ASUS ZenBook Duo UX481FL & Ubuntu (X-Post with /r/ASUS & /r/Ubuntu)
Recently I bought an ASUS ZenBook Duo UX481FL, and I thought I'd share my experience single-booting Ubuntu 20.04 LTS ("Focal Fossa")... There's a lot of folks talking about the various versions of the ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo - which I'd love to get (I can't justify spending AU$5,000+ / US$3,196+ on a laptop though!), but not many people talking about the "poor man's" version, the ZenBook Duo.
Firstly, I needed to disable "Intel RST Premium with Intel Optane System Acceleration" - the Ubuntu installer simply refused to continue until this was disabled... I don't know too much about it, but it appears to be some sort of functionality that treats the storage drive like a RAID setup - which seems illogical, because there's only the one storage drive in this particular laptop.
Anyway with the laptop off, hold "F2" whilst you press the "power" key and let go as soon as the ASUS logo appears. Once you're in the UEFI setup screen, you can disable "Intel RST Premium with Intel Optane System Acceleration" by going to Advanced tabSATA ConfigurationSATA Mode SelectionAHCI (it should be highlighted black)pressing EscSave & Exit tabSave Changes and Exit.
Secondly, let me say that the dual screens is a lot more than a gimmick... I bought this laptop partly because I thought I might have a use for dual screens and partly because I want to support ASUS' vision of "future laptops", but mostly because it's unique and I wanted to see how it ran under Linux-based operating systems - which is surprisingly well.
I find that I use the bottom display all the time - my e-mail stays there and when I'm performing a task that only requires my supervision (e.g. uploading files to my websites or copying files to / from another computer or storage drive), I'll have the relevant program on the "lower" display, whilst I continue to work or play on the "upper" display.
Definitely a step in the right direction for the future of laptops, and far more useful than the "TouchBar" on my son's (over-priced!) Apple MacBook Pro!
That's not to say everything is perfect - there are some things that don't work or don't work as they should, but in all fairness, this is to be expected when you have a laptop that is especially unique from a hardware perspective.
Screen and ScreenPad Plus
Both screens work "out-of-the-box" and the lower screen accepts "touch" input - though I don't have a stylus yet (waiting to hear back from ASUS if there was supposed to be one in the box or not), so I haven't played around with this too much... Ubuntu "sees" the lower display as a second built-in display, and you can join both displays, mirror them or use them as separate displays. You will need to initially go into Settings and "drag" the smaller display below the main display though, because the default setting is to the side of the "upper" display (Ubuntu will remember this choice between reboots, so you will only need to do this once): SettingsScreen Display.
The brightness can be adjusted on the "upper" display, but frustratingly not the lower display at the time of writing... I have seen some stuff online in reference to the ZenBook Pro Duo that suggests there may be a work-around for this until it is fixed in Ubuntu, GNOME and / or the Linux kernel, but I have not looked into this just yet.
There are hardware keys to swap the content on both screens (i.e. the content on the "upper" screen moves to the bottom, and vice-versa), and disable the "lower" screen - these have no effect under Ubuntu 20.04 LTS ("Focal Fossa") at the time of writing. You can disable one display or the other in Ubuntu's settings; if you disable to "upper" screen it will switch off completely, if you disable the "lower" screen, it will show no content, but the backlight is still on (i.e. it's just a "black", backlit screen with no content).
Touchpad / Numeric Pad
The touchpad works just as well as any other touchpad and you can enable / disable it using either the keyboard shortcut ("F6", when the function keys are disabled) or Ubuntu's respective setting (SettingsMouse & TouchpadTouchpadTouchpad)... Try as I might, I have not been able to get the numeric pad to appear as yet (it's supposed to display a touch-sensitive numeric pad when the touchpad is disabled) - I'm still trying to clarify the method which should be used under a Microsoft Windows-based operating system to achieve this, but at the time of writing I have had no luck under Ubuntu 20.04 LTS ("Focal Fossa") using various methods.
By default, the keyboard will have the "function" keys enabled after every reboot, even if you change this setting using the respective keyboard shortcut... I have not yet found a way to change this behavior, so if you're like me and prefer the "secondary function" of the function keys (e.g. volume or brightness adjustment) to be the "primary function", you will need to turn change this after each reboot: hold "Fn" and press "Esc" (the light on the "Fn" key should go off).
All of the "secondary functions" on the "function" keys (volume, brightness, etc...) seem to be working except for "F10" (which usually turns the camera on and off - it has no effect under Ubuntu), "F11" (screen-capture tool - it has no effect under Ubuntu) and "F12" (My ASUS - it has no effect under Ubuntu)... You should be able to change the function of these non-working keys in Ubuntu's settings (SettingsKeyboard Shortcuts), though I have not yet tested this.
The UEFI conveniently allows you to disable or enable certain functionality (such as the camera, bluetooth, etc...) at a UEFI level, though I have not yet tested this because like many people, I'm working from home at the moment and need all this stuff active (under normal circumstances, I would disable the camera)... Interestingly, the UEFI refers to a card reader, which does not seem to be mentioned in the specifications and is seemingly not present - I might have to look into this a little further (not that I actually have a need for a card reader).
No other issues have been identified at the time of writing. I can see that the ZenBook Pro Duo has some problems with the wireless networking (Wi-Fi) card and detecting the battery capacity - I have not had these problems with the ZenBook Duo. I also did not need to switch off SMART or Fast Boot, as some ZenBook Pro Duo users say they have had to do.
Lastly, some people say that they have had issues resuming from suspend with the ZenBook Pro Duo - I have not had issues resuming from suspend with the ZenBook Duo and as best I can tell, the laptop is in fact suspending when I close it (the laptop).
I will update this post if I identify any other issues or test any other stuff that I've missed.
Feel free to post any questions below and I will do my best to answer them...
submitted by gregory_opera