HP Probook 4720s on Ubuntu 11.10 64bit Oneiric Ocelot

The new Ubuntu 11.10 is out as of yesterday, and naturally it is time for another upgrade. Because of the many tweaks [1], [2] I decided for a fresh install, this time directly on the notebook harddisk instead of a flash card.

The live ISO worked nicely from the USB stick except for the WLAN, but that is only a minor nuisance since it works out of the box in a real installation. So the checklist is:

[x] WLAN Update 2012-03-01 The tireless folks at ubuntuforums found a way [4] to patch the old Ralink driver. I am not sure whether it works worse or better, so far I haven’t noticed any difference.

Update 2010-10-23 I found the WLAN initially to be somewhat unstable and it turns out that the driver issues in [1] and [2] still persist. However blacklisting them in /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf and rebooting solves the problem:

blacklist rt2x00pci
blacklist rt2x00lib

Update 2010-11-02 That should be “most of the problem”. Under heavy load it starts dropping TCP connections.
[x] Sound level function keys
[x] Screen brightness function keys
Somewhat oddly the function keys don’t autorepeat while pressed, thus changing multiple levels requires multiple strokes.

[x] Touchpad right click (still doesn’t work, however the two-finger-tap works fine for a right click)
[x] Internal microphone
[ ] External microphone (have not tested yet)
[ ] Bluetooth (have not tested yet)
[x] Webcam
[x] Windows shares name resolution (not out of the box, but can be done, see [3])
[x] Standby
[x] Video. Update 2011-11-22 After having tried several options and updates, I think the best option is to install the AMD drivers from the ‘Additional Drivers’ menu item but use Unity 2D (setting from the login screen). This keeps both the laptop cool (3D operation heats it up even on low usage) and produces the best results when playing videos.
[ ] Bluetooth Update 2011-12-31 Doesn’t work. Will post more as I find out

Previous text:
 The default drivers work fine while the 3rd party drivers AMD drivers (‘Additional drivers’) caused stuttering video playback with VLC, so I am staying with the regular ones. Update 2011-11-07 After yesterdays update, the AMD drivers also work (note: not the post-release update). While playing videos, VLC shows a distinct tearing which is easily remedied via the “Tear free” option of the AMD catalyst control center


[1] Ubuntu 10.10 on the HP Probook 4720s

[2] Ubuntu 11.04 on the HP Probook 4720s

[3] Resolving smb server names

[4] RaLink RT3090 Wireless Woes on 11.10 b2

8 thoughts on “HP Probook 4720s on Ubuntu 11.10 64bit Oneiric Ocelot

  1. I do not know, why I decided to put 32bit on my Probook 4720s. Anyway, do you think it is worth of switching to 64bit? I am prepared for overall backup (finally I have the propper reason :)) but are there any other “painful” issues (with keeping installed programmes or their presets for instance)?
    And what is the best way of the process (unfortunately everything is only on one partition). I suppose to create new partition on a free space (approx. 50 GB) and install 64bit there. But what next…
    Any recommendation appreciated.


  2. Hi Kout!
    The only reason I am using 64bit is because I run several VMs with windows and other linux instances alongside large java applications which need a lot of virtual memory and that in sum exceeds the possible 4GB by far. However I found the 64bit support so far excellent and I am not aware of any hardware issues that are present only in the 64bit version and not int the 32bit version.

    Unfortunately I cannot advise you on the migration, because the only backups I take are my firefox and thunderbird profiles (which survive a 32->64bit migration easily) and documents, the entire rest is in an SVN.


  3. Hi George, thank you very much for quick and helpful reply. I will go for it. After the proper backup. Except for virtualization (webdesign purposes only) I read on some forums that 64bit system doesn't heat up CPU so much. So will see. If I meet something remarkable I will post it here for similar explorers.


  4. Hi Kout!
    If it's only about the heating, do yourself a favour and install a version on a spare USB stick before wiping your current installation. Then let that system pull all updates and see if it really makes a difference in terms of power consumption.

    You can always directly measure that with the “powertop” programme which gives you a direct estimate of the power consumption


  5. Hi George,
    now I am posting from USB stick 64bit system version and I think I will go for it. Of course it is a clean install (but from a stick on the other hand) and my feeling is great, everything goes smoother and faster. Even graphics on the web seems cleaner to me. Either I slept well last night, or something is really better here. These are feelings only, but they can tell lot sometimes.
    The dash pops up faster and as I type, the response is faster as well. On my 32bit system I played with graphic card settings too much maybe (multiple displays, Radeon driver, Compiz etc.).
    If I look at the temperature it is better as well, but yesterday the computer was busy backing up.
    So as I finish back up I will go for it. Thank you for your interest and tips!


  6. That is good news 🙂
    One of my favourite tests is playing a DVD with VLC and making a Skype video call – if that works you have covered already a lot. Please note that I never could get bluetooth working and I still have not tested whether the external microphone jack works.

    Good luck!


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