[GUIDE][OLD][OPINION] Configuring Garuda Linux for Laptop

I will be updating this guide from time to time with new information as I come accross it or correct old mis/information that exist as I wrote this while being a newbie. So check back every month or so if you need.

Garuda Linux by default is configured to provide the best performance out of the box on your Desktop machine. With a little setup you can use garuda on your laptop just fine as well.

My laptop has an i7 9750H processor which on the default pstate driver thermal throttles very badly. I have noticed the cpu never crossed 2.7GHz which is 100MHz off base (2.6GHz). But when I added:

intel_pstate=passive

I began noticing much better cpu scaling.

Intel Pstate is not suitable for laptop usage at this moment. At least as far as my specs go. The Pstate performance governor just tries to push all cores to max boost without any forethought causing it to throttle itself down. But even then it only throttles down to base instead of downclocking intelligently to offset the boost clock depending on core load. I have not used Pstate on desktop so I don't know if the situation is better there but it certainly does not work here. This simple "fix" should resolve most of the overheat issues and it works for any distro not just arch based ones.

What follows is a comprehensive list of everything I know about running Linux and Linux Utitlities on laptops. Basic knowledge of your laptop's specs and performance (at least on windows) is expected as depending on your specs you can get away with keeping some of the tweaks. I am running an I7 9750H which is a 6c/12t processor and is infamous for its thermal output.

This guide should work for any linux distro on laptops unless you are using ASUS ROG, which has its own dedicated linux utility which might be better suited for you.

In general if you are going to use an arch distro you should familiarize yourself with the wiki since it will be your primary goto for majority of fixes. When asking for help people usually will assume you have tried at least the stuff on the wiki before asking so you have been warned.

Before we begin, ensure your system is up-to-date with a good old fashioned -Syu run.

sudo pacman -Syu

This will ensure you have no issues down the line due to conflicts between older and newer packages.
You can use pamac better known as Add/Remove Software to do everything and it will take care of updating for you if you're not comfortable with the terminal yet. If you do encounter an error consider searching the forum as other people may have already found the solution. It helps keep the forum clean and organized.

Part 1: Garuda on Laptops

Since Garuda is an arch based distro the easiest thing to do would be to goto the laptop section of the archwiki linked above. Once there you will find every bit of information available for running arch (and by extension garuda) on a laptop down to specific models.

Following that is Fan Speed Control

Depending on your make and model Garuda may detect all your temperature sensors and fans appropriately in which case it should use them appropriately out of the box. In case it does not following this part of the wiki will allow garuda to detect your cooling configuration.

Once you have the cooling setup you can use custom config files to further optimize how you want to run your laptop.

If you are running intel 7th gen or above consider following this guide as well:

**Part 2: Garuda on Battery **

Garuda being a gaming distro, is configured to give the best performance out of the box. Naturally if you plan to use your laptop away from a charger you will need to change some things.

Starting off with performance-tweaks:

sudo pacman -Rs performance-tweaks

These tweaks essentially set your governor to performance which boosts to maximum frequency as much as possible and set your energy-performance-bias to the same as well. Not good for battery life. Of course garuda provides the exact opposite of this as well in the form of:

sudo pacman -Syu powersave-tweaks

Which do the exact opposite. Of course you can only have one installed since they both tweak the same settings which means in order to get back to gaming you need to reverse the above process.

However that is needless tedium and at this point you should familiarize yourself with the cpupower utility which comes pre-installed.

sudo cpupower frequency-set -d MIN_FREQ -u MAX_FREQ -g powersave/performance

With this single command you can set/remove restrictions on your cpu's performance allowing you to customize to your usecase. Furthermore you can simply add it to a script, with appropriate values for MIN_FREQ and MAX_FREQ, which can be set to run depending on the powersource.

OR

You could automate the whole process with the help of tlp and batteryimprove listed in optional utilities.

Part 2.5: Laptop heebiejeebies

Laptop manufacturers use all kinds of voodoo magic and pixie dust and end up creating incredibly proprietary stuff in the process. The thing that deals with all this nonsense is your kernel. However not all kernels deal equally which may lead to some compatibility issues.

By default Garuda ships with only the zen kernel. If you're reading this for a fresh install Garuda Setup Assistant will ask you to install from a selection of kernels and you can use that. Just select linux and linux-lts from the options.

Otherwise install the linux and linux-lts kernel from your package manager.

sudo pacman -S linux linux-headers linux-lts linux-lts-headers

Its always a good idea to have at least the lts-kernel installed as a point of comparison/fallback. If something isn't working you can always swap to the lts to check if its a kernel issue or not because usually lts (standing for long-term-support) is a heavily tested and reliable kernel.

