Oct 16, 2011

Ubuntu 11.10 Oneric on Dell XPS17 L702x (Updated Dec 14 2011)

The good news is that everything works. My spec is 8Gb, Core i7-2720QM, hybrid dual graphics Optimus technology - HD3000 + NVidia GT550M with dual 640Gb drives and 1920x1080 display.

Now, here is what you need to do to get everything working. Thankfully, its all relatively simple:

Install Ubuntu 11.10 from scratch. My attempts at upgrading in place where not exactly successful. Everything seemed to work, but it was unstable and I began finding things that did not work as well as they should. An fresh install and everything went very smooth indeed.

After the install you will encounter the following issues:
  1. The touchpad stops working a few seconds after you login.
  2. You cant hybernate or suspend and shutdowns may hang.
  3. OpenGL Graphics do not work, you may be prompted to install nvidia drivers (dont do it, it is the kiss of death).

Its very simple to fix all of the above.

  • Fix the touchpad by changing turning off the 'Disable touchpad while typing' option. While you are there, turn on two finger scrolling and horizontal scrolling. The Synaptics touchpad hardware and the Linux multi-touch implementation is as good as the Apples.

  • The issue with the shutdown, hibernation and suspension is an issue with the USB3 driver. To work around it, insert a file into /etc/pm/config.d (I called mine 'XPS17-custom') with the following content:

SUSPEND_MODULES="$SUSPEND_MODULES xhci-hcd ehci-hcd xhci_hcd ehci_hcd"

  • To fix the OpenGL graphics and to enable the use of both Graphics adapters, install mesa-utils, driconf and Bumblebee. There are several distributions out there for both Bumblebee and an offshoot project called IronHide. Dont use any of the distributions from Github, instead carefully follow the instructions on the stable Ubuntu Bumblebee Project


Follow these steps ...

Install mesa-utils and driconf...

    $ sudo apt-get install mesa-utils driconf

    When selecting the profile to install, if you are unsure which to use, use mine. There is one called 'cmdematos'. If you are happy with it, confirm it to increase confidence in others as well.

    Published in the hope that this helps you towards a smooth installation experience!

    [Edit 10/17/2011] - I am using an Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6230 with built-in Bluetooth and experience no problems with it whatsoever. Some earlier Intel wireless cards have reported having issues suspending and waking up. These issues are supposedly corrected as of kernel 3.0.0-8.11.

    If you experiencing issues with your suspend/hibernate, try adding the following to a file in /etc/pm/config.d/intel-wireless.




    1. Hi,

      I have tried to suspend_modules but it doesnt solve the problem.

      It says error with the iwlang.

      Any ideas?

      Many thnaks for your how-to guide

    2. Hi Chris, I have updated the post with information that may help you. I have added information about my wireless adapter and what you could try to get your model to work.

      1. Hi! First of all thank you very much for this really useful guide! I have an XPS17 Laptop with NVIDIA GT555M and I am trying to install Ubuntu 11.10 64-bit. I followed all the steps you described and finally the systems seems to work.. the only problem is that when I run Linux in normal mode the resolution is 640x480 and I cannot change it (the monitor is unknown). How can I solve it? Please help me :) Thank you very much in advance!

    3. I've put some notes about the testing and setup I did on my L702x here:


    4. It was the optimus scripts that were causing problems. Thanks for your reply.

    5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    6. While installing ironhide gave me OpenGL support, it did not turn off the NVIDIA card and give me better battery life.

      I uninstalled ironhide and installed an older version of bumblebee, which worked fine.

      What I did exactly was:
      1) don't install NVIDIA drivers
      2) install git: sudo apt-get install git
      3) download bumblebee: git clone https://github.com/MrMEEE/bumblebee.git
      4) enter downloaded directory: cd bumblebee
      5) sudo ./install.sh
      6) follow the instructions

      To check whether the NVIDIA card is turned off, type "lspci -vnnn | grep VGA".
      It will display both the Intel and the NVIDIA chips, but if the NVIDIA is turned off, it will only display "[VGA controller]" behind the Intel entry.

    7. You saved my day :) i was already losing hope running my favourite photo stitching software on linux, and was ready to install windows in a second partition.

      Thanks alot!

      1. Keep monitoring. I am posting some more info as soon as I have the time, like how to enable power saving so that the nvidia card does not kill battery life and melt the machine.

    8. Hi,

      I followed your instructions to become able to use my nvidia graphic card's opengl 3.0 or even higher. Installing Bumblebee did work, the optirun test worked as well. Still when compiling code that uses OpenGL it does not work. glxinfo says my OpenGL Renderer is a software raasterizer and DRI does not recognize any configurable hardware.

      The big question is, what do I have to do to use high OpenGL versions?

    9. After all can anyone recommend any tool to start using second monitor, cause on my another laptop with Nvidia support I an easily connect second monitor and now every section is disabled in "Display & monitor settings" :(

      1. I have a similar complaint. Apparently 12.04 includes much improved multi-monitor support. I am holding off till then before trying anything.

