Posts Tagged ‘ubuntu

13
Sep
17

Kubuntu 17.04 on Dell e5470 for extreme battery life

So apparently it’s been 5 years since I last updated this series: https://www.totalnetsolutions.net/2012/12/09/lenovo-t430-running-kubuntu-12-10-for-extreme-battery-life/

i’ve restarted most of these configurations over the past 5 years, especially as I’ve switched away from WWAN to tethering, and from spinning rust to SSD, but a lot of the core concepts remain: about 6 years ago my battery died after 3.5 hours of VM troubleshooting, while on a flight, and I lost some data in the emergency “go to sleep, not hibernate”, which cost me 2 hours of rework in the hotel at midnight. My goal, now, is “be able to work multiple simultaneous tasks, have a VM running, and still get super-long battery life when I need it, but not impact performance noticeably.”

With powertop reporting <5W (14h remaining) power consumption while idle, and <6W (11 hours) with firefox open while I start to write this post in August, 2017, I think I’ve hit the mark reasonably well.

As with the Lenovo T430 in the previous post, everything I care about works right out of the box, but when I first started my custom kernels, I missed a few things that I had to add back in before writing this up.

Hardware


CPU: Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-6300U CPU @ 2.40GHz
Memory: 16GB RAM
VGA compatible controller: Intel Corporation HD Graphics 520 (rev 07)
Ethernet controller: Intel Corporation Ethernet Connection I219-LM (rev 21)
Network controller: Intel Corporation Wireless 8260 (rev 3a)

Audio device: Intel Corporation Sunrise Point-LP HD Audio (rev 21)
Bluetooth device: Intel (integrated on the USB)
Synaptics Touchpad and Twiddler Mouse

Jump to main sections with these links:
CPU Configuration
Network Configuration
Video Configuration
Encryption / Security configuration
Battery saving configuration
Custom kernel .config

CPU and Battery


I have a series of posts on my love of getting the most performance and battery life I can from my systems, see the last and first of the series for a bit more, or dig through my twitter on the subject. What’s new this year is the latest i5 Core CPU with Linux 4.4 has a new “pstate” performance governor that’s not actually buggy anymore, if you configure it right. I used to use the acpi_cpufreq governors “ondemand” on AC and “conservative” on battery. But the new pstate drivers apparently perform better (thanks Phoronix) AND scale down for battery savings better, so I needed to switch that. Since I was switching governors, I figured it was time to re-check my 2007 finding that moving from “GENERIC_CPU” to “MCORE2” saved me 30+ minutes alone.

Well, it does. But I didn’t keep the data, sorry. What this means is I once again needed to custom compile a kernel to get the right CPU options, and to get the new pstate driver. Since I was in doing that, and since the 2012 post, I’ve moved away from the default kernel Scheduler to Colin Kalvis’ BFS scheduler, so we get to patch THAT in as well. More on those options down at the custom kernel config section, but the point here is that BFS added some stability to heavy “running multiple VMs, and processing 4GB of raw data in Perl” swapping problems I was having, even with 16GB RAM, as well as not hurting my battery life, with a high possibility of 10-20 minutes extra life on normal operations.

The battery in the system is designed at 8157000 mWh, and after 6 months is down to 6621000 mWh. The “amount of time running” is based on the past 2 months, not day 1 of receiving the laptop.

Lastly, I’m still using cpufreqd, but the configuration is vastly simplified – pstate “powersave” when my AC is not plugged in, or the battery’s below 70%, and pstate “performance” otherwise. Ubuntu fixed the broken cpufreqd daemon sometime in 2014, so I’m back to the distribution default version of that, yay!

My custom cpufreqd.conf.

