Tweaking ASUS Zenbook UX305CA on Linux

Lately I was searching for mobile notebook that I could use for remote work. I checked f ThinkPad series but they were huge bricks that have nothing in common with ‘mobile’ word. Then I saw ASUS Zenbook that I didn’t take into account before and it was exactly what I was searching for.

Configuration of Skylake based notebook right now is not straightforward – there are still glitches and small bugs that are waiting to be fixed. I want to sum up what I’ve done after installation. I started with fresh Ubuntu 16.04 to get Debian based distro with possibly latest kernel and patches.

Some SSD tweaks

Change mount options for filesystems on SSD from:

/dev/mapper/ubuntu--vg-root / ext4 errors=remount-ro 0 1

to:

/dev/mapper/ubuntu--vg-root / ext4 discard,noatime,errors=remount-ro 0 1

And move /tmp to RAM with this additional line in /etc/fstab:

tmpfs /tmp tmpfs defaults,noatime,mode=1777 0 0

Now add deadline scheduler for root disk – edit /etc/rc.local and add this line before exit 0:

echo deadline > /sys/block/sda/queue/scheduler
echo 1 > /sys/block/sda/queue/iosched/fifo_batch

I have configured swap but I don’t want to use it too much and setting low swappines sysctl option will help. Run this as root:

echo "vm.swappiness = 1" > /etc/sysctl.d/90-swappines.conf
sysctl -p /etc/sysctl.d/90-swappines.conf

Power usage tweaks

I’ve installed laptop-mode-tools to achieve lower power usage on battery. So:

apt-get install -y laptop-mode-tools

By default it’s cutting hard CPU performance on battery (half performance, no turbo) so I fixed this by changing /etc/laptop-mode/conf.d/intel_pstate.conf section On battery:

#On battery
BATT_INTEL_PSTATE_PERF_MIN_PCT=0 # Minimum performance, in percent
BATT_INTEL_PSTATE_PERF_MAX_PCT=100 # Maximum performance, in percent
BATT_INTEL_PSTATE_NO_TURBO=0 # Disable "Turbo Boost"?

Laptop mode tools won’t start automatically so we may integrate them with pm-utils (that are already installed on Ubuntu) to get it running when needed. We have to create new config file:

sudo touch /etc/pm/sleep.d/10-laptop-mode-tools
sudo chmod a+x /etc/pm/sleep.d/10-laptop-mode-tools

with content like this:

case $1 in
    hibernate)
        /etc/init.d/laptop-mode stop
        ;;
    suspend)
        /etc/init.d/laptop-mode stop
        ;;
    thaw)
        /etc/init.d/laptop-mode start
        ;;
    resume)
        /etc/init.d/laptop-mode start
        ;;
    *)
        echo Something is not right.
        ;;
esac

Now I will enable ALPM for SATA in AHCI mode optimizations:

echo SATA_ALPM_ENABLE=true | sudo tee /etc/pm/config.d/sata_alpm

And some kernel parameters in /etc/default/grub:

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX="pcie_aspm=force"

(config with additional drm.vblankoffdelay=1 i915.semaphores=1 worked for me on Ubuntu 16.04 but on 16.10 caused system stability problems so I don’t recommend it now)

After changes update grub with:

update-grub

You may use powertop to nail power heavy processes. There is also powerstat to benchmark power usage through time – I have:

sudo pm-powersave true
powerstat

......

Summary:
System: 4.49 Watts on average with standard deviation 0.46 

It’s really nice. I should be able to run about 8~9h! Sweet!

