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Dell Latitude 5411: the Linux compatibility candy spot :: ./techtipsy — Herman’s weblog

Dell Latitude 5411: the Linux compatibility candy spot :: ./techtipsy — Herman’s weblog

2023-04-28 00:02:13

Oh boy, right here I am going testing a brand new laptop computer once more!

Properly, it was new again in 2020.

You may keep in mind my article on why I went back to a ThinkPad T430 in 2022.
Or that different time after I obtained a brand new HP laptop computer for testing and obtained so annoyed that I wrote about it.

Properly, immediately I’m writing concerning the Dell Latitude 5411.

It’s not the latest laptop computer on the earth, however I made a decision to offer it a go due to a couple of causes:

  • no one needed one at work because of the status of this laptop computer (feels like a jet engine)
  • it’s virtually 3 years previous at this level, which is the Linux compatibility candy spot (in principle)
  • there have been some modifications coming to the workplace, which meant extra versatile seating preparations and all the pieces
    being designed round USB-C, and I needed to proceed my employment on the similar firm which could have been tough
    with a ThinkPad T430

And that’s how I ended up with one.

The Linux compatibility candy spot

When you’ve got spent any time utilizing new {hardware} on Linux, then you definately most likely know the way painful it may be.
You may get fortunate and obtain {hardware} that has help proper from the get-go, however normally
there are points round that will or might not get fastened with time.

When you take the identical machine a few years later, it’s extremely possible that the Linux help on it
can be significantly better. The worth of the machine will even be a lot decrease than earlier than, particularly for those who get
it on the second hand market.

Any machine that falls into this time window is what I wish to name “the Linux compatibility candy spot”.
This Dell occurs to be one such machine.

Right here’s a fast rundown of some specs:

  • CPU: Intel Core i7-10850H 6C/12T, 2.7 GHz/ 5.1 GHz
  • RAM: 32GB DDR4
  • SSD: 512 GB NVMe
  • OS: Fedora Linux 38
  • Thunderbolt help
  • Wi-Fi, Ethernet based mostly on Intel chips

The Dell Latitude 5411 is highly effective, and the parts in it appear to be working simply tremendous beneath Linux.
The USB-C port has not had main points in a piece surroundings, and it additionally works tolerably with a Dell WD19TB Thunderbolt 3
dock. My ultrawide monitor works, the Ethernet port on the dock can push gigabit speeds, and USB 3 ports work as anticipated.

Truthfully, that’s just about it concerning compatibility. It simply works more often than not, and that’s why I like this machine.

Oh god, the noise

Not all the pieces about this machine is right, although.

One of many first issues I seen with this machine is a few type of electrical noise. Some name it “coil whine”,
however all I do know is that it’s this high-pitched squealing that’s coming from the laptop computer. Primarily based on some looking out
and private testing I can verify that the noise is said to the CPU switching between idle and actually excessive turbo increase speeds in a short time. When you keep in mind
the spec sheet, you’ll know that this CPU can attain 5.1 GHz. The noise is obvious each time there’s a load
on the CPU, and it’s most likely the sound of the ability supply parts screaming in ache to ship all this energy
that this furnace of a CPU requires.

There’s a workaround to {the electrical} noise: attempt working the CPU at a decrease velocity. You are able to do that by disabling
Intel Turbo Enhance, for instance. There’s an UEFI setting for that, however on Fedora Linux 38 there’s a fair simpler
choice within the type of the “Energy Profiles” setting. When working the CPU slower, the noise is far much less extreme.

Power Profiles in GNOME 44.
Energy Profiles in GNOME 44.

This machine obtained the status of being a jet engine at work, and I agree with these folks as this factor can
be rattling loud even when it’s seemingly not doing a lot. This can be a results of the CPU demanding a variety of energy and the
cooling answer not with the ability to catch up. I really feel that the inventory fan curve is sort of aggressive to forestall
any reliability points after long-term use.

