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Dell Latitude E6520


This is a guide to running Linux with the Dell Latitude E6520 laptop. If you have the Dell Latitude E6520 and are running Linux on it please consider editing this page or adding a comment below with your compatibility details. By contributing you will help other people running this laptop or trying to make a decision on whether to buy it or not.

This page is just for discussing using Linux on the Dell Latitude E6520. For a general discussion about this laptop you can visit the Dell Latitude E6520 page on LapWik.

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For full specifications see the Dell Latitude E6520 specifications page.

NameDell Latitude E6520
ProcessorIntel® CoreTM i7 (2720QM, 2620M)
Intel® CoreTM i5 (2540M, 2520M, 2410M)
Intel® CoreTM i3 (2310M)
Screen15.6“ 1366×768 or 1600×900 or 1920×1080 Widescreen
RAMUp to 8GB
HDDup to 500GB. Some models come with Advanced Format drives (4kB sectors)
Optical DriveDVD+-RW
GraphicsIntel® HD Graphics 3000
NetworkIntel® 82579LM 10/100/1000 Ethernet
Intel® Centrino® Ultimate-N 6300
Intel® Centrino® Advanced-N 6205
Intel® Centrino® Ultimate-N 6300
Dell Wireless 1501 (802.11 b/g/n 1×1)
Dell Wireless 1530 (802.11 a/g/n 2×2)
AudioCougar Point High Def Audio AND nVidia Audio
IDT 92HD90
Fingerprint reader

Linux Compatibility

ProcessorWorksAll 8 cores work, both with the old acpifreq and the new intel_pstate frequency scaling drivers
ScreenWorksSee below for additional notes
HDDWorks SLE11-SP2
Optical DriveWorks
GraphicsWorksBoth Intel and nVidia graphics work well, both independently and as Optimus using Bumblebee. Seems to work fine with external displays also. Installed disper and bound to F8 key to switch to external displays. Occasional “graininess” which then goes away on my system.
SoundWorksTested with Skype and youtube. Older kernels (<2011) need patches
EthernetWorksNeed SLE11-SP2 at least if Intel 82579LM card installed; older versions don't have the driver
WirelessWorksAnnoying blinking LED with the optional Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 card upgrade, see below for workaround
ModemNot Tested
USBWorksOptional USB 3.0 module also works well
KeyboardWorksMost extended keys (vol up/down) work fine. Fn+F8 does not work and does not produce a valid scancode. Mapped F8 to 'disper -e' instead. Can only set the keyboard backlight delay with its Windows driver, but once done the setting is persistent. Keys sometime “stick” (in software) resulting in repeated letters
TrackpadWorksWorks well with modern kernels and drivers. Can only be used in PS/2 mode in older distros (<2012)
FirewireNot Tested
Card ReaderWorksTested on Kubuntu 13.10.
ExpressCard SlotNot Tested
Fingerprint ReaderDoes NOT workNo driver available as of Nov 2013
WebcamWorksUses the uvcvideo driver


  • Laptops with newer Intel 82579LM NICs need a recent Intel driver. For SUSE Linux, this means SLE11-SP2 or later.
  • Linux partitioning tool may need to support Advanced Format HDDs if one is installed.
  • Audio output jack is a 1/8” 4-contact jack, what they call a “smartphone” jack (it combines stereo output and mike input in a single jack). Since most laptop headsets have two separate 1/8“ jacks for output vs. mike, you may need an adapter (such as the “Headset Buddy”).
  • Closing the lid fires a 'lid closed' keypress and an ACPI event that turns the screen off, but it doesn't stay off if something wakes it while closed. As such, if you have an external mouse it's best to turn it upside down (or turn it off completely if wireless), so as to not have the screen backlight bake the keys if you accidentally waken it.
  • Backlight control can be racy if your desktop environment reacts to your keypress and tries to change it for you (KDE 4.11.3). The actual brightness change will in turn trigger the DE to help again causing an ACPI event storm.
  • Optimus needs to be enabled in the BIOS setup before Bumblebee can access the Intel graphics.
  • Wireless activity LED seems to default to always blink when connected, on my laptop with its Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 rev 35. This may be model- and/or revision-specific; this card uses the iwlwifi module whose driver option 'led_mode' default to letting the card decide. The workaround is to force it to led_mode=1 [On(RF On)/Off(RF Off)], either as a kernel boot parameter, or in a module options file in /etc/modprobe or /etc/modprobe.d depending on distro.