Part 3: Optional Utilities

Following is a list of laptop centric utilities you may find useful. These are tools I have tried to various lengths but didn't find much use for my needs. I leave them here for reference incase you find something you need.

auto-cpufreq: This package as the name implies will control your CPU frequency depending on current load and thermal headroom. This is vital for your laptop if you're running linux. It ensures you get the best performance without overheating your laptop. Once installed simply enable and start the service with systemctl. Now I have seen that the PKGBUILD enables it by default but its better to do it again since it does not break anything.

You will need to remove either of the powersave/performance tweaks to use this utility

sudo systemctl enable auto-cpufreq.service
sudo systemctl start auto-cpufreq.service

You can check what its doing with auto-cpufreq --stats to ensure its running properly.

Disclaimer: You may experience slowdowns on your laptop if you have an older CPU with auto-cpufreq installed. In that case you can try disabling pstates by adding intel_pstate=disable to your kernel parameters and using an application like core ctrl to manually set the governor to ondemand. Source

thermald: This package as the name implies helps to regulate your system temperature by monitoring system temps and using available cooling methods to keep your laptop from overheating. Thermald focuses more on keeping cool so if thats what you want install it and read on. If you are looking for performance though I'd stay away from this one. I originally was running this in tandem with auto-cpufreqbut found that it kept trying to throttle the cpu and competed with auto-cpufreq

TLP: This is THE linux tool for laptops. If you have the time, knowledge and patience then sitting down and customizing a tlp profile for your laptop and use cases is the best solution. I have not provided a repo link because you can easily install it through pacman. There is also a gui in the AUR called tlpui. At the core of tlp is a conf file which defines an extensive list of parameters to finely control every aspect of your laptop. I would encourage you to learn and make use of this tool. FYI it does allow turbo-boost. There is a repo linked below that provides a premade configuration if you do not want to tweak it yourself.

powertop: Powertop is a very versatile tool for managing and monitoring power consumption on your system. At its simplest the tool comes with an autotune feature which turns all of the best options to their best settings for most cases. You also have access to a cli interface to manually toggle which settings you want. However its a lot more powerful under the hood and its best you follow the link to their site where a detailed guide is provided for configurations. I do not use powertop so I cannot say much more than that.

On top of all this Garuda also has a package of tweaks for powersaving on laptops aptly named powersave-tweaks that you can install.

BatteryImprove This is geared more towards the casual user/usecase. If you have a 6+ core laptop and you are not doing anything too demanding you may try this tool. This is mostly just a tlp config and a bash script for maximizing battery savings. I encourage you to look into it to see if the tweaks match your needs.

This guide is suitable for every laptop uptil this point. Now lets move onto laptops with dGPUs. I will be focusing on NVIDIA gpus because those are the only laptops I have. If you own an AMD dGPU feel free to reply to this post with your input.

Step 4: Laptops with NVIDIA dGPUs For laptops using optimus gpus you will need to first install the nvidia drivers. There are two methods for doing this:

  1. Install using nvidia-all from Frogging Family. This version is pre-configured to work better on linux. However the drivers are external and need to be updated manually. They will not update through Add/Remove Software's update option or pacman -Syu.

  2. Do a manual install with the drivers in the repos. Since they are in the repos they will be updated whenever you update the system.

sudo pacman -S nvidia-dkms nvidia-lts nvidia-prime nvidia-utils

You could install nvidia instead of nvidia-dkms however if you aren't running a custom kernel or plan to. However on garuda with linux-zen you will need dkms. Once the installs done, Reboot.

lsmod | grep nvidia to check whether the driver is loaded after rebooting.

If you find the driver is not loaded then edit your /etc/mkinitcpio.conf file and add nvidia to the end of the

MODULES=(module1 module2  nvidia)

line inside the brackets. Then run sudo mkinitcpio -P and reboot.

Once that is done we need to install optimus-manager and optimus-manager-qt

DISCLAIMER: From Garuda Linux "Spotted Eagle" (210507) onwards optimus-manager is shipped with all editions. Before installing check your installed programs to see whether it is already installed or not to avoid reinstalling.

sudo pacman -S optimus-manager optimus-manager-qt

optimus-manager This package will allow you to quickly swap between three modes of operation on your laptop: intel, hybrid and nvidia.

Intel mode will completely turn your nvidia gpu off making it inaccessible to the system.

Hybrid mode uses the intel gpu for everything. However you can use prime-run to run games or other high-performance applications on the dGPU.

