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Hans de Goede
14 November 2018 @ 05:35 pm
As discussed in my previous blog post one of my TODO list items for plymouth is creating a new plymouth theme.

Since the transition to plymouth is not entirely smooth plymouth by default will wait 5 seconds (counted from starting the kernel) before showing itself so that on systems which boot under 5 seconds it never shows. As can be seen in this video, this leads to a very non-smooth experience when the boot takes say 7 seconds as plymouth then only shows briefly, leading to a kinda "flash" effect while it briefly shows.

Another problem with the 5 second wait, is now that we do not show GRUB the user is looking at the firmware's bootsplash for not only the often long firmware initialization time, but also for the 5 seconds plymouth waits on top, making it look as if nothing is happening.

To fix this I've been working on a new plymouth theme which draws a spinner over the firmware boot splash, eliminating the ugly transition from the firmware boot splash to plymouth. This also allows removing the show-delay, so that we provide feedback that something is happening as soon as plymouth starts.

Firmware being firmware getting this done right was somewhat harder then I expected, but I've a first "draft" of a new theme doing this now. I've created some videos showing 2 different systems booting the new theme:Note the videos with diskcrypt where paused when I entered my passphrase. So there is a bit of a jump in them because of this.

I've built a test version of plymouth for Fedora 29, to give this a try download all rpm files from here except the .src.rpm and -devel files and then from a directory with all those files in it, run:

sudo rpm -Uvh plymouth*.rpm

Since plymouth is part of your initrd, you also need to regenerate your initrd:

sudo dracut -f /boot/initramfs-$(uname -r).img $(uname -r)

This regenerates the initrd for the kernel you are currently running, so if you've installed a kernel update and have not rebooted since then you may not get the new theme when rebooting. In this case rerun the dracut command after rebooting.

Note if you've previously followed my instructions to test flickerfree boot, then you need to remove "plymouth.splash_delay=20" from your kernel commandline, since we now no longer want to have a splash-delay.

Now reboot and you should get the new spinner on firmware-boot-splash theme, with Fedora branding.

If you give this a try and the new theme somehow does not look correct, please mail at hdegoede@redhat.com. If you mail me about the theme not displaying correctly please attach the /run/plymouth.log file which this test-build generates to the email and a video of how the theme misbehaves would be great too.

I still need to discuss the idea of using a new theme incorporating the firmware boot splash with the GNOME design team so this is all subject to change.
Hans de Goede
01 October 2018 @ 02:11 pm
A big project I've been working on recently for Fedora Workstation is what we call flickerfree boot. The idea here is that the firmware lights up the display in its native mode and no further modesets are done after that. Likewise there are also no unnecessary jarring graphical transitions.

Basically the machine boots up in UEFI mode, shows its vendor logo and then the screen keeps showing the vendor logo all the way to a smooth fade into the gdm screen. Here is a video of my main workstation booting this way.

Part of this effort is the hidden grub menu change for Fedora 29. I'm happy to announce that most of the other flickerfree changes have also landed for Fedora 29:

  1. There have been changes to shim and grub to not mess with the EFI framebuffer, leaving the vendor logo intact, when they don't have anything to display (so when grub is hidden)

  2. There have been changes to the kernel to properly inherit the EFI framebuffer when using Intel integrated graphics, and to delay switching the display to the framebuffer-console until the first kernel message is printed. Together with changes to make "quiet" really quiet (except for oopses/panics) this means that the kernel now also leaves the EFI framebuffer with the logo intact if quiet is used.

  3. There have been changes to plymouth to allow pressing ESC as soon as plymouth loads to get detailed boot messages.

With all these changes in place it is possible to get a fully flickerfree boot today, as the video of my workstation shows. This video is made with a stock Fedora 29 with 2 small kernel commandline tweaks:

  1. Add "i915.fastboot=1" to the kernel commandline, this removes the first and last modeset during the boot when using the i915 driver.

  2. Add "plymouth.splash-delay=20" to the kernel commandline. Normally plymouth waits 5 seconds before showing the charging Fedora logo so that on systems which boot in less then 5 seconds the system simply immediately transitions to gdm. On systems which take slightly longer to boot this makes the charging Fedora logo show up, which IMHO makes the boot less fluid. This option increases the time plymouth waits with showing the splash to 20 seconds.