Source:
https://www.reddit.com/r/linux/comments/3ia8ta/review_of_ubuntu_on_asus_ux305fa/
https://help.ubuntu.com/community/PowerManagement/ReducedPower#Using_less_power_with_laptop-mode-tools
https://help.ubuntu.com/community/AsusZenbook
https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Kernel/PowerManagementALPM

Disable touchpad when writing

It’s crazy annoying when you tap touchpad during writing text and lose focus on editor window. There is solution for that, it’s even installed by default on Ubuntu and it’s called: syndaemon. It’s started by default like this:


syndaemon -i 1.0 -t -K -R

1 second feels too small for me. I will adjust it to 2s. There is no easy way to do this. I created script to run on login:


#!/bin/bash
killall syndaemon
syndaemon -d -i 2.0 -t -K -R

Now better 🙂

VD-PAU

I installed vdpauinfo tool to see if it’s working:

apt-get install -y vdpauinfo

It wasn’t:

# vdpauinfo 
display: :0   screen: 0
Failed to open VDPAU backend libvdpau_va_gl.so: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory
Error creating VDPAU device: 1

I checked this library and couldn’t find it – it wasn’t installed. Easy fix:

apt-get install -y libvdpau-va-gl1

Check again:

# vdpauinfo 
display: :0   screen: 0
libva info: VA-API version 0.39.0
libva info: va_getDriverName() returns 0
libva info: Trying to open /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/dri/i965_drv_video.so
libva info: Found init function __vaDriverInit_0_39
libva info: va_openDriver() returns 0
API version: 1
Information string: OpenGL/VAAPI/libswscale backend for VDPAU

Video surface:

name   width height types
-------------------------------------------
420     1920  1080  NV12 YV12 UYVY YUYV Y8U8V8A8 V8U8Y8A8 
422     1920  1080  NV12 YV12 UYVY YUYV Y8U8V8A8 V8U8Y8A8 
444     1920  1080  NV12 YV12 UYVY YUYV Y8U8V8A8 V8U8Y8A8 

Decoder capabilities:

name                        level macbs width height
----------------------------------------------------
MPEG1                          --- not supported ---
MPEG2_SIMPLE                   --- not supported ---
MPEG2_MAIN                     --- not supported ---
H264_BASELINE                  51 16384  2048  2048
H264_MAIN                      51 16384  2048  2048
H264_HIGH                      51 16384  2048  2048
VC1_SIMPLE                     --- not supported ---
VC1_MAIN                       --- not supported ---
VC1_ADVANCED                   --- not supported ---
MPEG4_PART2_SP                 --- not supported ---
MPEG4_PART2_ASP                --- not supported ---
DIVX4_QMOBILE                  --- not supported ---
DIVX4_MOBILE                   --- not supported ---
DIVX4_HOME_THEATER             --- not supported ---
DIVX4_HD_1080P                 --- not supported ---
DIVX5_QMOBILE                  --- not supported ---
DIVX5_MOBILE                   --- not supported ---
DIVX5_HOME_THEATER             --- not supported ---
DIVX5_HD_1080P                 --- not supported ---
H264_CONSTRAINED_BASELINE      51 16384  2048  2048
H264_EXTENDED                  --- not supported ---
H264_PROGRESSIVE_HIGH          --- not supported ---
H264_CONSTRAINED_HIGH          --- not supported ---
H264_HIGH_444_PREDICTIVE       --- not supported ---
HEVC_MAIN                      --- not supported ---
HEVC_MAIN_10                   --- not supported ---
HEVC_MAIN_STILL                --- not supported ---
HEVC_MAIN_12                   --- not supported ---
HEVC_MAIN_444                  --- not supported ---

Output surface:

name              width height nat types
----------------------------------------------------
B8G8R8A8          8192  8192    y  
R8G8B8A8          8192  8192    y  
R10G10B10A2       8192  8192    y  
B10G10R10A2       8192  8192    y  
A8                8192  8192    y  

Bitmap surface:

name              width height
------------------------------
B8G8R8A8          8192  8192
R8G8B8A8          8192  8192
R10G10B10A2       8192  8192
B10G10R10A2       8192  8192
A8                8192  8192

