Ubuntu Linux on the Acer V3-551G-X419 Laptop

I bought this laptop In April 2013 for about 590$
It has pretty good specs for the price and a nice bright and script LED screen.
It comes with with Windows 8 which I really don't care for.
I will keep Windows 8 as a dual boot option for the odd case I need it such as aving to use GotToMeeting.

But My main OS is Ubuntu and I decided to use version 12.10 x86_64

Note that you might HAVE to use the 64 its version to match windows8 for dual boot to work with the EFI crap.

Getting the Ubuntu Install CD to boot

It's a little difficult to get the CD to boot, because of the secure EFI thing.

Basically you need to go into the BIOS(F2 during boot) and disable secure EFI.
Also you will want to make sure the boot order is set to boot of the CDROM before the hard drive.

Here are pictures of my BIOS settings
Once you get the ubuntu to boot, you can start the typical Ubuntu installation.

Manual partitioning

Because the installer was not able to recognize the windows 8 setup, due to EFI,
you have to use manual partitioning since you don't get the "Dual boot with windows option)

Once in the partioner (gparted) you want to make some free space by making the main
windows partition smaller . Then use the free sace to create your linux partitions.
I created a 90GB ext4 system partiton (/) and a 480GB ext4 home partiton(/home)

Then save to write the new partiton table.

Other than that the Installation process is pretty standrad.

Battery Life

Ok, the good news is that while it mostly works out of the box, what you will get is
a space heater with a battery life of about 1h and 10mn !

To set what is going on and why so much power is used, a useful top is PowerTop
sudo apt-get install powerstat powertop
sudo powertop

See the Tunable section (ote some versions of powertop work better than other)

Also very useful for power saving is jupiter
sudo apt-get install jupiter

Anyway out of the Box with Ubuntu the battery life was barely over an hour with
the fan blowing hot air like crazy, powertop reporting a consumption over 45 Watts !

The battery being ~50 Watts/hr that's not good !

Anyway, long story short the main issue by far is the Built-in GPU of the graphic card(s) being full on all the time !
The laptop has 2 built-in cards: a Radeon 7660G and a Radeon 7670M.

Turning off vga switcharoo helps a bit:
echo OFF > /sys/kernel/debug/vgaswitcheroo/switch

This brings us down to ~29 Watts, whihc is still pretty poor.

The proper solution is to use the proper ATI drivers, there are open source ones
but I tried those and it did not help all that much, what you really need are the
propriatery, but free drivers called "AMD Catalyst".

Installing the AMD Catalysts video drivers

First make sure you use the latest, in my case it was 13.3 ebta 3

I first used the 12.x drivers, and that resulted in X not being abe to start at all !

So, download the latest driver:

To be able to build the driver you will need to have build essentials:
sudo apt-get install build-essential cdbs dh-make dkms execstack dh-modaliases linux-headers-generic fakeroot lib32gcc1

Make it executable and then run it as root :
chmod +x ./amd-driver-installer-catalyst-13.3-beta3-linux-x86.x86_64.run
sudo ./amd-driver-installer-catalyst-13.3-beta3-linux-x86.x86_64.run

Choose "Install driver ....", "ok", "automatic", "no reboot" (we will reboot in a bit)

Then run the initial config that will create a xorg.conf file.
sudo aticonfig --initial -f

Because we use the beta driver it has a (very annoying) watermark on the screen at all times,
So here is how to get rid of it:
sudo -s
echo "66fb27a85ab1edb83099e9ad1326f379:5fd51799689cdc8a01abd894720bc24c57c2119a199cacec79b9d1982b14c24a:539d439d6b86d48106a1d0ce7745cb1856ca46ca3e89d48c07abd9cf7014c71a53cc449a6b80d4d901a0d0ce7245961a51c245913e80d48002fbd8997014c718" > /etc/ati/signature

and then reboot

You will want to reinstall the driver EVERY TIME you upgrade your kernel !!
Otherwise X might not start.

Brightness not working

The brightness button have no effect, you can manually set the brigtness using xrandr

Pass a value between 0 and 1 (1 being 100%)
xrandr --output LVDS --brightness 0.7

You could map the keyboards shortcuts to those commands in your window manager of choice.

UPDATE: Here is what works to fix the brightness keys and also fix 'suspend' under 13.04
add acpi_osi= (for suspend) and acpi_backlight=vendor(for brithness keys) to grub.
Edit the grub file and add those as in the line below:
sudo vi /etc/default/grub
GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash acpi_backlight=vendor acpi_osi="

Then run sudo update-grub and reboot !

After all this and a bit of tweaking with powertop I was able to get the power
usage around 8 to 10 watts, giving 5 to 6 hours of battery life !

Dual screens

I use arandr to switch between 1 or 2 screens (one "under" the other)

One thing is the default xorg.conf config did not allow to stack them under each other at full resolution.
All that needs to be done here is configure a erger Virtual screen size in /etc/X11/xorg.conf

Boot keys

Useful boot keys:
  • Esc : To gte the grub menu
  • F2 : To go into boot setup
  • F12 : To get into the windows boot menu (EFI), van be useful to force-boot windows


Bluetooth does not appear to work properly, I have not resolved this yet.

See the bug report here:

After upgrading to Ubuntu 13.04 and it now works properly

Java 7

installed google-chrome + java7
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/java
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install oracle-java7-installer

About the laptop

It's a good bang for the buck, it's not as good as my samsung series 7, but then again it's 400$ cheaper !

What I like :
  • Great performance for the price
  • Good keyboard
  • Very bright and sharp LED screen

What I don't like :
  • Tiny trackpad
  • Not very beautiful
  • Glossy "mirror" screen, would much prefer a mate finish
  • A bit bulky / heavy.


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