So if you have a machine with Intel integrated graphics and booting in UEFI mode, you can give flickerfree boot support a spin with Fedora 29 by just adding these 2 commandline options. Note this requires the new grub hidden menu feature to be enabled, see the FAQ on this.

The need for these 2 commandline options shows that the work on this is not yet entirely complete, here is my current TODO list for finishing this feature:

  1. Work with the upstream i915 driver devs to make i915.fastboot the default. If you try i915.fastboot=1 and it causes problems for you please let me know.

  2. Write a new plymouth theme based on the spinner theme which used the vendor logo as background and draws the spinner beneath it. Since this keeps the logo and black background as is and just draws the spinner on top this avoids the current visually jarring transition from logo screen to plymouth, allowing us to set plymouth.splash-delay to 0. This also has the advantage that the spinner will provide visual feedback that something is actually happening as soon as plymouth loads.

  3. Look into making this work with AMD and NVIDIA graphics.

Please give the new flickerfree support a spin and let me know if you have any issues with it.
Hans de Goede
01 October 2018 @ 01:58 pm
There have questions about the new GRUB hidden menu Change in various places, here is a FAQ which hopefully answers most questions:

1. What is the GRUB hidden menu change?

See the Detailed Description on the change page. The main motivation for adding this is to get to a fully flickerfree boot.

2. How to enable hidden GRUB menu?

On new Fedora 29 Workstation installs this will be enabled by default. If your system has been upgraded to F29 from an older release, you can enable it by running these commands:

On a system using UEFI booting ("ls /sys/firmware/efi/efivars" returns a bunch of files):

sudo grub2-editenv - set menu_auto_hide=1
sudo grub2-mkconfig -o /etc/grub2-efi.cfg

On a system using legacy BIOS boot:

sudo grub2-editenv - set menu_auto_hide=1
sudo grub2-mkconfig -o /etc/grub2.cfg

Note the grub2-mkconfig will overwrite any manual changes you've made to your grub.cfg (normally no manually changes are done to this file).

If your system has Windows on it, but you boot it only once a year so you would still like to hide the GRUB menu, you can tell GRUB to ignore the presence of Windows by running:

sudo grub2-editenv - set menu_auto_hide=2

3. How to disable hidden GRUB menu

To permanently disable the auto-hide feature run:

sudo grub2-editenv - unset menu_auto_hide

That is it.

4.How to access the GRUB menu when hidden

If for some reason you need to access the GRUB menu while it is hidden there are multiple ways to get to it:

  1. If you can get to gdm, access the top-right menu (the system menu) and click on the power [⏻] icon. Then keep ALT pressed to change the "Restart" option into "Boot Options" and click "Boot Options".

  2. While booting keep SHIFT pressed, usually you need to first press SHIFT when the vendor logo is shown by the firmware / when the firmware says e.g. "Press F2 to enter setup" if you press it earlier it may not be seen. Note this may not work on some machines.

  3. During boot press ESC or F8 while GRUB loads (simply press the key repeatedly directly after power on until you are in the menu).

  4. Force the previous boot to be considered failed:

    1. Press CTRL + ALT + DEL while booting so that the system reboots before hitting gdm

    2. Press CTRL + ALT + F6 to switch away from gdm, followed by CTRL + ALT + DEL.

    3. Press the power-button for 4 seconds to force the machine off.

    Either of these will cause the boot_success grub_env flag to not get set and
    the menu will show the next boot.

  5. Manually set the menu show once flag by running: "grub-set-bootflag menu_show_once" This will cause the menu to show for 60 seconds before continuing with the default boot-option.

5. When is a boot considered successful ?

The boot_success grub_env flag gets set when you login as a normal user and your session lasts at least 2 minutes; or when you shutdown or restart the system from the GNOME system (top-right) menu.

So if you e.g. login, do something and then within 30 seconds type reboot in a terminal (instead of doing the reboot from the menu) then this will not count as a successful boot and the menu will show the next boot.
Hans de Goede
Hi All,

First of Thank you to everyone who has been sending me PSR test results, I've received well over a 100 reports!

