Razer Blade Stealth Laptop On Linux, Various Linux Laptop Performance Metrics

Written by Michael Larabel in Computers on 30 August 2017 at 10:55 AM EDT. Page 2 of 9. 29 Comments.

The first issue I ran into was a bit surprising and didn't end up being a Linux-specific issue, but worth mentioning for potential customers... The Razer Blade Stealth was loaded with Windows 10 and after running a few tests there, I installed Ubuntu. That's when I noticed it was reporting "no battery" / "0% charge"... Even though by that point it had been plugged in for several hours. After trying a different kernel and some other package changes, still no luck in getting the battery to work. When trying to power on the system via battery, it also was not working.

When inquiring to Razer, it turns out there is an issue with the laptops where if left unplugged for extended periods of time, the battery will not charge. This is corrected by updating the EC firmware of the laptop from v1.0 to v2.0. Well, unfortunately, their EC updating software package is Windows-only. I ended up having to reinstall Windows 10 on this laptop just to be able to use the battery. After doing so, the battery charged and I have not ran into any further issues. It would be nice if they had made a bootable image for being able to update the EC or if they supported fwupd or so for being able to easily update the firmware under Linux. I have yet to hear back from Razer if this is a widespread issue and/or if their newer laptops are already shipping with the newer embedded controller code by default. Details on the problem at Razer Support.

The Realtek USB web camera on Linux was also running into some oddities that it wasn't working at first with GNOME's Cheese but did with other applications. When setting the camera resolution to 720p it appeared to work more reliably.

The battery/EC snafu and web camera oddities were the only real problem encountered in the two weeks of testing under a variety of Linux distributions. The Razer Blade Stealth does feature a backlit keyboard, which turns on by default, but is not togglable. Under Windows, Razer produces software for being able to toggle the keyboard backlight and even change its colors, but that does not currently exist under Linux.

The Linux distributions tested on the Razer Blade Stealth review unit were Ubuntu 17.04, Antergos 17.8, Fedora 26, openSUSE Tumbleweed, Clear Linux, and Solus 3. No problems to report on these Linux distributions with the Stealth aside from where otherwise noted. Though for those trying to use Clear Linux on laptops, be aware the installer needs a wired Ethernet connection to proceed, so that meant using a USB Ethernet adapter to install it. After installation, the WiFi was detected and could be configured. Clear Linux also doesn't ship with any touchpad support out-of-the-box, but these aren't issues specific at all to the Stealth.

Some notes on the components found in this Razer Blade Stealth... The WiFi is backed by a Qualcomm Atheros QCA6174 802.11ac controller using the ath10k_pci driver. The 256GB SSD used is a Samsung PM951 NVMe. The Bluetooth is using an Atheros chipset 0xe300. The web camera is from Realtek (0x579f). The touchpad is from Elan Microelectronics with a product ID of 0x223c.

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