Dell XPS 14 Ultrabook Compatbility
Before purchasing a Dell XPS 14 Ultrabook in the UK I searched these forums and the internet for confirmation that it would work with Ubuntu (seeing as that is my primary prerequisite) and for any possible problems, however although I found some people with this laptop state that they were running Ubuntu, I was unable to find anything definitive about how well it would run. It isn’t mentioned on the certified hardware website, although similar Dell laptops are.
So after taking a chance and buying one, I thought that I would post my experience of it so that anyone else looking to purchase this laptop would have a clear idea of what works and what does not. Although in a nutshell, everything works and arguably better than it does in Windows 8, with just a slight installation workaround and an easily solvable problem with the Nvidia card being the only negatives.
Tested on Ubuntu 12.10 64bit
Graphics - Ivy Bridge
WiFi - Both 2.4GHz and 5GHz
Keyboard - Including all of the Function keys (sound, brightness, keyboard backlight etc)
Trackpad - It is a little sensitive and will need turning down. (I installed Synaptiks which works great and gives many more gestures and options, but is quite buggy).
SD Card Reader - Works Fine.
Sleep/Suspend - Used this function numerous times without incident
Hibernate - As above
Sleep/Hibernate hybrid mode - I now use this most of the time, again without incident.
Hard Drives - Both SSD and HD (eventually)
Sound - Both speakers and headphones.
What Doesn’t Work
Hard Drives - These weren’t picked up initially by the Ubuntu installer but there is a simple workaround.
Graphics - The Nvidia Graphics card wasn’t detected by the installer either but again there is a simple workaround (bumblebee).
Battery - Initially I only got 2-3 hours battery, compared to 5-6 on Windows. (see below).
Headphone Socket - This is meant to be a dual use (Headphone/Microphone) but I could only get it to work as Headphones. I haven’t tried it in Windows.
Mini Display port
The laptop came with Windows 8 pre-installed and I couldn’t at first get the Ubuntu installer from the Live USB to detect the hard drives.
To get the installer to see my hard drives I had to boot into the Live USB and then enter this command at the terminal:
Replacing sda with your actual device, this solved it. However the Ubuntu installer still wouldn’t recognise my Windows 8 installation at all.
dmraid -E -r /dev/sda
The next thing that I did was to boot into Windows 8 and the shrink the Windows partition to allow me to create a new partition that I could install Ubuntu onto. Then I formatted the new partition in FAT and then booted the Ubuntu Live USB and tried to install. Again it didn’t recognise my Windows 8 installation, but it did recognise the partition that I had created so I just installed Ubuntu onto the drive that I had formatted previously for that purpose.
Everything went well and I could now dual boot. The battery problem was caused by the Nvidia card being switched on all of the time, so I installed Bumblebee which then turned the card off giving 5-6+ of battery life and reducing the fan noise to being almost silent.
Dell XPS 14 Ultrabook
Intel Core i7-3517U 1.90GHz
500GB Samsung HD