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.

Why I do not use Bing or Yahoo for search

The top sponsored ad on the Microsoft search engine for the biggest company in the nation (Walmart) should not be sending people to a phishing server.


The user got an annoying pop up which locked up the browser (had to be killed with task manager). I notice that Bing is set as the default search engine in the user’s browser (Firefox). The user had been searching for “Walmart” and clicked on the first result (a sponsored Microsoft ad) which sent the user to the non-secure (http) walmart.com. Apparently that machine or the DNS pointing to that machine is redirecting folks to pcxxrry0555.xyz (a domain registered with GoDaddy and seemingly sitting on a Highwinds server in Arizona somewhere).

Thanks Microsoft!

In Memory of Rich Conaty

I’ve listened to Rich Conaty most Sunday nights for maybe 25 years now. He didn’t know me, but I feel like I knew him some. He was always there as the week came to its close when I knew I’d have to be getting up in the morning and doing it all again soon. Sadly, Rich won’t be getting up anymore and this is just a quick post of remembrance for him. He will live on in the WFUV collections of the Big Broadcast he compiled over the years and I’m sure I will be listening to them in years to come and thinking of him. If you can’t tune into WFUV locally, you can certainly stream them over the internet. I’ve been pitching the Big Broadcast to folks for years as a great education in the music of the 19 teens, twenties, and thirties and while I will continue to do so now it will be bittersweet. Thanks for all the great tunes, Rich!

In Memory of Rich Conaty, the Big Broadcast WFUV, 90.7 FM NY

big_broadcast

Windows 10 Express Spying Settings

The default privacy settings for Windows 10 anger me. Hiding the fact that you will be collecting everything a user types, says, or searches for on the Internet behind a big, obvious “Express Settings” button (which most users are likely to click during the setup process) and providing only a tiny text link to “Customize” these very important choices is just sneaky and wrong. Providing a way to turn all this tracking off is great, but such overt trickery makes me wonder if switching these settings to off really does anything at all. Some users might be happy to hear that Windows 10 offers bitlocker disk encryption, but at least in the Home version your private key gets uploaded to a Microsoft server which pretty much makes using it a non-starter for me.

windows10_setup

If you’re one of the folks who need to use this operating system, you can find out what privacy settings Microsoft makes available to you by reviewing the stories linked below but understand that with every update these options may (and likely will) change. There is no guarantee that any of these settings will actually do what you might expect them to do because with any closed source, proprietary software there is no way for a third party to audit the code directly. All that a concerned person can do is poke around with network tools and infer.