Network


I stopped using my jumbo frames script from here in Kubuntu 16.10, because apparently NetworkManager can figure that out on its own, and it’s been relatively successful. My wireless adapter connects to the new Netgear T6400 at near gigabit speed, but the R6400 doesn’t support jumbo frames itself, so I’m segmenting off some new VLANs to break the Jumbo Frames hosts from the wireless / nonintelligent hosts. That’ll mean resurrecting my jumbo frames script to instead set the VLAN Tag when I’m home.h

Sound


Sound has always been a joke for Linux users, but the Intel HD-Audio has been really solid for me for several years, especially with pulseaudio actually being relatively stable for me. When I recieved the laptop, I was having a problem where full-duplex audio was causing what appeared to be a storm of interrupts that hung the entire laptop. But about 2 months of debugging resulted in “I built a new kernel, and now it works fine.” I don’t know if it was a bug in the codec in the kernel, or something that silently patched. How I have Bluetooth audio headset, bluetooth headset for online conference calls, and appropriate switching for apps and reminders (reminders / alerts go to speakers and bluetooth in my config, in case I take the headphones off), with the options int he PulseAudio configuration in KDE. I have no “.asoundrc” or /etc/asound or /etc/pulse or ~/.pulse/client.conf anymore either, which is great!

Video


For the first time in years, I do not have a multi-graphics card system to deal with. The i915 driver works out of the box and is unremarkable, but functional. And great for battery life. But boring to discuss.

Encryption and Security

Encryption

During installation, I chose the option to use an encrypted LVM volume. This uses DM-Crypt to encrypt the full HDD, so that it has to be unlocked at boot time. The Kubuntu installer seems to forget this fact, so it also asks you to set up ecryptfs private home directories, which is NOT neccessary for a single-user laptop, since the whole OS is already encrypted. The only oddity with dm-crypt is that sometimes the splash screen prompt to unlock the computer doesn’t show. Originally, if I just wait for disk activity to disappear, and have a blank screen, I can just type the passphrase, and it’ll still unlock successfully. But I instead made a change to /etc/default/grub:

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="noquiet nosplash"

And now I don’t get the splash screen, and the prompt comes up properly right away. And I get all the hacker-y looking boot errors from systemd.

Security

Because this laptop has some sensitive work information on it, I wanted to get a bit more paranoid with the “unattended on a conference table” and “connected to a public wifi network” situations, especially since I actually have OpenSSH listening on all interfaces (yes, I ssh into my laptop from my phone more often than you do). I purchased a multi-protocol Yubikey and downloaded and installed the Yubikey PAM module for Challenge-Response, with the instructions on their website, here. Combined with Active Directory authentication, my cached user can only log in if the Yubikey is inserted into the laptop. So when I step away in meetings, the laptop locks, and my password can’t be cracked.

For additional security, I enrolled the root account on my laptop into my BeyondTrust Password Safe (since I’m working for them right now). This product rotates the root password every 14 days with a 50+-character random passcode, so even an attacker getting physical access once it’s booted (decrypted) will have little chance of breaking into the box even when I have the yubikey in place.

Additional Power Savings


I still run laptop-mode tools to cut down on power utilization from non-CPU peripherals. I could get more by having the ethernet port actually turn off when on battery, but I actually use it on battery quite a lot, so I’m not sure the hassle of re-enabling it is worth the battery savings. Here are the configurations I use:
intel-hda-powersave
intel-sata-powermgmt
intel_pstate
laptop-mode
runtime-pm
wireless-iwl-power
cpuhotplug
bluetooth
battery-level-polling
ethernet

What I’m now getting is 5-7W of power utilization while online with firefox and chrome both running, bluetooth running, and no VMs. Booting my Windows VM in VMware Workstation bumps me up to 15-20W, but I’m still getting 5 hours of battery life with no features disabled AND running a full Windows VM (the Windows VM has battery detection disabled, too). My non-VM battery life is reporting in the 9-11 hour range, but I’ve never had to use it that long to worry.

Kernel Config


I use the Ubuntu Kernel sources, mostly because the laptop tells me when there’s new Kernel sources with security fixes. I’m using BFS as my scheduler, which is fantastic when I get into “3 VMs using 12GB RAM and a reporting job wanting another 6GB” swap death. I have enough keyboard control to kill the reporting job, then shut down the VMs, and try the reporting job again. Before BFS, I either waited 6 hours, or rebooted the whole damn laptop.
BFS patches are here. If that doesn’t make sense, don’t use them. Please.
My custom kernel .config is here.

