Installing KUbuntu 18.04 on my HP Pavilion 15

Setting up Linux on my HP-15 NVIDIA GeForce GTX1050 for GPU programming with CUDA, and some tips on how to customise it to resemble Mac OS X.

My KUbuntu desktop Straight to the point instructions that worked for me. Your mileage may vary.

Laptop Model Specifications

  • HP Pavilion Power Laptop 15-cb0xx
  • Intel Core i5-7300HQ CPU at 2.50 GHz
  • RAM: 8 GB
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 (Mobile)

Ubuntu Version

Kubuntu 18.04.2 LTS (download link)

The Process

WARNING/NOTE/ATTENTION: The partitioning step in Step 1 will wipe everything on the disk, including ALL YOUR DATA AND WINDOWS. If that concerns you, please seek help with these instructions. DO NOT FOLLOW BLINDLY!

Step 1: Installation

Based on this page. Key things I did:

  • I chose minimal installation (web browser plus basic utilities and applications) and not to install third-party software.
  • In terms of partitions:
    • EFI System Partition of 512MB
    • The rest was for the root partition: “mount point” was / and “use as” was Ext4 journaling file system.
  • When setting up my user account, I chose the option to forgo the password and log in automatically. The password can be reactivated later, but to make things easier, disable it for now.

Shut down / reboot the computer. Remove installation media.

Step 2: Disabling the nouveau nvidia driver

The nouveau driver installed by default does not play well with my HP laptop, and has to be disabled. On my model, KUbuntu boots up fine and loads the login screen. However, when I key in my password and try to log in, it then crashes.

This is why I chose the option to log in automatically in Step 1. This way, the computer boots into the desktop. Then, in a terminal, run these commands to blacklist nouveau. Instructions from here.

# blacklist nouveau
echo blacklist nouveau > /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist-nvidia-nouveau.conf
echo options nouveau modeset=0 >> /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist-nvidia-nouveau.conf

# this step was in the link, but I did not use it
sudo update-initramfs -u

# reboot
sudo reboot

The laptop should then hang (probably due to the not-yet-disabled nouveau driver). I do a hard reboot.

Step 3: Install NVIDIA display drivers

Original instructions here.

# check what drivers are installed
ubuntu-drivers devices

# auto install
sudo ubuntu-drivers autoinstall

I also run these steps

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:graphics-drivers/ppa
sudo apt update

Then, reboot.

Step 4: Install CUDA

Taken from here.

sudo apt install nvidia-cuda-toolkit gcc-6

# this should print out some version info
nvcc --version

On my system, CUDA 9.1 was installed.

Step 5: Set up CUDA packages in Julia

Within Julia v1.1:

]
add CuArrays
add CUDAdrv
add CUDAnative
add CUDAapi

Instructions from here. In my case, I have to install CuArrays first, to resolve some dependencies issues. These can also be installed from Github with the syntax: add <web-address-of-package>

Test if you can import packages: using <package>

Customising KUbuntu to look like Mac OS X

Based on this video.

Themes & Icons

  • Workspace Theme: Breeze (though I think a Mac theme I used did something to the Application menu)
  • Icon Theme: Mojave-CT-Light-Grey
  • Fonts > Fonts > Force fonts DPI: 130 (for 1080p screen)

Widgets

  • For the panel on top, I have (left to right): Application Menu, Application Shortcuts, Global Menu, System Tray, Digital Clock, Comic Strip
  • I did not use a dock.
  • I also left the window buttons at default, to avoid bugs in colour scheme.

Borderless windows with no title bar

Under Window Management > Window Rules, create a new rule. For that:

  • Under Window matching tab, in the Window class (application), use a Regular Expression .*
  • Under Appearances & Fixes tab, choose No titlebar and frame and the Remember setting.

It is possible to show the titlebar for individual windows using the Alt+F3 shortcut.

Miscellaneous

Useful resources

  • Jenni Westoby’s blog
  • nextjournal page
  • Nvidia dev blogs page
  • GPU implementation of Neeldman-Wunsh on Medium

Some other stuff I learned

Disabling nouveau from GRUB is also possible. Can’t remember how to do this though. Will mention it here in case I do.

I originally wanted to install Fedora 29, but gave up half way. The problems are likely related to nouveau as well. Here are some links that might be helpful for those who wish to try: