Author Topic: PCIe SSD and Linux  (Read 904 times)

PCIe SSD and Linux
« on: December 29, 2020, 08:49:47 pm »
I hope this will not be necessary (the new laptop has gone back to the shop for checking, remedying). My new laptop has a PCIe SSD as hard drive (and only that, it's an ultrabook!). I have been trying out distros since Christmas, looking to install (probably Ubuntu although it might be Mint). Everything works very nicely, graphics, sound, webcam, wifi, french keyboard and language support - everything except the access to the SSD. No distro that I have tried even sees the disk, it might as well not be there. Even if there were a driver problem I would expect the distro or Gparted to see the disk (even if it could not access it).

To compound the problem the disk is present in the Bios but there is also Intel RST present (although it can't be doing anything since there are no SATA disks for it to be controlling). Ubuntu (and Mint) tell me to disable RST but I can't; there is no way of modifying it in the Bios, entering that sub-menu gives presence but no enable or disable option. Manjaro (Arch derivative) doesn't tell me to disable RST, just says there is no partition to install to! Asking Ubuntu (Live) to update drivers gives the information that everything is present and up to date (open-source and proprietary). The cd with the machine gives a load of Windows drivers to install (including Wifi, which works fine under Linux) but none for PCIe disks!

Am I probably right in assuming 1) that there should be a generic PCIe driver in Linux that will handle an SSD, 2) that normally the distro should see the disk even if it were unable to access it and 3) that in this case the RST shouldn't affect the installation since it has no influence in the functioning of a PCIe disk? As I say above I have left the problem in the hands of the supplier (good reason for buying locally rather than over the net) and if push comes to shove I will get them to do the installation of the OS - but it would be nice to know the opinions of others on this. The Bios was checked as up to date before I took delivery. I am suspecting a problem with the SSD (Samsung 250Go).

Re: PCIe SSD and Linux
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2020, 09:45:38 pm »
Linux has supported PCIe NVMe for a long time. Some bios have a "secret" SATA menu enabled by CTRL+S in the main menu (possibly to make it difficult for users to disable RST and stop Windows booting).

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: PCIe SSD and Linux
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2020, 12:22:38 am »

Is it not showing up as /dev/nvme0n1p0 or some such?

J
--
Beer, bikes, and backpacking
http://b.42q.eu/

Re: PCIe SSD and Linux
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2021, 11:42:13 am »
Sorry for the delay in replying. I had seen your replies but only on the telephone which doesn't have my log-in on it.

Linux has supported PCIe NVMe for a long time. Some bios have a "secret" SATA menu enabled by CTRL+S in the main menu (possibly to make it difficult for users to disable RST and stop Windows booting).

Thanks; that is pretty much what I would have thought. I might have a problem in looking for something called sda.. not having had anything to do  with PCIe before but basically the driver is there and it should show up on the desktop or in one of the graphical tools.

There is a SATA menu apparently quite open in the BIOS with a blank square by each of the 4 SATA locations (wot I would call an emplacement in french, don't know what they are called in anglo-saxon!! ??? ??? ). Since there are no physical SATA locations on the board, only one PCIe which is occupied this is not surprising. I can't remember what was on the user manual cd for this, I don't recall it being particularly illuminating. Similarly there is a RST entry in the BIOS but it does nothing. Perhaps that is where a secret control could do something. I have TPM disabled to prevent the boot skipping the checks, which seems to be the factory default but is what I would want.


Is it not showing up as /dev/nvme0n1p0 or some such?

J

I am sorry the last time I had to look for partitions actively in Linux it was Mandrake and they were in /mnt (which is where I looked of course). Since then I have always been a graphic user and never found the need to learn command line (pure laziness on my part). Between that and not looking for the right label (idiotically forgetting that a PCIe disk would not be called sda1) I might well have missed something. But then Manjaro's installer clearly told me "no partition" so that didn't find it either. Is nvme the label for a partition on a PCIe interface?

Thank you Philip and QG for the replies; they are really very helpful. Now I wait for the laptop to come back and see what the shop says (the brief being to make sure that a Linux installer can find a partition to install to!)


quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: PCIe SSD and Linux
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2021, 11:55:33 am »
I am sorry the last time I had to look for partitions actively in Linux it was Mandrake and they were in /mnt (which is where I looked of course). Since then I have always been a graphic user and never found the need to learn command line (pure laziness on my part). Between that and not looking for the right label (idiotically forgetting that a PCIe disk would not be called sda1) I might well have missed something. But then Manjaro's installer clearly told me "no partition" so that didn't find it either. Is nvme the label for a partition on a PCIe interface?

Thank you Philip and QG for the replies; they are really very helpful. Now I wait for the laptop to come back and see what the shop says (the brief being to make sure that a Linux installer can find a partition to install to!)

Well...

the device will appear in /dev/. The stuff in /mnt will be filesystems on devices that have been mounted. What is in /dev/ is one layer down the onion.

