Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Ubuntu oneiric on Samsung Series 7 - 700Z5A S03

I recently bought a new Samsung Series 7 Notebook (700Z5A S03) as my replacement for my old Dell Latitude. It ships with a 750 GB hard disk with "8 GB ExpressCache". I replaced the HD by a faster SSD.  In order to replace the disk, one has to open the bottom part of the case. The inside looks like this:

My model came with a Hitachi 7K750-750 inside. That's a usual harddisk. The so called "8 GB ExpressCache" seems to be on the board itself and is still visible as a usual blockdevice on linux after replacing the orignal hard disk. It's identified by hdparm as "Model=SanDisk iSSD P4 8GB, FwRev=SSD 9.14". For an SSD it seems to be quite slow. I use it as a swap device.

# hdparm -t /dev/sdb

 Timing buffered disk reads: 362 MB in  3.02 seconds = 119.98 MB/sec

Ubuntu Oneiric runs out of the box on the Notebook - at least to some extend. The Hybrid  Graphics cannot be used up to now due to lack of driver support. Some folks at are working on that. I also couldn't get the dedicated graphics card disabled by following various instructions on that topic. As soon as the radeon kernel module is loaded (which is required for vgaswitcheroo to be even available) the power consumption of the system is quite high. The lowest power consumption I could achieve so far was by blacklisting the radeon module via modprobe. Idle power consumption, reported by powertop, is about 20-21W. This seems to be quite high as on Windows a idle power consumption of about 15W was reported. This might come from the  dedicated graphic, not being fully disabled by just unloading radeon.
Also the touchpad identified as "PS/2 Elantech Touchpad" by xinput list is not working as a touchpad but just a normal mouse. This is quite annoying as there is no way to disable tab-click. I stuck with  disabling/enabling the touchpad completely so far (xinput set-prop 14 132 0/1 on my device).

The notebook unfortunately cannot be ordered without an operating system. It ships with a Windows 7 Pro DVD labelled "System Recovery Media". Despite the labelling, the DVD acts as a usual Windows installation DVD that can also be installed and activated on other systems (tested on a virtualbox). This at least makes it possible to sell it on Ebay - together with the license sticker from the bottom of the case that can easily be removed by steaming it a bit.

The Touchpad is supported in Kernel 3.2. Even three fingers are supported (can be used to move windows in unity). By default it's quite insensitive though, I had to use my thumb to get the cursor moving. Adding the following lines to /etc/X11/xorg.conf fixes this:

Section "InputClass"
        Identifier "touchpad catchall"
        Driver "synaptics"
        MatchIsTouchpad "on"
        MatchDevicePath "/dev/input/event*"
        Option "FingerLow" "6"
        Option "FingerHigh" "10"
        # Option "VertScrollDelta" "10"


  1. Hi Schibum,

    I want it too, the Samsung Chronos. I was looking around for compatibility issues and your blog. Actually, it's the only website I've found with Google!?

    Do you have any updates? Did you get the Touchpad working?

    Thanks for your advices.

  2. Hello iam also interested to buy the Chronos. But i have also some questions!
    - whats about the hybrid graphics did it work witch the actual ati catalyst driver?
    - are there a solution for the touchpad? maybe this will help
    - are backlit keyboard working?

  3. The latest catalyst doesn't really work. It installs but all I could get from it was erroneous graphic output (missing fonts, toolbars, buttons etc.).
    Using psmouse proto=exps didn't get the touchpad working - still recognized as a PS/2 generic mouse.
    Backlit keyboard turns on/off automatically depending on ambient light, but I din't find a way to turn it off manually yet.

  4. Hi,
    By what method did you maange to blacklist the module? When I try to do it via modprobe -r, the screen blanks and it seems to reload!

  5. I just added it to /etc/modprobe.conf (or some file in in /etc/modprobe.d/? should work too)
    I don't think that this switches off the discrete graphic completely as battery life is still lower than reported with windows, but it at least stops it from consuming insane amounts of energy.

