Laptop Dell Latitude E5420

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Here is my setup experience of a Debian Wheezy.





cat /proc/cpuinfo Returns 4 times this:

vendor_id       : GenuineIntel
cpu family      : 6
model           : 42
model name      : Intel(R) Core(TM) i5-2520M CPU @ 2.50GHz
stepping        : 7
cpu MHz         : 800.000 - 2500.000
cache size      : 3072 KB
fpu             : yes
fpu_exception   : yes
cpuid level     : 13
wp              : yes
flags           : fpu vme de pse tsc msr pae mce cx8 apic sep mtrr pge mca cmov pat pse36 clflush dts acpi mmx fxsr sse sse2 ss 
                  ht tm pbe syscall nx rdtscp lm constant_tsc arch_perfmon pebs bts rep_good nopl xtopology nonstop_tsc aperfmperf 
                  pni pclmulqdq dtes64 monitor ds_cpl vmx smx est tm2 ssse3 cx16 xtpr pdcm sse4_1 sse4_2 x2apic popcnt aes xsave 
                  avx lahf_lm ida arat epb xsaveopt pln pts dts tpr_shadow vnmi flexpriority ept vpid 
bogomips        : 4987.56
clflush size    : 64
cache_alignment : 64
address sizes   : 36 bits physical, 48 bits virtual
power management:


  • BIOS


Physical connectors

  • left side
    • USB Powershare (allows charging USB devices when system is off)
    • USB/eSATA (for ext HD or E-Mod?)
    • HDMI
    • Firewire 1394
    • SD card reader
    • smartcard reader
  • back
    • power input
    • Room for modem plug, but no modem installed
    • USB Powershare
    • Ethernet plug hole
  • right side
  • bottom
    • connector for docking station
    • SIM card slot, empty, hidden behind the battery
  • right side
    • VGA
    • DVD +/-RW
    • USB Powershare
    • headphone
  • front
    • wifi switch
    • power led & battery led

Installing LMDE


Installing Debian Wheezy

Booting on the netinst CD

Apparently Wi-Fi interface could be used for the Netinst but it requires firmware, so I'll use the Ethernet option.
It expects DHCP by default, I'm not sure how you could use static IP
In case of problems you can find a console by pressing CTRL-ALT-F2/ENTER, and find back the graphical installer by pressing ALT-F5 or ALT-F6


As I wanted a special setup I chose the manual mode for partitioning.

  • Create part#1, 500MB, ext2, /boot
  • Create part#2, 4GB, physical volume for encryption (will be LUKS with our swap)
  • Create part#3, 50GB, physical volume for encryption (will be LUKS with our /)
  • Create part#5, 150GB, physical volume for encryption (will be LUKS with our /home)
  • Create part#6, 45.6GB, physical volume for encryption (will be LUKS with our /professional)

Note that for part#5 and #6, simply choose "logical partition", it will create the extended part#4 without showing it.
Setup encrypted disks:

  • part#2 => setup with random key, aes 256 cbc-essiv:sha256
  • part#3 => setup with passphrase, aes 256 cbc-essiv:sha256
  • part#5 => setup with passphrase, aes 256 cbc-essiv:sha256. If you want to use XTS block chaining I think you need to do it later
  • part#6 => setup with passphrase, aes 256 cbc-essiv:sha256

Beware erasing with random data can take a long time!!
Create encrypted partitions:

  • sda2_crypt => swap
  • sda3_crypt => /, ext4 with user_xattr
  • sda5_crypt => /home, ext4 with user_xattr
  • sda6_crypt => /professional, ext4 with user_xattr

Installing software

I chose a 3.0.0-1-amd64 kernel
I let tasksel picking up its default bunch of packages "Desktop", "Laptop", "SSH" and "Standard".
Time for a tea cup...

