I just wanted to share my experience on using Ubuntu on a Dell XPS 2720. The 2720 is a All-in-one computer (everything in the screen, one cable to plug) similar to an iMac. I also owned a Dell XPS 2710 before having this one so some tips might apply too.
The full specifications for this machine can be found on Dell’s website: www.dell.com/fr/p/xps-27-2720-aio/pd
This machine comes with a SSD mSata disk (32gb) and a 2TB mechanical disk. The SSD is meant to be used as a cache with Intel SRT. It seems hard to get this thing to work with a dual boot so I simply disabled it and installed Linux on the SSD. I only boot on Windows for games so it is fine for me.To disable Intel SRT, boot on Windows and use Intel’s application to disable the SSD as cache. Then in the BIOS, disable it there too and use AHCI mode instead of RAID mode for SATA devices (not sure that I needed to do that actually). I think I also disabled UEFI boot to use legacy.Then I used a standard Live-USB installation of XUbuntu. But I experienced a kernel panic similar to https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+s...c2/+bug/614853 (SMP divide error with a stacktrace related to nouveau). To be able to boot the live USB I had to change the boot line to add nomodeset option as explained here http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1613132.I then installed Ubuntu on the SSD as / partition, also created a small swap partition on the SSD (we never know 16gb might not be enough…). The bootloader was installed on the SSD disk directly to avoid messing with Windows bootloader. It means that I’m using the BIOS boot devices menu to choose between Windows or Linux which is ok for me because I rarely use Windows. On the previous machine, I installed Grub on the UEFI partition, it worked but sometimes Windows updates broke Grub and I had to reinstall it manually.
This machine has an Intel GPU and a nVidia GPU. For Intel I installed the latest drivers from https://01.org/linuxgraphics/ which allowed me to use the native resolution of the screen (QHD).
For nVidia, I used x-swat PPA to get the latest drivers from nVidia and bumblebee/optirun. Both GPUs seems to work OK, I’m always using the Intel’s one.
To access the nVidia settings use :
[CODE]optirun -b none nvidia-settings -c :8 [/CODE]
(magic command I had a hard time to find).By the way there is no OSD for brightness adjustment on the display, it seems to be known by Dell and happens even on Windows. But the display buttons still work.The touch screen works by the way but seriously, touch touch a 27” display? The greasy marks you leave on the glass panel are just so niiiice… It is just not usable, you don’t want to use your computer with your arms in the air… (Note that I originally bought the 2710 without a touch display, see below).Keyboard:
Works out of the box.
An issue I had was that when I was typing alt_gr+pipe and then space, the character inserted for space was not space but another whitespace weird character. It happened because I was actually typing alt_gr+space that happens a lot when you type fast. This also probably will happen to French user only because of the Azerty layout. To solve it I used xmodmap to rebind the space key :Even If a modifier is pressed, space will only produce space.I also wanted to the square key (located above tab key on my keyboard) to popup the terminal (ala quake) but it messes up XFCE keyboard settings so I had to remap this key using xmodmap again:Code:keycode 65 = space space space space space space space spaceAnd then I configured XF86LaunchA to run xfce4-terminal --drop-downCode:keycode 49 = XF86LaunchAMouse:
Works out of the box.
The mouse with the 2720 looks like it is a five button mouse but it is not, the side buttons are for Windows actions. You have to press one of them and move the mouse to produce a specific action. On Linux for instance I can type a ‘c’ with a left drag…. Well they are pretty much useless (xev does not show anything when I press the button).
The wheel button (button 3) can go left or right so I used for backward/forward which is handy when browsing. I used imwheel to do that : https://help.ubuntu.com/community/ManyButtonsMouseHowtoNetwork:
Wifi/Cable works out of the box.Sound:
Works out of the box. The keyboard media keys for sound level work too.Webcam:
Works out of the box.Bluetooth:
I had to install pulseaudio-module-bluetooth to connect my Philips SHB9001 headset. It refuses to the audio sink, my workaround is:
to kill pulseaudio, let it restart (pulseaudio -k)
and then to connect the headset to the audio sink and choose AD2P profileFans/Sensors:
lm-sensors / fancontrol detected several sensors (mostly CPU I think, not sure) and managed to control 2 fans (CPU and GPU I think). But in the end I left the job to the BIOS (did not want to fiddle with fancontrol settings to find proper steps).
I’m using XUbuntu that is Ubuntu with XFCE desktop environment. One issue I had related to XFCE:Dashed borders on Windows, see : http://askubuntu.com/questions/31298...w-manager-xfce
Then I had to disable Chrome native Flash plugin.
Things that do not work very well:
When it starts my keyboard does not have numlock on (I don’t understand why) and even if I use numlockx in XFCE autostart items it does not work. I still don’t understand what is going on.Bluetooth, very fragile, very easy to crash pulseaudio.
Some personal notes about the machine itself:
Originally I owned a Dell XPS 2710 that was ok but sometimes the screen was just not turning on on cold start (meaning the first boot of the day). I lived with that for almost a year but eventually it became more frequent and the warranty was expiring so I contacted Dell. The other issue was I had a few dead pixels. I sent the machine for repair, they replaced the motherboard and the hard drive, the boot issue was fixed. But the dead pixels were not, I sent it back a second time and they replaced the LCD panel. There were still a few dead pixels and some dust behind the glass panel. It was already almost two months of daily emails between me and Dell (they always leave 24hrs between emails so it not fast to get something fixed…). I complained again and they offered to send me a new machine. I agreed, especially since i was getting the new model with better specifications.
The XPS 2720 comes with a unusable (by design) touch functionality. It also take more space on the desktop (the stand is bigger, deeper). I noticed that the fans were also noisier than the XPS 2710. The display is also not properly aligned (a bit off), the screen’s arm allows move the screen a bit (up/down) but the maximum height is still the same so for me I won nothing. The stand seems just more fragile and the vibrations produced when I type on the keyboard make the screen vibrate a bit too.
But the worst is now the display, the colours are just off, the white and black seems a bit too yellow. I had both 2710 and 2720 side by side for a few days and you could see the difference right away. I tried to play with gamma, brightness, warmth and did not find a proper setting. I don’t know if it comes from the touch thing, I’m still trying to get some info from Dell. See for yourself here https://drive.google.com/folderview?...UU&usp=sharing .
And by the way the glass panel looks nice, colors used to be sharp and nice (was a lot better on the 2710). But it is just too much reflection, watching movies is not very nice during the day or with a light on. For browsing/coding it is ok.
The mouse is worst too. It is a 2000€ machine and you get a cheap plastic mouse. The keyboard is ok.
I’m really disappointed because I love the concept of All-in-one, I did not want a Mac because I prefer to use Linux. This machine looked great because of the hardware (quad core, SSD, large amount of RAM, GPU usable to play). It is just a shame that for this amount of money you don’t get proper quality... I'm just very sad because Dell seems to have interesting products like Ultrasharp screens or the Ubuntu laptop but this bad experience means that I will just not buy from Dell anymore...
My rant is finished . I hope that the technical details will be useful for other users. Do not hesitate to ask question.