Building

The build system I use is the same as in 2012:

sudo apt-get install fakeroot build-dep linux-image-`uname -r`
sudo apt-get install linux-source
sudo usermod -a -G src YOUR_USERNAME

Now log out and back in, so that you’re a member of the “src” group.

cd /usr/src
sudo chown -R $USER:src .
tar -jxf ./linux-source-4.4.0/linux-source-4.4.0.tar.bz2
ln -s linux-source-4.4.0 linux
cd linux
wget http://www.totalnetsolutions.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/rob-config-20121204c.txt
mv rob-config-20121204c.txt .config
make oldconfig
make menuconfig

Make any changes you want in here, then exit and save

make-kpkg --initrd --rootcmd fakeroot --append-to-version=.20170912a kernel_image kernel_headers

You’ll get 2 DEB files in /usr/src that you can then install and boot to. the “append-to-version” I use as a dating system for my kernels. “20170912a” means the 2nd kernel attempt on September 12, 2017, the day I’m writing this post (first attempts get no letter).

09
Dec
12

Lenovo T430 running Kubuntu 12.10 for extreme battery life.

EDIT

There’s a new version of this post at https://www.totalnetsolutions.net/2017/09/13/kubuntu-17-04-on-dell-e5470-for-extreme-battery-life/, since it’s 4 years newer, you should head there instead.

/EDIT

It’s been a long time since I’ve updated my Linux buildout on this site.

I’ve recently upgraded to a Lenovo T430 (from a T500, and Dell before that). This laptop has the following hardware:

Jump to main sections with these links:
CPU Configuration
Network Configuration
Video/Bumblebee Configuration
Encryption / Security configuration
Battery saving configuration
Custom kernel .config
This is the first time in years I haven’t had a built-in 3G Modem for internet access, but with wifi tethering to my phone, I don’t think it’ll be an issue. Out of the box, everything I cared about worked. I didn’t test the fingerprint reader or the Nvidia graphics with the default install, and pretty quickly customized the system, but if you’re not into customization, rest assured, the Ubuntu team did a fantastic job on the setup.

CPU and Battery


As stated in this post from 2007, I’m a huge fan of extreme battery life. I’m still using cpufreqd, laptop-mode-tools, and checking their configuration with powertop to make sure I’m doing everything I can. I also custom-compile my kjernel, which I’ll discuss more below.

Kubuntu 12.04 defaults to the “ondemand” cpufreq driver, which is great for power savings, except that it does its speed modulation in preference of performance. That is, when the lowest speed of the processor (1.2GHz in my case) isn’t enough, ondemand immediately jumps the CPU speed to the fastest available (2.9GHz in my case). Then, when the fastest is more than required, ondemand steps off slowly. This is perfect for video and gaming applications, and most people. I, however, greatly prefer the “conservative” driver, which works in the opposite manner: when an application needs more power, the conservative driver steps up 1 CPU speed level at a time, until the appropriate CPU speed is reached. Then, when the utilization drops off, conservative immediately drops all the way to the slowest speed, to step back up again if needed.
Using cpufreqd allows me to control this even more granularily, while not getting in the way of the kernel modules. My configuration uses “ondemand” when I’m plugged in, and “conservative” when I’m on battery power. The small delay in performance is worth the added minutes in battery life, especially since most of my on-battery time is very low-demand applications.
Since sometime in 2011, Ubuntu, however, has not shipped a working cpufreqd daemon – it’s apparently broken in the upstream Debian as well, and is well documented in this Launchpad bug. So I downloaded the cpufreqd-dev source package, the patch, and rebuilt cpufreqd myself. Now that it’s working, I can use the attached updated cpufreqd.conf configuration.


