hardware, linux

Dell XPS 9350 + Ubuntu 16.04 (beta1, Feb 27th)

Summary

I have been DYING to try Mir every since it was announced. Moving X forward, new libinput integrated for a solid touchpad experience .. the entire thing is very exciting. Since I’m lucky enough to have a System76 Galago Ultrapro AND Dell XPS 13 9350 I figured I’d try to install 16.04beta1 (ubuntu/unity) on my XPS. I figured if it blew the laptop up I have another daily driver I can use.’

EDIT 2/28/2016 – I have the XPS 9350 1080p i5 no touchscreen model with broadcom wifi.

NOTE 4/7/2016: Read the comments for good feedback from others trying. Luis noted: “..before attempting to install one needs to boot and in the BIOS configure SATA-controller to AHCI (or Off).”. He also noted there’s a bug for the screen flicker issue.

Installation

I downloaded the nightly iso from here and burned it to a thumb drive with the ‘Startup Disk Creator’ app in Ubuntu. Plugged it into the XPS and rebooted, selected the USB drive and off I went.

Wifi

Wifi was detected immediately during the installation, that was a huge sign for me since I have the Broadcom chip in my XPS, which historically has not been supported on linux at all until the 4.3/4.4 kernels. Good news is it’s working like a champ.

Display

The display looks as good as ever, no issues at all during the installation.

Special Keys/Touchpad/Keyboard

Everything “just worked” during installation.

Installation Wrapup

Everything worked flawlessly. I even installed using UEFI (when I was running 15.10 I had turned this off in the BIOS and was using ‘legacy’ mode). Now onto the details of how it’s running after installation.

Post-Installation

Mir

After installation the first thing I wanted to do was install Mir and test it out. I installed it using the following

sudo apt-get -y update && sudo apt-get -y dist-upgrade && sudo apt-get -y unity8-desktop-session-mir

On reboot I clicked the little ubuntu icon above and to the right of my username and changed it to the mir ‘8’ (looks like an 8-ball to me). I logged in and … nothing. Dunno what happened, I rebooted the laptop and logged in again and this time it logged in! (…..and looked terrible).

The resolution was screwed up, I couldn’t launch anything … to me it looked like it thought it was in some sort of phone or tablet mode. I have no idea and I couldn’t adjust anything so I quickly gave up. Oh well, I’ll keep trying as they get closer to release.

Other Software

The other things I normally do on a new installation are install chrome, dropbox, libinput.

Chrome

You can quickly install chrome using the following

cd ~/Downloads
wget https://dl.google.com/linux/direct/google-chrome-stable_current_amd64.deb && sudo dpkg -i google-chrome-stable_current_amd64.deb && sudo apt-get -f -y install

I ended up needing the ‘apt-get -f install’ to correct dependencies … seemed to work fine and chrome was immediately available from the launcher.

Dropbox

You can quickly install dropbox using the following

cd ~/Downloads
wget -O - "https://www.dropbox.com/download?plat=lnx.x86_64" | tar xzf -
sudo dpkg -i dropbox_2015.10.28_amd64.deb && sudo apt-get -y install python-gtk2 && sudo apt-get -f -y install

Libinput

You can use my steps from my StackOverflow post here. Vote my answer up if you used it. 🙂

External Monitor

I was hoping the external monitor worked, and does … sorta.

I bought this cable before and it worked… and still does. But I could only get the monitor to turn on when the laptop was unplugged from the power supply. And I had to unplug the external monitor cable from the laptop a couple times THEN it would come up. Then I could plug in the laptop to the power supply and everything worked fine (I’m using it now to type in this blog post).

So I certainly still recommend the cable, just make sure you unplug the power connector from the laptop, then plug the external monitor cable into the USB-C, then once the monitor is on you can plug the power connector back in.

It’s weird .. but it worked and I’m not complaining too much honestly.

UPDATE: 4/7/2016 – External monitor no longer works. Hoping by release things are back to working.

Wrapup

I’d call this a roaring success honestly. With the very notable exception of Mir, everything else on the laptop works 100% out of the box (including Unity 7). Mir will stabilize … but not having to mess around with wifi drivers or skylake processor issues by installing kernels by hand is a WONDERFUL success for 16.04 for me.

Let me know in the comments if you have good experiences installing 16.04.

EDIT: Well, after I rebooted I can’t get to a login screen. 🙂 I unplugged external monitor … unplugged power cable .. rebooted a couple times. No dice. THAT’S NOT GOOD!! 🙂 Nice thing is I can get to a terminal windows and it has wifi so I can keep updating with ‘apt-get’ and see how things evolve. So for now don’t upgrade if you want a working laptop … YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!

LAST EDIT! Everything is good. It was the libinput settings file. I adjusted my stackoverflow post to include a couple more lines and things are booting fine.