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Linux on Huawei MateBook 13 (2019)

Brain dump: MateBook 13 (Wright-W19) running Debian heavily inspired by lidel's documentation of running Linux on MateBook X.

Background

Huawei MateBook 13, released in 2019, has at least two modifications (different CPUs, integrated vs. dedicated graphics). Both come with Microsoft Windows 10 and there initially was no information at all concerning Linux support.

I am running Debian on the more simple MateBook 13 variant, model Wright-W19. This repository documents what works and what does not.

Reportedly, it also holds true for at least one 2020 Huawei Matebook 13 (AMD Ryzen 5 3500) running Elementary OS.

If you like this page and want it to get even better and more useful, feel free to contribute issues and pull requests, or just buy me a coffee.

Linux Support Matrix

Device Model Works Notes
Processor Intel Core i5-8265U Yes 8 cores, power states etc seem to work out of the box
Graphics Intel UHD Graphics 620 Yes via standard kernel driver
Memory 8192 MB Yes
Display 13 inch 2:3, 2160x1440 (2K) Yes resolution is correctly detected by xrandr, backlight control works via native function keys and can be controlled by KDE settings, see below for details on scaling issues
Storage Samsung SSD, 256 GB Yes via standard kernel driver
Wifi Intel Cannon Point Wireless-AC 8265 (a/b/g/n/ac) Yes requires kernel 4.14 and firmware (firmware-iwlwifi non-free package)
Bluetooth Intel Bluetooth 5.0 Yes works as expected
Soundcard Intel Cannon Point-LP High Definition Audio Yes see below for details
Speakers Yes
Microphone Yes out of the box
Webcam HD Camera (13D3:56C6) Yes works out of the box, indicating light too
Ports 2 × USB-C Yes charging works only via left port, external display only via right one, but it is a known hardware limitation of the laptop
Power button Yes needs to be pressed for at least a second to generate event
Fingerprint Reader Goodix GXFP5187 No located on the power button, see below for details
Battery Dynapack HB4593J6ECW (42 Wh) Yes see below for details
Lid ACPI-compliant Yes works as expected, though ACPI complains in logs
Power management Yes works, see below for details
Keyboard Yes see below for details
Touchpad ELAN962C:00 04F3:30D0 Yes touchpad is detected and works in KDE (though not in Debian installer), see below for details
Port Extender MateDock 2 dongle included with the laptop Yes D-SUB, full-size HDMI, USB-C and USB-A work as expected

BIOS updates

Huawei provides downloadable BIOS updates packaged for Windows. With some effort, these can be installed from Linux.

To update BIOS, make sure fwupd is installed. You'll also need firmware-packager script and gcab that it depends on. I strongly advice having a bootable USB drive for bootloader recovery close at hand, too. Laptop should be on AC power for firmware updater to work.

PLEASE read through all the steps before you start and make sure you have at least a vague understanding of the process! Don't hold me responsible if you trash your system or brick your BIOS!!!

  1. Download BIOS from Huawei website. As of version 1.28 the BIOS comes in a .zip file that is somewhat of a "Russian doll" that needs to be unpacked.

    1. The downloadable .zip contains a signature and another .zip file with the same name.

    2. That second .zip file contains a WRIWU128.EXE file that is a self-extractable archive. In Linux, you can use 7z to unpack it (7z x WRIWU128.EXE).

    3. Inside there is BIOS_1.28.exe that is the actual BIOS file. You need to put it in the directory you have firmware-packager in.

  2.  ./firmware-packager --firmware-name HuaweiBIOS --device-guid 4ab52f4e-04c0-47ec-af33-a4f5c28ce0b7 --developer-name Huawei --release-version 0.1.28 --exe ./BIOS_1.28.exe --bin ./UEFI_FW.bin --out bios.cab
    
  3.  fwupdmgr install bios.cab
    
  4. Reboot (or hibernate) and hold F12 upon boot to select updater from list of devices. It reboots again during the process, so make sure to press F12 during the second reboot, too, for the process to continue.

  5. Now your new BIOS is installed and you may check its version holding F2 during the next reboot. However, your UEFI boot record is likely messed up as the result of Step 4, so your system won't boot from SSD any longer.

  6. Fix your bootloader using the bootable USB drive. I used a Debian Live image with persistence that had grub-efi-amd64 and its dependencies pre-installed, so it was only a matter of mounting /boot and /boot/efi to /mnt/system/ and issuing

     sudo grub-install --boot-directory=/mnt/system/boot --bootloader-id=debian --target=x86_64-efi --efi-directory=/mnt/system/boot/efi
    

Your mileage may vary.

