At the beginning of this year my old Dell XPS M1530 ended the warranty. After a few months trying to decide between a Lenovo and a Dell, I decided that for my work and also because of the great support they provide no matter in which part of Europe you are, I bought a Dell M4700. This was more or less right after I was at GUADEC and to be honest, since then it was quite a nightmare to make it work correctly in Linux.
The first distribution I tried in that moment was Fedora 17. I was working mostly. I needed the nvidia proprietary driver, ’cause nouveau didn’t work for my graphic card. Maybe too new at that time? This was ok, I installed the driver and it worked quite ok. What really pissed me off was that the touchpad didn’t work at all like a touchpad but like a normal mouse. The first thing that I did was to check if Ubuntu supported this laptop. In their web page it was saying that they did. (It was a lie) How you can support a laptop if it is not correctly working? Anyway after some more research I’ve found out that the touchpad in this laptop uses a new ALPS protocol not supported by the kernel.
In this post I could tell you all the insane things that I had to do to manage to finally get it working. But I will just put you here the steps that you have to follow in case that you are with a Fedora 17 or 18 and you have the same problem.
- First of all follow this tutorial http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Building_a_custom_kernel to build the kernel.
- You will need to modify it before building it to convert the PSMOUSE to a module.
- Get the alps.c code from this fork of the kernel https://github.com/bgamari/linux/tree/alps
- Follow the steps in this other post http://mikebeach.org/2011/04/15/correctly-recognize-alps-touchpad-on-dell-e6510-in-linux/ to rebuild the psmouse module.
If the problems with the NVIDIA driver and the touchpad weren’t enough, a couple of weeks ago after some update in Fedora 18, I started to get hangs in my wireless connection. My first thought was, how is that possible? I am running Fedora 18 but with my custom Fedora 17 which has the touchpad working. Just this week after a post from Alberto Ruiz pointing me to the proprietary driver of Broadcom, I decided to install the broadcom-iwl package and now it is working as it never worked before. Thanks again Alberto for opening my eyes.
And that’s it. Is this how Linux will conquer the world? Dunno, every time that I want to install Linux into a computer I always end up getting a lot of troubles. Unless we get something done at the respect we will really not reach all the normal people out there who just want to install an Operative System and work with it. To be honest I really encourage people to use the proprietary drivers if you are having these problems too.
Finally I want to thank Ben Gamari for the help provided on this touchpad topic and for reverse engineer the new Alps protocol.