  6. hey what you think.
    I can buy the "chronos" safe or would you advise against?

  7. Thanks a lot for this post. Now I don't need to deal with Samsung's outsourced "Tier 1" support. I plan to do exactly the same thing you did except make it dual boot and install the Windows that came with it: just in case I like some PC game.

    I think I can live w/o Hybrid Graphics for a few months. Sorry for the newbie question, but how exactly it affects the user experience? Dedicated card consuming more power and shortening battery life? Or it limits the graphics output: fonts, colors, resolution, external display support, etc. Screen flicker? If anything I'd rather unleash full graphics card potential than save energy if I have to choose just one. Does it cause any Compiz problems? Other than the usual Oneric issues.

    As far as the touchpad, what is it exactly that's missing? Multi-touch gestures? I can live with normal mouse movements and clicks (left and right) plus vertical scrolling: even if it is the right side of the touchpad instead of two fingers. Series 9 users have some solutions for multi-touch, maybe they will work on Series 7.

  8. The Elantech touchpad problem is allegedly fixed in the upcoming kernel 3.2:
    to be released mid-January 2012. That's when I will buy mine. AMD also released the new Catalyst: v11.11.

  9. catalyst v11.11 still not working here (black screen only), but I didn't spent too much time trying.

  10. ok that f*** maybe with the next one. it is possible to deactivate the 6750m in the bios?

  11. no, bios settings are quite minimalist

  12. I want buy this PC too can you tell me:

    Can I choose beetween two videocard and turn off the other one? I don't need dynamic change. I want only have most battery life.

    are the sensors recognized?

    keyboard and mouse have some problem but not huge. Is there anything else you have problems?



  13. Hi Schibum,
    have you noticed any problem with the fans? They seemed to me to be on for too much time considering I'm only surfing the web most of the time!

    Even with the ATI graphic card off i have a power consumption of about 40-45W (seen with powertop) and i get about 2 hours of battery life.... Not very much!!!But the main problem are the fans and I don't know what to do!

    Thanks Davide

    @Stefano:Did you mean the output of "sensors"? Here is mine:

    root@mob:/home/pc# sensors
    Adapter: Virtual device
    temp1: +64.0°C (crit = +99.0°C)
    temp2: +29.8°C (crit = +99.0°C)

    For the graphics card I think to have configured vgaswitcheroo fine but I can't get more than 2 hours of battery life.The output of vgaswitcheroo is:

    root@mob:/home/mob# cat /sys/kernel/debug/vgaswitcheroo/switch
    1:DIS: :Off:0000:01:00.0

  14. Hi,

    fans are usually off when not loaded. Battery life > 3h for sure. Didn't test till empty yet.

    Sounds to me like you've the radeon kernel module loaded. Check # lsmod | grep radeon . Power consumption and fan usage should be considerabely less with radeon NOT loaded.

  15. Thanks for the post. I am trying to narrow down my choices to purchase this laptop. Are there any issues for using VM s on this laptop?

  16. I would really buy this device, but at the same time some stuff sound like problems not pros! I though buy a DELL, I really want a opaque monitor and long battery life, but sound like i can only have a opaque monitor with this pc because in linux battery life is bad!

  17. ohje 3h hours, are your sure? maybe this tweaks helps to improve the battery life time so i impatiently await your reply, have a nice weekend

  18. could you please give this a try and test the Kernel

  19. Reported idle power consumption is ~20.4W with 3.0.0-13-generic #22+mjgaspmfix, ~20.9W without mjgaspmfix

  20. that not a big difference! thanks for the testing. maybe in a few days i can have a look at the "chronos" the i5 version! or should i look at a different model?

  21. Hi Schibum,

    I own this same laptop and I've been trying to fully disable the radeon module for quite awhile without much luck.

