Slow wifi with Intel 7265 iwlwifi on Arch

I use my Arch powered bootable USB drive on lots of different hardware, but most often on hand-me-down laptops from work. I recently moved into a newish laptop (a Dell Inspiron 13-7352, P57G) which came with an Intel 7265D wireless card. Its a really nice 2 in 1 laptop where the screen folds back so you can use it in tablet mode, its the size I like (13″) has a backlit keyboard and a touchscreen with an i7. I don’t see myself ever using this thing in tablet mode but build quality seems good and the keyboard is very Macbook-like chicklet type which, while I’m not a huge fan is usable.

Sadly, I do need to keep the SSD drive loaded with Windows (10) since its a work machine, but I was able to take it out of secure boot mode so I could boot from USB as needed. The first few tweaks I needed was to change the resolution because the default res on this screen is only good for the under 30 set. xrandr --output eDP1 --mode 1600x900 gets me something I can live with. Since I use the USB stick on lots of machines, and I’m running i3 and using netctl I don’t have it connect automatically. Sometimes I need to manually scan (like at the library) so I have a few preset profiles I can load set up, but its just another step when I boot to manually connect up. Fn+Brightness keys work fine, as does the Fn+keyboard backlight key but volume keys do not. These are set up in the .i3/config file and I haven’t messed with those keybindings for a couple years and I haven’t looked into fixing that yet, for now I’m just using alsamixer to adjust sound. I did add a binding for screenshots:

# Screenshot bindings 170212
bindsym Print exec scrot $HOME/Pictures/Screenshots/`date +%Y-%m-%d_%H:%M:%S`.png
bindsym $mod+Print exec scrot -u $HOME/Pictures/Screenshots/`date +%Y-%m-%d_%H:%M:%S`.png
bindsym $mod+Shift+Print exec scrot -s $HOME/Pictures/Screenshots/`date +%Y-%m-%d_%H:%M:%S`.png

It wasn’t long before I realized that the network speed over the wireless was just awful when in Linux (currently using kernel 4.9.8-1). The Intel 7265 is fully supported under Linux, though it doesn’t specifically list the 7265D and there really aren’t many complaints about it out there, though there definitely are some and some of those were solved by disabling 11n, but no matter what I tried I just could not get anything faster than about 1.5Mbit/s over my 20Mb connection. The card ran fine in Win10, but even when I disabled the latest iwlwifi (22) and tried each previous version successively in /usr/lib/firmware it wouldn’t ever work right. Another possible culprit was power management but turning it off didn’t help, and most folks complaining about slow performance due to power management reported a slow-down after a certain time period (as if the radio was being powered down on a time limit). This wasn’t my case – it was just slow all the time and equally so. There definitely are some ACPI errors at boot on this machine very similar to those some folks were blaming on the BIOS. The BIOS numbering for this machine (A09) appears to be in an entirely different sequence from the one discussed there (1.4.4) though. There are a few ACPI related errors at boot and I did find a similar kernel bug reported for this kernel, and others have discussed this issue but mostly everything does seem to be working. I can shut the lid and it suspends, and opening it again it resumes and wifi and networking function properly:

ACPI Error: [\_SB_.PCI0.LPCB.H_EC.ECWT] Namespace lookup failure, AE_NOT_FOUND (20160831/psargs-359)
ACPI Error: Method parse/execution failed [\_TZ.FN00._ON] (Node f44bcfa8), AE_NOT_FOUND (20160831/psparse-543)
ACPI: Thermal Zone [THM] (56 C)
ACPI Error: [\_SB_.PCI0.LPCB.H_EC.ECRD] Namespace lookup failure, AE_NOT_FOUND (20160831/psargs-359)
ACPI Error: Method parse/execution failed [\_TZ.TZ00._TMP] (Node f44bcf78), AE_NOT_FOUND (20160831/psparse-543)
ACPI Error: [\_SB_.PCI0.LPCB.H_EC.ECRD] Namespace lookup failure, AE_NOT_FOUND (20160831/psargs-359)
ACPI Error: Method parse/execution failed [\_TZ.TZ01._TMP] (Node f44bc1b0), AE_NOT_FOUND (20160831/psparse-543)

