Linux (Debian Wheezy) on Lenovo y510p

After long analysis I decide to buy new laptop. I had about $1000 (or 3000PLN) and most important things to me were:

  • i7 CPU - because of performance (of course at least 4700 series)
  • SSD - again performance
  • 17.3” - working space
  • no OS/FreeDos/Linux - I will not pay additional fee to M$ for system that I won’t use
  • Full HD resolution
  • at least 8GB RAM
  • non-glare display

First I realize that my budget is to small for such a hardware. Second as always we have to deal with trade-offs, so you cannot have everything. In final round I had two candidates Acer Aspire V7-772G and Lenovo IdeaPad y510p.

I resign from using 17.3" display because most of them in my budget range were glare and without Full HD support. After reading Newegg reviews about both laptops I choose Lenovo. It is better brand with better design (ie. metal lid), other parameters, except RAM expansion possibilities, are the same.

First boot

Today I have it on my desk and trying to install Debian Wheezy. I put Debian netinst in drive and get wonderful UEFI message :)

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I figure out that I have to disable my last days favourite feature from M$ - namely Secure Boot. I was surprised when I realized that there is no hot key to enter UEFI Setup. Instead of hot key Lenovo decide to put small button (called Novo Button) on the side of laptop near power socket. Quite interesting idea when taking into consideration that InsydeH20 Setup Utility doesn’t provide much of functions, so we end with entering setup maybe dozen of times during laptop lifetime. Also I think it can improve boot time a little bit because UEFI don’t have to poll for user input during hot key pushing time window.

Disable secure thing

So to disable this feature-that-name-should-be-doomed you have to enter Setup using Novo Button and switch to Security tab. At first glance you can find option called Scure Boot set to [Enabled]. Description of this option said Enabl or Disable Secure Boot support. Don’t be naive this button won’t do what you want. To disable this devil work you have to push enter on Reset to Seupt Mode option, which cleans keys database. Don’t panic your database of vendor keys will not disappear you can restore it anytime you want using Restore Factory Keys. BTW I didn’t found any information about it in User Manual.

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Next surprise after booting netinst (it works in UEFI mode, so no need to switching to legacy) is that Debian 7.5.0 was unable to find driver for on-board LAN card.So I installed my Debian over wireless Intel card. Wheezy use 3.2.0 kernel which doesn’t not contain alx driver with support for Qualcomm Atheros QCA8171.

Note that there is possibility to load new driver from pendrive during installation. But best way would using netinst with Jessie or Sid. You can get it here. I with to knew that before I started to fight with stable version.

Xorg crash

After all above I booted my favourite distro and it welcomes me with blinking cursor and Xorg crashed because of:

(EE) VESA(0): V_BIOS address 0x0 out of range
(EE) Screen(s) found, but none have a usable configuration

During long an unequal battle, which was full of google hits. I figured out that best way to improve awful situation in Debian stable for y510p is to upgrade to Sid (unstable). Of course I messed up this because I tried move from stable to unstable skipping testing.

I found on Debian pages that upgrade to unstable should be performed through testing version. This mistake cost me time, because I have to install OS second time after breaking my Gnome installation.

Final considerations

Upgrade to latest kernel version helps a lot but there are still many things to do. Right now I’m using Intel integrated graphics. It would be great to enable second card GT755M and try Optimus technology. Especially when I would like to rest from coding and try to relax playing Heroes Of Newearth. I also think about running CUDA on my setup. Next thing for me will be testing vitalization performance. If I will find reliable method to enable GT 755M on Debian I will let you know.

I compiled edk2 and linux kernel. I see big difference in performance and that’s most important thing to me.

Some of you will say that Linux is a piece of $!#@, but for me this is very good opportunity to verify my skills and contribute to community. During my research about y510p I found also complains from Windows users that not all works smoothly (Optimus), so there are also cons on the other side. Finally if you won’t deal with problems simply use Mint or Ubuntu there is much better support there. By the way I think that I’m immune to problems with my operating system ;)

{% img center /assets/images/lenovo-y510p.jpg 640 400 ‘image’ ‘images’ %}

Thanks for reading.

Piotr Król
Founder of 3mdeb, a passionate advocate for open-source firmware solutions, driven by a belief in transparency, innovation, and trustworthiness. Every day is a new opportunity to embody the company's vision, emphasizing user liberty, simplicity, and privacy. Beyond business, a casual chess and bridge player, finding peace in nature and nourishment in theology, philosophy, and psychology. A person striving to foster a healthy community, grounded in collaboration and shared growth, while nurturing a lifelong curiosity and a desire to deeply understand the world.