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#1 2011-06-25 17:50:57

Registered: 2011-06-25
Posts: 1

Archlinux on a Samsung Series 9 (NP900X3A) - A stormy love affair

Since I have found the answer to so many of my questions on these excellent forums, I thought it time to contribute something back. So here are my experiences so far in running archlinux on one of Samsungs super sleek new Series 9 laptops

I have long been running Kubuntu on my laptops, but for this one I really wanted something with rolling packages as I had a feeling I would be needed a lot of very up to date packages to make it run smoothly, so I settled for archlinux.

About the laptop itself... The hardware is by far the most sleek of any computer I have ever owned and now that I am finally getting a hang on the issues that has been plaguing me, it is an absolute dream to use. Great (matte!!) screen, comfy keyboard, nice long battery life, quite sufficient graphics horsepower for my purposes with the Intel driver (smooth composited desktop and enough 3D for most of the slightly older games I play such as Nexuiz and Freespace 2). Also the system feels very snappy due to the ssd drive and boots in seconds.

Lets start out with the good news, stuff that just works:

On first installing arch, the system was actually surprisingly (for such new hardware) usable. Wireless, audio and suspend/resume all just worked, and the open source intel graphics driver deliveres quite good performance with integrated HD 3000 graphics core.

Here are the issues I have encountered so far and my solutions (or workarounds):

1. Kernel Panics

After first installing a vanilla arch, I encountered quite a few kernel panics. This is in line with what the users of Ubuntu are reporting.

The nasty thing about this is that once a kernel panic happens, holding down the power button will not make it power off and since the battery is non removable (unless you feel like dismantling your running system), you have to locate the small pinhole reset button on the bottom to reset it. Another solution to this is to add the following to /etc/sysctl.conf:

kernel.panic = 20

This will automatically reboot the system 20 seconds after a kernel panic happens.

After much experimentation and observation, especially noting that the panics came in "groups" depending on my location, it turns out that the broadcom wireless really does not like networks using the 802.11n protocol. Making my home network use only b+g has made the panics go away. This will hopefully get resolved in a future kernel.

2. Graphical Corruption

In the beginning, I had many issues with graphical corruption in various apps, especially on web pages and plasma applets. After enabling the testing repositories and pulling in the latest xorg, mesa and intel-dri, these issues have become much less severe. I still do get occasional graphical artifacts in some apps, but much less than before. Also 3D apps seems to run flawlessly now. (I played Freespace 2 using the native linux engine for several hours the other day with no issues whatsoever).

3. Touchpad

The touchpad on this system is a quite new multitouch versions with 2 buttons integrated under the bottom part of it. This means that draggin by holding down the left button and moving another finger across the pad will not work as that will get registered as a 2 finger gesture instead. Some sources on the web will recommend a hack that makes the touchpad work like a regular mouse (disabling mutitouch) but I found that this comes at too great a cost.

It is actually possible to drag things by using a quick-click and then click and start dragging "gesture" using just a single finger. Using synaptik or similar apps this can be configured and tweaked and right and middle button clicks using 2 and 3 fingter tabs can be configured. After a bit of getting used to this, the touchpad actually works very well, complete with 2 finger scrolling and the likes.

4. Special Function Keys

With no tweaking needed, the buttons for volume (up, down, mute), screen brightness (up, down) and toggling the touchpad on and off works "out of the box". So far I have not had any luck adjusting the keyboard backlight (very minor issue for me) and a few other buttons that I have no idea what are suppose to do also do not work.

I will update this post if I get any of the remaining issues solved or learn anything new.

Feel free to ask questions.

- Nikolaj


#2 2011-07-11 17:25:43

Registered: 2011-07-11
Posts: 1

Re: Archlinux on a Samsung Series 9 (NP900X3A) - A stormy love affair

Thanks for this. I am considering buying one of theese machines. What kind of battery life do you get? On windows samsung claims it has juice for up til 7 hours.


#3 2011-07-11 18:55:04

From: Spain
Registered: 2011-02-10
Posts: 225

Re: Archlinux on a Samsung Series 9 (NP900X3A) - A stormy love affair

@aepade: The top I've got I think is 5 hours on KDE.


A little comment on the touchpad:

Tap or do something with two fingers: middle button or scroll.
Tap with trhee fingers: right button.

I think it came like that only installing xf86-input-synaptics, I don't remember well if I did something else to configure it.

Also, as it has a sandy bridge chip, some of the hangs could be avoided using i915.semaphore=1 or i915.semaphore=0 acording to a phoronix article (yeah, I know)

With the wireless, I think the broadcom-wl driver could perform better than the kernel one, but that's something that I've not time yet to test.

Graphics had performed well since I've been using it without artifacts or corruption of any kind.

EDIT: typo

Last edited by ethail (2011-08-24 06:30:51)

My GitHub Page

Best Testing Repo Warning: [testing] means it can eat you hamster, catch fire and you should keep it away from children. And I'm serious here, it's not an April 1st joke.


#4 2011-08-23 09:56:04

From: Genova - Italy
Registered: 2008-11-11
Posts: 2

Re: Archlinux on a Samsung Series 9 (NP900X3A) - A stormy love affair


can you please give more details about the special function keys ? Are you able to turn off the wireless antenna ?

I'm actually running Arch with Openbox WM and none of the special key is working.


#5 2012-09-06 18:54:46

Registered: 2012-01-20
Posts: 7

Re: Archlinux on a Samsung Series 9 (NP900X3A) - A stormy love affair

Bump question from last post... Samsung-tools from the AUR didn't help enable any of the keys like keyboard brightness, wireless antenna, etc.   

Anyone have luck with other methods?


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