Dell Latitude E6400 and Linux Mint 11 fine tuning

Tweaking and modifying some “minor” things in Linux Mint 11 for better performance and usability on Dell Latitude E6400.

Currently I have a Latitude E6400, and I needed lots of tweaks to get it work as I like it under Linux (currently Mint 11, Katya, prevoiusly Ubuntu 10.10, Maverick Meerkat).

Tweak the touchpad

For an unknown reason, Dell keeps using ALPS touchpads, with all their errors and bugs. My usual error: keeping my finger on the scrolling area kills the touchpad: it becomes uresponsive or very-very slow, and only gets well if the trackpoint is moved.

After searching a lot, I’ve found, that the synaptics driver can be used instead of the default mouse driver, and maxtap parameters can be set with this driver.

apt-get install xserver-xorg-input-synaptics

After successfull install, replace the default mouse part in /etc/X11/xorg.conf:

Section "InputDevice"
Identifier     "Mouse0"
Driver         "synaptics"
Option         "Device" "/dev/input/event2"
Option         "Protocol" "event"
Option         "SendCoreEvents" "true"
Option         "Emulate3Buttons" "no"
Option         "ZAxisMapping" "4 5"
Option         "MaxTapTime" "180"
Option         "MaxTapMove" "110"
EndSection

For me, this is still under testing, I really hope, it solves my problems.

Update WiFi driver for BCM4322

Please visit my previous post about this topic1.

Tweak nVidia config to achieve powersave mode

Change the default part of “Device0” in /etc/X11/xorg.conf to the following:

Section "Device"
Identifier          "Device0"
Driver              "nvidia"
VendorName              "NVIDIA Corporation"
BoardName               "Quadro NVS 160M"
Option              "NoLogo"    "True"
Option              "Coolbits" "1"
Option              "RegistryDwords" "PowerMizerEnable=0x1; PerfLevelSrc=0x2222; PowerMizerLevel=0x3; PowerMizerDefault=0x3; PowerMizerDefaultAC=0x3; PowerMizerLevelAC=0x3; EnableMClkSlowdown=0x1; EnableCoreSlowdown=0x1; EnableNVClkSlowdown=0x1"
EndSectionn

This enables the strongest powersafe mode both running from battery and AC power. Some say, this won’t work, although it does reduced my notebook need for energy.

Control the fan yourself

WARNING! THIS MAY RUIN YOUR COMPUTER PERMANENTLY! I DO NOT TAKE ANY RESPONSIBILITY FOR THIS STEP, AND ONLY DO IT IF YOU REALLY KNOW, WHAT YOU’RE DOING!

My previously owned machine (Lenovo T500) was merely heard, the fan didn’t really make a squeak. (Although it constatly made a very high piched noise, some say, it’s because a powersave mode of the CPU itself, and just to make it clear, it was annoying). However, the Dell E6400 has constant fan problems in every possible way: a lot of people complained about overheating in the Intel GPU models, and there’s already been 28 (!) BIOS updates, yet the thermal table is still awful.

The main problem, that the machine’s termal control listen to the CPU, GPU, motherboard and disk temperatures, and the fan will be on, if the disk is over 38 °C. My disk is a 250GB, 7200 RPM Hitachi and it’s operating temperature is about 41 °C… it doesn’t really ever gets a lot warmer, but it keeps the fan running.

To control the fan, first you need to prevent the BIOS from taking the control back in every 3 seconds: (it is really annoying, the BIOS tries to spin the fan to at least 3K in every 3 seconds…). You can do the following in any operating system, but wait until the system booted up (if I tried this during Linux boot, sometimes it prevented the system to load) press and hold SHIFT + FN, and press in order: 1 5 3 2 4n.

After this, if you’ve done it right, the three keyboard indicator LED will flash, and the most right one will stay flashing.

You can now press FN + Rn to access the thermal control system.With the arrows, go to the “Disable thermal control” part, press right, than enter two times, thus the thermal control is disabled.

Now you can run i8ktools2 or dellfand^33. A minor drawback is that both program can only change the speed in 3 steps: no fan, low and high. Low is about 2500 turn/min, high is about 4400.

I tried to hack dellfand as setting the control values (originally 256 and 512 decimal for low and high), but nothing between the two original values made any changes, so it seems, we need to be satisfied with this.


  1. https://petermolnar.net/better-driver-for-bcm4322-802-11abgn-in-ubuntu-10-10/

  2. http://www.diefer.de/i8kfan/

  3. http://dellfand.dinglisch.net/



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