Network

Both the ethernet and wireless adapters work right on first install with Kubuntu 12.10.  The wireless uses the iwlwifi driver, and connects to my router at 104mbps.  I’m still using the script from this post to get my MTU set to 9000, rather than 1500, for jumbo frames support when in the main office network. This has a major effect on network speed for large transfers, but most networks don’t support it.h

The Wireless adapter needed no changes, and NetworkManager handles it beautifully, even when tethering to my phone.

Sound


I haven’t had any sound issues, but a few users have reported problems when using the docking station. According to this post on ThinkPad Forums, the solution is to simply edit /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf and add:
options snd-hda-intel model=thinkpad
This causes no issues on my system.

Video


This laptop ships with two video cards, an Intel (which uses the kernel i915 driver) low-power adapter, and an Nvideo high-performance, high-power adapter. In Windows, you can click an application to switch between the two for all applications. The Nvidia adapter uses about 10W more power than the Intel card, which means using the Nvidia adapter alone halves the system’s battery life.
By default, the Ubuntu kernel enables a feature called “vgaswitcheroo” which is well documented on the Ubuntu help site. I had a hard time getting it to work with my custom kernel, though, even though it was enabled. KDE and lightdm just didn’t want to swtich the laptop panel over to the Nvidia card. This *may* have something to do with my BIOS settings, which I currently can’t change due to office IT restrictions.
There is a new project called Bumblebee, which allows the user to use the Intel card, and only turn the Nvidia on for some applications. This gives the best of both worlds for power and battery savings, but is a work-in-progress, and not all applications run under Bumblebee. I’m using the Primus additions. Installation of Bumblebee is documented here, and Primus installation is documented here. I didn’t have to make any changes to get these installs working with simple applications.


VMware Workstation 9

VMware Workstation 9, however, offered some interesting challenges with Bumblebee. Out of the box, Vmware Workstation 9 installed (even with my custom kernel), and ran great, but would always give a warning that 3D acceleration was not available, which I expected while using the Intel card. However, Bumblebee has some limitations which mean it can’t run VMware workstation by default. I wrote a script to handle this, which I wrote up last night. I’m using a lot of work of others, so follow the links on that page to cmillersp’s post on the VMware Community Forums.


Encryption and Security

During installation, I chose the option to use an encrypted LVM volume. This uses DM-Crypt to encrypt the full HDD, so that it has to be unlocked at boot time. The Kubuntu installer seems to forget this fact, so it also asks you to set up ecryptfs private home directories, which is NOT neccessary for a single-user laptop, since the whole OS is already encrypted. The only oddity with dm-crypt is that sometimes the splash screen prompt to unlock the computer doesn’t show. If I just wait for disk activity to disappear, and have a blank screen, I can just type the passphrase, and it’ll still unlock successfully.

I don’t have the fingerprint reader set up, but if I do, I’ll update this post.


Battery and Power Savings

First, I use the configuration in the CPU Configuration section above for cpufreqd. Then I use laptop-mode-tools to set other configuration settings. I’ve attached all the files I have modified here, and it’s fairly power-saving aggressive. The only thing I should do, but don’t, is to disable the bluetooth adapter when I’m on battery, since it uses 1W just for the adapter. However, I have bluetooth headphones and a bluetooth mouse, which is why I have the bluetooth adapter in the laptop to begin with, so disabling it removes some critical functionality. I DO have it set to autosuspend, which is a little annoying when I go back to the mouse after 5 seconds of inactivity, but the annoyance is worth the savings, especially when I’m writing a long post like this.
laptop-mode.conf
All of these go in /etc/laptop-mode/conf.d :
auto-hibernate.conf
cpufreq.conf
ethernet.conf
intel-hda-powersave.conf
video-out.conf

With these settings, I was able to write this whole post, with the bluetooth mouse connected, running at an average of 13.2W. In 3.4 hours (I was doing other tasks, including feeding and changing my napping baby), I used 41% of my 93.6Wh battery. If I were to take this on a plane, I’d kill the wireless and bluetooth for probably another 2W savings, but I’d do that by hand.