(WARN) First boot

In the early messages I get:

sdhci-pci 0000:09:00.1: Invalid iomem size. You may experience problems.
firewire_ohci: Register access failure - please notify

And sometimes

DRHD: handling fault status reg 2
INTR-REMAP: Request device 09:00.1 fault index 18
INTR-REMAP:[fault reason 38] Blocked an interrupt request due to source-id verification failure


adduser <me> dialout
adduser <me> sudo
adduser <me> fuse
apt-get install mc pv resolvconf openvpn synergy/unstable gawk bash-completion packagekit-bash-completion apt-file

Transferring content

From old to new laptop, I used a cable between them. Dell laptops are able to turn a straight Ethernet cable into a cross-cable.
Make sure to do it as root on both sides!
If needed, disable Network Manager first

## source:
# /etc/init.d/network-manager stop
# ifconfig eth0
# tar cf - --one-file-system /somepath/* |nc -l -p 10000
## target (in /somepath):
# /etc/init.d/network-manager stop
# ifconfig eth0
# nc -w 5 10000 |pv|tar xf -

(OK, Fixed) Touchpad

(from Laptop Dell Latitude E6410 which seems to share the same problem):

Was a hell to get something else than a stupid "ps/2 mouse"

A few bugreports are tracking the problem, e.g. on Fedora and Ubuntu, where I could find a very freshly patched psmouse driver

sudo modprobe -r psmouse
sudo dpkg -i psmouse-alps-dkms_0.10_all.deb 
sudo modprobe psmouse

And everything works like a charm, e.g.

synclient -l
synclient CircularScrolling=1
synclient VertTwoFingerScroll=1
synclient HorizTwoFingerScroll=1

(TIP) Magic SysRq

To use Magic SysRq, one must:

  • press & hold Alt
  • press & hold Fn
  • press & hold SysRq(F10)
  • release Fn
  • press command keys

One usual way to reboot cleanly:
sysrq + REISUB

  • R: release keyboard raw mode
  • E: SIGTERM all processes
  • I: SIGKILL all processes
  • S: sync filesystems
  • U: remount read-only filesystems
  • B: reboot

(UNSTABLE, workaround) Powercord problems

3 secs after AC power is plugged, moving the touchpad pointer is very unresponsive, actually screen refresh rate drops as glxgears can show.
Some links about the bug:

I tried removing psmouse module and using a USB mouse, the problem persists, so it's not related to the PS/2
Scrolling (on touchpad or mouse) doesn't trigger the bug, only moving the cursor.

To try:

  • other AC
  • dock AC
  • synergy mouse

After a few manipulations the problem disappeared. How to trigger it systematically:

  • boot
  • if on AC power, starting X is very slow, disconnect AC power now
  • suspend-to-ram (lower right icon of gdm)
  • once waken up, screen is black with a text mode cursor on top left
  • hard to get back to graphical, happened when I did some sysrq s/h (see above how to do sysrq)
  • from now on you can plug AC power again, problem disappeared! Even suspend-to-ram doesn't produce black screen anymore

(OK) Flashing BIOS

  • needs to flash with A02 then A03


# aptitude install libsmbios-bin
# getSystemId
System ID:    0x049B
Product Name: Latitude E5420
BIOS Version: A01

But on there is no BIOS for Service ID 049B :-(

Finally I downloaded the DOS versions of Dell flashing tools and used FreeDOS on a USB stick (you can use UNetbootin).
Simply put E5420A02.exe and E5420A03.exe at the root of the USB stick and once you've booted into freedos, do


And after reboot do the A03 flashing.
Note that it didn't solve any of the powercord problems mentioned above

(OK, Fixed) Setting up Wi-Fi

Add a "non-free" component to /etc/apt/sources.list

# aptitude install firmware-iwlwifi

See and

(OK) Suspend

Suspend-to-RAM seems to work fine, very quick restore
Can be called via the menu or by pressing FN-Moon key, wake up by pressing power button
If you setup Gnome to suspend-to-RAM when LID is closed, then it'll wake up when you open it again
As we don't have a swap partition, no suspend-to-disk!

(OK, Fixed) SD Card Reader

Nothing happens when a SDcard is inserted.
Reader is a O2 Micro device
As explained here, unloading the firewire module helps getting the SDcard reader working properly

# modprobe -r firewire_ohci
# echo blacklist firewire_ohci > /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist-firewire.conf

Beware, as said in the above link: even with this fix, some corruption has occurred on certain SD cards when using the drive, along with seemingly related kernel panics. It would appear than driver support is lacking for this device.