For older versions, the doll was less complex. For 1.0.5 the second .zip contained the .bin BIOS directly, so you'd have the second .zip in your firmware-packager directory and the command would be:
 ./firmware-packager --firmware-name HuaweiBIOS --device-guid 4ab52f4e-04c0-47ec-af33-a4f5c28ce0b7 --developer-name Huawei --release-version 0.1.0.5 --exe ./MateBook_13_BIOS_1.05.zip --bin ./MateBook_13_BIOS_1.05/WRIWU105.bin --out bios.cab

Temperature

Out of the box fan control is very much acceptable, with fans starting up as processor heats up under load and shutting down when not required. In general, under "office workload" the laptop remains cool and fans remain switched off.

If you want correct CPU temperature displayed in byobu status notifications, add the following line to your .byobu/statusrc:

MONITORED_TEMP=/sys/class/hwmon/hwmon1/temp1_input

Display

Fractional Scaling

On KDE, Deepin and other Qt-based desktop environments, fractional scaling is supported without any hassle but this is not the case for GTK-based desktop environments such as GNOME and XFCE. Using Wayland can be an option, but the apps that don't support Wayland natively will still have issues such fuzziness all over the window. A workaround for Xorg allows for 150% scaling without any tear at the cost of a little performance drop: Copy 20-intel.conf and 10-monitor.conf to /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/ and reboot. It is worth noticing that kernels between 5.0 and 5.5 have known issues with desktop scaling, fixed in 5.5. Ubuntu users can use Ubuntu-18.04-HWE kernel that contains the fix and also is free of the log flooding issue.

Soundcard

Sound generally works OK out of the box, the only thing not working is headphones autodetection (i.e. it is necessary to manually switch from speakers to headphones and back). This can be fixed, as pointed out by ffftwo and Feodor Rusanov:

sudo sh -c "echo 'options snd-hda-intel model=alc255-acer,dell-headset-multi' >> /etc/modprobe.d/sound.conf"

You may need to reset ALSA after this for the headphones to work:

sudo alsactl restore

The headset microphone will not be switched to automatically when a microphone-enabled headset is plugged. However, there will be an option to switch to it, and the system will automatically switch back to the internal microphone as soon as the headset is unplugged.

Fingerprint Reader

There's currently no way to make this model work in Linux, however, there's work in progress to make this happen.

Battery

Main battery features, such as current status, charging/discharging rate and remaining time estimates work out of the box.

Battery protection

Huawei's proprietary PC Manager allows to switch on battery protection with several modes for charge/discharge threshold while connected to AC power. For instance, it is possible to make the laptop maintain the battery charge between 40% and 70%, which is supposed to greatly reduce battery wear (batteries are known to lose capacity when constantly sitting at close to 100% charged). The problem is that Huawei PC Manager is a Windows-only piece of software.

You can use matebook-applet to have GUI on Linux for this functionality. Under the hood it utilizes Huawei-WMI device driver that fully supports Matebook 13, including settings for battery protection, since version 3.0. The driver only works with Linux kernel 5.0 and newer (you can install 5.2 from Debian Backports). Kernels 5.5 and newer have the sufficient version of the driver already included.

For those running older kernels I developed a script (you can download archive with this and the other script from releases page). The script depends on ioport (available as package in Debian) and needs to be run as root:

sudo batpro [help|status|off|home|office|travel]

The first three options are self-explanatory. home sets thresholds to 40% and 70%, office to 70% and 90%, travel to 95% and 100% (these are the three modes Huawei PC Manager makes available). You can also do

sudo batpro custom [1-100] [1-100]

to set the thresholds to any percentages you like. This batpro script is really a modification of a more general script by aymanbagabas, so you can use that one instead if you like. Both are based on a dirty hack, and the proper solution is using Huawei-WMI driver.

Battery protection works by not charging the laptop if battery is already above the minimal threshold when plugged into AC, and stopping the charging as soon as the battery charge reaches the maximum threshold. The battery controller is known to restore the thresholds to defaults after time: on MateBook X it is known to happen after a reboot or three, and Angry Ameba demonstrated (source in Russian) that battery controller settings get reset after several hours on a switched off MateBook 13. Obviously, Huawei PC Manager monitors this and restores these settings as required. Huawei-WMI driver and my script don't.

