4th gen dell xps13 + ubuntu

My employer Angaza Design (we’re hiring!) recently bought me a new 4th gen Dell XPS13 developer edition. Naturally, I opted for the version with Ubuntu 14.04 preloaded and what Dell calls a “QHD+ (3200 x 1800) InfinityEdge Touch Display”.

Initially I had some mild annoyance since overall HiDPI on Linux is not totally ready for prime time. The biggest issue was getting a non-4K external monitor working properly, but after a few days of struggle, things are working reasonably well enough to describe for others.

Habits from my old life as an Ubuntu distro developer remain, and my goal was to do the least amount of customization possible to be productive, since in my experience, hardware dies at random and inopportune times, and being too tied to a highly customized OS installation means you waste too much of your life tweaking stupid things.

Thus, the minimal set of tips to make the machine usable (for my setup) are:

Finally, to fix the mismatched DPI settings between the HiDPI built-in display and your external monitor:

xrandr –output eDP1 –auto –output HDMI1 –auto –panning 3840×2400+3200+0 –scale 2×2 –right-of eDP1

I saved that to a script and run it manually whenever I hotplug my external monitor, although certainly you could hook it up to a udev rule so it fires automatically. Your exact settings may be different, so check this Arch wiki page for more details.

Between those few updates, and my #ubuntugolf score of 10 (initially forgot to mention stgit), the XPS13 is a great developer’s machine, and you don’t have to carry a Mac like all the other web 2.0 hipsters.

Nice work to the respective Dell and Ubuntu teams.

[there’s also a github project to track xps13 issues; most of them I have not personally been affected by]