Fedora 18 on Dell XPS 13 Developer edition

My new work laptop, as discussed recently, is the second release of the Dell XPS 13 Developer edition, with the 1920×1080 screen, which fixes my main complaint about the first version. It feels smugly virtuous to buy a machine that doesn’t suffer from the Windows Tax and represents an explicit gesture of support for Linux.  However, Ubuntu isn’t my preferred distribution, so after staying with that for a trip to CERN, I’ve removed it and replaced it with Fedora 18.

Now one of the selling points of Project Sputnik is that special efforts have been made to ensure full hardware compatibility.  These days, Linux’s hardware support is generally very good. It’s not quite clear yet whether all the fixes produced by Dell and Canonical have been submitted upstream, so I knew there might be some regressions.  One thing that did work out of the box in Fedora was the “super” key, which might in other circumstances be better known as the “Windows key”. In both Unity and GNOME Shell it brings up the search and launching interface, so it’s quite important.  There is a package installed in the customised version of Ubuntu 12.04 installed on the XPS 13 that specifically disables this key, as detailed elsewhere. There’s no such problem with Fedora.

Installation of Fedora 18 from a USB stick completed very quickly, testament to the 256GB SSD.

While the brightness keys do bring up the on-screen indicator, screen brightness doesn’t seem to change, while on battery power at least. There is a workaround on the Gentoo wiki here:

echo 0 > /sys/class/backlight/intel_backlight/brightness

[Update: 2013-05-22 – there’s a more automated workaround in this Bugzilla entry, which I haven’t tried yet]

There is a 15W power draw, according to Powertop, without any configuration changes, on full brightness. This decreases to 7.5W when brightness reduced and the various power saving options are activated.

[Update: 2013-05-16 – a couple of times now the battery life indicator in GNOME has been wrong, showing 100% and then suddenly jumping to the correct (much lower) figure – it’s not clear yet whether this is a GNOME problem or something specific to this hardware]

Camera works, sound works, including Fn-key adjustment.

Suspending and resuming works – hibernation not tested yet.

Mini-DisplayPort connection to an external monitor via a VGA adapter works.

I’ll probably try running a newer kernel soon, which is supposed to have various fixes for this hardware, and update the post accordingly.

[Update: 2013-05-16 – today I’ve updated it to the latest Fedora 18 kernel, which is 3.9.2, and should have better touchpad handling]


7 thoughts on “Fedora 18 on Dell XPS 13 Developer edition

  1. Laurent

    Dear Adam
    Thx for your post. I also run fedora on my xps 13. (seven & ml2 virtualized). This only anoying issue i have so far is bluetooth connection with my mouse (want to save usb port since the one on the left is not powered enough to feed my logitech mouse). It keeps dsiconnecting after a while and have to be removed and paired again. It has been raised hase a bug (not specific to fedora it seems)…

    1. Adam Post author

      Hi Laurent,
      Hope it was useful to you. Interesting what you say about Bluetooth problems – I haven’t really tried that out much yet.

  2. Pingback: Fedora 20 Alpha on Dell XPS 13 Developer | Technical Tally

    1. Adam Post author

      Battery life is pretty much what I expected. Heat – maybe more than you’d prefer, but not a big problem. Haven’t had any sudden hangups…


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