Video mixer:

feature name                    sup
------------------------------------
DEINTERLACE_TEMPORAL             -
DEINTERLACE_TEMPORAL_SPATIAL     -
INVERSE_TELECINE                 -
NOISE_REDUCTION                  -
SHARPNESS                        -
LUMA_KEY                         -
HIGH QUALITY SCALING - L1        -
HIGH QUALITY SCALING - L2        -
HIGH QUALITY SCALING - L3        -
HIGH QUALITY SCALING - L4        -
HIGH QUALITY SCALING - L5        -
HIGH QUALITY SCALING - L6        -
HIGH QUALITY SCALING - L7        -
HIGH QUALITY SCALING - L8        -
HIGH QUALITY SCALING - L9        -

parameter name                  sup      min      max
-----------------------------------------------------
VIDEO_SURFACE_WIDTH              -  
VIDEO_SURFACE_HEIGHT             -  
CHROMA_TYPE                      -  
LAYERS                           -  

attribute name                  sup      min      max
-----------------------------------------------------
BACKGROUND_COLOR                 -  
CSC_MATRIX                       -  
NOISE_REDUCTION_LEVEL            -  
SHARPNESS_LEVEL                  -  
LUMA_KEY_MIN_LUMA                -  
LUMA_KEY_MAX_LUMA                -

Looks better now… But not impressive, there’s only H264 support.

I’ve tried it in VLC but it was crashing from time to time the whole VLC (leaving it running in background). Time to test VA-API 🙂

VA-API

Like earlier I have to install one tool to see what we have: vainfo

apt-get install -y vainfo

Checking what we have on system:


$ vainfo 
libva info: VA-API version 0.39.0
libva info: va_getDriverName() returns 0
libva info: Trying to open /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/dri/i965_drv_video.so
libva info: Found init function __vaDriverInit_0_39
libva info: va_openDriver() returns 0
vainfo: VA-API version: 0.39 (libva 1.7.0)
vainfo: Driver version: Intel i965 driver for Intel(R) Skylake - 1.7.0
vainfo: Supported profile and entrypoints
      VAProfileMPEG2Simple            :	VAEntrypointVLD
      VAProfileMPEG2Simple            :	VAEntrypointEncSlice
      VAProfileMPEG2Main              :	VAEntrypointVLD
      VAProfileMPEG2Main              :	VAEntrypointEncSlice
      VAProfileH264ConstrainedBaseline:	VAEntrypointVLD
      VAProfileH264ConstrainedBaseline:	VAEntrypointEncSlice
      VAProfileH264Main               :	VAEntrypointVLD
      VAProfileH264Main               :	VAEntrypointEncSlice
      VAProfileH264High               :	VAEntrypointVLD
      VAProfileH264High               :	VAEntrypointEncSlice
      VAProfileH264MultiviewHigh      :	VAEntrypointVLD
      VAProfileH264MultiviewHigh      :	VAEntrypointEncSlice
      VAProfileH264StereoHigh         :	VAEntrypointVLD
      VAProfileH264StereoHigh         :	VAEntrypointEncSlice
      VAProfileVC1Simple              :	VAEntrypointVLD
      VAProfileVC1Main                :	VAEntrypointVLD
      VAProfileVC1Advanced            :	VAEntrypointVLD
      VAProfileNone                   :	VAEntrypointVideoProc
      VAProfileJPEGBaseline           :	VAEntrypointVLD
      VAProfileJPEGBaseline           :	VAEntrypointEncPicture
      VAProfileVP8Version0_3          :	VAEntrypointVLD
      VAProfileVP8Version0_3          :	VAEntrypointEncSlice
      VAProfileHEVCMain               :	VAEntrypointVLD
      VAProfileHEVCMain               :	VAEntrypointEncSlice

It requires package i965-va-driver to work but on my system it was instal(ed (probably during VDPAU installation as dependency).