Quite a few testers have reported various issues when enabling PSR, 3 often reported issues are:

  • flickering

  • black screen

  • cursor / input lag

The Intel graphics team has been working on a number of fixes which make PSR work better in various cases. Note we don't expect this to fix it everywhere, but it should get better and work on more devices in the near future.

This is good news, but the bad news is that this means that all the tests people have so very kindly done for me will need to be redone once the new improved PSR code is ready for testing. I will do a new blogpost (and email people who have send me test-reports), when the new
PSR code is ready for people to (re-)test (sorry).


Hans de Goede
Hi All,

Update: Thank you everyone for all the test-reports I've received. The response has been quite overwhelming, with over 50 test-reports received sofar. The results are all over the place, some people see no changes, some people report the aprox. 0.5W saving my own test show and many people also report display problems, sometimes combined with a significant increase in power-consumption. I need to take a closer look at all the results, but right now I believe that the best way forward with this is (unfortunately) a whitelist matching on a combination of panel-id (from edid) and dmi data, so that we can at least enable this on popular models (any model with atleast one user willing to contribute).

As you've probably read already I'm working on improving Linux laptop battery live, previously I've talked about enabling SATA link powermanagement by default. This is now enabled in rawhide / Fedora 28 since January 1st and so far no issues have been reported. This is really good news as this leads to significantly better idle power consumption (1 - 1.5W lower) on laptops with sata disks. Fedora 28 will also enable HDA codec autosuspend and autosuspend for USB Bluetooth controllers, for another (aprox) 0.8W gain.

But we're not done yet, testing on a Lenovo T440s and X240 has shown that enabling Panel Self Refresh (PSR) by setting i915.enable_psr=1 saves another 0.5W. Enabling this on all machines has been tried in the past and it causes problems on some machines. So we will likely need either a blacklist or whitelist for this. I'm leaning towards a whitelist to avoid regressions, but if there are say only 10-20 models which don't work with it a blacklist makes more sense. So the most important thing to do right now is gather more data, hence this blog post.

So I would like to ask everyone who runs Linux on their laptop (with a recent-ish kernel) to test this and gather some data for me:

  1. Check if your laptop uses an eDP panel, do: "ls /sys/class/drm" there should be a card?-eDP-1 there, if not your laptop is using LVDS or DSI for the panel, and this does not apply to your laptop.

  2. Check that your machine supports PSR, do: "cat /sys/kernel/debug/dri/0/i915_edp_psr_status", if this says: "PSR not supported", then this does not apply to your laptop.

  3. Get a baseline powerconsumption measurement, install powertop ("sudo dnf install powertop" on Fedora), then close all your apps except for 1 terminal, maximimze that terminal and run "sudo powertop". Unplug your laptop if plugged in and wait 5 minutes, on some laptops the power measurement is a moving average so this is necessary to get a reliable reading. Now look at the power consumption shown (e.g. 7.95W), watch it for a couple of refreshes as it sometimes spikes when something wakes up to do some work, write down the lowest value you see, this is our base value for your laptops power consumption, write this down.                        Note beware of "dim screen when idle" messing with your brightness, either make sure you do no touch the laptop for a couple of minutes before taking the reading, or turn this feature of in your power-settings.

  4. Add "i915.enable_psr=1" to your kernel cmdline and reboot, check that the LCD panel still works, try suspend/resume and blanking the screen (by e.g. locking it under GNOME3) still work.

  5. Check that psr actually is enabled now (you're panel might not support it), do: "cat /sys/kernel/debug/dri/0/i915_edp_psr_status" and check that it says both: "Enabled: yes" and  "Active: yes"

  6. Measure idle powerconsumption again as described under 1. Make sure you use the same LCD brightness setting as before, write down the new value

  7. Dump your LCD panels edid, run "cat /sys/class/drm/card0-eDP-1/edid > panel-edid"

  8. Send me a mail at hdegoede@redhat.com with the following in there:

  • Report of success or bad side effects

  • The idle powerconsumption before and after the changes

  • The brand and model of your laptop

  • The "panel-edid" file attached

  • The output of the following commands:

  • cat /proc/cpuinfo | grep "model name" | uniq

  • cat /sys/class/dmi/id/modalias

Once I've info from enough models hopefully I can come up with some way for us to enable PSR be default, or at least build a whitelist with popular laptop models and enable it there.