For sata disks, they show up as /dev/sd.... where .... is a, b, c etc... depending on which disk it is, and 1,2,3 etc... for the partition on the disk, so /dev/sdb2 is sata dist 2, partition 2.

NVME does something similar, they will show up variously as:

Code: [Select]
$ ls -1 /dev/nvme*
/dev/nvme0
/dev/nvme0n1
/dev/nvme0n1p1
/dev/nvme0n1p2

Except it's NVME bus 0, device number 1, petition 1 and 2. Which trips a lot of people up.

Anyway, ls -l /dev/nvme* should tell you if your device is NVME rather than SATA. Which is the case for most SSD's in laptops.

J
--
Beer, bikes, and backpacking
http://b.42q.eu/

Re: PCIe SSD and Linux
« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2021, 12:19:17 pm »
I've never used Intel RST but my understanding is that if you cannot disable it then you need to configure RAID in the bios before attempting to install Linux. The Linux installer will then see the RAID device rather then the raw device.

jiberjaber

  • ... Fancy Pants \o/ ...
  • ACME S&M^2
Re: PCIe SSD and Linux
« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2021, 12:36:11 pm »
Sorry for the delay in replying. I had seen your replies but only on the telephone which doesn't have my log-in on it.

Linux has supported PCIe NVMe for a long time. Some bios have a "secret" SATA menu enabled by CTRL+S in the main menu (possibly to make it difficult for users to disable RST and stop Windows booting).

Thanks; that is pretty much what I would have thought. I might have a problem in looking for something called sda.. not having had anything to do  with PCIe before but basically the driver is there and it should show up on the desktop or in one of the graphical tools.

There is a SATA menu apparently quite open in the BIOS with a blank square by each of the 4 SATA locations (wot I would call an emplacement in french, don't know what they are called in anglo-saxon!! ??? ??? ). Since there are no physical SATA locations on the board, only one PCIe which is occupied this is not surprising. I can't remember what was on the user manual cd for this, I don't recall it being particularly illuminating. Similarly there is a RST entry in the BIOS but it does nothing. Perhaps that is where a secret control could do something. I have TPM disabled to prevent the boot skipping the checks, which seems to be the factory default but is what I would want.


Is it not showing up as /dev/nvme0n1p0 or some such?

J

I am sorry the last time I had to look for partitions actively in Linux it was Mandrake and they were in /mnt (which is where I looked of course). Since then I have always been a graphic user and never found the need to learn command line (pure laziness on my part). Between that and not looking for the right label (idiotically forgetting that a PCIe disk would not be called sda1) I might well have missed something. But then Manjaro's installer clearly told me "no partition" so that didn't find it either. Is nvme the label for a partition on a PCIe interface?

Thank you Philip and QG for the replies; they are really very helpful. Now I wait for the laptop to come back and see what the shop says (the brief being to make sure that a Linux installer can find a partition to install to!)

Any help?

https://discourse.ubuntu.com/t/ubuntu-installation-on-computers-with-intel-r-rst-enabled/15347   
Regards,

Joergen

Re: PCIe SSD and Linux
« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2021, 09:16:03 pm »
I've never used Intel RST but my understanding is that if you cannot disable it then you need to configure RAID in the bios before attempting to install Linux. The Linux installer will then see the RAID device rather then the raw device.

Except that there are no RAID devices installed (unless I am supposed to configure the SSD as a RAID device, but that would be difficult with only one disk and no provision for a second one). I can't partition the disk that's there, I can't access it (and RAID is a closed book to me).






Any help?

https://discourse.ubuntu.com/t/ubuntu-installation-on-computers-with-intel-r-rst-enabled/15347   

The Ubuntu installer refers me to this link when it detects rst (in my case when I configure the french keyboard on live boot!). It didn't help me much other than pointing to a potential conflict - which is the point at which I asked the techies at the seller to try to find the problem. They haven't come back yet but it is holiday time.

Re: PCIe SSD and Linux
« Reply #8 on: January 02, 2021, 10:24:43 pm »
If you have RST and you cannot disable it then as far as I can see you have no option other than to use RST in the bios to make a RAID device out of the drives you have, even if that is just one drive.

RST is also used in some systems to combine optane memory with a single disk.

Re: PCIe SSD and Linux
« Reply #9 on: January 03, 2021, 05:21:41 pm »
If you have RST and you cannot disable it then as far as I can see you have no option other than to use RST in the bios to make a RAID device out of the drives you have, even if that is just one drive.

RST is also used in some systems to combine optane memory with a single disk.

There is an entry on optane memory in the set-up manual (which I can't now refer to because the cd went back with the laptop) but it didn't help matters. I think it referred only to sata disks.
It was after going round in circles with RST that I decided to refer back to the seller! Now I will wait and see; I would have no qualms in asking the shop to install Ubuntu for me if I couldn't progress.

Re: PCIe SSD and Linux
« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2021, 11:17:19 am »
The shop have contacted me. There is no way of disabling RST and no way of installing Linux (or at least Ubuntu and it's derivatives) on this laptop! I am going over this afternoon to discuss what we do next - they have offered money back or a different laptop (which will probably be bigger-as in physically bigger - or more expensive). I will look and see but probably go for the alternative laptop option - I would rather have something from them than from a supermarket!

