Finally installed Ubuntu 18.04 LTS on Asus ZenBook UX501VW

By | December 1, 2018

I’ve had this laptop for a few years now, and it’s still quite the nice machine.  About a month ago, I decided to do the distribution upgrade and upgrade it from 16.04 to 18.04.  It worked, mostly, sort of.  I spent a bit of time having to tweak things and after a few weeks, the machine was once again stable enough to use as a reliable workstation.

A few days ago, I noticed that I was running out of space on my Linux partition, and decided that since I never use Windows on it, I’d remove Windows and just let it run Linux.  So I did a fresh backup of my Linux partition, made a fresh Windows Recovery USB stick (just in case) and proceeded to use gparted from a live image to remove it.

Things went wrong.  I don’t know exactly what went wrong, but I ended up with no bootable partition and things in just an overall mess.  No problem.  Since I’d just done a fresh backup, I decided to just do a fresh install.

The fresh install was the best decision I could have made to get a clean, fully working system.  So much so, that my ZenBook feels like a brand new machine.  It’s the same feeling I get when I get a shiny new tablet or phone.  You know that feeling.

The fresh installation wasn’t without issue, though.  Here’s what I had to do.

Nouveau Drivers Don’t Work

After rebooting on the install, I went to login, entered my username and password, then it froze hard to the point where I had to hold down the power button to reboot it.

Quick and easy fix for this, though, install the Nvidia drivers.  A quick google solved that problem.  After rebooting, hit Ctrl-Alt-F1 to get to a console, login, and issue these commands:

After the reboot, you should now be able to login via the GUI.

Console fonts are way too small

While not really a huge issue once the GUI is working, it was pretty hard to read on a 15″ 4K screen.  The solution is to configure the system to use much bigger fonts.  This can be done with the following commands, again, from Ctrl-Alt-F1, then logging in on the console:

On the first screen, leave the encoding where it is (for me it’s UTF-8).  Same on the second screen, just leave it where it is.

On the third screen, I chose VGA as the font for the console, and on the fourth screen I chose 16×32 (framebuffer only) as the font size.

After hitting Ok, it will regenerate your boot image and you’ll now have a font you can actually read on the text console.  It won’t be fast since it’s using framebuffer graphics, but it will at least be readable should any other problems arise and you need to do something on the console.

WiFi is unstable

During the installation, I noticed that the WiFi dropped and I had to turn off WiFi, then turn it back on.  That seems to have fixed the problem.  Other reports that I found also indicate that it might have been because I use a mixed 802.11ac network, with both the 5Ghz and 2.4Ghz on the same SSID.

In order to fix this, you have to edit the NetworkManager configuration manually.

Change the wifi.powersave value to 2 to stop it from entering powersave mode and dropping the connection.

It doesn’t seem to be completely perfect, and still seems to drop now and then, but it’s a lot better than it was.

That’s It!

That’s really all I had to do this time to get a nice stable machine.  It’s only been three days so far, but so far, everything seems to be working great.  The following all work for me:

  • Suspend/Resume
  • Audio
  • Two fingered scrolling
  • Touchpad Zoom Gesture
  • Touch screen – Even in an Android emulator, which is amazingly useful when developing Android apps
  • HiDPI scaling works on just about everything I’ve tried

The SD card reader still doesn’t work, and I haven’t yet tried plugging it into an external display, but I suspect that will work fine.

I also have to admit, that I’ve never been a fan of Unity.  The shell in 18.04 is more Gnome like, but still not perfect.  It does seem to work well for a laptop or something with a single screen.  My main office workstation has 3 monitors connected, and I can’t imagine trying to use the Unity dock with it.  I have set it to auto-hide, and that seems to be a good comfortable middle-ground for me.

All in all, I’m now extremely happy with my laptop again, as well as Ubuntu 18.04 running on it.

One thought on “Finally installed Ubuntu 18.04 LTS on Asus ZenBook UX501VW

  1. Peter

    Have you tried connecting it to 4k TV ? Windows 10 on mine works with 2160@30Hz, while Ubuntu 18.04 and 14.04 show max 1080@60Hz and no higher resolutions. I got it to work with 2160@30 but that was on USB stick with 18.04, and that was only once.
    I used the same cable and the same TV port as on my desktop GXT 750, that works on 2160@60Hz. My TV is LG 42ZB920V-ZH.


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