Thanks & Regards,

Hans de Goede
Edit: linrunner (TLP author) has been so kind as to make prebuilt Ubuntu kernel packages with the patch available.

My next project for Red Hat is to work on improving Linux laptop battery life. Part of the (hopefully) low hanging fruit here is using kernel tunables to enable more runtime powermanagement. My first target here is SATA Link Power Management (LPM) which, as Matthew Garrett blogged about 2 years ago, can lead to a significant improvement in battery life.

There is only one small problem, there have been some reports that some disks/SSDs don't play well with Linux' min_power LPM policy and that this may lead to system crashes and even data corruption.

Let me repeat this: Enabling SATA LPM may lead to DATA CORRUPTION. So if you want to help with testing this please make sure you have recent backups! Note this happens only in rare cases (likely only with a coupe of specific SSD models with buggy firmware. But still DATA CORRUPTION may happen make sure you have BACKUPS.

As part of his efforts 2 years ago Matthew found this document which describes the LPM policy the Windows Intel Rapid Storage Technology (IRST) drivers use by default and most laptops ship with these drivers installed.

So based on an old patch from Matthew I've written a patch adding support for a new LPM policy called "med_power_with_dipm" to Linux. This saves
(almost) as much power as the min_power setting and since it matches Windows defaults I hope that it won't trip over any SSD/HDD firmware bugs.

So this is where my call for testers comes in, for Fedora 28 we would like to switch to this new SATA LPM policy by default (on laptops at least), but
we need to know that this is safe to do. So we are looking for people to help test this, if you have a laptop with a SATA drive (not NVME) and would like to help please make BACKUPS and then continue reading :)

First of all on a clean Fedora (no powertop --auto-tune, no TLP) do "sudo dnf install powertop", then close all your apps except for 1 terminal, maximimze that terminal and run "sudo powertop".

Now wait 5 minutes, on some laptops the power measurement is a moving average so this is necessary to get a reliable reading. Now look at the
power consumption shown (e.g. 7.95W), watch it for a couple of refreshes as it sometimes spikes when something wakes up to do some work, write down the lowest value you see, this is our base value for your laptops power consumption.

Next install the new kernel and try the new SATA LPM policy. I've done a scratch-build of the Fedora kernel with this patch added, which
you can download here. Linrunner (TLP author) has been so kind as to make prebuilt Ubuntu kernel packages with the patch available.

After downloading all the .x86_64.rpm files there into a dir, do from this dir:
sudo rpm -ivh kernel*.x86_64.rpm

Next download a rc.local script applying the new settings from here, copy it to /etc/rc.d/rc.local, and make it executable: "sudo chmod +x /etc/rc.d/rc.local".

Now reboot and do: "cat /sys/class/scsi_host/host0/link_power_management_policy" this should return med_power_with_dipm, if not something is wrong.

Then close all your apps except for 1 terminal, maximimze that terminal and run "sudo powertop" again. Wait 5 minutes as last time, then get a couple of readings and write down the lowest value you see.

After this continue using your laptop as normal, please make sure that you keep running the special kernel with the patch adding the "med_power_with_dipm" policy. If after 2 weeks you've not noticed any bad side effects (or if you do notice bad side effects earlier) send me a mail at hdegoede@redhat.com with:

  • Report of success or bad side effects

  • The idle powerconsumption before and after the changes

  • The brand and model of your laptop

  • The output of the following commands:

  • cat /proc/cpuinfo | grep "model name"

  • cat /sys/class/scsi_device/*/device/model

I will gather the results in a table which will be part of the to-be-created Fedora 28 Changes page for this.

Did I mention already that although the chance is small something will go wrong, it is non zero and you should create backups ?

Thank you for your time.
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Hans de Goede
For the last couple of months I've been working on improving Linux support for Intel Bay and Cherry Trail based tablets and laptops as a spare-time project.

