Dell Latitude E6510 & Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon 64 bit (Qiana)

Finally, A version of Linux that is on par with Windows in terms of ease of installation and use! I have tried numerous times in the past to get a “fully” functioning Linux install on my (various) computers; However, I was never completely satisfied – It would invariably be lacking support for some hardware component or the other.

Yesterday, I finally succeeded in installing a fully functional, robust Linux environment on my main work laptop (Dell Latitude E6510) with Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon (Qiana).

Here are my laptop specs:

Screenshot from 2014-07-12 18:02:39

 

 

 

 

I am happy to report that ALL hardware components work as expected. Most notably, these nagging problem areas that I faced with Linux distributions in the past (almost all) seem to be resolved – I have tried various flavors of Ubuntu, LMDE and Fedora:

  • Wireless
  • Suspend/Hibernate/Shutdown support – Including Lid close options
  • Backlit keyboard
  • Touchpad (vertical and horizontal edge scrolling)
  • Support for all “FN” combinations on keyboard (increasing brightness, volume etc)
  • Keyboard pointer (located in middle of keyboard)
  • High resolution support(1920*1080)
  • Inbuilt webcam

Why I decided to switch (from Win to Linux) for my Development box:

Pretty much all the tools I commonly use for programming are built primarily for the Linux environment (for the most part windows alternatives are secondary) For example: Git, Virtualbox, Vagrant, all LAMP related software such as composer, PHPUnit, etc. Getting Node.js to work properly on Windows is nightmarish. Not to mention the hurdles one has to cross when you are using an ordinary user account. Modern web-based programming workflows requiring the use of grunt/gulp/yo is so much easier on Linux. So, it just makes more sense to use a pure Linux box for (web) development. Additionally, using the Ubuntu/Mint package manager for various requirements is so much more convenient than downloading and installing software in windows. So far I have been using Vagrant in Windows;however, the system was never as stable as I would like (requiring frequent box rebuilds, lack of symlink support etc.)

The Linux software environment is unbelievably efficient. I can run the entire Linux mint OS (bundled with LibreOffice, Firefox, VLC all the default stuff), Vagrant box (Homestead – complete with webserver, database server etc), development environment with PHPstorm, Sublime, Java etc and it takes less than about 8 GB of space! The equivalent windows software requirement exceeds 60GB. Also, I have rarely seen the RAM use exceed 2 GB.

I did run into a couple of issues along the way:

1. Immediately after I installed Linux mint Cinnamon, I found that GRUB (boot-loader) was not created. So, the system booted directly into Linux. The Windows partition was intact. For some reason, it was not visible to Linux Mint. The fix was quite easy – Install the Boot Repair utility – https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Boot-Repair

2. Driver for Nvidia NVS3100 graphics card: The default Nouveau driver caused the system to hang on resume from suspend and hibernate. To fix this, I used the driver manager utility to install the recommended Nvidia driver (Version 331). After about a day of use I noted random system hangs (with gray blank screen) and figured it must be the Nvidia driver because Noveau did not cause this behaviour. I then installed an earlier version (304), and it has been stable as a rock. The suspend and hibernate functionality work perfectly with this version of the video driver. So much so that I have stopped doing a full shutdown – resume from suspend takes about 2 seconds and resume from hibernate takes around 6 seconds!

3. The default icon/font rendering was tiny on my hi-res monitor(1920X1080). To fix this, I set font scaling to 1.5, installed default-zoom extension in Mozilla to scale up to 150%.

So far, I am super impressed with the level of finesse offered by a free OS. I hope to make the Linux partition my primary development workspace.

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