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Dell Inspiron 17R Special Edition - 7720


This is a compatibility guide unblocked games
to running Linux with the Dell Inspiron 17R Special Edition laptop. If you have the Dell Inspiron 17R Special Edition and are running Linux on it please consider editing this page or adding a comment below with your compatibility details. By contributing you will help other people running this laptop or trying to make a decision on whether to buy it or not.

This page is just for discussing using Linux on the Dell Inspiron 17R Special Edition. For a general discussion about this laptop you can visit the Dell Inspiron 17R Special Edition page on LapWik.

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For full specifications see the Dell Inspiron 17R Special Edition specifications page.

NameDell Inspiron 17R Special Edition
Dell Inspiron 7720
Processor3rd Generation Intel Core i5-3230M processor (3M Cache, up to 3.2 GHz)
3rd Generation Intel Core i7-3632QM (6MB cache, up to 3.2Ghz)
Screen17.3“ 1920×1080 Widescreen
17.3” 1920×1080 3D Widescreen
RAMUp to 8GB
HDDUp to 1TB
Optical DriveDVD+-RW
GraphicsIntel HD Graphics 4000 + NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M (Optimus)
Network10/100 Ethernet Realtek 8101E/8102E
Intel Centrino Wireless-N 2230

Linux Compatibility

Optical DriveWorks
Graphics ChipHD 4000 worksOptimus mode needs additional software
VGA OutWorks
HDMI OutWorks
Bulti-in MicrophoneWorks
Headphone JackWorks
Microphone JackWorks
EthernetWorksneeds non-free firmware-realtek
WirelessWorksneeds non-free firmware-iwlwifi
BluetoothWorksXFCE: install blueman
Card ReaderWorks
Touch PadWorks
Suspend/ResumeWorksSuspend and Hibernate are both working


Debian Wheezy Installation

Assumption: Windows 8 is installed in UEFI mode (default) and you want to install Debian Wheezy as a second OS.

UEFI mode and lots of RAM (4GB and more) is well supported by 64-bit Linux (amd64). 32-bit Linux (i386) might work as well, but is not tested in this guide.


Use Windows Disk Management to reduce a partition to create free space for Linux.

Installation Media

Debian installer images do not include non-free firmware files. This notebook needs non-free firmware for the ethernet and wlan controller, so the installer can't access the network.

The easiest way to solve this is to use the unofficial installers from Choose an ISO image and either burn it to CD/DVD or dd it to an USB stick.

Booting Installer

First enter BIOS setting (F2) to disable secure boot, because Debian uses an unsigned boot loader.

Booting a device is tricky, I didn't manage to directly boot an USB stick from BIOS. Boot Windows 8 into the boot menu, select “Use a device” and then select the boot device.


Nothing special.

First Boot

The GRUB bootloader is now shown, booting Windows 8 doesn't work. Booting Linux works, but then the screen freezes.

Don't panic !!!

With UEFI you don't have just one bootloader as with good old MBR, but you can have several one. In our case we have both the GRUB and the Windows 8 bootloader. During Notebook startup, you can choose the bootloader with F12, the default can be configured in the BIOS setup (F2). If you use the Windows bootloader, Windows 8 loads normal. Later the GRUB bootloader will be changed, so that it can load Windows 8 as well.

Now let's go on with Debian.

Boot into GRUB, go into edit mode with “e” and then add the option “nouveau.modeset=0” in the line beginning with linux. This will temporary disable the NVIDIA graphic card. Now Linux should boot.

Currently (end of april 2013) there are 3 available options to deal with the optimus graphic card configuration:

  1. Permanently disable the NVIDIA chip
  2. Install bumblebee, see
  3. Install NVIDIA beta driver

The easiest way is to use option 1:

  • Disable the NVIDIA driver permanently
    sudo sh -c 'echo "blacklist nouveau" > /etc/modprobe.d/nouveau-blacklist.conf'
  • Power down the NVIDIA chip, to save power and reduce fan noise
    Currently the bbswitch utility is in wheezy-backports, see
    Either add the Wheezy backports repository to /etc/apt/sources.list and install normally or download the package and install it with dpkg -i.
    sudo -s
    aptitude install dkms
    aptitude install bbswitch-dkms                    # if Wheezy backports repository is added
    dpkg -i bbswitch-dkms_0.7-1~bpo70+1_amd64.deb     # if manually downloaded
    echo "bbswitch load_state=0" >> /etc/modules
    update-initramfs -u

