Re: Alienware m17x r3 and Linux
I've been able to get Ubuntu 11.10 working quite well, I made a post on notebookreview.com and will cut and paste it all here for those who are wondering what to do to get things up and running right.
I am sure any distro will work fine, but I chose to work with ubuntu because it's easy to install and works best out of the box. When I have a bit more time to tinker around with gentoo, I would like to get that running due to the optimizations. Of course it's been about 8 years since I've ran gentoo so there's likely a lot to learn as it's way more hands on than the majority of distros out there.
I have the ATI build with a 6990M GPU, two drives, dual booting Win7 and Ubuntu, one OS per drive just in case things get fubar'd.
I've got Ubuntu 11.10 running quite well with my M17x R3 now.
A few notes.
You have to make a modification to your alsa config file to get the speakers working, otherwise the sound will only work from the headphone jack.
Ubuntu Forums - View Single Post - [ubuntu] NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560M on Ubunty 11.10 (Alienware M17xR...
I also had to disable the IGP in the modded A08 BIOS in order to actually get the ATI discreet graphics driver to load/function.
modded A08 bios
I opt'd to install the latest 12.3 catalyst driver instead of the ubuntu provided proprietary driver, it wasn't hard following the instructions to the letter, it just took some time to install all of the dependent packages.
Ubuntu Oneiric Installation Guide - cchtml.com
Also, the LCD backlight is too dim and requires a modification to the GRUB boot loader to get it to its normal brightness.
Most of the function keys work, obviously Alien FX doesn't, but the useful ones do work.
Unfortunately, I tried to install 12.04 and had some problems using the same modification for the speakers that work with 11.10. I assume the newer kernel driver for the sound has changed, but surely it will be figured out soon enough seeing that 12.04 is still in beta and not as widely used as 11.10.
So, yes, linux will work with the power hardware, it just takes some changes.
Disclaimer, if you do opt to do this: Be forwarned about flashing your BIOS, there is always a potential to brick your laptop! You do this at your own risk~