Dell Latitude E4300 with Debian

So I replaced my Latitude D410 with a shiny new Latitude E4300 (Intel Core 2 Duo SP9400 2.4 Ghz with 4 Gb RAM). Here are some notes about this laptop that might be interesting for others.

SSD disk

I now use an SSD drive for my main disk (Dell Ultra Performance SSD, it’s the second generation of Samsung SSD) and I’m satisfied with that choice, I can boot (an unmodified Debian desktop install) from the SSD in less than 30 seconds while the same system booting from a traditional hard-disk takes more than 45 seconds.

X server

The Intel GM45 graphic card is not auto-recognized by Xorg 7.3 (or rather by xserver-xorg-video-intel 2.3.2 which is in lenny) so you end up with the vesa driver by default. It’s possible to force the usage of the intel driver by adding a “Driver “intel”” line in the device section of xorg.conf but I have opted to use Xorg 7.4 (available in experimental). With this version, I can successfully use the DVI output in the associated dock and I have working suspend/resume. It does create some interesting problems however since that version of the xserver relies on HAL to detect the keyboard layout and doesn’t use the Keyboard section of xorg.conf. You have to create /etc/hal/fdi/policy/10-keymap.fdi by using /usr/share/hal/fdi/policy/10osvendor/10-keymap.fdi as template and reload HAL then restart X.

Wifi support

The Intel 5100 Wifi chipset requires Linux 2.6.27 at least for the new iwlagn driver. This driver also needs a new firmware (the iwlwifi-5000 one) that is not yet integrated in the non-free package firmware-iwlwifi (see #497717).

Sound support

It works ok with alsa and the version integrated in linux 2.6.27 but it still has some rough edges when used in combination with the dock. Using the output jack connector on the dock doesn’t stop the output in the integrated loudspeakers and the volume on that connector is so low that you could think that it doesn’t work at all if you don’t pay attention. Using the microphone works fine.

For reference, if you play in the mixer, “Front mic” means the microphone connected on the dock while “Mic” means the one connected on the laptop. Each “Analog loopback X” option goes pairwise with the corresponding “Input source X” setting. In order for the recording to work, I have to set “Digital Input Source” to “Analog Input”, “Digital” must be activated and “Input source 1” defines the default input used for the recording.

Bluetooth support

Contrary to the previous laptop, Dell offered no choice on the bluetooth chipset, they only propose the “Dell 365 Bluetooth™ Card” so I took it but it doesn’t seem to work out of the box. In fact I can’t even see it with lspci or lsusb so I wonder if they did something wrong during the assembly. Googling on the topic didn’t gave me any good result, let me a comment if you know how to get this working.

Update: so apparently the bluetooth component is there (ID 0a5c:4500 Broadcom Corp.), it just appears as an USB hub so it’s somewhat difficult to guess that it’s effectively a bluetooth card.

Freezes, in particular with an amd64 installation

I first installed the system in 64 bits mode (amd64 architecture) but I had very regular freezes of the system (I couldn’t finish a single kernel compilation for example). Since I switched to an i386 installation, the system is more stable but I still get an occasional freeze every other day. It might be that a more recent kernel fixes this or maybe it will be fixed with a future Dell Bios update… we’ll see, but it’s my biggest complaint with this laptop so far.

Links

Lucas Nussbaum bought the same laptop, you might want to read his remarks as well.

More details

Load the full article only if you want to see the lspci and lsusb output on this laptop.