When you’ve got the identical laptop computer and are in search of a repair to that challenge, then you definately’re in luck!
There are many options on the market and I’m personally a fan of this Arch Wiki section.
I take advantage of dell-bios-fan-control to have the ability to management
the fan velocity myself, and a easy script to fine-tune the behaviour of the system. The script appears one thing like


set -e

echo "Discovering machine path."
device_path=$(echo /sys/gadgets/platform/dell_smm_hwmon/hwmon/hwmon*)
echo "System path: $device_path"

echo "Testing existence of paths."
cat "$device_path"/temp1_input
cat "$device_path"/pwm1
echo "Testing existence of paths executed."

echo "Disabling Dell inventory BIOS fan management."
/root/.native/bin/dell-bios-fan-control 0
echo "Performed!"

whereas true; do

  temp=$(cat "$device_path"/temp1_input)

  # Solely two fan velocity ranges appear to exist, something above 200 is mainly
  # equal to full velocity.
  if ((temp > 50000)); then
    echo 64 >"$device_path"/pwm1
    echo 0 >"$device_path"/pwm1

  sleep 15

The CPU is already temperature restricted even within the inventory configuration and can throttle beneath load, which ought to
imply that working the machine at a decrease fan velocity is simply tremendous. Let’s hope that I’m proper.

The rattling USB-C port

Whereas the USB-C port usually works properly, I do nonetheless get aggravated with it. When connecting it to my
Dell WD19TB Thunderbolt 3 dock, there’s an excellent likelihood that it’ll do nothing however cost. Restarting the machine
with the dock related will normally work, but it surely does take away from the portability of the setup.

I’m satisfied at this level that USB-C is a cursed commonplace and can by no means “simply work”. When you disagree, then
please lookup any article that tries to elucidate how USB-C works and all of the issues it’s a must to maintain in
thoughts if you wish to purchase a rattling cable in your machine that does what you need. After which add Thunderbolt to the combo.

See Also

If this facet begins changing into very annoying, then it’d turn out to be a dealbreaker for me, however proper now it occurs
sometimes sufficient that I can ignore it.

Oh, wait, it occurred once more whereas writing this text. Rattling all of it.

Different notes

Right here’s a rundown of some observations that I’ve made whereas utilizing this machine:

  • you may really boot from the microSD card, which is sweet
  • for those who twin boot Fedora (two utterly separate installations), then you definately’ll get two Fedora entries
    within the boot choices listing, and though the names are equivalent, you may set a most popular boot order simply tremendous
  • keyboard and touchpad aren’t one of the best issues on the market, however they’re on the very least tolerable
  • can not say the identical concerning the clit mouse, it’s not that good
  • battery life is what I anticipated from a laptop computer that’s not an Apple M1/M2 based mostly laptop computer: 2-4 hours of use when doing
    any actual work, and as much as 8 hours in case your work entails staring on the display with the brightness set to low and Wi-Fi/Bluetooth
    turned off
  • lowest energy draw I noticed with upower was round 6 watts
  • this machine has sufficient energy to be a strong desktop substitute for software program growth
  • the above is true even once you change turbo increase off, you continue to have 6 cores working at 2.7 GHz!
  • by no means managed to overheat the machine, even when I by chance forgot to show the laptop computer fan again on
    whereas working heavy hundreds (CPU throttled to round 2.2-2.4 GHz, which is spectacular!), or after I by chance
    put it in my backpack whereas it was nonetheless working
  • “energy on with USB-C related” or every other UEFI setting with an analogous goal needs to be prevented, you
    will find yourself placing it into your backpack whereas it’s working
  • this laptop computer has a full sized Ethernet port, which is extremely helpful for a lot of IT professionals
  • it even has the previous Dell barrel plug charging port, which is nice for conditions the place you’ve broken the one
    USB-C port on the laptop computer
  • I don’t have an excessive amount of religion within the building of the machine, some elements really feel very plasticky and won’t maintain up
    properly 5-10 years from now
  • I used to be the one who really made the advice to buy this specific laptop computer mannequin at my present job
    again in 2020 because of the fleet of ThinkPads being compatibility nightmares with the displays and docks out there, and
    in that regard it was an enchancment. Disgrace concerning the fan and electrical noise.


Will I find yourself switching to a contemporary laptop computer now? Perhaps. I’ve executed so for my day job already, however the jury continues to be
out on whether or not I would find yourself with this specific mannequin for my private use (particularly due to the rattling Thunderbolt
dock challenge). There are various laptops on the market with related pricing which can be additionally on this Linux compatibility candy spot.

Do you have to get one? If the worth is true and also you don’t thoughts making use of the workarounds for the problems I discussed, then
go for it!

I’ve restored some religion in fashionable laptops now. All of them suck in numerous methods, however this one is
not the worst one, and that’s adequate for me. In all probability. I’ll maintain my ThinkPad T430 in a straightforward to succeed in spot, simply in

When you choose to share your ideas on this put up privately,
just send me an e-mail!

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