Does one go for avoiding Intel products since they are hand in glove with M$? Or Insyde Bios'?

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: PCIe SSD and Linux
« Reply #11 on: January 05, 2021, 11:34:56 am »
The shop have contacted me. There is no way of disabling RST and no way of installing Linux (or at least Ubuntu and it's derivatives) on this laptop! I am going over this afternoon to discuss what we do next - they have offered money back or a different laptop (which will probably be bigger-as in physically bigger - or more expensive). I will look and see but probably go for the alternative laptop option - I would rather have something from them than from a supermarket!

Does one go for avoiding Intel products since they are hand in glove with M$? Or Insyde Bios'?

I've never had any issue installing on a thinkpad. If that's an option for the alternative choice.

J
--
Beer, bikes, and backpacking
http://b.42q.eu/

Re: PCIe SSD and Linux
« Reply #12 on: January 05, 2021, 11:37:05 am »
You haven't mentioned which model you tried. Both Dell and Lenovo sell laptops with Linux pre-installed, although they do not appear to list them on the UK section of their websites (maybe France is different). The Dell XPS developer edition is quite a high-end laptop. The Lenovo Thinkpads come in a variety of specs and often have reasonable Linux compatibility. There are a number of specialist retailers that sell generic laptops with Linux pre-installed. I have Linux on a Thinkpad Carbon X1, but it is several years old.

quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: PCIe SSD and Linux
« Reply #13 on: January 05, 2021, 11:44:50 am »
You haven't mentioned which model you tried. Both Dell and Lenovo sell laptops with Linux pre-installed, although they do not appear to list them on the UK section of their websites (maybe France is different). The Dell XPS developer edition is quite a high-end laptop. The Lenovo Thinkpads come in a variety of specs and often have reasonable Linux compatibility. There are a number of specialist retailers that sell generic laptops with Linux pre-installed. I have Linux on a Thinkpad Carbon X1, but it is several years old.

I have it on this X1 carbon gen 7 that is about a year old. I also have it on the X231 behind me, and on the previous work laptop of an X270. I like the X series.

Also thinkpads have nipples...

J
--
Beer, bikes, and backpacking
http://b.42q.eu/

Re: PCIe SSD and Linux
« Reply #14 on: January 05, 2021, 12:30:21 pm »
You haven't mentioned which model you tried. Both Dell and Lenovo sell laptops with Linux pre-installed, although they do not appear to list them on the UK section of their websites (maybe France is different). The Dell XPS developer edition is quite a high-end laptop. The Lenovo Thinkpads come in a variety of specs and often have reasonable Linux compatibility. There are a number of specialist retailers that sell generic laptops with Linux pre-installed. I have Linux on a Thinkpad Carbon X1, but it is several years old.

I have it on this X1 carbon gen 7 that is about a year old. I also have it on the X231 behind me, and on the previous work laptop of an X270. I like the X series.

Also thinkpads have nipples...

J
The shop have contacted me. There is no way of disabling RST and no way of installing Linux (or at least Ubuntu and it's derivatives) on this laptop! I am going over this afternoon to discuss what we do next - they have offered money back or a different laptop (which will probably be bigger-as in physically bigger - or more expensive). I will look and see but probably go for the alternative laptop option - I would rather have something from them than from a supermarket!

Does one go for avoiding Intel products since they are hand in glove with M$? Or Insyde Bios'?

I've never had any issue installing on a thinkpad. If that's an option for the alternative choice.

J

There are undoubtedly other options from my supplier, just different models, sizes, weights and specs (and prices :( ). I do not recall ever seeing anyone specifically in France specifically offering a Linux installed laptop. They undoubtedly exist but Linux here is for geeks who are an exclusive clique (and may well source their stuff from outside the world of "normal computer users". Even the administration expect you to be on Windows). I would have no trouble finding a Linux laptop from the advertisers on Distrowatch. I just chose (like I do) to buy from a real person, not a wifi connection!

Re: PCIe SSD and Linux
« Reply #15 on: January 09, 2021, 02:01:55 pm »
Just an update to say that this morning I have got my laptop back - with Ubuntu installed on it! The technician, Alexandre, who originally said that it wasn't possible, found a work-around from one of his colleagues which involved changing the SSD. He had to order the SSD as someone had sold the one he wanted to use. Then he installed a recent Ubuntu just to make sure that it was alright (I'm not sure if it is the last LTS or the more recent short cycle one but I have the password - obviously - so I can go on from there). All no charge (which might be expected but is very nice all the same!). It does pay to deal with real humans rather than virtual ones!!

jiberjaber

  • ... Fancy Pants \o/ ...
  • ACME S&M^2
Re: PCIe SSD and Linux
« Reply #16 on: January 11, 2021, 11:37:14 pm »
Good result!
Regards,

Joergen