu 11.04/lenvyx 64-bit + ugr). Not sure where to put it on other distros.
    You can get the script here if interested, use at your own risk. I'm not especially good at linux scripting so my solution for saving the state of the discrete gpu across the suspend-resume was to put it in a file at suspend and then read it at resume and delete it again. Certainly not a very elegant solution, you're very welcome to come up with a better solution (I'd love to hear about it and any other improvements... and whether it works for others).

    I stole part of the script that's reading the state from vgaswitcheroo from RM's "" over at, if he or anybody else has a problem with that, let me know. Anyway thanks to RM and to everybody else working to get our envys running perfect... almost there :)

  5. Tinux,
    Nicely done! I just tested it on my machine (64 bit Ubuntu 11.04 Vanilla/Non-Lenvy) and it works flawlessly.

    While disabling the card in the bios worked to some extent, that setting only persisted through suspends; the suspend bug still reappeared after hibernates. Your script fixes the issue for both suspend and hibernate.

    Thanks a bunch!

  6. Great, haven't even tested it on hibernate, cool!

  7. Hi! You guys are great. Thanks for posting your tricks and experiences here.

    1) I've got a problem with my battery, and I'm curious if I'm the only one. Whenever I plug my computer in, I get a message that the battery is critically low and will go into standby if not plugged in. The battery could have 3% or 99% charge..but I almost always get the message. Could it be that I have a faulty battery?

    2) I just moved back to the open source driver because of some frustrations with the ATI driver. Namely that I couldn't suspend while using the DGPU. However, I'm encountering the same strange issues that pushed me to use the ATI drivers to begin with. While I am able to confirm that my kernel is compiled with switcheroo, I can see that's not enabled because I can't find the switch file (as per the first section of this page: In fact, my debug folder has these permissions, which I find quite strange: drwx---------. I can't even navigate to the folder without using sudo nautilus to find out of there is a vgaswitcheroo folder, which there is not. Does this seem strange at all to you guys? How can I activate vgaswitcheroo?



  8. What's your OS?

    I have experienced the same behaviour though not consistently. In my case the problem was that power-manager was set to look at the remaining time on the battery. This was not calculated properly when just coming out of resume and thus it would hibernate right away. On my OS (Ubuntu 11.04/lenvyx) you can set it to look at the percentage instead in gconf or dconf (can't remember).

    I assume you have blacklisted the radeon module in order to be able to boot. Are you sure you are loading the module again after boot? You can do that with a modprobe radeon (you could put that in you rc.local)
    My debug folder has the same permissions BTW.

  9. Further to what Tinux said, the specific setting you want is use_time_for_policy (set to false). It can be found in gconf-editor under /apps/gnome-power-manager/general/use_time_for_policy.

  10. If anyone figures out how to enable dual monitors I would love to know!

    It has been over a year since
    this computer came out and still we cannot run two monitors in linux! To me, this is unacceptable and I have regretted this purchase since trying linux on the envy. I know most of the blame belongs to ati for not making a good driver, but I feel that the linux community should have figured this one out long ago(radeon drivers).

    Until this problem is solved, I will be using my 6 year old laptop...

  11. Hey, you guys are awesome!

    - The battery fix was crucial! I am so glad I can plug in now without having to suspend. That was a bugger!

    - You guys were right with my blacklisting the radeon driver. I added it into rc.local and it works fantastically now.

    - With all of this working, I was able to set up the switcheroo scripts and for the first time I can disable the descrete graphics card and lower the power consumption from 55 watts to just under 10. Now I've got 6.5 hours of battery life. I am very pleased. 1 hour was not cutting it.

    - As Cameron mentioned, I'm also looking forward to seeing the HDMI and display ports working. I'm trying to be patient, though, because I know these things mostly happen from people donating their time. We can't demand things from people who owe us nothing A huge thanks to anyone who reads this who has contributed to developing open source. Your work does not go unappreciated by me! Is there a place to donate a few beers to help the process along?

    - What are the chances that we'll be able to switch graphics on the fly without having to log out?

  12. One more quick note. Since that first switch to the iGPU, my ACPI estimate (powertop) has been odd. Following a suspend, I've not been able to get the reading back down. It now says it's still consuming "55W (.9 hours)", but there's also a reading that says "long term: 18W (2.6 hours)". The long term seems to be more accurate, but I assume that means the ACPI readout is not correct. Why can't I get the first number back to under 10W? Any ideas?