Fix GRUB to boot Windows 8

The OS prober creates a grub boot entry for Windows that doesn't work, apply the following fix:

  • Become root user
  • Disable OS prober
    Add the following to /etc/default/grub
    # Uncomment to disable OS prober
  • Create Windows 8 boot entry
    Create file /boot/grub/custom.cfg
    menuentry "Windows 8 (loader)" --class windows --class os {
            insmod part_gpt
            set root='(hd0,gpt1)'
            chainloader /EFI/Microsoft/Boot/bootmgfw.efi
  • Update GRUB configuration


The Touchpad is detected as a PS/2 mouse. It works, but without any multitouch capabilities.

Installing the ALPS driver V1.3 from adds mutitouch support.


Download psmouse-alps-1.3-alt.tbz
sudo -s
aptitude install dkms       # if dkms is not already installed
tar --no-same-owner -C / -xvf psmouse-alps-1.3-alt.tbz
cd /usr/src/psmouse-alps-1.3
./ dkms_build_alps

To fine tune the configuration, create directory /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d and create a configuration file, for details see

SpeedStep / CPU frequency scaling

CPU frequency scaling will raise and lower the frequency of your processor depending on the demand. This will save battery power and lower the temperature of your processor(s) to keep the machine cooler.

Installation is quite easy:

  • Install software with “aptitude install cpufreqd cpufrequtils”
  • Adapt /etc/cpufreqd.conf to your needs
  • Reboot


To enable more features of your soundcard, set the option “model=ref”:

sudo sh -c 'echo "options snd-hda-intel model=ref" > /etc/modprobe.d/snd-hda-intel.conf'

Then reboot your computer.

Now open a terminal and start “alsamixer”. Go with cursor right to “Mono Mux”, with cursor up/down you choose the mode, with ESC you leave the program.

There are three possible modes:

  • DAC0: subwoofer enabled, loudness can't be changed
  • DAC1: subwoofer enabled, loudness is controlled by the Headphone control
  • Mixer: subwoofer disabled.

In the beginning I had the problem, that DAC1/Headphone didn't work. After some trial-and-error, I found that the saved values of the previous soundcard configuration created the problem.

To start with a clean state is not that easy, as removing the saved configuration in file /var/lib/alsa/asound.state and rebooting won't help. The file is recreated during shutdown. I used this procedure to set all sound settings to default:

sudo -s
rm /var/lib/alsa/asound.state
mount -t tmpfs none /var/lib/alsa

Hide special partitions in file manager

The file manager shows all available partitions for easy mounting. But fiddling with all those reserved partitions is just risky without adding any real benefit.

Hide partititions (as root):

  • Identify the system partitions, “blkid” will help you.
  • Create file /etc/udev/rules.d/99-hide-disks.rules with the follwing contents, adapt to your needs:


After some initial difficulties, Linux runs quite well on the Dell 17R SE.


Adriantoth, 2019/08/09 05:37


John Doe, 2017/10/01 13:41

First of all thanks for this article.
I'm using Raspbian-jessie PIXEL.
Fn-Keys don't work for me.
Especially the ones for changing the brightness of the screen!
Do you have any idea what i could do against this extremely bright screen?
Thanks in advance.

Miko, 2014/04/02 00:14

I have lost sound after using Your advices, any help here. No error occured during config.

Łukasz, 2014/01/24 08:11

i8k module does not work properly with this model, fan goes at full speed for most of the time.(may work different depending on motherboard revision)

Marcel, 2014/07/30 21:52

I second that and in fact I've opened a bug report in here:
Please do follow the bug since this may help it get noticed and fixed.

neimovirne, 2013/12/21 18:12

if i configered my subwoofer like ur guide, when i take headphones sebwoofer do not off, and play all time ?

Jan, 2013/09/22 14:19

Thanks a lot for this article, everything worked fine, some things weren't even needed but the setup guide for touchpad and subwoofer is priceless.


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dell_inspiron_17r_special_edition.txt · Last modified: 2018/12/17 02:10 by
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