I’m happy to report that I finally got my new Alienware m15 properly configured. I got it through work via the Dell Outlet, and immediately wiped Windows off of it and installed Ubuntu. There were some issues. The unit shipped with a 256GB M2 drive and a 1TB hybrid. The 1TB was set as the primary drive, so I had to mess with UEFI/Secure boot to get it installed. However the main problem I had was with the power and sleep/hibernation functions.
The main annoyance was that opening the lid to resume the unit from sleep took upwards of half a minute to do anything. I tried a multitude of APCI settings in grub, poured through logs and updated to Ubunutu 19 with no fix, and had finally resigned to the issue.
This was especially frustrating since the unit this machine was obstensibly replacing, a seven year old Dell Latitude, had almost identical hardware and had no problems with the power — although it did have lockup issues related to running Windows in VMM….
This Alienware is quite the power hog, as the battery would only last about an hour on max charge. Again, quite frustrating given that my Latitude can easily get three hours or more. In installed prime-select to disable the GPU, but it didn’t seem to help. Then a few days ago as I was typing with it on my lap, I decided to do something about the intense heat coming from the metal heat grate on the bottom that had been toasting my legs. So installed the tlp advanced power management package. I saw a dramatic decrease in heat and fan activity, and was pleasantly surprised the next time I opened the unit and saw the lock screen almost immediately. Problem solved!
It’s only moderately improved the battery life though, maxing out around an hour and a half. I may experiment and pull the hybrid drive out to see if that is the culprit. I figure the 9th gen i7 should be more efficient that my older one, and with the same screen size there isn’t any other component that could be sucking the battery down like this.
Ultimately the issue is Dell’s lack of support for Linux. If I was going to recommend a laptop for a *nix user I would probably shy away from recommending Dell. They have dabbled with Ubuntu support in the past, and still may do so for their enterprise server lines, but you’re pretty much on your own if you’re using a desktop or laptop. That said, I haven’t run into many problems with the few deployments I’ve done. My old, old Latitude that I’ve given to my oldest works great, but I would probably go with a brand that is dedicated to supporting Linux if I was going to buy something out of my own pocket.
Hopefully this post will help someone experiencing similar problems. If so, please drop a line in the comments to let me know. Thanks!