hardware, linux

Ubuntu 16.04 Release + Dell XPS 13 9350

April 23, 2016

UPDATE 5/11/2016 – The flicker is apparently Chrome only and has a report to Google. If you use firefox you won’t see this screen flickering. You can also run Chrome via “google-chrome –disable-gpu-driver-bug-workarounds –enable-native-gpu-memory-buffers” and the flickering will stop. You can also edit the desktop file which will allow you to launch the app as you would normally through the launchers – it lives at “/usr/share/applications/google-chrome.desktop”.


I’ve blogged before about my experiences with the new skylake XPS 13. I’ve been VERY happy with the laptop and wanted to give a status now that 16.04 is released.

Fn Key Behavior

All Fn keys work as expected. Notable (?) exceptions seem to be FFWD/RWND and the ‘search’ button (F9). The most important ones for me are display brightness and volume … those work perfectly as well as mute/keyboard brightness and wifi on/off. Interesting wifi on/off (which shares space with the PrtScr (print screen) key seems to favor printing the screen FIRST even though I have the Fn keys turned on. I’m actually not upset about this since I rarely need to disconnect wifi and would maybe use the PrtScr function now and again (normally I just use the Screenshot app so I don’t see myself doing either one honestly).

Suspend/Resume

Everything is working perfectly here. Plugged in or not it does what I have specified which is when the lid is closed it suspends.

Battery Life

I haven’t run any specific battery test with details, based on my experience this things is a champ. I get plenty of battery life on it no matter what I’m doing. On my System76 Galago UltraPro when I have it unplugged I can watch the percent indicator tick down on regular intervals. On this thing each tick is given up begrudgingly. I’d estimate easily 7hrs and maybe as high as 9-10. The ‘pro’ reviews peg the battery life in that range I’m definitely inclined to agree.

My usage is web browsing and programming with web editors/languages such as Visual Studio Code/Sublime/Angular2/gulp builds/etc. Not super battery hungry applications but the web includes youtube things now and again – which doesn’t seem to make much of a difference.

External Monitor

Saving the best for last… I’ve blogged before about the external monitor via USB-C. I bought a USB-C to Display Port adapter from amazon and when I last tried on a 16.04 Beta1 it didn’t work at all. This time as soon as I plugged it in it worked like a champ! Wanted to see how reliable it was so unplugged and plugged in … didn’t work. Again, didn’t work. Unplugged the power from the laptop and tried again .. WORKED!

So summary here is that it seems to give you an external connection just fine ONCE per power setting. 🙂 This is a completely weird issue … but if plug in your USBC plug and it didn’t work, unplug the laptop (or plug it in depending) and then try again and it should work. This makes me hopeful that it will be resolved in future updates but at least for now there’s a workaround – as goofy as it is.

Monitor ‘Flicker’

It was noted in a previous blog by Luis:

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.

The screen flicker issue still seems to be here occasionally. For now it doesn’t really bother me. It’s not constant and during the entirety of typing this blog in I haven’t seen any flicker – I even went to CNN and scrolled around and played a video and didn’t see it. I think it tends to happen when browsing the web and there’s lots of ads on a page or video going on or when scrolling quickly through the browser. I can’t really establish a pattern because it doesn’t happen frequently enough – just putting it in here so that it’s a known issue albeit an infrequent one.

Summary

It’s a shame the laptop isn’t 100% given the external monitor issues but I’m still absolutely thrilled with it. If I’m not sitting at my desk using my System76 Galago UltraPro, I’m using this thing because I don’t have to sweat battery life and the form factor and performance are killer. The trackpad works perfectly (remember to install libinput!), keyboard is great to type on … it’s a dream to have honestly.

Enjoy!

35 Comments

  • Reply Landon Jurgens April 24, 2016 at 11:15 pm

    I just upgraded my 9350 to 16.04 as well. The only other thing I experienced was all of my audio stopped working. did you do anything special in your configuration?

    I also noticed a performance boot with some Linux Games and the HTML5 player for Youtube.

