tisdag 25 mars 2014

Fedora 20 on the Portégé Z30

The last incarnation of the Z ultrabook-series is named Z30.
It has the same footprint as the previous Z830 and Z930, but has a different chassis and is slightly thicker.
To put it short - it's a really nice unit with both looks and power.
The new design is really attractive and as with every new generation, there are new components raising the bar for the combination of power vs energy consumption.

See some Z30-sku's here: http://www.toshiba.eu/laptops/portege/portege-z30-a/

In the unit currently in my lap we have the following stuff:
CPU: Intel Core i7-4500
Chipset : Intel HM86 Chipset
GPU: Intel 4400
8GB DDR3L 1600 memory
Primary storage: 256GB SSD
Wireless: Intel Wilkins peak 1 (802.11 ac + agn) including Bluetooth 4

Other highlights are a backlit keyboard, SD-host, 3 USB3 ports, an HDMI-out port along with a VGA-port.
It also has a built-in port for a system docker - something which was not available in the earlier Z-series.

As to be expected, everything feels solid, well built and sturdy.
My personal opinion is that unit could have been a bit heavier...

So how does the combination Z30 and Fedora work?
Well, I have come to understand that Intel components tend to run very well under Linux.
Also as with the B2B models from Toshiba, they tend to work well under Linux.
So also in this case.
All devices worked apart from the backlight-control.
However this was easily fixed.

Booting, running and installing Fedora 20 on the unit on worked fine and both mice (touchpad and trackpoint) works perfect.
As mentioned above, the backlight was not possible to control by FN + F6 / F7.
It's easy to find solutions for this and once implemented, it works great.

The solution is to add a kernel argument in GRUB2 at boot time.
GRUB2 is the bootloader used by many distributions.

What need to be done is to add the following argument which fixes the non-working backlight control


to the end of the current GRUB commandline found in the file 


And then we need to ask GRUB2 to incorporate our changes to the current boot-menu.

Now, I am assuming you are a "sudo'er" - means you're in the sudo-group which lets you do administrative tasks by use of sudo.
I like the feature a lot and it actually helps if GUI based programs are needed to be run as root.

If you are not in the sudo'ers group here's a guide to fix this:

Ok, so assuming you're a sudo'er and prefer working in a GUI - open the terminal (yes, that's true).
In the terminal enter:

sudo gedit /etc/default/grub

You'll be prompted with a request for your sudo-password.
Enter it and gedit should start looking like the below:


Don't be confused or intimidated by the content of the file. Just look for the line starting with 


Now find the end of that line and make sure there's a space between the last arguments and this which you should add:


You should have something like the below:

Don't forget that the line need to end with "

Once done, save and exit. If you want to do it my way, press CTRL+S and then ALT+F4.
Now stay in the terminal and write the following command:

sudo grub2-mkconfig -o /boot/grub2/grub.cfg

This will add your change to the current boot-menu.
You should see something like:

Generating grub.cfg ...
Found linux image: /boot/vmlinuz-3.13.6-200.fc20.x86_64
Found initrd image: /boot/initramfs-3.13.6-200.fc20.x86_64.img
Found linux image: /boot/vmlinuz-3.11.10-301.fc20.x86_64
Found initrd image: /boot/initramfs-3.11.10-301.fc20.x86_64.img
Found linux image: /boot/vmlinuz-0-rescue-7edae5ea237e4249ad70613908f4c1b3
Found initrd image: /boot/initramfs-0-rescue-7edae5ea237e4249ad70613908f4c1b3.img

Now you should be able to reboot your unit and test the backlight with the help of FN+F6/F7.

Finally, see below for an overview of the tests and results running F20 on the Z30.

BR Tom

Cold booted Resumed from Standby
Hardware features

Full native resolution on display OK OK
SD host OK OK
Bluetooth OK OK
Touchpad  OK OK
Sound OK OK
HDMI sound OK OK
Webcam OK OK

Instant lock FN + F1 Ok OK
Power meter – FN + F2 OK OK
Standby – FN + F3 OK OK
Hibernation – FN +F4 Ok Ok
Display change - FN + F5 OK* OK*
Brightness - FN + F6 / F7 OK Ok
Radio On/Off - FN + F8 OK OK
Touchpad On/Off - FN + F9 NG NG
Volume control - FN + 3 / 4 OK OK
Mute On/Off - FN + ESC OK OK
Keyboard backlight Ok OK

6 kommentarer:

  1. Nice review. About the touchpad. Can one turn it off in the bios. Or alternatively by using xinput?
    Also, do you happen to have their port replicator, and if so does this work under linux?

  2. Hi

    No it does not seem possible to turn the mouse on/off in the BIOS - found no such possibility.
    I do not have access to the port-replicator, but traditionally, it works mainly (not only though!) as an "extender" of ports. So very little logic is inside them.
    That *should* mean that the port-replicator should work without any problems.
    However, it may not be so that the OS recognizes the PC as docked and create separate profiles for docked/undocked situations (as Windows may do).

    BR Tom

  3. Thanks Tom,
    I assume the trackpad works. Could you do me a favor and see if it shows up when you do

    $ xinput --list

    This will give you your input devices by name and also gives you an id number.

    Could you then try to disable it by

    $xinput --disable id

    where id is the number assigned to the trackpad as listed from xinput --list

    If this works, you can always enable it again by

    $ xinput --enable id

    I have been using thinkpads for the last 15+ years and like the stick/trackpoint mouse. Now Lenovo decided to get rid of the buttons associated with the trackpoint. So I need an alternative and the Z30 looks very interesting indeed. I have always trouble with these trackpads because I tend to touch them when I type and the mouse then moves around.... So I need to know if I can disable it.

    Thanks so much for your help


  4. Hi

    The xinput lists the pointing devices as 1 device.
    Disabling it disables both devices simultaneously.
    See xinput list dump below.

    [tmannerhagen@localhost ~]$ xinput --list
    ⎡ Virtual core pointer id=2 [master pointer (3)]
    ⎜ ↳ Virtual core XTEST pointer id=4 [slave pointer (2)]
    ⎜ ↳ PS/2 Generic Mouse id=11 [slave pointer (2)]
    ⎣ Virtual core keyboard id=3 [master keyboard (2)]
    ↳ Virtual core XTEST keyboard id=5 [slave keyboard (3)]
    ↳ Power Button id=6 [slave keyboard (3)]
    ↳ Video Bus id=7 [slave keyboard (3)]
    ↳ Power Button id=8 [slave keyboard (3)]
    ↳ TOSHIBA Web Camera - FHD id=9 [slave keyboard (3)]
    ↳ AT Translated Set 2 keyboard id=10 [slave keyboard (3)]
    ↳ Toshiba input device id=12 [slave keyboard (3)]

  5. Hi,
    interesting.... Soit seems it does not really recognize your touchpad as such. Can you do the usual touchpad things like multi-finger gestures etc. or does it only work as a mouse?
    After a little googleing I found that this computer has a ALPS touchpad and apparently they don't play well with linux (yet).
    Maybe the following would be of interest to you if your touchpad indeed only works as mouse and does not support multi finger gestures


    And here is the Fedora forum where I found this link (seems to be a problem for nearly all distributions. Maybe the latest Ubuntu can do it because of the "sputnik" project. Dell seems to use these ALPS pads as well)


    All I would need it to be recognized and then I can turn it off ;-)

    Thanks again four your help.

    1. Hi there

      Thought you might be interested in the latest kernel which adds some good things to the mouse-settings:

      BR Tom