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Thread: Dell XPS 14 Ultrabook Compatbility

  1. #1
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    Post 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

    What Works:
    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.

    Haven’t Tested
    HDMI port
    Mini Display port

    Installation
    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:

    Code:
    dmraid -E -r /dev/sda
    Replacing sda with your actual device, this solved it. However the Ubuntu installer still wouldn’t recognise my Windows 8 installation at all.

    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
    8GB RAM
    500GB Samsung HD

  2. #2
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    Re: Dell XPS 14 Ultrabook Compatbility

    Hi,

    which rate you get by use of powertop? My rate is ~ 22 watts. I guess it's pretty high for normal usage!?

    I installed bumblebee too.


    Thanks a lot

  3. #3
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    Re: Dell XPS 14 Ultrabook Compatbility

    Quote Originally Posted by moAal View Post
    Hi,

    which rate you get by use of powertop? My rate is ~ 22 watts. I guess it's pretty high for normal usage!?

    I installed bumblebee too.


    Thanks a lot

    That does seem pretty high. I was using 24-28 watts on average when I first installed Ubuntu just in normal usage.

    After installing bumbleebee I now use an average of 11-15 watts. Obviously it depends on what I am doing but just for general surfing, email, word processing etc that is what I get on average with the screen on the second lowest setting. The big drop in power usage was really the only way that I could tell that the Nvidia card was off. It sounds like your card may still be on. Which version of bumblebee are you using? As far as I know, only version 3+ can turn off the card.

    The instructions I followed for installing bumblebee and setting everything up came from here:

    Nvidia Optimus and Bumblebee

    The instructions I followed were from the top answer.

    Prior to following that, I hadn’t installed any Nvidia drivers and nor had any been installed during installation so I didn’t need to uninstall the Nvidia drivers as directed there. I basically just added the X-Swat PPA and the Bumblebee PPA and then run apt-get update and installed bumblebee, bumblebee-nvidia and linux-headers-generic and then rebooted.

    As soon as I logged in I noticed the difference in power usage.
    Dell XPS 14 Ultrabook
    Intel Core i7-3517U 1.90GHz
    8GB RAM
    500GB Samsung HD

  4. #4
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    Gutsy Gibbon Testing

    Re: Dell XPS 14 Ultrabook Compatbility

    What about the average temperature after installing bumblebee? I've noticed the laptop is a little warmer on Linux than on Windows... 60°C aprox (140 °F).

  5. #5
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    Re: Dell XPS 14 Ultrabook Compatbility

    Quote Originally Posted by obiwan View Post
    What about the average temperature after installing bumblebee? I've noticed the laptop is a little warmer on Linux than on Windows... 60°C aprox (140 °F).
    Average CPU temp is about 50-60°C after installing Bumblebee. Not sure what it was before installing Bumblee as I hadn't figured out then how to get conky to display the CPU temp, but I do know the fans were on a lot more. Now the fan very seldom kicks in, it is virtually silent most of the time.

    Not too sure about the temp in Windows, as I don't use it very much at all, but the few times that I have looked it is about the same - 50-60°C.
    Dell XPS 14 Ultrabook
    Intel Core i7-3517U 1.90GHz
    8GB RAM
    500GB Samsung HD

  6. #6
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    Re: Dell XPS 14 Ultrabook Compatbility

    Just noticed that while charging the temp hits 62°, but on battery it has the same temps you reprot, 50-60°C. Must be normal then

  7. #7
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    Re: Dell XPS 14 Ultrabook Compatbility

    Thanks Pablo. This info was extremely helpful. Strongly considering the XPS 14 now that I know it works fairly well. One bumblebee install I can handle.

  8. #8
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    Re: Dell XPS 14 Ultrabook Compatbility

    How does the trackpad work on this computer? Is it the same one as in XPS 13? Then we can use the sputnik PPA to get a good driver. I'm thinking of buying a XPS 14.

  9. #9
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    Re: Dell XPS 14 Ultrabook Compatbility

    I went ahead and bought the XPS 14 and have 13.04 beta running as of yesterday. Everything is looking good so far.

    My install went smoother since I didn't have to do the dmraid process that pablo outlined. I'm not planning on dual-booting to Windoze so I just set up my partitions during the Ubuntu install process in a simple manner. My XPS came with a hdd/ssd combo with 500gb hdd and 32gb ssd.
    /dev/sda1 -> 500GB hdd -> /hdd
    /dev/sdb1 -> 24GB ssd -> /
    /dev/sdb2 -> 8GB ssd -> swap space

    I had to do a little playing with gparted and fstab to get /hdd mounted the way I wanted, but that was it. I then went ahead and installed bumblebee as suggested and saw my wattage go down pretty much identical to what pablo saw.

    Quote Originally Posted by fredrik-fyksen View Post
    How does the trackpad work on this computer? Is it the same one as in XPS 13? Then we can use the sputnik PPA to get a good driver. I'm thinking of buying a XPS 14.
    My trackpad has been pretty sensitive. Part of it is I'm a mouse baby and am not particularly good at trackpads (always seem to have two-fingers on there at the same time), part of it seems to be its sensitivity. After re-reading pablo's posts, I'll look into synaptiks to help it. I'm not sure if it's the same trackpad as the 13 however.

    I haven't tested the HDMI yet. But so far so good. This SSD is pretty sweet. Thanks again pablo for posting your initial findings.

  10. #10
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    Re: Dell XPS 14 Ultrabook Compatbility

    Quote Originally Posted by jaysscholar View Post
    I went ahead and bought the XPS 14 and have 13.04 beta running as of yesterday. Everything is looking good so far.

    My install went smoother since I didn't have to do the dmraid process that pablo outlined. I'm not planning on dual-booting to Windoze so I just set up my partitions during the Ubuntu install process in a simple manner. My XPS came with a hdd/ssd combo with 500gb hdd and 32gb ssd.
    /dev/sda1 -> 500GB hdd -> /hdd
    /dev/sdb1 -> 24GB ssd -> /
    /dev/sdb2 -> 8GB ssd -> swap space

    I had to do a little playing with gparted and fstab to get /hdd mounted the way I wanted, but that was it. I then went ahead and installed bumblebee as suggested and saw my wattage go down pretty much identical to what pablo saw.



    My trackpad has been pretty sensitive. Part of it is I'm a mouse baby and am not particularly good at trackpads (always seem to have two-fingers on there at the same time), part of it seems to be its sensitivity. After re-reading pablo's posts, I'll look into synaptiks to help it. I'm not sure if it's the same trackpad as the 13 however.

    I haven't tested the HDMI yet. But so far so good. This SSD is pretty sweet. Thanks again pablo for posting your initial findings.
    I have a 128GB SSD and 32GB mSATA, I did similar partition like you but when I reboot after installation it boots back to windows recovery thing. What changes did you do to bios or during installation that lets you boot into ubuntu. Ubuntu 13.04 beta

    Update: It worked.
    Last edited by ub16; April 24th, 2013 at 08:10 PM.

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