    • Reply Jim Basilio April 25, 2016 at 8:56 pm

      Audio stopped working for good? I didn’t have any audio issues, didn’t do anything special. When I reinstalled 16.04beta i did it from scratch so it was a pretty clean base install.

      Hope your audio starts. So weird .. you’d think the same hardware would be identical with working across all devices.

      Good luck.
      Jim

    • Reply Teo Toplak August 18, 2016 at 6:41 pm

      Same here. If somebody finds solution to audio problem I would deeply appreciate sharing that with us. With PulseAudio Volume Control I succeed in manually switching to audio jack but there is some background noise.

      • Reply alex August 30, 2016 at 1:43 pm

        Try this command:
        amixer -c 0 sset ‘Headphone Mic Boost’ 10dB

        If it works you can run it at startup

  • Reply Valentino April 26, 2016 at 5:23 pm

    Hello!!

    Thank you very much for posting all your progress, is really helpful.

    I’ve recently bought a dell xps and I desperately need to work using an external display.

    I bought (sic) the dell usb-hdmi/vga/ethernet adapter and seems to work intermittent under Ubuntu 14.04, using this driver: http://www.displaylink.com/downloads/ubuntu. But now i’m using 16.04 and the external display through dell adapter no longer works.

    They are working on a new version: http://www.displaylink.org/forum/showthread.php?t=64479 but the fact is we don’t really know when it will be released, so I’m considering to buy the adapter that you referred to.

    My question is: Have you tested external display on Ubuntu 16.04 final? Can you work without any problems with an external monitor?

    Thank you very much in advance!!

    • Reply Jim Basilio April 26, 2016 at 5:29 pm

      Hello, thanks for reading and I’m glad it was helpful to you!

      I did actually test the external monitor on 16.04 and it does work. I had intermittent success with it, and as weird as this sounds, when I would plug in the USBC adapter if it didn’t work I would pull the power plug out and then retry with the USBC. That seemed to work each time.

      A few days ago I tried though and it worked straight away and I was able to unplug/plugin.

      So “it works” but it is a bit flaky although once it was working I used it for hours and it was great.

      Best of luck. Hope you get it to work and post your success (or failure) so I know what others are experiencing.

      Jim

  • Reply Valentino May 17, 2016 at 11:20 am

    Hi there!

    Finally I couldn’t do work the external display with the USB-C to Display Port adapter. I don’t know why.

    But yesterday a new version of Display Driver finally came out!

    http://www.displaylink.com/downloads/ubuntu

    So now it’s working with Dell Adapter. I’m still testing but it seems to work almost fine.

    Thank you again Jim! Regards!

  • Reply Leonardo Brito May 27, 2016 at 9:09 am

    Hi Jim, thanks for your reports on the 9350. They are by far the most detailed posts about the XPS 13 + Ubuntu 16.04 I’ve found so far.

    I have a few questions regarding the use of external monitor(s):
    – What is the external display’s resolution and frequency you’re using with the displayport via USB-C connection? I’m interested in using a 4k@60Hz display. AFAIK this shouldn’t be an issue either with displayport or even HDMI 2.0, but I’m somewhat worried nevertheless.
    – Did you ever get a chance to test HDMI 2.0 via USB-C?

    Thanks!

    • Reply Jim Basilio May 27, 2016 at 9:45 am

      Hi Leonardo, I’m glad this information was helpful to you and anyone else reading!

      I have the Dell U2715H. The specs say 2560×1440. I don’t have a 4k monitor but with USBC I can’t see the resolution being an issue.

      I don’t have a HDMI/USBC adapter and I dropped using HDMI at all b/c it doesn’t support the resolution of my monitor (and wouldn’t support 4k). I think the newest HDMI specs can support these new resolutions but really USBC and DisplayPort are the best options since you KNOW they support these hires displays.

      Best of luck. If you buy anything and it works feel free to post back here and let me know so others can benefit.