I'm happy to report that quite a bit of work on this has landed for 4.12, specifically the following fixes / improvements have landed:

  • LCD panel not working with the i915 driver on some devices

  • Battery monitoring not working on most Bay and Cherry devices (battery monitoring did not work on any device using the very popular AXP288 PMIC)

  • Backlight control not working on many devices (you need to builtin the pwm-lpss drivers, or add them to your initrd for this fix to work)

  • Volume and power buttons not working on Cherry Trail devices shipping with Win10

  • The microsd slot on the Asus Transformer T100TA not working

  • Preliminary (incomplete) support Cherry Trail devices with a Whiskey Cove PMIC, some bits to get e.g. battery monitoring working are still missing

  • Added the rtl8723bs driver to staging, enabling ootb support for wifi on many devices

I've also prepared a patch for the Fedora kernel config to enable the necessary new drivers so this should all also work with the upcoming 4.12
kernel for Fedora.
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Hans de Goede
For Fedora 27 I'm working on making Fedora 27 a fully integrated VirtualBox guest, the plan is to have Fedora 27 Workstation ship with the VirtualBox Guest Additions installed out of the box, so that cut and paste, file sharing, etc. all will work out of the box for users running Fedora 27 in a VirtualBox vm.

As a first step towards this I'm working on getting the VirtualBox guest kernel drivers merged into the mainline Linux kernel. Up until now this has never been done because of userspace ABI stability concerns surrounding the guest drivers.

I've been talking to VirtualBox upstream about mainlining the guest drivers and VirtualBox upstream has agreed to consider the userspace ABI stable and only extend it in a backwards compatible manner.

I'm about to finish cleaning up the vboxvideo drm/kms driver, when I started working on this the files under /usr/src/vboxguest/vboxvideo as installed by VirtualBox 5.1.18 Guest Additions had a total linecount of 52681 lines. I've been submitting cleanups to VirtualBox upstream and the current VirtualBox upstream svn code is now under 8000 lines.

Update: I've submitted the vboxvideo driver for inclusion into drivers/staging, see this mailinglist thread.
Hans de Goede
01 April 2017 @ 11:56 am
About 10 weeks ago I bought a GPDwin. I was working on improving Fedora on Cherry Trail based as a side project and I found out about this cute little machine via a blogpost from Adrien Plazas.

So now 10 weeks later I'm happy to report that after spending a lot of my spare time on kernel fixes I've it mostly working, specifically I've fixed the following things:

1) Brightness control
2) Wifi no longer working with recent kernels
3) Suspend/resume not working
4) Power and volume up/down buttons not working
5) System not waking up when opening the lid
6) Not charging when the power cable gets plugged in after boot
7) Only drawing max 0.5A from the charger, charging slowly if at all
8) Battery monitoring

And Takashi Iwai and Adrian Plazas have fixed:

9) Headphone jack detection

I've done my best to fix all of these properly and I've been submitting patches for all of this upstream. About half of the patches have already been accepted and will be merged into the kernel for the 4.12 release.

If you want to give it a try here are some step-by-step instructions:

1) First of all if you still have Windows on there and you've the 20161118 BIOS you may want to consider downgrading the BIOS to the 20161025 version before wiping Windows. The 20161118 BIOS is locked in a sort of novice mode and removes all options from the BIOS. Since Windows does not support USB gadget mode the dwc3 gadget controller is disabled and cannot be re-enabled in the 20161118 BIOS. So if you want to be able to use the USB-C connector in gadget/device mode and not just as a charging or host port in the future you are going to need the 20161025 BIOS and BIOS-flashing is only supported under Windows (flashrom may work but I was not brave enough to try it).

2) Install your favorite distro, either use an external hdmi monitor or add "i915.modeset=0 fbcon=rotate:1" to the kernel cmdline

3) To get wifi to work copy this file to /lib/firmware/brcm and then reboot.

If you kernel is new enough it will trip over a BIOS bug which causes the wifi chip to get disabled, you can "fix" the BIOS bug (if you do not have
the 20161118 BIOS) by changing the following BIOS setting: "Chipset" -> "South Bridge" -> "LPSS & SCC Configuration" -> "SCC SDIO Support"
to "Disabled". My patches include a workaround for the BIOS bug which works with the 20161118 BIOS, so if you've that you will need to install my kernel through other means (e.g. an USB network adapter).