This behaviour may be really annoying: you hibernate your laptop, wake it up next Monday, work for several hours, plug it in for a night and go to bed, only to find out in the morning that battery protection is off and the battery stayed on 100% for good six hours. If you're using Huawei-WMI driver, this situation can easily be fixed using a solution provided by Rouven Spreckels (these pieces get installed automatically if you use matebook-applet's Debian repository):

$ git clone https://github.com/qu1x/huawei-wmi.git
$ cd huawei-wmi
$ sudo make install

You may then use the same Makefile to set thresholds so that they are reinstated after wakeups and reboots:

$ sudo make [off|home|office|travel]

You can also add your user to the huawei-wmi group:

$ sudo usermod -a -G huawei-wmi $USER

In this case you don't need sudo to set thresholds.

Beware, though, that if you plug the laptop in before waking it up, the magic won't work (knowing that Windows' behaviour is exactly the same may provide some consolation).

Power Management

Suspend to S3 state works out of the box. For hibernation to work Secure boot must be disabled in BIOS. Laptop seems to wake up without any issues.

Keyboard

Keyboard mostly works out of the box, including the not-so-documented hotkeys (Fn+Left for Home, Fn+Right for End, Fn+Up for PgUp, Fn+Down for PgDn). However, Microphone Mute, WiFi Switch and Huawei keys don't work out of the box.

To have them working there's a driver that is already incorporated in Linux kernel, just not yet in Debian. It can be installed (v1.0) using DKMS .deb package that the author provides.

Version 2.0 of the same driver allows for the Microphone LED to work, too. This requires running kernel 5.0 or later (5.2 is avalable from Debian Backports).

Fn-Lock

Behaviour of the top row of keys on MateBook 13 is somewhat complex. By default, they behave as special keys (brightness, volume, etc.), but if you press them simultaneously with Fn or any modifier (Ctrl, Alt, Shift) they behave as F-keys (F1 through F12). You can press Fn once so that an LED on it lights up, then the top row of keys starts behaving as F-keys, with or without any modifier (including Fn itself). This behaviour can be lived with, but you can't do things like Ctrl+Ins or Alt+Shift+PrtSc (because Ins and PrtSc are F11 and F12, respectively, and pressing them with modifier forces them to be F-keys).

Since BIOS v1.05 this behaviour was changed slightly for PrtSc and Ins keys (F11 and F12). Without Fn key, the keys work as follows:

Key Shift Ctrl Alt
F10 Shift+F10 Ctrl+F10 Alt+F10
F11 Shift+PrtSc Ctrl+PrtSc no keypress
F12 Shift+Ins Ctrl+Ins Alt+Ins

Still no way to do Alt+PrtSc.

Fortunately, Huawei's PC Manager has an option to invert this behaviour. If an option is activated (we call this option Fn-Lock), the upper row of keys become F-keys, and act like special keys only when Fn is pressed or switched on. In this mode other modifiers don't change behaviour, so it becomes possible to do Alt+PrtSc. Unfortunately, PC Manager is Windows-only.

Huawei-WMI driver since version 2.0 makes it possible to use Fn-Lock on Linux. For those running Linux kernel older than 5.0 there's a simple script (you can download archive with this and the other script from releases page).

The script depends on ioport (available as package in Debian) and needs to be run as root:

sudo fnlock [on|off|toggle|status]

GUI for this functionality is also included in matebook-applet.

Touchpad

General features like two-finger scrolling and three-finger touch work out of the box, more options can be made available by installing xserver-xorg-input-synaptics. No pressure sensitivity or palm detection, though.

Log flooding issue

Out of the box touchpad floods system logs with error messages incomplete report (14/65535) upon every touch - up to the point where rubbing your finger against touchpad produces 15% CPU usage by syslog. The corresponding patch is available in backported kernel 5.2 in Debian. If you want to use stock kernel instead, patching the kernel with adapted patch fixes this issue.

A quick (and, admittedly, dirty) way to patch a Debian kernel:

$ apt source linux
$ cd linux-4.19.28 		<<< or whatever version is current
$ bash debian/bin/test-patches ../elan-touchpad-oldkernel.patch 	<<< or whichever one you're applying, and you can apply more than one here

<<< have a beer or three, this is going to take quite some time

$ cd ..
$ sudo dpkg -i linux-image-4.19.0-4-amd64-unsigned_4.19.28-2a~test_amd64.deb	<<< or whichever you've just compiled

Credits

Thanks to Angry Ameba for kindly supplying the information necessary to make battery protection and Fn-Lock work.

Eternal gratiude and enormous thanks to Ayman Bagabas for single-handedly developing Huawei-WMI driver and sharing tons of useful information.

Also thanks to Mert Demir for giving information about fractional scaling and adding the related info.