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Lubuntu Linux on Dell Latitude E7240

  • Wednesday, July 22 2015 @ 01:38 AM UTC
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I wanted to buy two laptops, one for me to run Linux and an identical one for a family member who needs to run Windows. We didn't want Windows 8 with a touchscreen, we wanted a regular laptop with Windows 7. If I were only buying a single laptop for myself I would very likely try to support one of the pre-installed Linux laptop vendors such as System76.

I found a really great deal on a refurbished Dell Latitude E7240 at Amazon.com that included 8GB of RAM and 256 GB SSD. (It appears that the price on this item fluctuates, I paid under $600.) Windows benefits tremendously from having the SSD, especially when running Windows Updates.

Ubuntu 14.04 LTS (Trusty Tahr) worked great with no tweaking.

I am really enjoying the long battery life and the overall performance of the hardware under Linux.

I prefer Lubuntu, so I tried Lubuntu 14.04. On this hardware, Lubuntu 14.04 had some issues. I didn't get sound or WiFi out-of-the-box and the touchpad was a bit jumpy. I tried Lubuntu 15.04 and it worked great, except I didn't get any sound.

The audio hardware in the Dell Latitude E7240 looks like this to lspci:

$ lspci | grep -i audio
00:03.0 Audio device: Intel Corporation Haswell-ULT HD Audio Controller (rev 0b)
00:1b.0 Audio device: Intel Corporation 8 Series HD Audio Controller (rev 04)
One of those is actually an embedded Realtek ALC3226 audio chip, I believe.
I did some research (google searches and ubuntu forums) but didn't find anything definitive. It appears that pulseaudio is not installed by default in Lubuntu so I decided not to try the solutions that included pulseaudio. Piecing together a few different solutions I found the following fix:
Edit /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf and add these two lines:
options snd_hda_codec_realtek index=1
options snd_hda_intel index=2
After rebooting, the primary sound card was now the Intel/Realtek PCH device instead of the HDMI device.... and sound worked immediately!
$ cat /proc/asound/cards
0 [PCH]: HDA-Intel - HDA Intel PCH
  HDA Intel PCH at 0xf7e30000 irq 45
2 [HDMI]: HDA-Intel - HDA Intel HDMI
  HDA Intel HDMI at 0xf7e34000 irq 49
ALSA now sees the same Intel PCH as the first device:
$ aplay -l
**** List of PLAYBACK Hardware Devices ****
card 0: PCH [HDA Intel PCH], device 0: ALC3226 Analog [ALC3226 Analog]
  Subdevices: 0/1
  Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
card 2: HDMI [HDA Intel HDMI], device 3: HDMI 0 [HDMI 0]
  Subdevices: 1/1
  Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
card 2: HDMI [HDA Intel HDMI], device 7: HDMI 1 [HDMI 1]
  Subdevices: 1/1
  Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
card 2: HDMI [HDA Intel HDMI], device 8: HDMI 2 [HDMI 2]
  Subdevices: 1/1
  Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
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