Nvidia will only use the dGPU for everthing.

Once again use systemctl to enable and start the service.

sudo systemctl enable optimus-manager.service
sudo systemctl start optimus-manager.service

optimus-manager-qt This provides a handy little indicator in your notification bar to easily tell what mode you are running on. It also proivdes a settings ui to manage optimus-manager.

You can access teh settings by right-clicking on the icon and choosing settings.

In the settings first ensure launch at startup is ticked. Then click on optimus and you can choose which mode to startup in from startup mode option.

Most important however is to goto Nvidia tab and setting dynamic power management from No to Fine. This ensure the behaviour mentioned above for Hybrid mode.

That is all! Congratulations ! Now your garuda setup is optimized for laptop use. All of these tools can be configured and customized to your liking so be sure to check out their respective pages. I will add and update this guide as much as I can overtime. Thanks!

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and with Garuda, you run linux-zen by default, so you should use dkms.

4 Likes

Well done.
I would like also to suggest you to compare pstate-frequency against auto-cpufreq.
For me tThe main advantage of pstate-frequency is that one can tweak CPU min/max for each governor, while that is not possible with auto-cpufreq without patching their scripts...

give it a try if you like.

2 Likes

I will look into it.

Edit: I have looked into it and it seems like a manual and more configurable version of auto-cpufreq. I will need to use it myself and see if it is better to include it in the guide as the hands off nature of auto-cpufreq is more appealing to me for now. I am aware that it only switches the governor based on load and not individual frequencies so that side of pstate-frequency is appealing to me.

3 Likes

Thanks for the heads up ! I competely forgot that Garuda uses zen since I uninstalled it ages ago.

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If you computer has intel turbo boost you can leave some of these tweaks on.

In my experience on a i7 9750H I could only play valheim after removing everything I stated. I guess I should elaborate on the fact that some of these tweaks can be kept if you have a CPU without too much heat output.

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I applied those settings except nvidia ones coz my laptop doesn't have nvidia's gpu. And I sometimes bump into cpu frequency drop to 0.4GHz(minimum). The cpu is usually 2.4GHz. I guess it happens after rebooting (auto-cpufreq fails working?)

I wanna know how to change the freq back to 2.4GHz. Rebooting again is one of the solutions but it's a little annoying. I have no idea to prevent from this in advance.

Here is auto-cpufreq --stats result.

------------------------------ Current CPU stats ------------------------------

CPU max frequency: 2300 MHz
CPU min frequency: 400 MHz

Core    Usage   Temperature     Frequency
CPU0:    32.7%     42 °C      400 MHz
CPU1:    38.1%     43 °C      400 MHz
CPU2:    45.2%     42 °C      400 MHz
CPU3:    39.2%     43 °C      400 MHz

---------------------------- CPU frequency scaling ----------------------------

Battery is: charging

Setting to use: "performance" governor

Total CPU usage: 4.0 %
Total system load: 1.14
Average temp. of all cores: 42.5 °C

Load optimal
setting turbo boost: off
Warning: Changing CPU turbo is not supported. Skipping.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"auto-cpufreq" refresh in: 1

In my experience auto-cpufreq will keep your cpu at minimum speeds when its not under load. Are you experiencing performance drops because of this? Seems you're not doing much on the CPU from the stats.

1 Like

FireDragon is way slower than usual when the frequency is low. I keep watching conky showing cpu freq and usage as well as temp. the usage reaches high, temperature stays low and frequency keeps minimum.

I use firefox with a lot of tabs and I have yet to experience any problems. Please provide inxi -Fxxxa output.

The situation doesn't change. CPU usage is sticked on 100% and frequency crowls the bottom.

