Thursday, June 30, 2016

Installing Ubuntu on a MSI GS60 6QE (Ghost Pro) laptop (and fixing issues)

This guide explains how I managed to install Ubuntu 16.04 (Xenial Xerus) on a MSI GS60 6QE (Ghost Pro) laptop, equipped with a Qualcomm Atheros QCA6174 802.11ac [168c:0003] wireless chipset and a NVIDIA GeForce GTX970M graphics card. The encountered issues and fixes may be valid for other MSI laptop models and even other makes with similar chipsets.

  1. Problem: Cannot install the distribution.
  2. Problem: Can see wireless networks but not connect to them.
  3. Problem: Some tasks freeze the laptop, like running lspci, suspending, shutting down or rebooting the laptop. This is because one CPU core stays at 100% indefinitely, somehow turning the laptop unusable.
  4. Problem: Screen brightness keeps changing values every now and then.


Problem #1: Solving the installation issue

  • Enter the BIOS Setup by pressing the DELETE key at the beginning of the boot sequence and select:
Boot > Boot mode select: UEFI with CSM
Boot > Fast Boot: Disabled
Boot > Boot Option #1: <select your USD device here>
Security > Secure Boot: Disabled
  • Boot your Ubuntu installer (from an USB drive) and wait for the GRUB (bootloader) screen.
  • Scroll down to the Install Ubuntu entry and press the 'e' key.
  • Before quiet splash, write:
  • Press F10 to run the installer with the new configuration and it should now run fine.
  • Connect an ethernet cable (your Wi-Fi card won't work at this point yet) and check:
Install third-party software for graphics and Wi-Fi hardware...
  • After installation and reboot, enter BIOS Setup again and select:
Boot > Boot mode select: UEFI
Boot > Fast Boot: Enabled
 DON'T re-enable Security > Secure Boot (more on this below)
  • Remove the USB drive save the new settings, exit BIOS, and let Ubuntu boot successfully.


Problem #2: Solving the Wi-Fi issue

  • Connect to a wired network, open a Terminal, update your packages, and tweak the wireless adapter as follows:
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
echo "options ath10k_core skip_otp=Y" | sudo tee /etc/modprobe.d/ath10k_core.conf
  • Reboot just to be sure, and your wireless adapter should be fully functional.


Problem #3: Solving the CPU core at 100% issue

  • Select:
System Settings > Software & Updates > Additional Drivers
    Using NVIDIA binary driver
  • Reboot and make sure Secure Boot is disabled in the BIOS once again. Otherwise, you will find yourself in a loop when you try to login.

Problem #4: Solving the screen brightness change issue

I haven't investigated a solution for this issue yet, since it is not a showstopper. I will update this post in the future. Please let me know in the comments if you know of a solution.