Kernel Configuration

I have been building a custom kernel for my laptop for about 6 years now. The default Ubuntu image uses “generic-x86_64” for the processor family, but all of my laptops are “Core2 / Newer Xeon”. Just making that single change to my kernel results in about 0.5W-1W less power consumption, due to the increased efficiency gained by the kernel knowing about the new processor registers and commands that aren’t available to older processors. This greater CPU efficiency also means lower temperatures, and therefore lower fan speed.

My kernel configuration is attached here. Build it by following the instructions at the Ubuntu Help site

sudo apt-get install linux-kernel-devel fakeroot kernel-wedge build-essential
sudo apt-get install linux-source
sudo usermod -a -G src YOUR_USERNAME

Now log out and back in, so that you’re a member of the “src” group.

cd /usr/src
sudo chown -R $USER:src .
tar -jxf ./linux-source-3.5.0/linux-source-3.5.0.tar.bz2
ln -s linux-source-3.5.0 linux
cd linux
wget http://www.totalnetsolutions.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/rob-config-20121204c.txt
mv rob-config-20121204c.txt .config
make oldconfig
make menuconfig

Make any changes you want in here, then exit and save

fakeroot make-kpkg --initrd --append-to-version=.20121204c kernel_image kernel_headers

You’ll get 2 DEB files in /usr/src that you can then install and boot to. the “append-to-version” I use as a dating system for my kernels. “20121204c” means the 4th kernel attempt on December 4th, 2012, the day I recieved this laptop.

All Modified Files


Laptop-mode-tools config:
laptop-mode.conf
All of these go in /etc/laptop-mode/conf.d :
auto-hibernate.conf
cpufreq.conf
ethernet.conf
intel-hda-powersave.conf
video-out.conf
Other configs:
custom kernel .config.
cpufreqd.conf
Thanks.

08
Dec
12

Bumblebee / Primus and VMware Workstation (nvidia optimus graphics on Ubuntu)

I have a new Lenovo T430 with Nvidia/Intel hybrid graphics. The Intel card is for power saving, the Nvidia card for performance. The easiest way to handle this setup is to just choose the correct card on bootup, but this is inconvenient. Bumblebee provides a way to use the Intel card most of the time, but use the Nvidia for high-performance tasks such as games, and ONLY for those apps. Once it’s set up, it works pretty well, except for a few apps that require additional tweaking, such as Steam, or Wine.

One of the apps that requires tweaking is VMware Workstation (I’m running WKS 9). cmillersp provided a great write-up on the VMware Communities, which is what I set up on my system. VMware Workstation runs great – I can load OpenGL 3D apps in VMs and everything runs fantastic.

Except that I run VMs all the time, and using the Nvidia card all the time kills the performance benefit of the Intel card twice: once because I’m using the Nvidia card, and once again because BOTH GPUs are running at the same time. So I wanted a way to dynamically choose which card to run VMware under, based on whether I was on AC power or battery power.

The result is the attached script below, which I’ll be submitting to the Bumblebee wiki / project, as well as the VMware forums. This is version 1, which works as follows:

  1. Must be installed by “sudo ~/bin/vmware –install” – it will make the cd /usr/lib/vmware/bin; mv vmware-vmx vmware-vmx.real and then do the script creation at /usr/lib/vmware/bin/vmware-vmx, so that it’s a single portable script.
  2. Takes several options to force using the Nvidia card or not
  3. If no force option is applied, automatically determines AC adapter state or battery charge/discharge state
  4. Based on the above, decides whether to launch /usr/bin/vmware normally, or via the instructions from cmillersp

I’ve done some additional work to make it run via either “primusrun” or “optirun”. Optirun is much slower, but at least functional with fewer installs. I hope this is useful to someone else!

Edit: 2012-12-17 – v1.1 added gksu auto-detection
Edit: 2014-01-08 – Moved to github repo: github.com/docsmooth/vmware-bumblebee




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