It was working almost fine… In VLC on my machine VA-API on X11 was drawing through all desktops. VA-API DRM was working better… But crashed my X11 server after few minutes of watching ;/

OpenCL

You may thing: for what the hell you need OpenCL on such tiny machine? I doesn’t care – I want it 🙂

First install clinfo package:

apt-get install -y clinfo

And run it:

# clinfo 
Number of platforms                               0

Not too much 😀

For Intel GPU/CPU OpenCL support we will need beignet package:

apt-get install -y beignet

# clinfo 
Number of platforms                               1
  Platform Name                                   Intel Gen OCL Driver
  Platform Vendor                                 Intel
  Platform Version                                OpenCL 1.2 beignet 1.1.1
  Platform Profile                                FULL_PROFILE
  Platform Extensions                             cl_khr_global_int32_base_atomics cl_khr_global_int32_extended_atomics cl_khr_local_int32_base_atomics cl_khr_local_int32_extended_atomics cl_khr_byte_addressable_store cl_khr_spir cl_khr_icd
  Platform Extensions function suffix             Intel

  Platform Name                                   Intel Gen OCL Driver
Number of devices                                 1
  Device Name                                     Intel(R) HD Graphics Skylake ULX GT2
  Device Vendor                                   Intel
  Device Vendor ID                                0x8086
  Device Version                                  OpenCL 1.2 beignet 1.1.1
  Driver Version                                  1.1.1
  Device OpenCL C Version                         OpenCL C 1.2 beignet 1.1.1
  Device Type                                     GPU
  Device Profile                                  FULL_PROFILE
  Max compute units                               24
  Max clock frequency                             1000MHz
  Device Partition                                (core)
    Max number of sub-devices                     1
    Supported partition types                     None, None, None
  Max work item dimensions                        3
  Max work item sizes                             512x512x512
  Max work group size                             512
  Preferred work group size multiple              16
  Preferred / native vector sizes                 
    char                                                16 / 8       
    short                                                8 / 8       
    int                                                  4 / 4       
    long                                                 2 / 2       
    half                                                 0 / 8        (cl_khr_fp16)
    float                                                4 / 4       
    double                                               0 / 2        (n/a)
  Half-precision Floating-point support           (cl_khr_fp16)
    Denormals                                     No
    Infinity and NANs                             Yes
    Round to nearest                              Yes
    Round to zero                                 No
    Round to infinity                             No
    IEEE754-2008 fused multiply-add               No
    Support is emulated in software               No
    Correctly-rounded divide and sqrt operations  No
  Single-precision Floating-point support         (core)
    Denormals                                     No
    Infinity and NANs                             Yes
    Round to nearest                              Yes
    Round to zero                                 No
    Round to infinity                             No
    IEEE754-2008 fused multiply-add               No
    Support is emulated in software               No
    Correctly-rounded divide and sqrt operations  No
  Double-precision Floating-point support         (n/a)
  Address bits                                    32, Little-Endian
  Global memory size                              2147483648 (2GiB)
  Error Correction support                        No
  Max memory allocation                           1073741824 (1024MiB)
  Unified memory for Host and Device              Yes
  Minimum alignment for any data type             128 bytes
  Alignment of base address                       1024 bits (128 bytes)
  Global Memory cache type                        Read/Write
  Global Memory cache size                        8192
  Global Memory cache line                        64 bytes
  Image support                                   Yes
    Max number of samplers per kernel             16
    Max size for 1D images from buffer            65536 pixels
    Max 1D or 2D image array size                 2048 images
    Max 2D image size                             8192x8192 pixels
    Max 3D image size                             8192x8192x2048 pixels
    Max number of read image args                 128
    Max number of write image args                8
  Local memory type                               Global
  Local memory size                               65536 (64KiB)
  Max constant buffer size                        134217728 (128MiB)
  Max number of constant args                     8
  Max size of kernel argument                     1024
  Queue properties                                
    Out-of-order execution                        No
    Profiling                                     Yes
  Prefer user sync for interop                    Yes
  Profiling timer resolution                      80ns
  Execution capabilities                          
    Run OpenCL kernels                            Yes
    Run native kernels                            Yes
    SPIR versions                                 
  printf() buffer size                            1048576 (1024KiB)
  Built-in kernels                                __cl_copy_region_align4;__cl_copy_region_align16;__cl_cpy_region_unalign_same_offset;__cl_copy_region_unalign_dst_offset;__cl_copy_region_unalign_src_offset;__cl_copy_buffer_rect;__cl_copy_image_1d_to_1d;__cl_copy_image_2d_to_2d;__cl_copy_image_3d_to_2d;__cl_copy_image_2d_to_3d;__cl_copy_image_3d_to_3d;__cl_copy_image_2d_to_buffer;__cl_copy_image_3d_to_buffer;__cl_copy_buffer_to_image_2d;__cl_copy_buffer_to_image_3d;__cl_fill_region_unalign;__cl_fill_region_align2;__cl_fill_region_align4;__cl_fill_region_align8_2;__cl_fill_region_align8_4;__cl_fill_region_align8_8;__cl_fill_region_align8_16;__cl_fill_region_align128;__cl_fill_image_1d;__cl_fill_image_1d_array;__cl_fill_image_2d;__cl_fill_image_2d_array;__cl_fill_image_3d;
  Device Available                                Yes
  Compiler Available                              Yes
  Linker Available                                Yes
  Device Extensions                               cl_khr_global_int32_base_atomics cl_khr_global_int32_extended_atomics cl_khr_local_int32_base_atomics cl_khr_local_int32_extended_atomics cl_khr_byte_addressable_store cl_khr_fp16 cl_khr_spir cl_khr_icd

