Microsoft Surface Book 2

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Device Status Modules
Intel Working xf86-video-intel
Nvidia Partially Working nvidia or nvidia-dkms
Wireless Working mwifiex
Audio Working snd_hda_intel
Touchpad Working xf86-input-synaptics
Touchscreen Working intel_ipts
Camera Not Working
Card Reader Working
Bluetooth Working btusb
Battery Stats Not Working

This page contains instructions, tips, pointers, and links for installing and configuring Arch Linux on Microsoft Surface Book 2 devices.

Compatibility

The laptop works surprisingly well with Arch Linux, but requires a kernel with modules and updated drivers, available on Github or in an AUR package, linux-surface4AUR.

What works?

Note: Touchscreen only works in a Window Manager or Desktop Environment that has full support for it. It's recognized as a mouse click otherwise.
  • Touchscreen
    • Requires kernel with modules/drivers in link above.
  • Pen Input
    • Requires kernel with modules/drivers in link above.
  • Removal of keyboard base
    • A few seconds slower in Linux than in Windows
    • May cause touchscreen to stop working until reboot
    • May cause issues with dedicated graphics (if equipped)
  • Keyboard function and media keys, including volume and brightness adjustment of the keyboard and screen backlights.
  • Wireless Networking
    • May need a tweak from #WiFi if Wireless Networking hardware disconnects during use
  • Speakers / Headphones
    • Speakers sometimes have a hissing noise that can be fixed, details in #Audio
  • Dedicated Nvidia graphics (If equipped)
    • With big caveats, detailed below.

What doesn't work?

  • Cameras
  • Battery Stats
  • Nvidia card is thermally throttled and the fan speed defaults to read-only zero keeping the throttle extremely low.

Nvidia

The Nvidia 1050 and 1060 cards in the Surface Book 2 Performance Base are recognized by the kernel and supported by `nvidia` and `nvidia-dkms` drivers. However, when a load is put on the Nvidia graphics hardware, it immediately and severely throttles down to around 139MHz. The reason, as reported by `nvidia-smi`, is software thermal throttling. The cause is that, apparently, the fan cannot be controlled automatically, nor through `nvidia-smi` or `nvidia-settings`, even when the nvidia xorg `Coolbits` option is set to 8.

UEFI Setup and Secure Boot

Follow The manufacturer's directions for accessing UEFI setup:

  1. Shut down your Surface and wait about 10 seconds to be sure it is off.
  2. Press and hold the volume-up button on your Surface, and, at the same time, press and release the power button.
  3. When you see the Surface logo, release the volume-up button. The UEFI menu will appear within a few seconds.

Disabling Secure Boot is not necessary, but makes things easier.

Booting

The information in Boot loaders applies here. refind-efi works well.

Boot from USB

Booting from USB is possible by reordering boot devices in the UEFI setup.

Graphics Drivers

The standard xf86-video-intel driver works with the Surface Book devices.

For devices equipped with dedicated Nvidia graphics, the nvidia driver supports the dedicated GPU.

Audio

Surface Book 2 devices exhibit a hissing noise at times. This can be fixed by installing alsa-utils and running the following commands:

amixer -c 0 sset 'Auto-Mute Mode' Disabled
sudo alsactl store

WiFi

Since September 2018, Surface Book 2 WiFi may power off during use. When this happens, it is not visible in lspci and rebooting is a way to get it back on. However, this behavior can be prevented (temporarily) by installing iw and running the following command as root:

# iw dev wlp1s0 set power_save off

To permanently fix the issue with NetworkManager, add this to your NetworkManager config. (Such as /etc/NetworkManager/NetworkManager.conf)

[connection]
wifi.powersave = 2
[device]
wifi.scan-rand-mac-address=false

Console fonts

Because of the screen's resolution, the console font is barely readable - refer to Fonts#Console fonts[broken link: invalid section] on how to change them.