System:    Host: takeshi-garuda Kernel: 5.10.33-1-lts x86_64 bits: 64 compiler: gcc v: 10.2.0 
parameters: BOOT_IMAGE=/@/boot/vmlinuz-linux-lts root=UUID=2f0e4133-dd23-4545-92f0-082ddf7a35b3 
rw [email protected] quiet splash rd.udev.log_priority=3 vt.global_cursor_default=0 
systemd.unified_cgroup_hierarchy=1 loglevel=3 
Desktop: KDE Plasma 5.21.4 tk: Qt 5.15.2 info: latte-dock wm: kwin_x11 vt: 2 dm: SDDM 
Distro: Garuda Linux base: Arch Linux 
Machine:   Type: Laptop System: Dell product: Inspiron 15-3567 v: N/A serial: <superuser required> 
Chassis: type: 9 serial: <superuser required> 
Mobo: Dell model: 033HWX v: A00 serial: <superuser required> UEFI: Dell v: 2.9.0 
date: 01/17/2019 
Battery:   ID-1: BAT0 charge: 39.4 Wh (100.0%) condition: 39.4/41.4 Wh (95.0%) volts: 15.9 min: 14.8 
model: SMP DELL GR43778 type: Li-ion serial: 13105 status: Full 
CPU:       Info: Dual Core model: Intel Core i3-7020U bits: 64 type: MT MCP arch: Amber/Kaby Lake 
note: check family: 6 model-id: 8E (142) stepping: 9 microcode: DE cache: L2: 3 MiB 
flags: avx avx2 lm nx pae sse sse2 sse3 sse4_1 sse4_2 ssse3 vmx bogomips: 18399 
Speed: 400 MHz min/max: 400/2300 MHz Core speeds (MHz): 1: 400 2: 400 3: 400 4: 400 
Vulnerabilities: Type: itlb_multihit status: KVM: VMX disabled 
Type: l1tf mitigation: PTE Inversion; VMX: conditional cache flushes, SMT vulnerable 
Type: mds mitigation: Clear CPU buffers; SMT vulnerable 
Type: meltdown mitigation: PTI 
Type: spec_store_bypass mitigation: Speculative Store Bypass disabled via prctl and seccomp 
Type: spectre_v1 mitigation: usercopy/swapgs barriers and __user pointer sanitization 
Type: spectre_v2 
mitigation: Full generic retpoline, IBPB: conditional, IBRS_FW, STIBP: conditional, RSB filling 
Type: srbds mitigation: Microcode 
Type: tsx_async_abort status: Not affected 
Graphics:  Device-1: Intel vendor: Dell driver: i915 v: kernel bus-ID: 00:02.0 chip-ID: 8086:5921 
class-ID: 0300 
Device-2: Realtek Integrated_Webcam_HD type: USB driver: uvcvideo bus-ID: 1-5:2 
chip-ID: 0bda:5769 class-ID: 0e02 serial: 200901010001 
Display: x11 server: X.Org 1.20.11 compositor: kwin_x11 driver: loaded: intel 
unloaded: modesetting alternate: fbdev,vesa display-ID: :0 screens: 1 
Screen-1: 0 s-res: 3286x1080 s-dpi: 96 s-size: 868x285mm (34.2x11.2") s-diag: 914mm (36") 
Monitor-1: eDP1 res: 1366x768 hz: 60 dpi: 102 size: 340x190mm (13.4x7.5") diag: 389mm (15.3") 
Monitor-2: HDMI1 res: 1920x1080 hz: 60 dpi: 92 size: 530x300mm (20.9x11.8") diag: 609mm (24") 
OpenGL: renderer: Mesa Intel HD Graphics 620 (KBL GT2F) v: 4.6 Mesa 21.0.3 direct render: Yes 
Audio:     Device-1: Intel Sunrise Point-LP HD Audio vendor: Dell driver: snd_hda_intel v: kernel 
alternate: snd_soc_skl bus-ID: 00:1f.3 chip-ID: 8086:9d71 class-ID: 0403 
Sound Server-1: ALSA v: k5.10.33-1-lts running: yes 
Sound Server-2: JACK v: 0.125.0 running: no 
Sound Server-3: PulseAudio v: 14.2 running: yes 
Sound Server-4: PipeWire v: 0.3.26 running: yes 
Network:   Device-1: Qualcomm Atheros QCA9377 802.11ac Wireless Network Adapter vendor: Dell 
driver: ath10k_pci v: kernel port: f040 bus-ID: 01:00.0 chip-ID: 168c:0042 class-ID: 0280 
IF: wlp1s0 state: down mac: 3e:f1:4d:84:ab:5d 
Device-2: Realtek RTL810xE PCI Express Fast Ethernet vendor: Dell driver: r8169 v: kernel 
port: e000 bus-ID: 02:00.0 chip-ID: 10ec:8136 class-ID: 0200 
IF: enp2s0 state: up speed: 100 Mbps duplex: full mac: 6c:2b:59:41:c5:db 
Bluetooth: Device-1: Qualcomm Atheros type: USB driver: btusb v: 0.8 bus-ID: 1-8:4 chip-ID: 0cf3:e009 
class-ID: e001 
Report: bt-adapter ID: hci0 rfk-id: 0 state: up address: 28:3A:4D:5B:2B:44 
Drives:    Local Storage: total: 119.24 GiB used: 17.34 GiB (14.5%)
SMART Message: Unable to run smartctl. Root privileges required.
ID-1: /dev/sda maj-min: 8:0 vendor: SK Hynix model: SC311 SATA 128GB size: 119.24 GiB
block-size: physical: 4096 B logical: 512 B speed: 6.0 Gb/s rotation: SSD
serial: MS8AN63791CC8AQ2C rev: 0P10 scheme: GPT
Partition: ID-1: / raw-size: 118.99 GiB size: 118.99 GiB (100.00%) used: 17.34 GiB (14.6%) fs: btrfs
dev: /dev/sda2 maj-min: 8:2
ID-2: /boot/efi raw-size: 256 MiB size: 252 MiB (98.46%) used: 546 KiB (0.2%) fs: vfat
dev: /dev/sda1 maj-min: 8:1
ID-3: /home raw-size: 118.99 GiB size: 118.99 GiB (100.00%) used: 17.34 GiB (14.6%) fs: btrfs
dev: /dev/sda2 maj-min: 8:2
ID-4: /var/log raw-size: 118.99 GiB size: 118.99 GiB (100.00%) used: 17.34 GiB (14.6%)
fs: btrfs dev: /dev/sda2 maj-min: 8:2
ID-5: /var/tmp raw-size: 118.99 GiB size: 118.99 GiB (100.00%) used: 17.34 GiB (14.6%)
fs: btrfs dev: /dev/sda2 maj-min: 8:2
Swap:      Kernel: swappiness: 10 (default 60) cache-pressure: 75 (default 100)
ID-1: swap-1 type: zram size: 948.8 MiB used: 66.4 MiB (7.0%) priority: 32767 dev: /dev/zram0
ID-2: swap-2 type: zram size: 948.8 MiB used: 66.2 MiB (7.0%) priority: 32767 dev: /dev/zram1
ID-3: swap-3 type: zram size: 948.8 MiB used: 67.2 MiB (7.1%) priority: 32767 dev: /dev/zram2
ID-4: swap-4 type: zram size: 948.8 MiB used: 67 MiB (7.1%) priority: 32767 dev: /dev/zram3
Sensors:   System Temperatures: cpu: 49.0 C mobo: 49.0 C
Fan Speeds (RPM): cpu: 0
Info:      Processes: 251 Uptime: 17m wakeups: 25 Memory: 3.71 GiB used: 2.85 GiB (76.8%) Init: systemd
v: 248 tool: systemctl Compilers: gcc: 10.2.0 clang: 11.1.0 Packages: pacman: 1596 lib: 460
Shell: fish v: 3.2.1 running-in: konsole inxi: 3.3.04