NULL platform behavior
  clGetPlatformInfo(NULL, CL_PLATFORM_NAME, ...)  Intel Gen OCL Driver
  clGetDeviceIDs(NULL, CL_DEVICE_TYPE_ALL, ...)   Success [Intel]
  clCreateContext(NULL, ...) [default]            Success [Intel]
  clCreateContextFromType(NULL, CL_DEVICE_TYPE_CPU)  No devices found in platform
  clCreateContextFromType(NULL, CL_DEVICE_TYPE_GPU)  Success (1)
    Platform Name                                 Intel Gen OCL Driver
    Device Name                                   Intel(R) HD Graphics Skylake ULX GT2
  clCreateContextFromType(NULL, CL_DEVICE_TYPE_ACCELERATOR)  No devices found in platform
  clCreateContextFromType(NULL, CL_DEVICE_TYPE_CUSTOM)  No devices found in platform
  clCreateContextFromType(NULL, CL_DEVICE_TYPE_ALL)  Success (1)
    Platform Name                                 Intel Gen OCL Driver
    Device Name                                   Intel(R) HD Graphics Skylake ULX GT2

ICD loader properties
  ICD loader Name                                 OpenCL ICD Loader
  ICD loader Vendor                               OCL Icd free software
  ICD loader Version                              2.2.8
  ICD loader Profile                              OpenCL 1.2
	NOTE:	your OpenCL library declares to support OpenCL 1.2,
		but it seems to support up to OpenCL 2.1 too.

Source:
https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/GPGPU#Intel

Suspend/Hibernate on lid close

Default configuration of Ubuntu 16.04 was that after I close lid screen was blocked and LCD disabled. But system was still working normally – I strongly prefer to hibernate in such case and use no battery at all.

I achieved that with systemd-logind. Edit /etc/systemd/logind.conf and uncomment line with HandleLidSwitch:

[Login]
HandleLidSwitch=suspend
HandleLidSwitchDocked=ignore

Now restart systemd-logind service with:

systemctl restart systemd-logind.service 

Problem with function keys

Function keys were mostly working but not always like I expected. For example when I disable touchpad – it’s not disabled 🙂

I found that module asus-nb-wmi is responssible for that and it’s still buggy. So I disabled it at all with:

echo "blacklist asus-nb-wmi" > /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist-ux305.conf

Volume UP/DOWN/MUTE are still working fine – that’s enough for me. Rest could be configured with some keyboard shortcuts – more info here.

