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Precision 5530 Laptop Install

This is the process I used for installing Arch Linux on my work-issued Dell Precision 5530 laptop.


Installation Notes

It took me some trial-and-error to get everything right, mainly around initially getting a black screen (but obviously recognizing key input and Ctrl + Alt + Delete) after decrypting the drive. After much (as in five days) of trial and error, I came up with the following:

  1. Perform the initial installation with an external monitor connected. This should work fine.
  2. Once everything else is ready, until this kernel bug is fixed, run a patched kernel to make the laptop display work (see last step, below).

Initial Installation

  1. Plug in power, wired Ethernet (via USB-C adapter). DO NOT PLUG IN Arch installation USB stick. Attach an external monitor (see last step for details).
  2. Power on the system. At the Dell splash screen, hold down the F12 key until you get to the one-time boot menu.
    • Other Options -> Change Boot Mode Settings
      • Change boot mode to: 2) UEFI Boot Mode, Secure Boot OFF. Proceed and apply the changes.
    • System will reboot. At the Dell splash screen, press F12.
    • Other Options -> BIOS Setup
      • System Configuration -> SATA Operation - set to "AHCI" (not RAID / Intel Rapid Restore)
      • Exit. System will reboot.
  • System will reboot. At the Dell splash screen, press F12.
    • Other Options -> BIOS Setup
      • Maintenance -> Data Wipe. Check "Wipe on Next Boot". Verify that USB stick is NOT plugged in, click OK and then No to not cancel.
      • Click Exit. The laptop will reboot. You'll get a Dell logo with a progress bar and then a data wipe prompt. Select "Continue" and then "Erase", and you'll eventually get a success message.
  1. Plug in the Arch Installer USB stick and press Enter to reboot.
  2. At the Dell splash screen, hold down the F12 key until you get to the one-time boot menu. Do not select the "USB Storage Device" option - this will boot in BIOS mode. Select one of the first two UEFI Boot options (they both seemed to give the same thing for me).
  3. Select "Arch Linux archiso x86_64 UEFI CD". You should eventually boot to a root@archiso ~ # prompt.
  4. We'll now wipe the disk (nvme0) according to dm-crypt wipe on an empty disk or partition:
    1. cryptsetup open --type plain -d /dev/urandom /dev/nvme0n1 to_be_wiped
    2. lsblk and verify to_be_wiped exists
    3. do the wipe: dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/mapper/to_be_wiped bs=1M status=progress - on my 477GB disk, this took about 14 minutes
    4. cryptsetup close to_be_wiped
  5. If you want the convenience of running the installation remotely over SSH, follow Install from SSH - ArchWiki:
    1. Ensure the machine is on your network (ip addr).
    2. Ensure that PermitRootLogin yes is present and uncommented in /etc/ssh/sshd_config
    3. Set a temporary root password: passwd
    4. Start the SSH daemon: systemctl start sshd
  6. Follow the initial steps of the Arch Installation Guide prior to partitioning: set the keyboard layout if needed, verify UEFI boot with ls /sys/firmware/efi/efivars, connect to your LAN, and set the system clock. (Note: verifying UEFI is important; the first time I did this, I inadvertantly booted into legacy/BIOS mode.)
  7. We'll now set up LVM on LUKS and partition the disks (this setup was chosen for the ease of suspend):
    1. cgdisk /dev/nvme0n1
      • Create a 550M partition of type EF00 (EFI System) called ESP (this will become the EFI System Partition, /dev/nvme0n1p1)
      • Create a 300M partition of type 8300 called BOOT (this will become /dev/nvme0n1p2)
      • Use the rest of the disk (476GB for me) for a partition of type 8300 called SYSTEM (this will become /dev/nvme0n1p3)
      • Write to disk and quit
    2. Create the LUKS container for the system: cryptsetup luksFormat --type luks2 /dev/nvme0n1p3
    3. Open the container: cryptsetup open /dev/nvme0n1p3 cryptlvm
    4. Create the physical volume: pvcreate /dev/mapper/cryptlvm
    5. Create the volume group: vgcreate LUKSvol /dev/mapper/cryptlvm
    6. Because I'm old-school, create a swap volume twice the size of the RAM (32G): lvcreate -L 32G LUKSvol -n swap
    7. Because I'm lazy and this is a laptop (don't hate me), use the rest of the disk for a single root partition: lvcreate -l 100%FREE LUKSvol -n root
    8. Setup the filesystems: mkswap /dev/LUKSvol/swap && mkfs.ext4 /dev/LUKSvol/root
    9. Mount the partitions: mount /dev/LUKSvol/root /mnt; swapon /dev/LUKSvol/swap
    10. Create the ESP filesystem on the ESP partition: mkfs.fat -F32 /dev/nvme0n1p1 (if that isn't installed, pacman -S dosfstools) and mount it: mkdir /mnt/efi && mount /dev/nvme0n1p1 /mnt/efi