Disk Giant, 2015/03/18 05:38
 "Keys sometime “stick” (in software) resulting in repeated letters"

I'm dual booting and this problem seems to persist in Windoze as well. It may be a problem with the hardware.

Gokul Muralidharan, 2012/07/05 14:59

Tested the webcam with Skype calls, Works fine.

Luis Miguel, 2012/07/02 10:35


I run Fedora 17 and normally have this values:

Adapter: ISA adapter
Physical id 0: +86.0°C (high = +86.0°C, crit = +100.0°C)
Core 0: +86.0°C (high = +86.0°C, crit = +100.0°C)
Core 1: +86.0°C (high = +86.0°C, crit = +100.0°C)
Core 2: +84.0°C (high = +86.0°C, crit = +100.0°C)
Core 3: +86.0°C (high = +86.0°C, crit = +100.0°C)

Any suggestions?

peter, 2012/02/10 08:16

The smartcard reader doesn't seem to work. Too bad.

Peter Kells, 2012/06/23 23:16

I run Ubuntu 12.04 on this laptop and the smart card reader works fine.

Ramon, 2011/12/07 19:26

*Docking Trouble*
Dell Lat E6520
E-port Plus Docking Station
UltraSharp U2711 Monitor
Fedora 16 - Dual Boot w/ Win7-64

Can't get any display on the 27” Monitor while using DVI or display ports on docking station. Saw a brief flash of the Fedora logo but nothing else. Not even post info.

Using the GUI, under display settings, unable to detect anything other than lvds1.

Already toggled Optimus enabled/disabled in BIOS settings.

Any suggestions?

Andy, 2012/01/03 10:54

The E6520 series offers a hybrid card that splits rendering for 2D to the Intel and 3D to the nvidia card. This is called “Optimus”

Unfortunately there is no driver for Linux available that can handle this. You need to toggle Optimus disabled in BIOS settings to make the nvidia card primary for Linux and install proper nvidia drivers.

After rebooting the laptop open the nvidia settings (sudo nvidia-settings) and let it scan for monitors.

Steven Collins, 2012/08/08 16:21

Actually there is a project called Bumblebee that aims to provide support for Optimus (that is, to support having Optimus turned ON in BIOS and be able to switch between the Intel and nVidia graphics). Haven't tried it but it looks like they've made a lot of progress.

I run an OS called Qubes OS which is based on Xen and Fedora Core. Unfortunately the current version of Qubes (v1 rc1) does not work with Optimus turned off. I have to turn Optimus on in the BIOS, which means, given that I don't have Bumblebee installed, it just uses the Intel graphics card and the nVidia doesn't work. I don't particularly mind this, except that the HDMI output doesn't work at all, which is kind of a bummer.

tacticus, 2013/03/14 01:18

Actually with optimus off it just uses the nvidia one.

and wonderfully with it on it can't use more than one monitor through the docking station.

Ben Butler-Cole, 2011/09/02 11:02

Audio drivers need upgrading to get the built-in speakers and microphone working.

Details here: (a different model is specified in this bug, but the upgrade fixes this model as well).

I haven't found any other problems yet, using the factory-installed Ubuntu 10.10.

(According to Dell support, Ubuntu 11.04 already includes the driver upgrades, so may work out-of-the-box.)


Austin A, 2013/05/03 04:13

The audio and mic appeared to work just fine with Fedora 17. Used with Google hangouts and Skype often.

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dell_latitude_e6520.txt · Last modified: 2013/11/09 22:11 by zorael
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