    I added 'blacklist radeon' to modprobe.d/blacklist.conf and ran update-initramfs, but lsmod | grep radeon and the power consumption/fan activity still indicate that it's being loaded. Did you have to take any other steps?

    Unrelated to that, but in case others are interested, I got power consumption down to ~30W by installing fglrx 11.11 and *not* running aticonfig. Everything works, but I'm trying to get consumption down more.

    Also, Schibum, what temperature does your laptop run at? Using lm-sensors, my laptop with the above fix hovers around 60C, which isn't all that hot, but it is non-ideal.

  22. Hi Schibum,I managed to disable the Ati card blacklisting the radeon module,but I get an idle consumption of 27-30W and I don't know why....Have u disabled something else? Like Bluetooth or wireless? I've already installed the patched kernel...

    Maybe it's because I use the 64 bit version of kubuntu (that's not completely equal to ubuntu)?

  23. Just fyi:

    There are bugs filled complaining the touchpad:

    the ambient light sensor:

    and hotkeys:

  24. Hi

    How did you get the back cover off? Is it just removing all the screws on the back or is there something else you have to do?

    Thanks in advance!!

    - Jesper

  25. You need to unlatch the bottom platic part. I just used my fingernail staring at the sd-card slot (it's easy to get it in there) and pulled it around the case in both directions.

  26. Hi,
    Did you try connecting it to external display via hdmi port? Does it work on ubuntu? Any issues?

  27. It looks like the Elantech module is being properly recognised in the latest 3.2 kernel. If you get a chance to test, that would be great!

  28. hdmi works fine. I'll give kernel 3.2 a try

  29. Bought. 700z3a version! The computer is AWESOME! Now I'll do my best to make it work perfect with LINUX!

  30. Is the 700Z5A also always loud?

  31. What about the warranty? Didn't you violate it when changing hdd?

  32. Hi, yesterday I compiled the 3.2.2 kernel. Touchpad works well now, but I have no wifi firmware. What option should I add to the kernel to have the wifi driver? thanks!

  33. Sorry, and what about RIGHT CLICK? it doens't work on my laptop!

  34. Hi, could this post be helpful for the hybrid graphics?

  35. Hi
    Could you please tell me the steps to remove the rear cover of the unit

    I will appreciate it!


  36. Hi all,
    first thanks to schibum and the other posters for this useful article!

    I think I got some answers to some questions asked before:
    Setting: Chronos 700Z3A with Ubuntut 11.10 and kernel 3.3 64bit

    - right click with touchpad (should work with kernel 3.2 and higher):
    -> tap with two fingers where you want to execute the right click

    - Opening the case/rear cover (what worked for me):
    -> get a perfectly matching screwdriver and open the rear cover screws (all of them including the one for memory access) - took me a while cause one screw did not want to move...
    -> open the cover by using your finger nails and the card reader dummy to hold spaces open once you lowered the cover a bit - be careful and patient, this is somewhat tricky...

    - warranty:
    -> theoretically it should be allowed to open the case and change your harddisk (at least when you use a samsung disk to replace the one shipped with your laptop)

    - wifi:
    -> I am using the brcmsmac/mac80211 - no problems so far

    - keyboard backlight:
    -> working fine for me, associated FN keys do not work as mentioned before

    If your fan is almost always running:
    -> most definitly this is not caused by wrong cpu throttling rather than the discrete radeon grapics. But even after disabling it with vgaswitchero the laptop heats up very fast. So there must be some other reason I did not figure out yet.

    conclusion: cool and very fast laptop but still poor power management mainly caused by the discrete graphics - I still do only get 2-3h max battery life

  37. I solved the fan issue by installing Ubuntu 12, the ATI/AMD proprietary driver, and the Linux on Samsung Tools. I've posted details here:

  38. I might have found some more answers (and still one (more or less) big temperature issue...). Details can now be found here:

  39. The touchpad still isn't working for me in 12.04 after changing xorg.conf as suggested in your update. Any clues?