    11. Create the boot filesystem on the BOOT partition: mkfs.ext4 /dev/nvme0n1p2
    12. Create the boot directory and mount the partition: mkdir /mnt/boot && mount /dev/nvme0n1p2 /mnt/boot
    13. We're done with this for now, but we'll come back to finish it later.
  8. Back in the Installation Guide, pick up at the Installation process:
  9. Edit /etc/pacman.d/mirrorlist as desired.
  10. Install the base packages: pacstrap /mnt base
  11. Continue on with the Configure System steps:
    1. genfstab -U /mnt >> /mnt/etc/fstab and check the resulting file
    2. chroot into the system: arch-chroot /mnt
    3. Set the time zone, i.e. ln -sf /usr/share/zoneinfo/Region/City /etc/localtime and run hwclock --systohc
    4. Edit /etc/locale.gen as needed, run locale-gen, and create /etc/locale.conf
    5. Create /etc/hostname and set /etc/hosts entries accordingly.
    6. Install intel microcode: pacman -S intel-ucode
  12. Configure mkinitcpio per the dm-crypt instructions: edit the HOOKS line to match what's given in those instructions (order matters A LOT). Also ensure that after lvm2 you add resume. If you're using en_US.UTF-8 you can leave out keymap and consolefont. The final line should read: HOOKS=(base udev autodetect keyboard modconf block encrypt lvm2 resume filesystems keyboard fsck). For the Precision 5530 laptop, also set MODULES=(intel_agp i915). Save the file and then run mkinitcpio -p linux.
  13. Run passwd to create the root password.
  14. Install the GRUB bootloader:
    1. pacman -S grub efibootmgr
    2. Ensure the ESP is mounted at /efi
    3. Install GRUB: grub-install --target=x86_64-efi --efi-directory=/efi --bootloader-id=GRUB
    4. Edit /etc/default/grub
      • In the kernel parameters, set resume=/dev/LUKSvol/swap
      • In the kernel parameters, set cryptdevice=UUID=device-UUID:cryptlvm root=/dev/LUKSvol/root (replacing device-UUID with the UUID of the device, i.e. the /dev/disk/by-uuid symlink that points to /dev/nvme0n1p3)
      • If you're like me, you'll want to remove the default quiet
      • To work around some video issues, add nomodeset.
      • The final line should read: GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="resume=/dev/LUKSvol/swap cryptdevice=UUID=d6982ada-e991-4682-8966-ddb87c1d4882:cryptlvm root=/dev/LUKSvol/root nomodeset"
    5. Run grub-mkconfig -o /boot/grub/grub.cfg to generate the new GRUB configuration
  15. The installation should be complete. exit then umount -R /mnt and reboot.
  16. Press F12 at the Dell splash screen.
    • Other Options -> BIOS Setup
      • Settings -> General -> Boot Sequence
      • Click "Add Boot Option"
        • Boot Option Name: "GRUB"
        • Leave File System List as-is
        • File Name: click "..." to browse, browse to \EFI\GRUB\grubx64.efi
        • OK
      • Click the "GRUB" entry in the boxes at the top right, and move it to be the first option (using the arrow buttons).
  17. "Apply" then "Exit". System will reboot.
  18. If all went well, you should get a GRUB menu and then the beginning of Arch boot. You'll be prompted for the LUKS passphrase; enter it and you should boot into Arch.
    • If you have video issues, like me, and the screen goes black before or after entering your LUKS passphrase, reboot. At the GRUB prompt press "e" and append nomodeset to the linux line. This will work as a temporary fix until video is set up properly.
  19. Connect to your network and get DHCP (systemctl start dhcpcd@INTERFACE-NAME).
  20. Continue on with the Puppetized installation process per Arch Linux in
    1. Do a full update: pacman -Syu
    2. pacman -S base-devel puppet git lsb-release ruby - when prompted, install the whole base-devel group
    3. gem install --no-user-install r10k
    4. If you're using a private GitHub repo for customization, generate SSH keys for root and add them as deploy keys on the repo.
    5. As root, in /root: git clone && cd workstation-bootstrap
    6. ./bin/ | tee /root/puppet.$(date +%s) - run puppet and capture the output.
  21. Install some packages for the graphics: pacman -S linux-headers xf86-video-intel nvidia-dkms nvidia-settings xorg-xrandr tlp
  22. Until bug 109959 – REGRESSION: black screen with linux 5.0 when starting X is fixed and released, 5.x kernels will fail to detect the laptop screen (eDP). To fix this, apply the kernel patch listed in that bug or install linux-precision5530-headers and linux-precision5530 from my Arch repo (source repo). Once this bug is fixed in the Arch kernel, you can switch back to that and also switch from nvidia-dkms to nvidia (the DKMS driver is required for the custom kernel).
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