Dell Studio XPS 13

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I have just bought a new Dell Studio XPS 13. I haven't been able to find any information for installing Arch Linux on this machine. It is a very nice looking laptop, and runs fast and smooth. I have had a successful install (32-bit only, 64-bit). I still have a few things to get working, like the Bluetooth, and media buttons.

System Specs:

  • Processor
    • Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Duo CPU P8600 @ 2.40GHz
  • RAM Memory
    • 4 GB DDR3
  • Webcam
    • 2.0 Megapixel Webcam
  • Hard Disk
    • 320GB SATA 7200 rpm HDD
    • 500GB SATA 7200 rpm HDD
  • Video Card
    • NVIDIA 9400M
    • NVIDIA 9500M (9400M G + 9200M GS)
  • Wireless
    • Broadcom Corporation BCM4322 802.11a/b/g/n Wireless LAN Controller
    • Atheros Communications Inc. AR928X Wireless Network Adapter

The basic installation performs normally, with the core cd, also the wireless modules ( Atheros wifi card ) were well recognised and worked out of the box.

Video Card

Nvidia 9500 M (9400+9200)

It works well with this /etc/X11/xorg.conf, the really important feature is Busid "PCI:3:0:0". There are also some touchpad configuration with two-finger scrolling and tapping.

Section "ServerLayout"
    Identifier     "Layout0"
    Screen      0  "Screen0" 0 0
    InputDevice    "Keyboard0" "CoreKeyboard"
    InputDevice    "Mouse0" "CorePointer"

Section "Files"

Section "Module"
	Load "dbe"
	Load "extmod"
	Load "type1"
	Load "freetype"
	Load "glx"
	Load "synaptics"

Section "InputDevice"
    # generated from default
    Identifier     "Mouse0"
    Driver         "synaptics"
    Option         "Protocol" "auto-dev"
    Option         "Device" "/dev/psaux"
    Option         "SendCoreEvents" "true"
    Option         "VertScrollDelta"   "80"
    Option         "HorizScrollDelta"   "80"
    Option         "SHMConfig"   "on"
    Option         "Emulate3Buttons"   "on"
    Option         "VertTwoFingerScroll" "true"
    Option         "HorizTwoFingerScroll" "true"
    Option         "EmulateTwoFingerMinZ" "10"
    Option         "TapButton1" "1"
    Option         "TapButton2" "2"
    Option         "TapButton3" "3"

Section "InputDevice"
    # generated from default
    Identifier     "Keyboard0"
    Driver         "kbd"

Section "Monitor"
    Identifier     "Monitor0"
    VendorName     "Unknown"
    ModelName      "Unknown"
    HorizSync       28.0 - 33.0
    VertRefresh     43.0 - 72.0
    Option         "DPMS"

Section "Device"
    Identifier     "Device0"
    Driver         "nvidia"
    VendorName     "NVIDIA Corporation"
    Option         "SLI" "Auto"
    Option         "NoLogo" "true"
    Option         "DPMS" "true"
    Option         "TripleBuffer" "true"
    # Reduces the interrupts
    Option         "OnDemandVBlankInterrupts" "True"
    #force Powermizer to a certain level at all times
    ## level 0x1 = highest
    ## level 0x2 = med
    ## level 0x3 = lowest
#    Option "RegistryDwords" "PowerMizerLevelAC=0x3"
#    Option	"RegistryDwords"	"PowerMizerLevel=0x3"
    # Auto powermizer option
#   Option         "RegistryDwords" "PerfLevelSrc=0x3333"
    Busid          "PCI:3:0:0"
    Option         "RenderAccel" "True"
    Option         "AllowGLXWithComposite" "True"
    Option         "AddARGBLXVisuals" "On"

Section "Screen"
    Identifier     "Screen0"
    Device         "Device0"
    Monitor        "Monitor0"
    DefaultDepth    24
    Option         "TwinView" "False"
    SubSection     "Display"
        Depth       24
Section "Extensions"
	Option "Composite" "Enable"

Power Management

HDD important issue

With the Western Digital hard drive (not SSD), there is an important issue: using the APM (Advanced Power Management) there are too nomerous spin-down, that can damage the hard drive [1]. To confirm this issue you have to install smartmontools:

# pacman -S smartmontools

And you have to run multiple times this command (once in a minute for like 5 minutes):

# smartctl -a /dev/sda|grep Load_Cycle_Count

If the number under Load_Cycle_Count is increasing in a small amount of time (1 or 2 in a minute) you have this issue.

