This post chronicles my experience with loading Linux Manjaro on a Dell M4800 mobile workstation. Just getting the desktop running so software can be loaded. Also getting the HDMI port working for using a 24" (1920x1080) monitor. The system I'm configuring is as follows:

Important Hardware:
  • GK106GLM [Quadro K2100M] (nVidia Corp)
  • 4th Gen Core Processor Integrated Graphics Controller (Intel Corp)
  • 250 Gb SSD
  • Intel Core i7-4910MQCPU processor running @ 2.9 GHz


1) Most important is to do a firmware update! You can download that from Dell's website HERE. You'll need the service tag number from the PC. This can be gotten off the bottom of the PC or from the BIOS setup menu. While booting, press repeatedly the F2 key to enter this menu. Expand as TEXT shows below:

Settings:
-General
--System Information -> Will give service tag number (Ex: DCPZ462).


[Linked Image from photos.smugmug.com]
Example BIOS setup menu. Large photo HERE.

Enter the service tag number in Dell's site. Choose BIOS as the Operating System. Below you'll see a single entry for download. Download this file which is about 10Mb. In my case the file was named M4800A26.exe Your file may or maynot be different. Most of the firmware update instructions lean in the direction of Windows. Saying you need to create a bootable USB drive. This isn't correct! All you need is a clean USB drive formatted as FAT32.

As it turns out for firmware updates, Dell provided a special one time boot utility. The F12 key (press repeatedly on boot) will get you to this special boot menu. Before doing that, you'll need to copy the firmware update file to a clean USB drive formatted as FAT32 and plug that in to one of the USB ports. There are options in the special boot menu to flash the BIOS (lower group) and ellipses (.... upper right) to allow selecting this file from the previously mounted USB drive containing the xxxxxxx.exe file. Follow the menu options to get this started. It takes about 10 minutes with progress bars for the various updates. Multiple hardware items will get updated. The PC will boot automatically after the updates are finished. MAKE SURE the firmware update process isn't interrupted at any time. The PC's BIOS and hardware are now up to date and current as this point.

2) I downloaded Manjaro 19.0.2 (XFCE 64 bit) HERE. You'll get a 2.8 Gb file named manjaro-xfce-19.0.2-200311-linux54.iso as of the time of this post. I used K3b and my LaCie USB burning to create a bootable DVD. My PC came with its SSD wiped clean so no boot record on it. If the PC has an O/S loaded that boots from the SSD, you'll need to change the boot order so it looks first at the optical drive. This can be done from the setup menu (F2 key while booting). Make sure to be connected to the internet through the ethernet RJ45 jack. Manjaro booted fine on my system. Go through the Manjaro install and setup process which takes about 30 minutes. Let it update as required.

On reboot, I got a "Invalid partition table!" message which halted the boot process until I pressed the ENTER key. After which the system booted properly. After some hours of research I trace this down to a boot flag that needs to be set. You can open up a terminal window and enter the command below to set this flag:

sudo parted /dev/sda set 1 boot on

This will remove the message and allow the PC to boot through to the desktop. The time zone was the next issue as its setting isn't clear. Right click on the time and click on properties. You'll need to enter the Timezone: field as below:

US/

This essentially is interpreted as blank forcing the system to pickup the local time. I also set the correct time in the BIOS setup menu. Also note that media gets mounted in the directory per below: Different from Ubuntu and Mint.

/run/media

[Linked Image from photos.smugmug.com]
Manjaro desktop on 24" HDMI monitor.

3) The M4800 has hybrid graphics (Intel & nVidia). The HDMI port is hardwired to the nVidia display hardware. The native resolution of the laptop screen is 1920x1080 so it can drive an HDMI monitor at full resolution (60 Hz) which makes for a nice display. You'll need to get the nVidia hardware up and running. This requires installing some utilities and drivers. I had some trouble with this initially but got things ironed out. I first went to the Manjaro settings per below:

Settings->Manjaro Settings Manager->Hardware Configuration

Then hit the Auto Install Proprietary Drivers to load the Bumblebee drivers.

Should see video-hybrid-intel-nvidia-418xx-bumblebee installed checked. I'm not sure these are required as it appeared later on there were issues with the Bumblebee drivers. These didn't work as expected. Suggestions were to use the optimus-manager instead. Found this out after the fact. I backed up and used the following (pick options 1,2 to get the two required programs: aur/ means it comes from the Arch Linux repository and not the community branch.

For the hybrid graphics to get the HDMI port going.

sudo systemctl disable bumblebeed.service <--- Reboot after this.
yay -S optimus-manager
yay -S optimus-manager-qt
<--- This gives you an awesome tray icon!
sudo systemctl enable optimus-manager.service

This should give you a system tray icon that allows switching between Intel (laptop display) and nVidia (HDMI display). Such was the case on my system. This worked as expected and I was able to get output to the HDMI monitor. At this point Manjaro was basically up and running and ready for applications to be installed.

4) As for removable USB drives you can setup some behavior using the following settings. I have it setup to jump into a directory when a hot plug event occurs. Proceed as personal preferences dictate.

Settings->Removable Drives and Media

Check:
Mount removable drives when hot-plugged.
Mount removable media when inserted.
Browse removable media when inserted.


A notification box will appear in the upper right corner of the display for hot plugs. The behavior of this can be changed to your liking per the menu below:

Settings->Notifications


Some programs like FreeCAD don't display removable media in the expected way. As previously stated, finding mount points on Mint was through /media as opposed to /run/media for Manjaro. Changes like these in Linux distros can be frustrating until you find what you need.


Evolve and simplify!
Scott Bridgman, Why not join and post your own comments??
scott@muniac.com (email me)
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