TODO/Issues

I still face some bugs:

  • I could see occasional flickering from time to time. Rather after running notebook for some time than overheating/overloading it. This may be driver issue or maybe SNA acceleration method – I have to experiment a little to get this solved.
    Looks like disabling Virtualization support and VT-d in BIOS helped. It’s not final solution but for now I don’t need it… A lot 😉
  • Tapping sometimes behave strange, for ex. tap to click stops to work and I have to use touchpad buttons for that. I think this may be related to syndaemon configuration because it started after I tuned it.
    It was that. My hack for syndaemon broke touchpad. I will play with this a little more later.
  • I like to use copy by selection and paste by middle click on my desktop – I’m addicted to this option but it’s not working on my laptop. I’m not sure if this will be convenient enough on touchpad to use.
    To right click just tap with two fingers, to middle click (third button) tap with three fingers. Copy/paste is again easy like before.

If you found errors in my text of know better solutions for described problems, please tell in comments.

Prefer IPv4 over IPv6

I try to use IPv6 where it’s available but it’s sometimes so hard… It happen quite often that I can’t download packages from repos because they weren’t configured on IPv6 vhosts even when host is available via IPv6 address. For APT you may use this trick to force IPv4 connections only:

echo 'Acquire::ForceIPv4 "true";' > /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/99force-ipv4

If you need more than that, then gai.conf will allow you to filter where you will be connecting via IPv4 and where via IPv6 – in example bellow you will prefer IPv4 whenever it’s available:

echo 'precedence ::ffff:0:0/96  100' >> /etc/gai.conf

WordPress with HyperDB on PHP 7.0

I was configuring WordPress with HyperDB plugin on PHP 7.0 but the only I get were constant 500 errors. As I found here PHP 7.0 is not supported by HyperDB for now – it rely on mysql php extension but in PHP 7.0 there is only mysqli. Helpfully few folks fixed it and it’s possible to use it.

curl -O https://raw.githubusercontent.com/soulseekah/hyperdb-mysqli/master/db.php
mv db.php /var/www/wordpress/wp-content/

And configure it ex. like this:

cat <<DBCONFIG > /var/www/wordpress/db-config.php
<?php
\$wpdb->save_queries = false;
\$wpdb->persistent = false;
\$wpdb->max_connections = 10;
\$wpdb->check_tcp_responsiveness = true;

\$wpdb->add_database(array(
'host'     => "master.db.host",
'user'     => "wordpress",
'password' => "random_password",
'name'     => "wordpress",
'write'    => 1,
'read'     => 1,
));
\$wpdb->add_database(array(
'host'     => "slave.db.host",
'user'     => "wordpress",
'password' => "random_password",
'name'     => "wordpress",
'write'    => 0,
'read'     => 1,
));
DBCONFIG

Now WordPress could handle crash of master database.

Source:
https://www.digitalocean.com/community/tutorials/how-to-optimize-wordpress-performance-with-mysql-replication-on-ubuntu-14-04

List octal file permissions in bash

Sometimes it’s easier to use octal file permissions but they’re not so easy to list. I caught myself few times that I didn’t remember how to list them – so this is a reason for that note.

$ stat -c "%a %n" *
755 bin
755 games
755 include

Yes, it’s that easy 🙂
And here also with human readable attributes:

$ stat -c '%A %a %n' *
drwxr-xr-x 755 bin
drwxr-xr-x 755 games
drwxr-xr-x 755 include

Automatically build after file change

I’m playing a lot with Docker lately. Building images, and then rebuilding, and then building again… It’s pretty boring. To automate this task a little I used inotify to build automatically after I changed any file. This trick could be used in many different situations.

You will need inotify-tools package:

    sudo apt-get install -y inotify-tools

Then run something like this:

while inotifywait -e modify -r .; do docker-compose build; done

This commands will rebuild my Docker images after any file change in current directory. Use Ctrl+c to exit from loop.