Linux, Troubleshooting

Installing Ubuntu Linux on the MSI GT780DX

Very recently I bought the MSI GT780DX Laptop from PC Case Gear as I was very impressed by its specs. Out of the box it was a beautiful machine and came with windows pre-installed. Pretty stock standard really but I wanted to dual boot linux on it; more specifically Ubuntu Linux. For those of you who do not know what Ubuntu Linux is I suggest that you take a look because it is a complete replacement for Windows and it is completely free (and I don’t mean “free but there is…”. No. I mean free and with no catches.) Please, just click the Ubuntu Linux post above if you have not done so and have a read; at the very least you will not understand why I am doing what I am doing until you do.

For this installation I used a Live USB which contained Ubuntu 10.4 which I immediately upgraded after the install.

This post does not focus on getting a full install working. It just focuses on the extras that I had to go through in the install process to make sure that it worked correctly. So these are the issues that I came across, in order, in the install process:

  • Backup Windows Completely first. All I will say is that when you boot into windows for the first time there will be a nifty tool there to make a complete snapshot of the entire OS. Use it and move it to another drive. (I will not talk about this point further; it should just be something you do naturally anyway.)
  • If you have a DXR as opposed to a DX (like me) then, according to various forums, you need to get rid of the RAID0 setup before you can install Ubuntu. (I will not talk about this point further; you will need to find this information elsewhere. It is out there. And if you bought a computer with RAID0 on it then you are supposed to know what you are doing anyway.)
  • When you put in the boot CD/USB you cannot just hit “Install” straight away; first you must blacklist the nouveau kernel module.
  • Choose an appropriate partition size for Windows; I gave Windows 400GB. (I will not talk about this further; go here to learn more about dual booting Windows and Ubuntu)
  • Whenever I have mouse issues I use the special: sudo modprobe -r psmouse && sudo modprome psmouse

Blacklisting the Nouveau Driver

NVidia’s drivers are not open source; Nouveau is an open source project that attempts to rectify that. However, their support for newer graphics cards is somewhat flaky, especially in older installation USB’s. Therefore you will need to disable the Nouveau drivers before you continue with the install. The instructions are summed up well in this quote so start the Live USB and then when you get to the “Install Options Screen” just read this:
Righty-o, confirmed here. Something’s amiss with the nouveau module. Blacklisting it will let you boot, using fallback framebuffer instead. When booting, hit TAB to edit the boot parameters. Add this to the end of the line, but before the two dashes (“–“):
nouveau.blacklist=1

Then boot. You may see the screen go messy while you write because the line gets two wide to fit, but don’t worry, all is good. You may see a message complaining that nouveau does not have an option, “blacklist” or something like that, but it does, and it does work, and I think maybe that message should’ve read, “there’s no nouveau module to do ‘blacklist’ on” as the module isn’t loaded, and that’s probably what the complaint it about. It’s also what we want to happen 😉

And that is all that there is to it. Once you have blacklisted the driver you should be able to install the rest of Ubuntu with no issues. When you finally have a working install make sure that you install nvidia-current by opening a terminal and:
sudo apt-get install nvidia-current
You will need the latest drivers to get your computer to work at its maximum potential.

Mouse Problems

Sometimes the mouse on this Laptop stops working; even if you press and re-press the disable mouse button. To get it to work again just restart the mouse kernel module:
sudo modprobe -r psmouse && sudo modprobe psmouse
After that you should notice your mouse become active again.

Conclusion

Ubuntu is an awesome operating system and it is pretty easy to install on this MSI Laptop. If you have any questions on what I did to get Ubuntu to dual boot with windows then please add it to the comments.
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