Sunday, June 2, 2013

Ubuntu 12.04 LTS on a HP Envy dv7 7390eb laptop (Windows 8 UEFI)

UPDATE 2014-07-30: Post on Ubuntu 14.04.1 here...

Here are the steps I took so far for getting Ubuntu Precise Pangolin 12.04.2 LTS to work on my HP Envy dv7 7390eb laptop. (Take care, I'm not an expert, just an average user sharing his experiences! Always back up important data before installing or tweaking!)
The laptop comes with Windows 8 UEFI pre-installed.

I have to say that, in general, Ubuntu 12.04 works pretty well out of the box on this laptop, but needs a bit of tweaking to get every detail working - still a work in progress that I intend to log here.


Step 1: installing Ubuntu

Pretty straightforward, I encountered no problems. You have to do some extra steps to have a working boot manager because of the UEFI system (see further), but if you follow the instructions you should not encounter any problems.

The laptop comes with two 1 TB hard disks. Disk 1 contains Windows, Disk 2 is partitioned as "DATA". I decided to use disk 1 for Windows + Windows DATA and disk 2 for Linux.

First, from within Windows, I deleted the "DATA" partition, then shrunk the "OS" partition to make room for a new "DATA" partition on disk 1, which I then created. For instructions about all this, see for instance here or do a search on internet with keywords "Windows 8 shrink volume".
Do not create a partition on Disk 2 from within Windows, just leave it "unallocated" (free) and reboot on your Linux Live USB. Linux will take care of everything.

Then just do a standard Ubuntu "install alongside Windows" automatic install (see general installation instructions via the links on the Ubuntu page), then follow the steps outlined in "Installing Ubuntu Quickly and Easily via Trial and Error" on the UEFI-page of You will have to restart from Live-USB and do a boot-repair, it's all explained on the pages I mentioned.

To install Ubuntu from live USB I did not have to disable SecureBoot; however once installed and the boot-repair executed (as outlined on the Ubuntu UEFI page, see above link), I had to disable it to be able to boot into Windows. Weird, but true. So I just keep SecureBoot disabled for the moment, although with Linux it does work. 

After the install I decided I wanted a bigger swap in linux. Default installed is 16GB, same as RAM and I wanted double for extra safety so as to be sure that suspend would work. This may or may not be necessary or a good idea, but it's what I did and it seems to work. Apparently I could have just installed a swap file - more info and detailed instructions on the SwapFaq page of Ubuntu help.
I didn't write down the steps I took, but, from memory, I did the following.  
  • rebooted with live-USB, 
  • ran Gparted, 
  • right-click on swap partition (16GB at this moment) -> swapoff
  • right-click on swap partition -> delete
  • apply
  • right-click on main linux partition -> resize to about 17 GB less
  • apply
  • new unallocated space is 32 GB, right-click on it -> new -> extended
  • right-click in extended partition -> new, choose type "linux-swap"
  • apply
Now boot into your installed linux (on hard drive) and
  • run Gparted (install first if necessary)
  • right-click on swap partition -> swapon
  • then follow instructions here (chapter "How do I add more swap") to edit /etc/fstab.
I did get an error message on first reboot after the Live-USB, probably because I did "swapon" from within the LiveUSB without editing /etc/fstab, but it didn't cause any further problems, and I never got it again. Which makes sense, as I edited /etc/fstab.

Step 2: adding TLP and Bumblebee

TLP is a tool that runs in the background to optimize battery-life. See installation instructions on the TLP-homepage.

Bumblebee is a package that enables NVIDIA Optimus in Linux. This laptop comes with two graphics cards, one that uses little power but is not very good for 3D, and another one (NVidia) that is a lot better for 3D but consumes more power and generates more heat. The Nvidia Optimus technology is designed to optimize battery life by disabling the NVidia card when not necessary. After installing Bumblebee, if I understand correctly, the default card used is the "simple" one (not Nvidia), unless you start the program in question in a terminal and put "optirun" in front of the program name (see the Bumblebee wiki for all details). More info on the Bumblebee homepage, installation instructions here.
I tested running "glxspheres" and "optirun glxspheres" and there was indeed a notable difference in performance.

Step 3: Wifi

Wifi actually works out of the box (kind of) but you may need to have a look at this thread here to get it up and running. Basically I have to use the command
sudo rfkill unblock all 
at every boot to activate the device, after this I can turn on or off the wifi and bluetooth using the net applet. I also installed wifi-radar.

Step 4: get Beats Audio working

Learning from this thread, I did in a terminal:
gksudo gedit /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf
and added the following line at the bottom:
options snd-hda-intel model=ref
Save the file. Then reboot, not perfect, but sounds better.

Step 5: non-free codecs / Playing encrypted DVDs

The prime source of information is here: RestrictedFormats/Playing DVDs on Ubuntu help.

What I did was:
Go to, follow instructions and install especially the lib- and non-free-packages. I installed them almost all. Reboot.
At first I still got error messages when trying to play a certain DVD (Ironman 2 in my case - great movie by the way).
Then I used regionset to set the region of my DVD-player to 2 (Europe). Reboot.
The DVD played, but garbled. Finally I deleted the ~/.dvdcss/ folder (I opened my home folder as root in Thunar), rebooted, and then everything worked.

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