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Slackware Linux 12.0 on the Dell XPS m1330

I’ve just written an article about running Linux on the Dell XPS m1330 laptop. It’s long and should have lasting value (I hope!) so I didn’t type it into this blog entry. Instead it’s available here.

The quick summary is that I think it’s a great laptop and Linux runs really well on it. Bravo Dell!

{ 34 } Comments

  1. jorge | 19th August 2007 at 12:15 | Permalink

    I am strongly considering this laptop, thanks for the detailed review on linux support.

  2. Erik | 19th August 2007 at 12:39 | Permalink

    Would I be bold to ask for the price that you paid for the machine?

  3. Rumil | 19th August 2007 at 13:00 | Permalink

    Thx for the review. Currently I am considering Sony Vaio SZ6xx and Dell XPS m1330. Although I like Sony a little more (mostly because of docking station), I am concerned about it’s linux support. One of the most important things for me is ability to connect external display using DVI. So my question is: did you try HDMI (this is DVI audio basically ) output?
    I am also very glad fingerprint scanner is supported – unfortunately this probably wouldn’t work in Sony.
    Oh, one other thing is: how did you menage to get both 6 and 9-cell battery?

  4. Philip Langdale | 19th August 2007 at 13:49 | Permalink

    Erik,

    I paid about $2100 for the laptop with 1Gb of RAM and then bought the 4Gb online for a lot less than Dell was charging.
    Apart from that, it’s the top-of-the-line configuration. Note that I get a discount through my employer, so that configuration costs more if you just buy from the regular web store.

    Rumil,

    I have not tried the HDMI audio (I don’t have anything to connect it to), but I do know that it works in windows from other reports, so I’m pretty confident it will work in linux if you use the digital output device.

    As for the batteries? That was a story! I first noticed that there was no option on the website for 6 9, so I called them up and asked. The guy spent a long time looking and even had to hang up and call me back. Eventually he came back and said he’s sorted it out and I put my order through. When I saw the order appear in my web account, I saw there was no 6-cell battery listed. I emailed the sales guy to ask and got no reply. I decided to wait and see, and when the laptop arrived, there was no 6 cell. So I called them up to complain and the guy said he’d try and send one out. He had a lot of trouble finding it in their system and in the end claimed he had – but he hadn’t and he sent me an Inspiron 1300 battery instead. So I called them back again to complain and also sent a written note through their webform. Thankfully, the person who responded to my note was on the ball and was able to send the proper 6-cell battery which arrived earlier this week. I’m going to return the Inspiron battery on Monday and should be the end of my battery saga.

    So, yes – getting a 6 a 9 is not easy at all!

  5. Bernard | 19th August 2007 at 14:13 | Permalink

    I have also ordered this laptop, but I am living in Belgium, and there are huuuuuuge delivery report, it is a shame from Dell ….

    But I am happy to see that I am waiting for a good laptop :-)

    If you consider to buy it, I would wait until the delivery issues are resolved

  6. Rumil | 19th August 2007 at 16:03 | Permalink

    Philip, thanks for answering!
    By asking about HDMI I didn’t actually mean sound but image. For sound I would probably buy some external professional sound card anyway.
    Since power management and being battery-friendly under linux is still under development (mostly thanks to Intel, it’s powertop and hrtimer patches) could you post how much battery time you can get with 6 and 9 cell bat? I would love to see 4 hours with 6 cell, but somehow I think it’s unlikely to happen (with brightness at usable level and wifi on) – somehow I don’t like 9 cell sticking out (albeit I didn’t see it in real life) and weight increase.
    I am looking for laptop (12″ or 13″ preferably) that could replace my current laptop (Fujitsu S2110) and desktop at the same time.
    Would you consider m1330 a good choice to do that for computer science student? I would carry it to my classes and at home connect it to my 21″ LCD (to get more workspace area) – that’s why Sony’s docking station is very appealing to me.
    The unit itself seems to be powerful enough to handle program compilations and eg. compiz-fusion ;-) Although if I buy it, I’d probably drop Gentoo – somehow I think that’s too much heat for laptop ;)

  7. Philip Langdale | 19th August 2007 at 17:51 | Permalink

    Rumil,

    Yes – with the 6 cell battery, you will not get 4 hours of actual use – although if the system is completely idle, you might just get 4 hours. Even the S2110 can’t get 4 hours with wifi on, so I don’t see this as a bad sign. I don’t mind the 9 cell as much as I thought I would – it’s not too heavy and the extra lift improves the air circulation under the laptop.