    In case it matters, I also loaded the suspend script that Tinux gave above, which seems to work as intended. Additionally, I have added a script to start the iGPU automatically at bootup as per the Hybrid Graphics page on Ubuntu's wiki. I'm not sure it's actually turning off the dGPU, though.

  13. Thanks for the hints.
    Did anyone succeed to install proprietary driver? aticonfig always reports "No supported adapters detected" and CCC won't start as well. Downloading drivers from AMD website completely screws up Unity. I'm running 64bit Ubuntu 11.10.

  14. I used the AMD drivers in 11.04, and I didn't find them much help. I found too many bugs. For example, on the iGPU, I couldn't run any 3d content. And on the dGPU, I couldn't get it to wake correctly after sleep. After switching to the opensource drivers, I've really had no problem (and after some of the fixes in this post). The only thing is that I can't use the HDMI or the Display port...but that was a problem with the AMD drivers, too.

    What happened with the opensource drivers? Did you try them and run into problems? What other problems did you run into? I'm trying to decide if I should upgrade to 11.10 or no--and whether I should do a fresh install or just an upgrade through the CD/usb or through the software center. Any advice would be welcomed.

  15. @dDave I have got a rough guide of my own at for Ubuntu 11.10. Keep in mind I am a newbie to Ubuntu and I used a HP Envy 14-2XXX (Sandy bridge).

  16. Dave, I don't mind using opensource drivers, but I think the proprietary ones can work more effectively when configured properly. I tried vga_switcheroo trick and it worked for me. The only thing I need graphics performance for is VMWare, sometimes I need windows OS paralelly, VMWare itself requires OpenGL acceleration, so I'm still on my way to check if opensource drivers with integrated card will work good enough.

    I'm also running Ubuntu 11.04 on my old Dell Studio 15 where graphics is just perfect under proprietary drivers (Radeon HD 3400). I am able to run heavy VMWare graphics and play 3D games natively without slowdowns, also Compiz is unstoppable. It's actually much faster than currently on Envy :( And I don't want to risk losing perfect configuration after having sex with HP Envy + 11.10, don't want new slow Unity as well...

  17. Looks like I'm happy with just opensource driver, integrated card and discrete turned off from rc.init via vgaswitcheroo. I also installed 32bit version and it seems to see all 8G of ram.

  18. interesting that the graphics card makes such a big difference in vmware. i run virtual box and have been noting a definite lag...maybe i need to activate the dgpu first and give that a try.

    aloneguid, is there any reason you chose 32bit instead of 64? have you tried both?

    i still havent had time to install 11.10, actually...but soon i hope.

  19. I insatalled 64bit at first which seems to be a natural choice for 8G ram laptop and just couldn't get proprietary video drivers built, which, by the way, require 32bit compatibility libs (ia32-libs package) making me suspicious. The libs didn't help anyway as there are other compatibility issues with ati's OpenGL drivers. Then I read about PAE kernel extension which is ON by default in Ubuntu (allows accessing >3G ram on 32bit system) and it seems like there is absolutely no performance differences as long as one process won't address more than 3G or ram which is always true on my laptop (wouldn't use 32bit OS on a server though). I think I'll revert back to 64bit now as I can't make proprietary driver work anyway and opensource is my final choice.

    The reason I desperately tried to get best graphics performance in VMWare is more for coding graphics in Windows from Linux workstation. I've decided to go dual-boot anyway as windows is the only os which can take full advantage of this laptop, so I'll most probably will do reboots instead of vmware.

  20. To finalize, I've reinstalled Ubuntu 11.10 back to 64bit, applied all the fixes and tunables founds so far previously related to video (my final choice is opensource drivers with discrete card OFF and integrated ON) touchpad, sound and hibernate and now running a perfect dual-boot laptop! So far I'm able to get about 4h of battery life while coding and debugging in Java, which is the same as on win7 coding in C#, but I'm sure I can get up to 6h after fixing all the PowerTop suggestions on Ubuntu (same applies to win7 disabling some services you don't need).

    Thank you all for this blog as it helped so much!

  21. @aloneguid - Did you make your HDMI work??

  22. For me HDMI worked out of the box with opensource drivers. Lucky? )

  23. Some Envy models seem to suffer wireless connectivity issues after upgrading to 11.1.

    The following worked in my case:

    sudo echo "options iwlagn 11n_disable=1" > /etc/modprobe.d/iwlagn.conf