rhertzog@rivendell:~$ lspci -nnk
00:00.0 Host bridge [0600]: Intel Corporation Mobile 4 Series Chipset Memory Controller Hub [8086:2a40] (rev 07)
Kernel driver in use: agpgart-intel
Kernel modules: intel-agp
00:02.0 VGA compatible controller [0300]: Intel Corporation Mobile 4 Series Chipset Integrated Graphics Controller [8086:2a42] (rev 07)
00:02.1 Display controller [0380]: Intel Corporation Mobile 4 Series Chipset Integrated Graphics Controller [8086:2a43] (rev 07)
00:19.0 Ethernet controller [0200]: Intel Corporation 82567LM Gigabit Network Connection [8086:10f5] (rev 03)
Kernel driver in use: e1000e
Kernel modules: e1000e
00:1a.0 USB Controller [0c03]: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) USB UHCI Controller #4 [8086:2937] (rev 03)
Kernel driver in use: uhci_hcd
Kernel modules: uhci-hcd
00:1a.1 USB Controller [0c03]: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) USB UHCI Controller #5 [8086:2938] (rev 03)
Kernel driver in use: uhci_hcd
Kernel modules: uhci-hcd
00:1a.2 USB Controller [0c03]: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) USB UHCI Controller #6 [8086:2939] (rev 03)
Kernel driver in use: uhci_hcd
Kernel modules: uhci-hcd
00:1a.7 USB Controller [0c03]: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) USB2 EHCI Controller #2 [8086:293c] (rev 03)
Kernel driver in use: ehci_hcd
Kernel modules: ehci-hcd
00:1b.0 Audio device [0403]: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) HD Audio Controller [8086:293e] (rev 03)
Kernel driver in use: HDA Intel
Kernel modules: snd-hda-intel
00:1c.0 PCI bridge [0604]: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) PCI Express Port 1 [8086:2940] (rev 03)
Kernel driver in use: pcieport-driver
Kernel modules: shpchp
00:1c.1 PCI bridge [0604]: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) PCI Express Port 2 [8086:2942] (rev 03)
Kernel driver in use: pcieport-driver
Kernel modules: shpchp
00:1c.3 PCI bridge [0604]: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) PCI Express Port 4 [8086:2946] (rev 03)
Kernel driver in use: pcieport-driver
Kernel modules: shpchp
00:1d.0 USB Controller [0c03]: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) USB UHCI Controller #1 [8086:2934] (rev 03)
Kernel driver in use: uhci_hcd
Kernel modules: uhci-hcd
00:1d.1 USB Controller [0c03]: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) USB UHCI Controller #2 [8086:2935] (rev 03)
Kernel driver in use: uhci_hcd
Kernel modules: uhci-hcd
00:1d.2 USB Controller [0c03]: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) USB UHCI Controller #3 [8086:2936] (rev 03)
Kernel driver in use: uhci_hcd
Kernel modules: uhci-hcd
00:1d.7 USB Controller [0c03]: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) USB2 EHCI Controller #1 [8086:293a] (rev 03)
Kernel driver in use: ehci_hcd
Kernel modules: ehci-hcd
00:1e.0 PCI bridge [0604]: Intel Corporation 82801 Mobile PCI Bridge [8086:2448] (rev 93)
00:1f.0 ISA bridge [0601]: Intel Corporation ICH9M-E LPC Interface Controller [8086:2917] (rev 03)
00:1f.2 RAID bus controller [0104]: Intel Corporation Mobile 82801 SATA RAID Controller [8086:282a] (rev 03)
Kernel driver in use: ahci
Kernel modules: ahci
00:1f.3 SMBus [0c05]: Intel Corporation 82801I (ICH9 Family) SMBus Controller [8086:2930] (rev 03)
Kernel driver in use: i801_smbus
Kernel modules: i2c-i801
02:01.0 FireWire (IEEE 1394) [0c00]: Ricoh Co Ltd R5C832 IEEE 1394 Controller [1180:0832] (rev 05)
Kernel driver in use: firewire_ohci
Kernel modules: firewire-ohci
02:01.1 SD Host controller [0805]: Ricoh Co Ltd R5C822 SD/SDIO/MMC/MS/MSPro Host Adapter [1180:0822] (rev 22)
02:01.2 System peripheral [0880]: Ricoh Co Ltd R5C843 MMC Host Controller [1180:0843] (rev 12)
0c:00.0 Network controller [0280]: Intel Corporation Wireless WiFi Link 5100 [8086:4232]
Kernel driver in use: iwlagn
Kernel modules: iwlagn
$ lsusb
Bus 008 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Bus 007 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0001 Linux Foundation 1.1 root hub
Bus 006 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0001 Linux Foundation 1.1 root hub
Bus 004 Device 019: ID 046d:c03d Logitech, Inc. M-BT69a Pilot Optical Mouse
Bus 004 Device 018: ID 0424:2228 Standard Microsystems Corp. 9-in-2 Card Reader
Bus 004 Device 017: ID 0424:2602 Standard Microsystems Corp.
Bus 004 Device 016: ID 0424:2502 Standard Microsystems Corp.
Bus 004 Device 007: ID 045e:00dd Microsoft Corp.
Bus 004 Device 006: ID 0c45:63fe Microdia
Bus 004 Device 004: ID 413c:2513 Dell Computer Corp.
Bus 004 Device 003: ID 413c:2513 Dell Computer Corp.
Bus 004 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Bus 002 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0001 Linux Foundation 1.1 root hub
Bus 001 Device 005: ID 413c:8162 Dell Computer Corp.
Bus 001 Device 004: ID 413c:8161 Dell Computer Corp.
Bus 001 Device 003: ID 0a5c:4500 Broadcom Corp.
Bus 001 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0001 Linux Foundation 1.1 root hub
Bus 003 Device 002: ID 0a5c:5800 Broadcom Corp.
Bus 003 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0001 Linux Foundation 1.1 root hub
Bus 005 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0001 Linux Foundation 1.1 root hub