      Thanks.
      Jim

      • Reply Leonardo Brito June 30, 2016 at 3:26 pm

        Hey Jim, just a quick follow-up: I ended up buying a USBC to HDMI adapter from Dell. 4k works fine, but at 30Hz only. I’m guessing this is a driver issue, since HDMI 2.0 should support 4k @ 60Hz.

        • Reply Jim Basilio June 30, 2016 at 5:55 pm

          Thanks Leonardo! I don’t thnk HDMI 2 can support 4k at 60hz. I could be wrong… but when I ran HDMI I couldn’t do hidpi at less than 4k.

          Thanks for circling back.

          Jim

  • Reply Douglas Shaftoe May 30, 2016 at 11:05 am

    Hey Jim,

    Was wondering if you got around to getting mir and touchpad gestures working?

    Regards

    • Reply Jim Basilio May 30, 2016 at 11:51 am

      Hi Douglas,

      I tried Mir and it was unusable. I haven’t tried again recently but I really don’t have a lot of incentive to try something where even the developers have only recently attempted to use as their daily driver after essentially forcing themselves to do so.

      It’s not ready yet … for now regular X + libinput is pretty solid.

      Thanks.
      Jim

  • Reply Maciej June 27, 2016 at 7:48 am

    Thanks a lot Jim!

    I’ll be trying the install as soon as the laptop arrives at my door (seems to take up to 3 weeks here in Switzerland). I have also ordered the HP Thunderbolt 3 docking station (as it’s half price of Dell). So let’s see how this works together!

    Question: Any Dell specific PPAs that I should add after the install? Or it all works out of the box (Developer Edition with Intel WIFI)

    Thanks, Maciej

    • Reply Jim Basilio June 30, 2016 at 5:56 pm

      Hi Maxine,

      I didn’t add any Dell ppas. Everything just worked with 16.04.

      Good luck and enjoy it!

  • Reply David S July 18, 2016 at 2:43 pm

    I was really excited when I saw your post, since I have been looking for a way to connect an external monitor to my 9350 (running Ubuntu.)

    I ordered the exact USB-C to DisplayPort adapter you mentioned, and when it arrived, the physical connector didn’t appear to fit. It slides in about 80% of the way, to the point where it ought to click into place; but at that point it won’t go in any further.

    Before I ordered this, I had tried a Dell USB-C adapter (DA200), and it plugged in to the USB-C just fine, but the HDMI didn’t work in Ubuntu.

    I assumed the connector was defective; but I exchanged it and the second one has the exact same problem. I’ve pushed pretty hard trying to get the connector to seat; I’m afraid to push any harder for fear that I might break something.

    I don’t know much about USB-C…but the odds of getting two bad connectors seems pretty remote. Did you have any troubles getting the connector to plug in? I’m starting to wonder if my laptop’s USB-C connector might be defective or something.

    • Reply Jim Basilio July 18, 2016 at 10:17 pm

      Hi David,

      The connector is tight. It snaps into place. Just push firmly and it’ll connect. Snug is good and it’s different than the old USB feel.

      Enjoy! And thanks for commenting. Someone else had the same concern so it is something that other ppl feel as well.

      Jim

      • Reply David S July 19, 2016 at 8:26 am

        Wow, you were right! I think I was probably applying about 8 or 9 pounds force by the time it finally clicked into place. Thanks for the tip Jim!

        • Reply Jim Basilio July 19, 2016 at 8:46 am

          Glad to hear! It is a weird feeling given there’s no connectors for a computer where they ‘snap’ like that. I assume that’s by design so they stay well connected… but it does feel odd the first time.

          Jim

          • David S July 19, 2016 at 12:50 pm

            Hey Jim, follow-up, now that I’ve gotten the adapter connected. Unfortunately I still can’t seem to get the adapter to work at all. I don’t get any picture on the external display, either in my 16.04 install or in my win10 dual boot. Neither shows them in display settings.

            I’ve also been looking through the results of lshw and lsusb, and I’m not seeing any sign of the adapter. I wonder if this is normal? Can you see your DisplayLink adapter in the output of either of these?