I wish I could relate a more satisfying solution than this: I swapped out the 7265D for a 7260 wireless card out of an ASUS UX303L I have with a broken screen. A few months ago I removed the broken screen and hinges and run the laptop hooked up to an external hdmi screen. Doing so has the side effect of rendering the built in wireless non-functional since the antenna wires route around the screen. Win10 still runs fine with the 7260 (no discernable difference), and now my Arch stick is getting speeds of about 18Mbit/s (according to the command line speedtest-cli program). I was at the point where I had just about given up tweaking software settings and rebooting and if I didn’t have a spare wifi card laying around I would probably have just brought this laptop back in to work and grabbed something less sexy since the slow wifi was that much of an annoyance to me.

Fixing my 19″ Samsung LCD monitor

Recently one of my monitors at work was refusing to go on in the morning. I’ve got two: a Samsung SyncMaster 940T and an HP L1950. Its sort of a wierd setup in that the (now quite old) PC I’m using came with a single VGA output, so I ended up buying an add-on DVI card, but I usually end up with whatever parts are left over after deploying stuff and I could only scam one DVI screen so I’ve got one VGA and one DVI screen hooked up. The problem was that every morning the screen was blank but the power light was blinking in a sort of double flash pattern. There was no message on screen for “No Signal”, and I know now that the blue light means that I was getting signal, but the monitor couldn’t display it.

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Over the air HDTV antenna

We didn’t ever watch that much TV anyway, so I don’t see canceling cable TV as much of a loss, but there is definitely a feeling of isolation without any TV access and if an emergency were to occur it would be nice to be able to tune in. Well, TV is still being broadcast over the air though it recently went digital. We applied for the DTV converter box at the time (anticipating this move) and I hauled it out to see what we could pull in. I only really wanted one particular channel – Channel 21 out of Garden City (about 25 miles away), PBS. Channel 21 in digital TV land is now three channels (21-1, 21-2, 21-3) and it would be really nice to watch the News Hour once in a while (and not having to stream it over the internet which you can do). It would be especially nice since we’ve actually pledged to the station over the years and now we can’t receive it at all.
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Canceling cable

We recently decided to cancel our cable TV service. At $75/mo for what they consider BASIC service, it just wasn’t a good *value*. We still have internet service through the cable company, and that product has been very good. After waiting for an hour on the phone to complete the cancellation, the high pressure sales guy I got transferred to at the ‘disconnect desk’ asked me what he could do to keep me as a customer. I said I’d like to pick which channels I wanted to pay for – I could rattle them off, but suffice to say there are definitely a few (even after the recent cancellation of the Food channel) that I wish I could tune into once in a while. He laughed and said “nobody offers an ala carte option!”
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Biking, gaming, painting, tilling

The weather was glorious, about 65 degrees F (I prefer days that aren’t so hot), and I got over to CP for a morning ride on Saturday. There weren’t too many folks there when I arrived, maybe 5 or 6 vehicles. Its only the third time I’ve been over there this season, and the second time I went I rode with a friend late after work and we only did 6.5 miles and one Black Diamond. This time I was going to hit them all and try to make it under an hour. The whole trail is about 9 miles when you do all the optional routes, and at the end of last season I was able to complete it in about 50 minutes if I booked. I’m rusty though, as I could tell from my first time marker (3 minutes over), but I wasn’t tiring, so I decided to attempt to do all three of the impossible hills in the back. I never make the first one, but the CLIMB guys had lain down some wood chips and the trails were really dry, and for the first time (ever) I made all three hills! I finished at 1 hr 7 mins, but it was a good ride. The new XTR high-rise dérailleur makes a big difference on the climbs, making it alot easier to get into the right gear on the way up.

XTR rear
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