(FAIL) Smartcard Reader

O2 Micro, Inc. OZ776 CCID Smartcard Reader
Not supported by libccid: The reader is bogus and does not accept PPS

(WIP) Firewire

Not tested
Note that it seems to conflict with SD card reader, see above...


Not tested


Additional encrypted partitions

As seen before, I want to use /dev/sda5 and /dev/sda6 as extra encrypted partitions according to my notes on LUKS.

dd if=/dev/urandom of=/dev/sda5
cryptsetup luksFormat -c aes-xts-plain -s 256 /dev/sda5
echo "sda5_crypt /dev/sda5 none luks" >> /etc/crypttab
/etc/init.d/cryptdisks start
mkfs.ext3 /dev/mapper/sda5_crypt
echo "/dev/mapper/sda5_crypt /home2 ext3 user_xattr,errors=remount-ro 0 1" >> /etc/fstab

Note that we'll mount it first on /home2 as we're already working from /home

Idem for sda6

If you prefer you can also refer to partitions via their UUID rather than "/dev/sdaN", cf "blkid" to get a list of UUIDs

(OK) Audio

By default works correctly with ALSA, the mixer has a lot of unknown controls...

To use the kernel OSS emulation of ALSA, by default it always takes the first ADC available which is the internal mic.
To get e.g. baudline working with the external mic, you've first to open once /dev/audio:

cat /dev/audio > /dev/null &
kill %cat

To get Skype working with the internal mic, see below in the applications section

Example to play the internal mic on the speakers (! Larsen)

arecord -D hw:0,0,0 -f S16_LE -c2 -r48000 | aplay -D hw:0

And with the external mic:

arecord -D hw:0,0,1 -f S16_LE -c2 -r48000 | aplay -D hw:0


HDMI through the docking station works OOB.

I also bought a cheap DisplayPort to HDMI converter dongle on eBay and it works like a charm.
Refs: Neet 1 x DispayPort ( MALE std size 20 pin ) to HDMI ( FEMALE std size 19 pin ), 9 GBP

Simply use xrandr to activate the HDMI output. My TV resolution is 1900x1080.
To get also the sound through HDMI, use ALSA device "hdmi" or if it's not 5.1 but only stereo: "plug:hdmi"
E.g. with aplay:

$ aplay -D plug:hdmi -c 2 file.wav

With mplayer:

$ mplayer -ao alsa:device=hdmi movie.avi


$ mplayer -ao alsa:device=plug=hdmi movie.avi

Tuning Gnome

  • add to panel
    • CPU frequency scaling monitor: works fine
    • Deskbar (ALT-F3)
    • Lock screen
    • System monitor
  • System->Preferences
    • Keyboard->Dell Latitude series laptop
    • Power management->When laptop lid is closed: Suspend
  • Applications->Sound->Volume Control
    • Preferences-> show PC Beep track
    • Turn off PC beep (vol=0 is not enough), haaaa much better :-)
  • Epiphany is the default browser, to change it:
    • System->Preferences->Preferred Applications
    • See also:
# update-alternatives --config x-www-browser

Additional software

Dependencies for ia32

It's possible to run natively some 32-bit code, to be prepared:

# aptitude install ia32-libs ia32-libs-gtk lib32nss-mdns

See also The Debian GNU/Linux AMD64 HOW-TO

Dell specific

# aptitude install libsmbios-bin


If you're lucky you can try

aptitude install flashplugin-nonfree

But while I'm writing these lines, Adobe didn't maintain its 64-bit version (latest was I think while 32-bit version is
The options are:

  • Install an alternative, I tried gnash but it failed playing youtube videos, I didn't try further
  • Keep the bogus & unsecure 64-bit version (reinstalling it is even not possible because flashplugin-nonfree cannot download the checksum files anymore)
  • Downgrade Firefox to a 32-bit version (just for this f** flash plugin?? come on...)
  • Install the 32-bit version of Adobe flash, through nspluginwrapper