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Comments

  1. Apparently the Bluetooth hub is the broadcom device (BCM2046B1).

  2. Ah, and colleagues who bought the same laptop also experienced freezes, but I didn’t. Which CPU did you choose ? I have a Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Duo CPU P9400 @ 2.40GHz

  3. The CPU is given in the first paragraph: Intel Core 2 Duo SP9400 2.4 Ghz but /proc/cpuinfo gives the same as you:

    $ cat /proc/cpuinfo
    processor	: 0
    vendor_id	: GenuineIntel
    cpu family	: 6
    model		: 23
    model name	: Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Duo CPU     P9400  @ 2.40GHz
    […]
  4. Hi,

    I also had problems with bluetooth with my new laptop. Switching to 2.6.27.7 fixed it for me, as I documented here:

    http://damad.be/joost/blog/2008/11/linux-debian-bluetooth.html

  5. Cyril Chaboisseau says:

    Well, this review isn’t particularly favorable towards this brand or hardware : no one would like to buy a computer that has regular freezes. So if the point was to warn users against buying this laptop, then you made your point.
    Personally I run Debian’s amd64 flavor since October 2004 and beside 2/3 froze that were due to the nVidia proprietary driver, I’ve never had any other trouble ever since (I now run the official Xorg nv driver and will try envy as soon as “sid/unstable” has it).

    On top of that, Dell who used to propose Ubuntu beside Windows has almost completely dropped the offer and this specific model is no exception. We know how it is getting very difficult not to have Windows force-feed these days with a branded computer (esp. a laptop).

    So, I would definitely *not* recommend this particular model for someone who wish to run Linux on it.

    Nevertheless, I hope that you’ll find the reason of these freezes and post the result.

    Cheers,

    PS : anyway, it looks quite nice and I bet the SSD is much fun to play with (but watch out for the wear-leveling until the file system takes it into consideration).

  6. Cyril, the point is to inform and people decide what they want. The point is also to seek inputs from others with the same laptop to try to guess what’s responsible for those freezes. For instance, it has happened many times early after the graphical login… so it was triggered by something in my user session. But I have never been able to find out what precisely. I certainly hope that those freeze will go away sometime soon maybe with a newer kernel. And lucas told he doesn’t have those freeze, so it’s not a generic problem with this model either.

    Concerning the wear-leveling, all SSD have that integrated in the hardware and from what I read, it should most certainly last long enough for my needs (3 years, and my laptop is backupped daily anyway).

    Joost, here the problem is that that Bluetooth device is not detected at all… nothing in dmesg, nothing interesting after “modprobe btusb” either.

  7. I have also the E4300, running Ubuntu 8.10 32 bits, with a standard 5400rpm Drive. I’m quite happy overall, but I’m also experiencing random freezes, where both numlock and capslock start blinking.

    I’ve tried updating to the latest kernel, 2.6.27-11 which was supposed to fix some wireless-related problems that some people at ubuntu identified as a possible cause of the freezes, to no avail. The freezes are still there.