failed to take a screen shot with firefox opening 8 tabs but you can see the stats on conky.

Do you have powersave-tweaks enabled or tlp, or powertop? How are the temps?

No I don't. So I try enabling them with garuda assistant. but at TLP, options acpi_call, tp_smapi and x86_energy_pref_policy appeared. Which should I choose?

You shouldn't need to. I think this might be a different problem.

Maybe look into this? Search the forum then try elsewhere. Maybe check dmesg output or journalctl . In between those two its usually easy to diagnose the problem.

1 Like

I found this in dmesg

[   30.275359] intel_pstate: Turbo disabled by BIOS or unavailable on processor

But there is no setting related to cpu turbo in my BIOS.

I give up and roll back to the snapshot taken before Step1.

I guess the point is the order of installing linux (and its lts) and removing performance-tweaks but I have no energy to try and see this. I can't be patient any more, sorry.

Thanks for your dedicated support, Khsh01.

lovely DeLL :laughing: !
go to BIOS and choose performance.

I went to BIOS and Performance category and I found "Intel SpeedStep" feature that describes below.

  • Disabled = Places the processor into the highest performance state and prevents the intel SpeedStep applet or native operating system driver from adjusting the processor's performance.
  • Enabled = Allows the Intel SpeedStep-enabled CPU to operate in multiple performance states.

Before rolling back, I tried switching this setting disabled and enabled. But the situation didn't change.

Other BIOS settings in Performance category are "Multi Core Support", "C-States Control(cpu sleep setting when idle)" and "HyperThread control". They seems they don't affect the cpu freqency.

Anyway, I've just rolled back to the stable snapshot using linux-zen. The performance is quite stable.

1 Like

good to know you got it stable, I was laughing about DeLL is that because in my computer BIOS, setting performance (turbo) is under Power->Thermal Management.

I would love to have a talk with their engineers :slight_smile:

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Knowing Dell they might have removed it in a bios update for all you know.

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