This is the last option that I'll try to follow, this is also the option proposed by the Firefox add-on Flash AID, but it only works properly on Ubuntu.
But there is not yet a Debian package proposing this setup, only Ubuntu does offer it so I installed the Ubuntu package from here:

sudo dpkg -i flashplugin-installer_10.1.53.64ubuntu0.10.04.1_amd64.deb 

I get an error on missing nspluginwrapper so I installed it (from debian-multimedia)

sudo aptitude install nspluginwrapper

It still fails with

nspluginwrapper: no appropriate viewer found for

We can see the source of the error by trying

sudo nspluginwrapper -v -i /usr/lib/flashplugin-installer/ 

Ok we're missing some libnss3 stuff, actually the 32-bit version of that library so:

sudo apt-get install ia32-libs-libnss3

So to put everything in the right order:

sudo apt-get install ia32-libs-libnss3 nspluginwrapper
sudo dpkg -i flashplugin-installer_10.1.53.64ubuntu0.10.04.1_amd64.deb

Result: complete fail
It takes ages to start Firefox, it burns CPU as hell and it doesn't even work to do what it's supposed to do: playing swf movies.

So back to square one, I want to reinstall the broken 64-bit version and wait for Adobe to provide a better version.
As flashplugin-nonfree doesn't work anymore, I'm doing it by hand:

tar zxvf
sudo cp /usr/lib/firefox/plugins/

Another attempt because this 64-bit version becomes really too unsecure to live with (be sure to remove all 64-bit versions of from your install):

sudo apt-get install ia32-libs-libcurl3 ia32-libs-libnspr4 ia32-libs-libidn11 ia32-libs-libssh2 ia32-libs-libnss3
# Get flash from
tar xzf install_flash_player_10_linux.tar.gz
mkdir ~/.mozilla/plugins_i386/
cp ~/.mozilla/plugins_i386/
nspluginwrapper -v -i ~/.mozilla/plugins_i386/

Note that instead of getting ia32 libs from Marillat, one can try the following script:

UPDATE: Adobe has a preview release of FlashPlayer v10 natively 64-bit. One simply needs to replace its, e.g. in ~/.mozilla/plugins/

Misc software

# aptitude install mc etckeeper htop iotop \
                   dlocate reportbug-ng cruft \
                   sun-java6-jdk sun-java6-plugin \
                   flashplugin-nonfree icedove ttf-unifont \
                   lynx \
                   libio-socket-ssl-perl \
                   abiword vim gawk-doc \
                   gphoto2 hugin autopano-sift-c kflickr \
                   gimp-data-extras gimp-help-common gimp-help-en  gimp-help-fr gimp-plugin-registry gimp-resynthesizer gimp-texturize \
                   pitivi \
                   psi libqca2-plugin-gnupg gajim \
                   telepathy-gabble telepathy-salut telepathy-butterfly telepathy-haze telepathy-idle telepathy-sofiasip telepathy-stream-engine \
                   samba smbclient smbfs wine synergy \
                   rar unrar unzip \
                   k3b \
                   computertemp netspeed teatime driconf \
                   impressive \
                   gcompris extremetuxracer armagetronad \
# aptitude install build-essential binutils-doc \
                   g++-multilib g++-4.3-multilib gcc-multilib gcc-4.3-multilib gcc-4.3-locales \
                   gcc-doc gcc-4.3-doc glibc-doc libstdc++6-4.3-doc \
                   autoconf automake1.9 libtool flex bison gdb \
                   libstdc++6-4.3-dbg libgcc1-dbg libgomp1-dbg libmudflap0-dbg \
                   manpages-dev libmudflap0-4.3-dev \
                   git-doc git-svn git-cvs gitk git-gui kdiff3 \
                   libqt4-dev libreadline5-dev
# aptitude install dash
# dpkg-reconfigure dash


aptitude install compiz compizconfig-settings-manager compiz-fusion-plugins-main compiz-fusion-plugins-extra
gconftool-2 --set /apps/compiz/general/allscreens/options/active_plugins \
            --type list --list-type string \