4) clone my personal linux kernel repo:

git clone https://github.com/jwrdegoede/linux-sunxi.git

This comes with a kernel .config file based on the standard Fedora kernel config (so highly modular). Follow the usual instructions for your distro to build a kernel from source (minus getting the .config). Make sure an initrd gets generated, this kernel-config will not work without an initrd.

Before rebooting into the new kernel add the following to the kernel cmdline in your grub configuration: "fbcon=rotate:1 dmi_product_name=GPD-WINI55".

For brightness control to work your initrd must include the pwm-lpss and pwm-lpss-platform modules. Under Fedora you can do this by booting into the new kernel and then running:

dracut -f --add-drivers "pwm-lpss pwm-lpss-platform" /boot/initramfs-$(uname -r).img $(uname -r)

5) To get sound to work you need to do some userspace config tweaks:

Edit /etc/pulse/daemon.conf and set: "realtime-scheduling = no" to work around a pulse issue with the hdmi-audio support for Cherry Trail.

Create an /usr/share/alsa/ucm/chtrt5645 directory and copy the 2 .conf files from here into that dir.

6) Edit /lib/udev/hwdb.d/99-local.hwdb, add:

 ACCEL_MOUNT_MATRIX=-1, 0, 0; 0, -1, 0; 0, 0, 1

Copy this file to /lib/udev/rules.d/

Then run "sudo udevadm hwdb --update" and reboot, together with a new enough iio-sensor-proxy, this will fix the screen orientation under gdm / gnome (note you need to tilt the device a bit toward you after booting to get it to recognize the screen orientation for now).

7) All done enjoy your (almost) fully functional GPDwin under Linux

Note these instructions are for somewhat advanced Linux users, if you hit problems please take a look at your distro's documentation or ask for help on your distro's forums.

Linux BIOS tweaks, if you have the 20161025 BIOS, there are 2 BIOS tweaks you can do:

1) Enable USB gadget support, goto: "Chipset" -> "South Bridge" -> "USB Configuration" And change the following 2 options:
"USB OTG Support" : "PCI"
"DRD Access Method" : "Mmio"
This will allow you to load gadget drivers (e.g. "modprobe g_serial") and then connect the GPD-win to a PC and have it show up as an usb device

2) Enable the "S5-Charging Driver" some howtos actually advice disabling this, but it is useful to make sure the GPDwin fast charges when plugged into a charger without being turned on (and even allows for faster charging once the OS is booted). The reason some people advice to turn it off is because it causes problems turning the device on when plugged in and fully charged, when plugged in and fully charged it will simply show a "Battery 100%" screen when you turn it on and then turn off again. You can workaround this by pressing ctrl-alt-del while at the "Battery 100%" screen, or not enable the "S5-Charging Driver" and live with the slower charging.

To enable this goto: "Advanced" -> "System Component" and set "S5-Charging Driver" to "Enabled"


1) Recently I found out that the GPDwin has a FUSB300C USB Type-C controller and a PI3USB30532 USB switch which together should allow full USB-C functionality at USB 3.0 speeds (currently the gadget mode runs at 2.0 speed and host mode does not work at all). I plan to write and upstream drivers for this to make this all work.

2) Get all of the required kernel changes upstream.

3) Make things more simple overall ideally new distros released in 2018 will just work without requiring any changes at all.
Hans de Goede
In this blog post I promised I would get back to people who want to use the nvidia driver on an optimus laptop.

The set of xserver patches I blogged about last time have landed upstream and in Fedora 25 (in xorg-x11-server 1.19.0-3 and newer), allowing the nvidia driver packages to drop a xorg.conf snippet which will make the driver atuomatically work on optimus setups.

The negativo17.org nvidia packages now are using this, so if you install these, then the nvidia driver should just work on your laptop.

Note that you should only install these drivers if you actually have a supported (new enough) nvidia GPU. These drivers replace the libGL implementation, so installing them on a system without a nvidia GPU will cause things to break. This will be fixed soon by switching to libglvnd as the official libGL provider and having both mesa and the nvidia driver provide "plugins" for libglvnd. I've actually just completed building a new enough libglvnd + libglvnd enabled mesa for rawhide, so rawhide users will have libglvnd starting tomorrow.
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