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The laptop is sold with Microsoft Windows 8 64-bit and a trial version of MS Office. It is a fairly cheap and heavy personal laptop computer. According to its box, it is produced in China in 2013. The model documented is the one sold in Norway.
|Name||Packard Bell EasyNote LV11HC-10004G50Mnks model number VG70|
|Screen||17.3“ HP-LED LCD (1600 x 900)|
|RAM||4 GB DDR3|
|HDD||500 GB HDD|
|Optical Drive||DVD-Super Multi DL drive|
|Graphics||Intel HD Graphics|
|Network||Atheros 1Gbit/s ethernet and WIFI 802.11b/g/n|
|Optical Drive||Not Tested|
|Graphics Chip||Yes||Require kernel option i915.invert_brightness=1, see below|
|VGA Out||Not Tested|
|HDMI Port||Not Tested|
|Microphone Jack||Not Tested|
|Smart Card Reader||Yes|
|Docking Station||Not Tested||Not included in the package, no idea if such station exist|
When unpacking the machine, it was impossible to boot the Linux install media on the laptop. It would boot, show the vendor logo, and then first ask for language, next for regional settings, and finally if I accept the Windows 8 license. The only alternative to accepting the Windows 8 license is to turn off the machine.
I tried all keyboard combination I could find mentioned on the net to try to get into a boot menu or configure the firmware, without any luck. I tried all of [ESC], [F1], [F2], [F8], [F12], [Del], [Alt-Ctrl-Del] during boot to try to get access to the UEFI or BIOS setup menu. Nothing worked. As far as I can tell, there is no way to install Linux on this machine without opening the box.
To install Linux, I ended up unscrewing the cover under the machine (11 screws), unscrewed the hard drive and disconnected it from the machine. When there was no hard disk in the machine, [F2] during boot worked to get access to the firmware setup menu. To be able to install from a Ubuntu 13.04 DVD (which is the option I used), enable the F12 boot menu option in the setup menu. Once this is done, save the settings and turn off the machine. Insert and fasten the hard disk again and fasten the cover as well. Turn on the machine and insert the DVD, press F12 during boot and select the DVD in the boot menu that show up. From this point it is a normal Ubuntu 13.04 installation. Note that the video driver is slightly broken for this machine, leading to a black screen in the installer. See below for the workaround.
The i915 kernel driver do not handle this machine properly. It turn off the screen backlight, making it impossible to install. There are two workarounds, one quick and one proper. The quick fix is to modify the kernel boot options in the installer and add acpi=off, as suggested by askubuntu.com. The disadvantage is that all ACPI support is turned off, causing no battery status etc. A better option is to tell the i915 driver to invert its brightness control handling by adding i915.invert_brightness=1 as a kernel option, as documented in launchpad bug 765438. Using either, it is possible to install Ubuntu 13.04 on the machine. An alternative proposed in launchpad question 217767 was to use the kernel option nomodeset, but this caused X to fail to start and is not recommended.
Once the installation is done, the kernel option need to be inserted into the default boot sequence, to make sure future boots work as they should. This is best done running this in a terminal to set the option permanently and activate it in the initrd:
echo options i915 invert_brightness=1 | sudo tee /etc/modprobe.d/i915.conf sudo update-initramfs -u -k all
When this is done, it should be safe to reboot. During early testing, I once ran into a problem where the firmware refused to boot from the freshly installed Ubuntu installation because it broken the security policy. Not quite sure why, but the issue is tracked as launcpad bug 1184297. The next boots worked just fine, so this might have been a mixup on my part with the USB stick I first installed Ubuntu on. I got around the problem by pressing F12 and selecting the hard drive to boot from.
The firmware setup provide UEFI or legacy BIOS as options. With UEFI, there is no way to turn off secure boot (the option is grayed out). I tried to select the legacy BIOS and boot the Ubuntu installation DVD, but booting the installer failed with an error about not being able to find the root file system. I did not investigate the problem, and switched back to UEFI again.
Running Kubuntu Raring on the machine also needed the i915 workaround, but when the user log in the screen is turned off. This is caused by powerdevil, see the Debian Wheezy block below for more information.