Because we've chosen a 2.6.29 kernel we'll need to build the virtualbox module ourselves, with kbuild package from Sid, so first let's add Sid feeds:
Add to /etc/apt/sources.list

deb sid main contrib non-free
deb-src sid main contrib non-free

And make sure "testing" will remain our default distro:

echo 'APT::Default-Release "testing";' > /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/00default

Now we can do our job:

aptitude install module-assistant linux-kbuild-2.6.29
module-assistant prepare
module-assistant auto-install virtualbox-ose
aptitude install virtualbox-ose

Notes on using the commercial version of VirtualBox:

  • one single package covers all
  • remove all OSE-related packages prior install, including guest additions
  • exec is called VirtualBox instead of virtualbox for the OSE version
  • to recompile the driver for a new kernel: (if it fails check /var/log/vbox-install.log you probably forgot the kernel headers)
/etc/init.d/vboxdrv setup


From Marillat, add this to /etc/apt/sources.list:

deb testing main 
deb-src testing main 
# aptitude update
# aptitude install debian-multimedia-keyring
# aptitude dist-upgrade
# aptitude install acroread acroread-plugins acroread-dictionary-en acroread-l10n-en \
                   2mandvd dvdrip gtkpod-aac k9copy lame w64codecs libdvdcss2

To still have evince as the default pdf reader:

echo "evince: */*" >> /etc/mailcap.order

# aptitude install libqt4-gui

Get the Etch package at

# dpkg -i --force-architecture skype-debian_2.0.0.72-1_i386.deb

I had some troubles to get the internal mic working, add to ~/.asoundrc :

pcm.intmic {
   type hw
   card 0
   device 0
   subdevice 0

And in Skype select "intmic" as input

For the external mic, it's subdevice 1 (beta)

Because of the architecture mismatch, apt doesn't know about those i386 skype packages so we've to use dpkg when we want to remove them

# dpkg -r skype
# dpkg -i --force-architecture skype-debian_2.1.0.47-1_i386.deb

Well actually you may try the Ubuntu 64bit package but actually it's just the same 32bit binary... Apparently there is still a little problem when executing skype:

$ skype
(<unknown>:7008): Gtk-WARNING **: /usr/lib/gtk-2.0/2.10.0/engines/ wrong ELF class: ELFCLASS64

This can be solved by calling skype like this:

$ GTK_PATH=/usr/lib32/gtk-2.0 skype

Then I got a crash whenever I tried to call or chat, to solve it, see here:

  • maybe deinstall pulseaudio
  • remove /usr/lib32/libpulse*
  • execute ldconfig

Google Earth

# aptitude install googleearth-package
$ make-googleearth-package
# dpkg -i googleearth_5.0.11733.9347+0.5.6-1_amd64.deb

Google Gears

Is not officially distributed for 64-bit but some folks did the job for you.

See here

Some precompiled xpi are available here


# aptitude install openssh-server openvpn network-manager-openvpn-gnome resolvconf pwsafe kgpg
# aptitude install encfs
# adduser toto fuse

You may want to activate sudo support for your user

# adduser toto sudo

and if you want to skip password, uncomment last line of /etc/sudoers with

# visudo

Recompiling pcscd with libusb support for external RFID reader Omnikey 5321: see here


  • video: 3D modes etc, dual screen etc 1
  • video: prob when going back to console, try fb?
  • restore other encrypted partitions See also my old LUKS notes
  • WPA roaming ok? check EAP
  • IA32 chroot
  • compare with old setup list of packages and list of non-system files
  • check all hardware support
  • compare loaded drivers with Ubuntu list
  • USB Powershare to be activated in BIOS
  • Intel Virtualization Technology to be activated in BIOS
  • TPM disabled in BIOS, anything interesting there?
  • dcdbas & libsmbios
  • sensors?
  • Bradcom USH (BCM5880) RFID & HID Global iCLASS ?? 1
  • Wifi catcher button?
  • DCP key?
  • DisplayPort
  • LUKS preload keys
  • merge bashrc
  • check backuppc
  • microphone?
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