Back to the future – Dell XPS 9350 (4.3 kernel – old)

The Present

So my first post on this blog was about the Dell XPS 9333 compared to the System76 Galago UltraPro – I bought the System76 and don’t regret it at all. It’s a beast. The GPU is VERY strong (not as good as a discrete GPU but much better than the normal laptop level embedded GPU), the CPU is a MONSTER quad-core beast. The downside is battery life – it stinks. 3 hrs max .. if you are working it hard much less.

The Future

So with Dell’s new XPS 13 Skylake 9350 AND with a $100 rebate from MS I had to buy-in again. It’s just too nice of a footprint/screen/battery life to pass up. I love my Galago, but I love battery life when I don’t need the horsepower.

The Problem

Only problem is I didn’t want to run windows on it. MS was kind enough to give me $100 discount through a Christmas 2015 promotion, but I’m a linux guy and windows just isn’t as good for me. Problem is Dell’s Sputnik program doesn’t have everything worked out yet since Skylake is still fairly new and the drivers are only now in the 4.4 kernels which, as of this writing, are still in release candidate phase.

But never fear, here’s what I did to get it running!
NOTE: You’ll need a machine that DOES have internet access to do the below steps to copy the file to a thumb drive or other medium to transfer

  1. Put Ubuntu 15.10 on a thumb drive (get it here)
  2. Follow these steps on this wiki to download a custom 4.3 kernel
      1. If you don’t want to go to that link, download the custom 4.3 kernel by clicking this
      2. Go to terminal and change to directory you downloaded the file
      3. Enter the following
    tar jxf xps13_9350_kernel.tar.bz2
    sudo chown root:root brcmfmac4350-pcie.bin BCM-0a5c-6412.hcd
    sudo mv -t /lib/firmware/brcm/ BCM-0a5c-6412.hcd brcmfmac4350-pcie.bin
    sudo dpkg -i linux-headers-4.3.0-wifitest-custom_4.3.0-wifitest-custom-10.00.Custom_amd64.deb linux-image-4.3.0-wifitest-custom_4.3.0-wifitest-custom-10.00.Custom_amd64.deb
    
  3. Reboot and enjoy (NOTE: there is an issue with this 4.3 kernel where there is some static that comes from the speaker, this is more noticeable with headphones plugged in.)

I have had great luck with the above. I’m quite positive that I’ll have better luck with an official kernel and especially 4.4, but until then I’m not taking any kernel updates but do take all the other updates that ubuntu pushes.

Alternative

An alternative is to just buy an intel wifi device (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00GUNZUG0) and be done with it. 🙂

Also…

No matter what you do above (custom kernel or new wifi device) make sure you update from the X synaptic driver to the libinput X driver – it’s MUCH better.

Use these steps on a previous post.

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