According to Computeruniverse.net, the machine is also available with Linux, using the model name “Packard Bell EasyNote LV11HC-53214G50Mnk Linux”
Installatin work just fine with the firmware in “legacy mode”, but when booting the screen go black like Ubuntu Raring and the invert_brightness=1 trick is needed also here. The problem is reported as debian bug #710938. But in addition to this problem, logging into KDE turn the screen black again even with invert_brightness=1, and it first turn on again when the screen saver kick in. This make the machine unusable. The powerdevil module in KDE seem to be the cause of this black screen. The problem is reported as debian bug #711237, and a workaround is to edit /usr/share/kde4/services/kded/powerdevil.desktop, changing X-KDE-Kded-autoload from true to false. Unfortunately this disable power management in KDE.
After a lot of work I managed to get Ubuntu 13.04 installed on the machine. I would not recommend the machine to any fresh Linux user, as it is impossible to install Linux on it without opening the box and unplugging the hard drive.
Once Ubuntu was installed, the machine worked fine.
This is the output from lspci -nn on Ubuntu Raring (13.04):
00:00.0 Host bridge : Intel Corporation 3rd Gen Core processor DRAM Controller [8086:0154] (rev 09) 00:02.0 VGA compatible controller : Intel Corporation 3rd Gen Core processor Graphics Controller [8086:0156] (rev 09) 00:14.0 USB controller [0c03]: Intel Corporation 7 Series/C210 Series Chipset Family USB xHCI Host Controller [8086:1e31] (rev 04) 00:16.0 Communication controller : Intel Corporation 7 Series/C210 Series Chipset Family MEI Controller #1 [8086:1e3a] (rev 04) 00:1a.0 USB controller [0c03]: Intel Corporation 7 Series/C210 Series Chipset Family USB Enhanced Host Controller #2 [8086:1e2d] (rev 04) 00:1b.0 Audio device : Intel Corporation 7 Series/C210 Series Chipset Family High Definition Audio Controller [8086:1e20] (rev 04) 00:1c.0 PCI bridge : Intel Corporation 7 Series/C210 Series Chipset Family PCI Express Root Port 1 [8086:1e10] (rev c4) 00:1c.1 PCI bridge : Intel Corporation 7 Series/C210 Series Chipset Family PCI Express Root Port 2 [8086:1e12] (rev c4) 00:1c.5 PCI bridge : Intel Corporation 7 Series/C210 Series Chipset Family PCI Express Root Port 6 [8086:1e1a] (rev c4) 00:1d.0 USB controller [0c03]: Intel Corporation 7 Series/C210 Series Chipset Family USB Enhanced Host Controller #1 [8086:1e26] (rev 04) 00:1f.0 ISA bridge : Intel Corporation HM77 Express Chipset LPC Controller [8086:1e57] (rev 04) 00:1f.2 SATA controller : Intel Corporation 7 Series Chipset Family 6-port SATA Controller [AHCI mode] [8086:1e03] (rev 04) 00:1f.3 SMBus [0c05]: Intel Corporation 7 Series/C210 Series Chipset Family SMBus Controller [8086:1e22] (rev 04) 01:00.0 Unassigned class [ff00]: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. RTS5209 PCI Express Card Reader [10ec:5209] (rev 01) 07:00.0 Network controller : Atheros Communications Inc. AR9485 Wireless Network Adapter [168c:0032] (rev 01) 08:00.0 Ethernet controller : Qualcomm Atheros AR8151 v2.0 Gigabit Ethernet [1969:1083] (rev c0)
This is the output from lsusb on Ubuntu Raring (13.04):
Bus 001 Device 002: ID 8087:0024 Intel Corp. Integrated Rate Matching Hub Bus 002 Device 002: ID 8087:0024 Intel Corp. Integrated Rate Matching Hub Bus 001 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub Bus 002 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub Bus 003 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub Bus 004 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0003 Linux Foundation 3.0 root hub Bus 001 Device 003: ID 1bcf:2c18 Sunplus Innovation Technology Inc.