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Getting it down on `paper`

New BIOS Power Management and Linux

I just bought new hardware and wanted to run Linux on it.

Hardware Specs:

  • Motherboard: MSI P67A-C43 B3
  • CPU: Intel Core i5-2500K
  • Memory: Corsair CMZ4GX3M1A1600C9 Vengeance 2x4GB DDR3
  • Video: MSI R5450-MD1GD3H 1GB DDR3
  • Case: Thermaltake V3 Black Edition
  • Power: Diablotek PSDA600 DA Series 600W
  • Storage: Seagate ST31000520AS Barracuda 1TB 5900 RPM

My GO-TO Linux distro is Ubuntu, so I happily the downloaded the latest 64-bit server edition, 11.04. I copy the ISO to my 16 GB SanDisk Cruzer USB stick using the UNetbootin software mentioned as an alternative to usb-creator in the Ubuntu docs.

Now we get ready to install. After plugging in the USB drive and booting the computer with the USB drive, I’m presented with various boot options. I go with the default. A few seconds later, my computer restarts. I can’t get through the install without the computer restarting at seemingly random intervals.

After thorough research, most options recommend appending expert acpi=off to the install command. After doing this, I am at least partially successful (after a few restarts when my USB keyboard wasn’t recognized).  I am able to install the operating system. However, when the installation is complete and I reboot, the operating system never successfully loads. Instead, my computer endlessly reboots, attempts to load OS, fails and reboots.

After more reading (1, 2), commentators recommend that I edit the grub boot configuration and append acpi=off to the boot command, run update-grub and restart. This DID NOT WORK for me. You can test to see if it does work by editing the boot command by typing ‘e’ when you see the grub boot loader screen.

The Grub bootloader screen

Editing the Grub boot record

After sleeping on it, I did even more research (1) on what ACPI does. Now, since I have super new hardware, I hardly expected Linux to support its cutting edge features. So what are those cutting edge features? Besides a clickable BIOS, most of those features pertain to new power management features of the newest Intel CPUs.

New power-related BIOS features (and my recommended states):

  • EuP 2013 (Enabled)
  • CPU Phase Control (Disabled)
  • C1E Support (Disabled)
  • Intel C-State (Disabled)

Through brute force, I was able to determine which power settings affected the Linux boot process. I had to fully disable the Intel CPU-related power management. This unfortunately means that my server will waste power when it’s not under load. Too bad, huh?  Oh yeah, I reinstalled Ubuntu Server 11.04 after disabling these power settings in BIOS — you know, just in case.

So in summary, 1: disable CPU phase control, 2: disable C1E support, and 3: disable Intel C-State. EuP 2013 can remain enabled, as I didn’t encounter any complications when it was enabled.

One more thing, if you’re doing a fresh install, may I recommend AHCI mode for your SATA drives? Better to do this before you install the OS. This option had nothing to do with the problem stated above, but is good to have.

It's ok to enable AHCI

It's ok to enable AHCI

 

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