Ubuntu 12.04 (64bit) on the Asus N56VB

With quite some regret I had to decommission the trusty HP 4720s – readers of this blog will remember the love-hate relationship that grew to come between Ubuntu, it and I. Now it’s time to try Ubuntu on the new laptop: Asus N56VB.
Because I’m not much for experiments (those come to find me on their own, anyway) I’m sticking with Ubuntu 12.04 LTS 64 bit. Better the devil you know.

Installation

1. Reboot the pre-installed Windows 8 into the BIOS
2. Disable secure boot in the BIOS
3. Connect USB stick with Ubuntu live disk
4. Reboot
5. Follow through the installation. I had windows 8 removed completely. Note that you’ll need a small UEFI partition this time – it’s probably best to let the installer do the partitioning.

Running

The good news is everything seems to run out of the box.
[x] Speakers (internal)

[x] USB 2.0[x] 3D graphics

[x] Video playback
[x] WLAN
[x] Fn keyboard shortcuts
[x] Screen backlight
[x] Keyboard backlight
[x] Line out
update 2014.09.02
[x] Internal microphone
[x] USB 3.0

[x] Line in
[x] Card reader

Not verified (yet):

[?] Bluetooth

[?] HDMI

Power Consumption

[2014.07.26] Check out this powersaving script https://github.com/ggeorgovassilis/linuxscripts

The out-of-the-box power consumption is quite high, resulting in about 2 hours life for a full battery charge. The cause seems to be the nvidia graphics chip which, as explained earlier, I’m not using anyway because of it’s instability with Ubuntu. The best thing is to switch off the nvidia chip altogether, other smart people [1] figured out how to do that. I’m quoting:

Install the bumblebee ppa:

 

add-apt-repository ppa:bumblebee/stable
apt-get update

/etc/apt/sources.list.d/bumblebee-stable-raring.list should then look like this:

 

Install bbswitch:

 

apt-get install bbswitch-dkms

Add bsswitch to /etc/modules and disable the NVIDIA card by default:

 

bbswitch load_state=0

blacklist the nouveau driver in /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf

blacklist nouveau

Things that don’t work yet

I strongly recommend sticking with the default graphics driver and not using the nvidia one as it freezes the X-server sporadically unprovoked.

Edit 2014.02.16: 
I got the nvidia chip working after all. Bumblebee seems to do a pretty good job so far and I have not noticed instabilities. For normal (unity2d) operation it uses the intel chip and for advanced graphics the nvidia chip. I’ll post more about the precise setup later.

The fn hotkey for toggling the WLAN doesn’t work. I am still looking for a workaround.

The bluetooth module seems to be pulling almost 10 watt. I’m disabling it on startup with a script:

rfkill block bluetooth

The largest hassle so far is that the battery will sporadically not charge. This seems to be a widespread problem with the NV series, a workaround [2]is to remove the battery, shortly run the laptop, switch it off and place the battery back in.

Resources

[1] Disabling the NVIDIA videocard totally in Ubuntu 13.04 raring ringtail
http://blog.vanutsteen.nl/2013/04/23/disabling-the-nvidia-videocard-totally-in-ubuntu-13-04-raring-ringtail/

[2] ASUS N550JV – battery not charging
http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=2176915 

[3] github
https://github.com/ggeorgovassilis/linuxscripts

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