        Its one of the things I accepted a while back regarding opensource distros. The cost and effort to resolve nice-to-haves is often outweighed by the effort to resolve them, especially when resolving them usually involves loading extensive libraries and subsystems (like X11) which then break our ability to continue upgrading the distro. Patience is usually the better approach, the distro eventually catches up to the bleeding edge. You will be rewarded with stability, a cleaner install and lower maintenance costs in the long run.

      2. As of an aptitude update a few weeks back, external monitor support is working with my setup.

    10. Carlos,

      Thanks for your post on this issue. It has been helpful, but also a wild day for me trying to make sense of everything. I also have a Dell XPS 17 L702x.

      For the record I did not have any issues with my touchpad, and I have not tried using the hibernate feature yet, but I would like to ask about the video driver issues. I installed Ubuntu 64-bit 11.10 on may laptop and the very first time the system tried to boot it began to hang even before the root file system was mounted. After a little debugging I noticed that the "nouveau" kernel module was causing the trouble.

      The only way I was able to boot my system was to boot from the Ubuntu CD in rescue mode (I use the Alternate CD) and repackage the initrd. My trick was simply to rename /lib/modules/.../nouveau.ko to something else (I chose nouveau.ko.disabled). Then I ran "update-initramfs -u -k all" and rebooted.

      All seems well, but I am wondering if you are actually using this kernel module or not? Do I need it? The error message indicates a null pointer dereference. I went ahead and installed Bumblebee and though I haven't tested anything other than the glxspheres example, it seems to be working.

      And for some reason when I try to remove the package named libdrm-nouveau1a, which I believe accounts for nouveau.ko, apt-get acts crazy and tells me that it will need to remove about 750MB of other package, including "grub2", "linux-generic", "lvm2", and many more!! What's going on there?? Haha... so I obviously did not remove it otherwise my system would be crippled.

      Thanks in advance to anyone for help! :)

      1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    11. I tried both usb and cd installation, but it won't install at all.

      With CD, I get below

      sr 5:0:0:0: Attached scsi CD-ROM sr0
      sr 5:0:0:0: Attached scsi generic type sg2 type 5


      udevd[125]: '/sbin/modprobe -bv pci:vxxxxxxxx' [184] terminated by signal 9 (Killed)

      With USB, I get below

      sr 5:0:0:0: Attached scsi CD-ROM sr0
      sr 5:0:0:0: Attached scsi generic type sg3 type 5


      udevd[117]: timeout: killing '/sbin/modprobe/-bv pci:vxxxxxxxxxxxx' [190]

      Please help!!!

      1. Please provide your spec. The numbers at the bottom of your machine may be useful too.

      2. xpresso,

        You are having the same problem I was! Please read my comment on this page from Jan 15. The problem is your system is trying to invoke the "nouveau" kernel module. Just follow the steps that I described.

        It sounds like I need to capture the entire error output and file a bug report with Ubuntu.

        -Vahid Pazirandeh

    12. Hi, I'm really sorry to ask this because I'm embarrassed about being such a retard but I'm very new to Ubuntu (2 days, never even seen linux before that) and I'm having the freeze issue. I can get into the terminal and open /etc/pm/config.d but then I don't know how to create a file (and google has let me down). I was therefore wondering if there was any chance you'd put the code up for the whole thing? I'd be very appreciative and again I'm sorry to ask because I'm sure it is blindingly obvious to everyone who is not new and inept...

      1. No problem. I will update the post with all of the needed files, please expect the update by 12-23-2012 (I have some other fish to fry before then)

    13. When I followed the bumblebee instructions, it didn't seem to quite do the trick.. how can I check if opengl and everything is working?

      rr1991@RR1991-MSI:~$ optirun glxspheres
      [ERROR]Cannot access secondary GPU, secondary X is not active.

      [ERROR]Aborting because fallback start is disabled.

      1. I've got a Acer Aspire 4750 with an NVidia GT540M and I'm getting the same problem. I've tried many different suggestions suggested all over the web and nothing seems to work. I've even tried a reinstall (with Ubuntu 12.04 too) and it's still not working.

        I hope the Bumblebee guys can get this card to work...*sigh* I guess I'll keep on trying :)

    14. Thank you so much! This post helped me a lot.

      I am still unable to use my external monitor through my HDMI output.

      I would appreciate if you or someone else could give me a hand.

      My question is posted at:


      Thank you

    15. Thank you so much for this post. You saved my life.
      I must have spent 3 days trying to install the NVidia drivers on my Dell XPS or to enable GLX in Ubuntu.

    16. I had a random issue with audio not working at all (maybe an update did it as it was working before). Used the link below and it fixed it. Also fixed the audio issues i had before it just stopped working. which was when plugging in a headset/headphones the main speakers would remain on. As i stated later audio stopped working, i followed the instructions in that blog and it fixed all my audio issues. hope it helps someone out.

      xps 17 3d (non-optimus)

      using video drivers from nvidia-current (all working fine there except when resuming from the lock screen. Where the dock would be on the left if showing would be is pixelated until i unhide the dock then it clears it up. not a big deal, just odd).

      using all other fixes in this post. thank you for posting. saved me a lot of time.


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