Mint 20.1 Desktop on X30L-J

3/4/2021

Machine Toshiba Dynabook product: PORTEGE X30L-J v: PCR10A-02P003

Why buy an X30L laptop?

Reasoning : My MacBook 2010 model died. It was one of the last machines Jobs made. Since Jobs died Mac has started on a slow downhill spiral. I also don’t like how invasive Mac is these days. Linux just seems to get faster and more stable with every build (mostly). The choice of Toshiba came from the fact that I had a Tecra in the late 2000s and it was a reasonably solid machine for a bottom end laptop. Also my old boss still stands by Toshiba machines some 18 years after I stopped working for him.

I thought I could just get by with a $300- cheapy from the Post office, but I thought why waste time getting that thing working with Linux when I could just invest that time into the machine I really need for work. I looked at second hand machines, but several times I’ve needed chip level technologies to run specific softwares which just don’t exist in the machines pre 2010ish. If I were a standard user then things have not changed much since 2005, but I’m not and I’ve burnt over 16 hours several times trying to make certain software work only to find the chipsets in the old Macbook were just out of date.

Also since the early naughties I’ve stuck with the theory – buy a notebook pc, buy the extended warranty out to three years and budget to throw that thing in the bin at the 3 year mark. If you get any more out of it, then it’s a bonus. I got 10 years out of that MacBook Pro. Awesome machine. Thanks Steve.

Part of the reason that machine survived so well is the metal body. Laptops cop a hammering over the years and when the internal parts let go then issues arise. Initially I hoped to get a machine uner $AUD1000, but 2 of my specs killed this.

Milled or magnesium alloy chassis and a back lit keyboard. As soon as this is a spec machines are over $1200-. My spec also includes an RJ-45 port, 3years warranty, and decent screen.

Because I do 3D CAD often enough I wanted a decent level video card. Even though the Portege does not have this, it is almost impossible to get anything with a decent gaming level video card under 2kg. Because I probably won’t be doing CAD for another year or so and my partner will need another machine by then enyway we are going this light weight Portege for now and we’ll get the > 2kg gaming power laptop then. That by the way I’ve narrowed down to the Dell Alienware machines. If anyone can suggest a higher spec machine with an Nvidia card, >=2 SSD bays, Mag Alloy chassis and a 3 year warranty please let me know. If we’re going to get a > 2kg laptop for CAD we will probably just go the biggest screen we can with a full size keypad including the numeric keypad on the side. I don’t care what anyone says, > 2kg laptops are just too heavy to be portable in a backpack. Especially when the PSU is included.

To add to the consideration. CAD work is faster with extra screens. If I’m going to be plugging in extra screen real estate it may just be better to get a full sized machine, but it will depend on the situation at the time and how many idle cables I can tolerate hanging around.

The actual machine (non CAD) I would have preferred is the Purism road warrior, but when a laptop dies due to a manufacturer fault I want a repair measured in weeks, not months. They have no distributors or repair agents in Australia, so that cans that idea.

OS : Linux Mint 20.1 – Ulyssa

Kernel: 5.4.0-70-generic x86_64 bits: 64 compiler: gcc v: 9.3.0 Desktop: MATE 1.24.0 wm: marco dm: LightDM Distro: Linux Mint 20.1 Ulyssa base: Ubuntu 20.04 focal

Manual

A manual for the Portege X30 with Linux Mint Mate 20.1 and Compiz..
ONE machine – ONE OS – ONE manual. The manual has 3 sections. The user manual, technicians manual and the engineers manual. Follow the link below and choose the one you like. They are in pdf, e-book, LibreOffice and html formats.

https://7rocks.com/downloads/manual_toshiba_dynabook_portege_X30L_J/

Drivers

LAN

Instructions from https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/support/articles/000005480/network-and-i-o/ethernet-products.html

Driver from https://downloadcenter.intel.com/download/15817

Audio out

As a raw install the audio did not work. The solution was on the Linux Mint forum here
https://askubuntu.com/questions/1243369/sound-card-not-detected-ubuntu-20-04-sof-audio-pci

The method quoted from the forum:

As I said the sound driver I was running was sof-audio-pci, which had no normal firmware at the moment.

I searched nearly 3 hours trying to solve this headache and finally found the solution, just disable this “sof” driver and fall back to intel:

Do:

sudo gedit /etc/default/grub

Change

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash"

to:

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash snd_hda_intel.dmic_detect=0"

Then do:

sudo update-grub

and Reboot.

You can check if soundcards are detected with:

aplay -l

Windows manager – Compiz Fusion with Mate

By far the smoothest window manager I’ve ever used. It looks like it’s there out of the box with Linux Mint, but it just never works.

(If the Linux Mint team are reading this, could you please make a big fat button in the ‘Control Centre’ to set the following up automatically? Other than that, you guys have made an awesome OS, thank you and keep up the fantastic work.)

Mac OSX took some Compiz components and added them to make a very slick OS (Up to OSX 10.6.9)

Linux Mint Mate 19.3 & 20.1
It needs to be setup in Mint Mate
Go to a terminal session for the current user.
compiz --replace
then you can configure everything else from the ‘Control Centre’ menu item.

To make it start automatically for that user:
Menu –> type ‘startup applications’
Add the
compiz --replace
command
Logout and in again.
Voila!

Wobbly windows

I love wobbly windows as it makes the desktop feel organic. Also because my eyesight is diminishing due to age, the Zoom in ‘Enhanced Zoom Desktop’ is great. I’ve set to <alt>Button4 and <alt> Button5 which is <alt> scroll to zoom in and out smoothly.

Desktop switcher cube

The ‘Enable Rotate Cube’ Compiz setting I’ve set to <ctrl><alt> left and right arrows makes desktop switching impressive and easy for the brain to handle.

ToDos

  1. Setup inertia scrolling on the trackpad like OSX. So you can flick and it keeps scrolling.
  2. Check microphone.
  3. Fix the suspend as the machine does not suspend at the moment.
  4. Get all the function keys working as Toshiba has designed.
  5. Get double click on the top of any given window to maximise working every time, not just sometimes.
  6. Disable the IME.