Dell XPS 15 (9550)

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Note: This page refers to the 9550 variant of the XPS 15. This is identical to the Dell Precision 5510 but without a Nvidia Quadro 1000m card
Device Status Modules
Video Modify i915, nvidia
Wireless Working brcmfmac
Bluetooth Modify bluez bluez-utils
Audio Working snd_hda_intel
Touchpad Modify libinput libinput-gestures
Webcam Working  ?
Card Reader Working rtsx_pci
Wireless switch Working intel_hid
Function/Multimedia Keys Working
Power Management Modify

This page covers the current status of hardware support on Arch, pre-installation system configuration tweaks, as well as post-installation recommendations to improve the usability of the system.

The installation process for Arch on the XPS 15 9550 does not differ from any other PC. For installation help please see the Installation guide and UEFI. To set up a dual boot configuration with Windows, refer to Dual boot with Windows.

As of kernel 4.3, the Intel Skylake architecture is supported.

Pre-Installation System Settings

Prior to installation, access the system UEFI firmware by pressing F2 during boot.

  • Turn off legacy ROM
  • System -> SATA: change to AHCI
  • Secure Boot: disable
  • POST Behavior: Fastboot: Thorough

Source

Installation of Arch can proceed normally. Refer to the Installation guide for more info.

Boot Parameters

The following is only required on older kernels - these issues have been fixed by more recent kernels and by BIOS updates:

Use the following for your Kernel parameters to fix a number of issues:

i915.edp_vswing=2 i915.preliminary_hw_support=1 intel_idle.max_cstate=1 acpi_backlight=vendor acpi_osi=Linux

Parameter Function
i915.edp_vswing=2 Fix screen flickering
i915.preliminary_hw_support=1 Resolve issues with Intel Graphics
intel_idle.max_cstate=1 Prevent CPU from entering c-states > 1
acpi_backlight=vendor acpi_osi=Linux make Backlight control work


Source 1, Source 2

Graphics Configuration

The Dell XPS 15 9550 has Intel HD Graphics 530 integrated graphics, and some models have a Nvidia GeForce GTX 960 dedicated card as well in a hybrid configuration.

For computers with only integrated graphics, just install the xf86-video-intel driver.

If your XPS has a hybrid graphics configuration (GTX960M + HD Graphics 530) and you want to maximize battery life you can just use the Intel Graphics.

Intel Only

If your model comes with an nVidia card which you don't use then you can try to disable it with an ACPI command. Depending on the model, this can have a small to profound effect on the laptop's temperature and battery life (it can more than double battery life!)

Optimus Configuration (Hybrid Intel and Nvidia)

The Optimus setup consists of the integrated Intel chip connected to the laptop screen and the Nvidia card runs through this. As such, the Nvidia chip cannot be used without the Intel chip (some other laptops have the option in BIOS to turn Intel off and use just Nvidia, but not this laptop). See the Bumblebee page set of instructions, particularly the Bumblebee#Installation Intel/Nvidia section. The main thing to note is that installing both the Intel and Nvidia packages at once tends to avoid dependency issues. The correct driver for the Nvidia card is nvidia.

Touchpad

By default the touchpad does not respond to tap input or two finger scrolling. You can change the behavior by installing Libinput and adding 30-touchpad.conf to /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d:

 Section "InputClass"
     Identifier "MyTouchPad"
     MatchIsTouchpad "on"
     Driver "libinput"
     Option "Tapping" "on"
     Option "Natural Scrolling" "on"
 EndSection

Source

Gestures

You can configure custom gestures using the libinput-gesturesAUR package. You can follow the instructions from the documentation. Below is a sample configuration file that one might use with this tool:

 # ~/.config/libinput-gestures.conf
 
 
 # Go back/forward in chrome
 gesture: swipe right 3 xdotool key Alt+Left
 gesture: swipe left 3 xdotool key Alt+Right
 
 # Zoom in / Zoom out
 gesture: pinch out xdotool key Ctrl+plus
 gesture: pinch in xdotool key Ctrl+minus
 
 # Switch between desktops
 gesture: swipe left 4 xdotool set_desktop --relative 1
 gesture: swipe right 4 xdotool set_desktop --relative -- -1

Power Management

Suspend & Hibernate

Suspend works without issues, however Hibernation is not completely stable. Write the following to /etc/systemd/sleep.conf:

 [Sleep]
 HibernateState=disk
 HibernateMode=shutdown

Battery

Battery life can be improved by installing powertop and calibrating it. See Powertop for more info. To further improve the battery life, you can disable the touchscreen in the BIOS.

Bluetooth

Bluetooth is disabled by default. If you wish to use Bluetooth you'll need to install some firmware. See Bluetooth and bug report for details.

bcm20703a1-firmwareAUR includes includes the firmware necessary for the Broadcom BCM20703A1 Bluetooth device.

Thunderbolt 3 Docks

It is possible to get video, audio, Ethernet and USB devices working by updating your BIOS to version >=1.2.19 and disabling Thunderbolt security in your bios settings. If you don't disable Thunderbolt security, then only video and power will work (at lest on the Dell TB16 dock).

On bios version 1.4.0 the USB and Ethernet peripherals will not work unless Thunderbolt security and Thunderbolt Boot support options are disabled.

Using bolt allows to use all features of the dock with Thunderbolt security activated.

It should also be noted that the TB16 dock will crash when hot plugged on all BIOS versions after 1.2.18 (Still the case as of version 1.4.0, but no longer as of version 1.8.1).

USB-C / Thunderbolt 3 Compatibility Chart

Device Ports Status
StarTech TBT3TBTADAP Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt Adapter Thunderbolt 2, Thunderbolt Working
Apple Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter Thunderbolt 2, Thunderbolt Not Working
CHOETECH USB-C to DisplayPort Cable (4K@60Hz) DisplayPort Working
CableCreation USB-C to HDMI DVI DP HDMI, DVI, DisplayPort Working

This chart may also be helpful.

BIOS/firmware Updates

You can update your BIOS either manually, or with fwupdmgr (recommended). Recent BIOSes fix the screen flickering issue previously worked around with the i915.edp_vswing=2 kernel parameter.