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We are running Ubuntu 12.04 on our Dell Precision M4600 laptops. Note: the info below only strictly applies to the M4600 laptops. We also have one M4500 with an SSD. The BIOS image below does not apply to it, but see here. (Updated to newest BIOS A14 on 8/5/13.)

This thread contains some useful info and comments from other people running Ubuntu on these machines. Commonly reported issues include hot-plugging monitors and changing screen configurations, ethernet driver problems, hang on reboot (see fix below), and proprietary graphics driver issues (remember to disable Optimius, see below).

With the default BIOS version A08 the system will not cleanly shutdown or reboot. It hangs at the very end of the powerdown process. This may or may not only happen when using the NVidia propietary drivers. If you have not disabled the boot splash screen then the you will see the ubuntu splash screen with just a few of the progress "dots" lit up during the hang.

Flashing to the newest(?) Bios A13 (local copy) seems to resolve this. Unfortunately it is not that easy to flash the new BIOS because Dell only supports this in Windows and DOS. The procedure here works. Many of the steps are about creating a special DOS bootable disk image with the BIOS installer file on it. I have done these steps and saved the result here for you. You can then just download that file and run these commands:

sudo apt-get install syslinux
sudo cp /usr/lib/syslinux/memdisk /boot
sudo cp M4600A13.img /boot

Then reboot, hold down the shift key to get the grub boot menu, hit c to get the grub command line, and enter these lines:

linux16 /boot/memdisk
initrd16 /boot/M4600A13.img
boot

This will boot the machine from the DOS disk image. After a few seconds it will ask you to update the date and time, which you can skip by hitting enter twice. Finally you will get a DOS command propmpt at which you can enter the command to start the BIOS updater:

M4600A13.exe

The newer BIOS A13 also seems to resolve possibly serious ACPI errors that were encountered with A08.

Suggested key BIOS settings (some of these may be default), hit F12 in early boot to get to BIOS settings:

  • System Configuration->Integrated NIC->Enabled (not w/PXE)
  • System Configuration->Parallel Port->ECP
  • Video->Optimus->Disable Optimus (probably important to get NVidia drivers working and stable)
  • Performance->Intel SpeedStep->Enable Intel SpeedStep (CPU frequency scaling will not work without this, your laptop will get hot and battery life will be shortened)
  • Performance->Intel TurboBoost->Enable Intel TurboBoost
  • Performance->HyperThread control->Enabled

As of 7/18/13 ethernet seems to work fine in Ubuntu 12.04 out of the box, with the most recent updates and BIOS A13. I only tested it briefly though.

If you experience random wifi failures when connected to the CCIS wireless network, try this (TBD can this be put in rc.local or something?) to disable powersave states in the wifi driver:

sudo iwconfig wlan0 power off

You can also always try this if the wifi stops working, in many cases it will get it going again:

sudo service network-manager restart

Recently the network manager applet menu (which lists available wireless networks and related things) started to display incorrectly sometimes. It seems you can work around this issue by running

killall nm-applet; nm-applet &

Connecting to CCIS-Wireless: (11/14/13) (also see https://github.com/standaloneSA/NUwave-Linux) In the big bad wireless security dialog set

Security: WPA & WPA2 Enterprise
Authentication: Protected EAP (PEAP)
Anonymous identity:
CA certificate: (None)
PEAP version: Automatic
Inner authentication: MSCHAPv2
Username: your myNEU usern
Password: your myNEU password

If it complains about CA certificate say "ignore" and "don't ask again".

If CCIS-Wireless seems unreliable you may also need to disable 11N like this:

sudo rmmod iwldvm # if needed
sudo rmmod iwlwifi
sudo modprobe iwlwifi 11n_disable=1
sudo service network-manager restart
sudo sh -c "echo 'options iwlwifi 11n_disable=1' > /etc/modprobe.d/iwlwifi-disable-n.conf" # make it permanent

You can verify that 11n is disabled like this:

cat /sys/module/iwlwifi/parameters/11n_disable
1 # command output should be 1
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