Thursday, June 5, 2014

Installing Ubuntu/Xubuntu 14.04 on the Dell XPS model 9333

Installing Ubuntu 14.04 on my Dell XPS 13 model 9333 requires a little more work than anticipated. This guide will show you how to get the touchpad working correctly and fix headphone jack audio bug.  This guide works for Ubuntu and any of it's derivatives using 14.04 as its code base.

I use Xubuntu on my XPS 13. I love Ubuntu, but Xubuntu offers me more control and a workspace that matches my workflow. No matter what edition of Ubuntu you decide to use, Trusty Tahr works really well on the Dell XPS 13.

Terminal commands are highlighted in blue. Ubuntu users need to use gedit instead of mousepad in their terminal commands.

Update your system
sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get update

Reboot if necessary
sudo reboot

The updated Synaptic drivers for the XP3 13 touchpad are currently in Test Kernels. Canonical is doing their best to try and backport this functionality into 14.04 LTS so that users can take advantage of native i2c touchpad support. Until then you can download a test kernel or enable the testing repository. I downloaded acelan's testing kernel. Make sure you download all 4 debs. Install and reboot.

There is constant white noise that can be heard when headphones are plugged in, it makes using the audio jack impossible. There is also a poping noise heard when plugging in headphones. The fix involves creating a script and disabling the power saving mode of the audio card.The good news is this bug has been fixed in 3.16 kernels.

It is easier to run the commands as root, open a root terminal:
sudo su
Setup an init script to load the headphone fix at boot:
mkdir -p /etc/init.d/
wget -q -O /etc/init.d/xps
chmod +x /etc/init.d/xps
update-rc.d xps defaults

Create the audio fix script:
mkdir -p /usr/local/bin
wget -O /usr/local/bin/
chmod 744 /usr/local/bin/

Disable the power saving mode"
mkdir -p /etc/pm/config.d
echo INTEL_AUDIO_POWERSAVE=false > /etc/pm/config.d/snd_hda_intel

Apply the changes without needing a reboot:
echo 0 > /sys/module/snd_hda_intel/parameters/power_save

exit root permissions:

For Xubuntu users:

You'll notice that there is significant screen tearing when watching videos in Xubuntu. Xfce's default window manager xfwm4 does not have sync to VBlank support. Compton supports VBlank and I written a guide for setting it up properly for the Dell XPS 13.

Before you install and configure Compton you need to turn off xfwm4 compositor. Under Settings>Window Manager Tweaks>Compositor

 Install and configure Compton:
sudo apt-get install compton
wget  -O ~/.config/compton.conf

Then set Compton to run at startup. Under Settings>Session and Startup>Application Autostart. Click the Add button:

Name: Compton
Description: lightweight standalone compositor
Command: compton -b

Enable the Intel driver TearFree option:
sudo mkdir -p /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/
sudo wget -q -O /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/10-intel.conf

sudo reboot

Check to see it was enabled
cat /var/log/Xorg.0.log | grep Tear

There are a couple options for configuring multitouch gestures in Ubuntu 14.04. I'm trying to get Touchegg working. Until then I'm using a simple bash script to tweak my synclient settings.

To setup the script:
mkdir ~/.scripts
touch ~/.scripts/
chmod 744 ~/.scripts/
mousepad  ~/.scripts/

These settings change the tapping behavior, you can place whatever tweaks you want inside of it. Having the script wait 10 second or so provides enough time for the system to load, you can remove it but I prefer a bit of a buffer.
    sleep 10s &&
    synclient TapButton1=1;
    synclient TapButton2=2;
    synclient TapButton3=3

Feel free to leave comments and suggestions in the comments.