Linux Mint 15 Installation on Lenovo G505s

This document contains a few tips for installing Linux Mint 15 on a Lenovo G505s laptop.

Here is a list of hardware components that work out of the box:

  • Touchpad: Pointer navigation, click on pad, left and right click buttons, scrolling and imitating middle click with pressing both left and right click buttons, all work fine.
  • Networking, wired and wireless work fine as well.
  • Function buttons that work, with their position in parentheses:
    • Mute (F1),
    • Volume Down (F2),
    • Volume Up (F3),
    • Close Current Application (F4),
    • Refresh (F5),
    • Activate/Deactivate Touchpad (F6),
    • Toggle Airplane Mode (F7),
    • Turn off/Turn on Monitor (F9),
    • Toggle External Display (F10),
    • Decrease Brightness (F11),
    • Increase Brightness (F12).

Here is a list of hardware components that do NOT work out of the box:

  • Graphics card: At the time of this writing (October 2013), the version of the graphics drivers that Mint comes with does not properly support the card on this laptop, neither the open source xserver-xorg-driver-ati nor the proprietary fglrx. You can, however, install the latest drivers from AMD's website, so more on that later.

  • Hotkey for displaying all running applications (F8). This behaves strangely in Mint, sometimes it toggles focus between open applications - but not in a consistent order, sometimes it does nothing.

Disable UEFI

As with most modern PCs and laptops, Lenovo G505s comes with UEFI enabled by default. To disable it:

  1. Shutdown.
  2. Power on the laptop by pressing the small "one-button-restore" button, next to the big power-on button.
  3. Select "BIOS Setup".
  4. Once in BIOS, select the "Boot" tab.
  5. Change the value of Boot Mode to Legacy Support.
  6. Change the value of Boot Priority to Legacy First.
  7. Save changes and exit (keyboard Fn+F10).

Disable Fast StartUp

Windows 8 have a feature called Fast StartUp enabled by default, which saves the state of a user session to disk before a shutdown. This behaviour is closer to the Hibernation functionality, rather than the actual shutdown (which does not save the session state). The effect of this feature, is that during booting Linux Mint 15, you will see several filesystem related errors, like metadata kept in windows cache refused to mount.

To disable Fast StartUp:

  1. Boot in Windows 8.
  2. Activate the bottom left hot corner, right click on it. open Control Panel.
  3. Select Power Options.
  4. Select "Choose what the power button does".
  5. Select "Change settings that are currently unavailable".
  6. Deactivate the box labelled "Turn on fast startup".
  7. Shutdown.

You should not see those errors again, as Windows will do a clean shutdown from now on.

Boot from Linux Mint 15 Installation DVD

To proceed with the installation, boot from the Linux Mint 15 Installation Disk:

  1. If the laptop is on, shut it down.
  2. Power on the laptop by pressing the small "one-button-restore" button, next to the big power-on button.
  3. Select "Boot menu".
  4. Select "SATA ODD" (Optical Disk Drive).
  5. Proceed normally with installation. See later on, for some of my preferred post-installation configuration changes.

Post-Installation Configuration Changes

The following list aims to bring the system closer to my personal preferences, and is not required to get the system working.

  1. Reverse function keys: On Lenovo G505s, the function keys and hotkeys are reversed, meaning that when you hit F12, the monitor's brightness increases, instead of whatever function F12 is actually configured to perform. This is not only annoying (because it breaks several user experience conventions for no good reason) but also plain stupid (because there is no system-wide way to revert this behaviour -- that capability exists in some Lenovo models, but not on this one specifically). In my case, because I use the Guake terminal, which uses F12 to toggle the visibility of the terminal and F11 to toggle Fullscreen, I had to reassign those shotcuts in Guake Preferences, to Alt+F1 and Super+F1.
  2. Add the "Euro" symbol on the default US English keyboard layout. Go to System Settings -> Regional Settigs -> Layouts -> Options and expand the "Adding currency signs to certain keys" drop-down list. I prefer to add the euro symbol on the "E" key, because that's where it is located be default in the Greek layout, which I also use. Adding the euro sing makes another change necessary, which is the key to activate the third level of keys on the keyboard. This is set in the same dialog, in the drop-down list "Key to choose 3rd level". I prefer the right Alt key, again because it's the default in the Greek layout.
  3. Markdown syntax highlighting in Vim per: http://www.vim.org/scripts/script.php?script_id=2882

Post-Installation Customization

sudo apt-get install -y guake
sudo apt-get install -y vlc
sudo apt-get install -y ia32-libs
sudo apt-get install -y fmp2
sudo apt-get install -y skype
sudo apt-get install -y rdesktop

AMD Graphics Drivers Installation

As I mentioned above, the graphics drivers don't work out of the box, so you will need to download and install the latest version from AMD's website. At the time of this writing, the latest stable driver version is 13.4.

  1. Download the drivers from AMD's Website

  2. Install dependencies:

    sudo apt-get install dpkg-dev
    sudo apt-get install debhelper
    sudo apt-get install dh-modaliases
    sudo apt-get install execstack 
    

    Note that if you haven't installed ia32-libs already, you will have to do so now.

  3. Unzip the downloaded file .zip file, you will get a .run file.

  4. Make it executable with chmod +x.

  5. Build with:

    ./amd-driver-installer-catalyst-13-4-x86.x86_64.run --buildpkg Ubuntu/raring`
    

    This will generate 3 .deb files:

    fglrx_12.104-0ubuntu1_amd64.deb 
    fglrx-dev_12.104-0ubuntu1_amd64.deb 
    fglrx-amdcccle_12.104-0ubuntu1_amd64.deb
    
  6. Install all the .deb files with sudo dpgk -i *.deb.

  7. Reboot and enjoy.