    While looking for traces of the crashes, I noticed something quite interesting, my /var/log/kern.log , message and syslog were all of them over 2 GBytes of size. I emptied them, and the laptop went for two days without a freeze, but a few minutes ago it did it again. I checked again, and now the log files have normal sizes, but no trace of what could have caused the freezes, although some suspicious WPA-related (wifi) activity takes place everytime before the crash…

    Well, I’ll keep searching…

    Good luck with yours. If at any time Debian proves to be stable I may considering moving back from Ubuntu after… oh, 5 years I think :-)

  8. I’ve tried A05 for a few days and freezes are still there. But only when wi-fi is active. See this thread…

  9. Jan David says:

    The freezes are not linux-specific, and seem quite common:

    http://en.community.dell.com/forums/t/19245498.aspx

  10. Hi,

    I took the liberty of creating a Linux Launchpad team for the people who own or develop for the Dell Latitude E4200/E4300 laptops, so that we can have more visibility upstream when having to ask for patches or support.

    https://launchpad.net/~e4200-e4300

    I’ll be sending a couple of messages to ubuntuforums and notebookreview forums to gather the ~15 users I’ve identified so far.

    Cheers,

    Albert.

  11. The freezing is a known issue with the E4300. There’s a work around that resolves the issue, but it will decrease the performance of the system. The issue is currently being worked on to resolve the issue via a BIOS update, but it has not yet been released (A06 is the current version).

    The work around is to disable Multi-core support in the BIOS:

    Turn on system > Tap F2 at the Dell Screen > Go to Performance > Uncheck the multi-core support box > hit apply > hit escape.

    As stated, this will resolve the issue, but the system will likely run noticeably slow.

  12. I’ve had the freezing problem since September 2008. I have installed the A06 BIOS the day it was published (around three weeks ago) and I haven’t had it since.

    My workaround of choice before A06 was to disable wlan, and only use ethernet. In this configuration, I never had a freeze, either.

    For three weeks I’m on wlan again, and I’m happy to say that it seems to be working well.

    The only thing to regret in this story is the lack of information coming from Dell, what the A06 BIOS really fixed, and what other reasons could have been causing these freezes

  13. The BIOS A06 does not fix the issue, the problem is officially known to Dell’s QA team and they have a new motherboard in preparation. I also thought the problem went away after 11 days without freeze but it froze eventually again. It really depends on how you’re using your computer. The only safe work-around is to disable multi-core support but it’s not something that I can accept as a long term solution.

    My tech support told me that I was on their list of persons to contact when they received the new batch of fixed motherboards and that I would be able to get a next-day on-site replacement when that is the case. Anyone affected by this bug can certainly request the same. You should not trust people claiming that it can be fixed with a BIOS update unless you can see that information on the Dell drivers page directly.

  14. When the correct BIOS is released, the information will be listed under the “Fixes and Enhancements” section of the BIOS on the support site. This is currently the being deployed by Dell to resolve the issue, not a new motherboard. If they are unable to correct it by using creating a new BIOS, a last resort of creating new motherboards for the systems, but that certainly is not the case at the moment. I’m an L2 for Dell, and that’s the most up to date information they’ve provided about the issue so far. If A06 is currently working for some people, that’s great, but odds are the issue will return. The only 100% effective work around to the issue that is currently known is to disable multi-core support in the BIOS. I wish there was another way, but unfortunately there’s not that we know of thus far. As soon as I receive more information on the resolution to this issue, I will be happy to post it here. I know it is currently a priority for Dell and hopefully it will be resolved through a BIOS update so that everyone can avoid having to have their mbds replaced.

    Sorry I don’t have any further information at the moment, but I’ll post back as soon as I do.

  15. @Mugz: What is an “L2″ ?

    I wish I could believe you but the promise of a BIOS fix has been made twice already by some Dell representatives and every time there was no new BIOS at the expected release date.

  16. Here (big Dell customer in france), Dell sent us a test that we were supposed to run (it was just a cpuburn binary for windows). If it failed, they said they would change the Motherboard.

  17. Hi!
    I have the same problem than you with alsa and the jack on docking station. It seems imposible to play sound only on the dock and not on the laptop speaker. Any workaround since this time?

  18. For bluetooth:
    install:
    bluez
    the firmware: bluez-firmware
    bluetooth
    maybe:
    bluez-utils
    bluez-hcidump

    Then turn on/off with the Fn key.

    hcitool dev
    and
    hcitool scan
    might help.

    The kernel was 2.6.29-bpo.2-686-bigmem.

  19. I just got this laptop and even running xorg 7.5 (with squeeze) I cannot have the video output to be sent to a monitor connected to the laptop.
    Do you have any clue on the subject, or could you share your xorg.conf, please?

    Thanks you for you answer.
    Louis