          • Jim Basilio July 26, 2016 at 8:39 pm

            Hi David,

            Sorry it’s been so long. I plugged my XPS in today, ran updates .. no dice on external display. Nothing on lshw and nothing on lsusb.

            Frustrating. It seemed like the bugs were worked out and it was solid … now seems like doesn’t work at all.

            HOWEVER…. I was running off of battery when I did this. I plugged it into my outlet … and low and behold in a few second the monitor sprung to life.

            Makes me wonder if they don’t have a firmware bug or something with it if you say windows reacted the same way. Can you try plugging the power plug in with USBC plugged in and then pulling power out and see if it helps at all?

            So weird.

            Thanks.
            Jim

          • Jim Basilio August 13, 2016 at 2:16 pm

            Hi David:

            I posted a new blog post on how to upgrade the XPS 9350 firmware, it lists USB-C fixes. I wonder if you are running firmware 1.4.4 or something older? If something older, try updating your firmware. Worked for me and the external monitor worked.

            Jim

  • Reply Andrew Summer August 3, 2016 at 5:49 am

    Thanks for all that information!
    Can you comment on how the performance with the USB C to Displayport adapter is ?

    Because Dockingstations with an external USB 3 GPU aka Displaylink produce hell of a load on the XPS 13 CPU. To the extend of becoming unusuable with full screen “action”

    Is it the same with the USB C to Displayport ? How is the CPU load?

  • Reply Brian B. Maranville August 4, 2016 at 10:30 am

    I have used a Kanex USB-C to VGA adapter with the new XPS 13, and as far as I can tell it works perfectly. Hot plug, hot unplug, power connected, power disconnected, doesn’t matter – just works.

    I’m on Ubuntu 16.04

  • Reply Installing Ubuntu 16.04 on Dell XPS13 9350 | VPAS August 14, 2016 at 12:04 pm

    […] (which beta1 fixed) started not getting picked up on boot. This appears to be in stark contrast to Jim Basilio whose posts I’d started following with […]

  • Reply benni November 20, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    hi,
    thanks for the report. I am experiencing the standby via lid close and followingly black screen issue reported for an older xps 13 (http://askubuntu.com/questions/799345/dell-xps-13-ubuntu-16-04-black-screen-after-closed-lid-cant-turn-off).
    Could give your bios settings besides: secure boot disabled, ahci checked, fastboot thorough? or explicit installation / preparation instructions you followed? thanks!!

    • Reply Jim Basilio November 24, 2016 at 8:12 am

      Hi Benni:

      Secure boot is disabled, fastboot is minimal.

      I didn’t do anything special on installation, I installed 15.10 originally I think and have just upgraded since then.

      When 16.10 came out I did have issues where lid closing would cause it to shutdown instead of sleep …. that seemed to be resolved. If you have the broadcom wireless card I’d recomment getting an intel … my network experience has been MUCH better with it.

      http://blog.jimbasilio.me/wp-admin/post.php?post=166&action=edit

      Best of luck!
      Jim

  • Reply Juan January 30, 2017 at 11:57 pm

    Hi everyone! I want to buy a Dell XPS 13 9350, obviously I going to install Ubuntu 16.04, but I’m afraid, I don ‘t know how well is working the Dell XPS 13 9350 at the present time. Could you help me? I would like to know how wifi is working, touch pad, screen (if does not freeze suddenly) and other important things. Please I’ll be glad with your help, I want to buy it tomorrow.

    Thanks!

    • Reply Jim Basilio February 7, 2017 at 8:52 pm

      Hi Juan:

      The 9350 works great. It’s what I have. I would recommend POSSIBLY replacing the broadcom wifi with an intel one (I have a blog post about this) but beyond that it’s really flawless. No freezing … touchpad is better than windows (imho) (also look for my libinput blog post which tells you how to install libinput which is an even better touchpad driver than what’s included. Good luck!!

      Jim

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