The problem is easily solvable using laptop-mode-tools. In your /etc/laptop-mode/laptop-mode.conf you have to set:

# Should laptop mode tools control the hard drive power management settings?

# Power management for HD (hdparm -B values)

This disable all power management systems of the hard drive cause a light heat up (maybe). The same behaviour can be obtained running this command:

# hdparm -B 255 /dev/sda

the 255 number is the power-management level, in a range of 1-255 where 1 is maximum powersaving and 255 powersaving disabled. However setting the value to 253 causes a lot of spin-down. Setting the spin-down feature (it parks the heads away from disk) however can save hdd in case of fall.

Also to help preserve the HDD life you can add 'noatime' to / and /home in your /etc/fstab to save writing access time on reads Looks like this:

[phr0zn@ragnarok ~]$ cat /etc/fstab
# /etc/fstab: static file system information
# <file system>        <dir>         <type>    <options>          <dump> <pass>
none                   /dev/pts      devpts    defaults            0      0
none                   /dev/shm      tmpfs     defaults            0      0

#/dev/cdrom             /media/cd   auto    ro,user,noauto,unhide   0      0
#/dev/dvd               /media/dvd  auto    ro,user,noauto,unhide   0      0
#/dev/fd0               /media/fl   auto    user,noauto             0      0

UUID=1ca6603c-889c-454c-bd31-a176892ae9c9 / ext4 defaults,noatime 0 1
UUID=6154c07d-ff8c-4f90-b476-d792e2c165f3 /boot ext2 defaults 0 1
UUID=fb1b6490-c07f-42d5-ad70-92c8eb13ca15 /home ext4 defaults,noatime 0 1
UUID=fdac6506-5249-4f80-a880-b4aa17ad984c swap swap defaults 0 0

Hybernation - Suspend

This feature works very well, the only thing you have to set is your /boot/grub/menu.lst , if you don't set the option "resume" your computer doesn't resume after hybernation, so add resume=/your/swap/partition like in this example:

title  Arch Linux
root   (hd0,4) # It depends on your device
kernel /boot/vmlinuz26 root=/your/root/device ro resume=/your/swap/partition
initrd /boot/kernel26.img

CPU Frequency Scaling

This has helped me greatly reduce the heat of my studio XPS (unless running anything flash of course). This works really well for me, and has been for some time. To install necessary packages issue this command:

pacman -Sy cpufrequtils pm-utils laptop-mode-tools

Then to activate kernel modules issue this set of commands:

modprobe acpi_cpufreq
modprobe cpufreq_powersave
modprobe cpufreq_ondemand

Also make sure you add those modules to the MODULES array in your /etc/rc.conf

Now we need to see what the processor can do. Most likely yours will be the same as mine, but check just to be sure, we don't want you burning out your processor.

Issue this command to check out the specs:


Then you should make your /etc/conf.d/cpufreq file look like this:

[phr0zn@ragnarok ~]$ cat /etc/conf.d/cpufreq
#configuration for cpufreq control

# valid governors:
#  ondemand, performance, powersave,
#  conservative, userspace

# valid suffixes: Hz, kHz (default), MHz, GHz, THz

Now you can start cpu frequency scaling by issuing this command:

/etc/rc.d/cpufreq start

You also want to add 'cpufreq' to your DAEMONS array in the /etc/rc.conf

CD/DVD ROM Spindown

cp /etc/rc.local /etc/rc.local.backup
echo "/usr/bin/hal-disable-polling --device /dev/scd0" >> /etc/rc.local
cp /etc/modprobe.conf /etc/modprobe.conf.backup
cp /etc/sysctl.conf /etc/sysctl.conf.backup
echo "options usbcore autosuspend=1" >> /etc/modprobe.conf
echo "vm.dirty_writeback_centisecs=1500" >> /etc/sysctl.conf
echo "vm.laptop_mode=5" >> /etc/sysctl.conf

Media Buttons

I am using xbindkeys

file coming tonight