    For HDMI, I’m sure the image will be fine – it’s exactly the same as DVI so everything’s very standard.

    As for your requirements – I think it’s a fine machine in the 12-13″ category. The HDMI port is nice because you can connect digitally to external LCDs – very few small laptops offer this – I can only think of the m1330, the Apple Macbook and the upcoming Asus U3. Whether you need the docking station or not depends on how much you’re pluggin in, if it’s just the external LCD plus a USB hub for your keyboard/mouse – then it’s really not a big deal.

    The Asus U3 might also be something you’d want to consider. It’s got a ver similar hardware profile to the m1330, except it has no built in DVD drive, has switchable graphics (nvidia and intel) and has an eSATA port. It’s not out yet, so no one knows how good it is, but it will probably give you better battery life with the Intel graphics and no DVD.

  8. Rumil | 19th August 2007 at 18:09 | Permalink

    Actually when my S2110 was new I could reach 4 hours with wifi on and brightness set to ~40% (which I find usable) – currently my battery holds only 50% it’s design capacity :(
    I’ve already seen specs of upcoming Asus U3 (nice thing is that it’s usually effortless to get linux running on Asus machines) and I kind of liked it but doing more profound research I’ve found that with barely any Asus “smaller notebooks” you could get 4 hours battery life – and that might be a killer for me.
    Since I’m gonna get new lappy probably by the end of the year I still have some time to wait for couple upcoming models like already mentioned Asus U3 or maybe refreshed Macbook (and hopefully some linux-user review of Sony SZ6 series).
    Thanks for answering my questions Philip!

  9. Swen George | 22nd August 2007 at 21:14 | Permalink

    “This is most unfortunate as Matsushita drives are exceptionally evil from a DVD region-free point of view. They not only preclude rpc1 firmware modifications with encryption and signing but the drives refuse to even provide access to the encrypted sectors on the disk, so brute force CSS breaking is out too.”

    What exactly did you mean by this? what kind of limitations would i be facing? (Sorry , am not to well read on this DVD region thingy)

  10. Philip Langdale | 22nd August 2007 at 21:38 | Permalink

    Swen,

    Here might not be a bad place to start.

  11. Swen George | 24th August 2007 at 02:06 | Permalink

    Thanks for the start. So if I buy DVDs from different regions i can still watch dvd’s using VLC right? or am i missing something ?

  12. Philip Langdale | 24th August 2007 at 05:41 | Permalink

    No, you can’t. With a matsushita drive, it will refuse to let you read the disc (even in encrypted form) if the regions don’t match.

  13. Inaki | 30th August 2007 at 08:37 | Permalink

    Hi Philip

    Thanks for the review. I installed ubuntu on my m1330 and pretty much everything works wonderfully except that I can’t get sound through the laptop speakers and the mic doesn’t seem to work (I get headphone output though). I was looking around the net and what seems to be the problem is exactly what you describe for the sound, the ALSA sound driver seems to be the problem with STAC9228. But I don’t know how to apply the patch that you posted (I’m thinking that it involves patching and recompiling the driver?) Do you have any instructions for that or any useful link?? Thanks

    Inaki

  14. Philip Langdale | 30th August 2007 at 08:41 | Permalink

    The patch was incorporated into the Ubuntu kernel for Gutsy. It was missing in the initial Tribe 5 release but I just read that they have published a kernel update that restores is. So, I’d suggested you look into that.

  15. Inaki | 30th August 2007 at 20:50 | Permalink

    thanks, that’s what I was starting to see, hope the upgrade to gutsy doesn’t break anything

  16. Karoly | 13th September 2007 at 01:18 | Permalink

    Hi Philip,

    I’ve installed Gentoo on my Dell XPS M1330, and your article has been a great help. Thank you.

    I’ve also been documenting the steps on http://gentoo-wiki.com/Dell_XPS_M1330, and linked to your post.

    As for the Matsushita drive, when we tried to watch a DVD of another region code in MediaDirect, it asked if we wanted to change to it. The number of changes however is limited (5?), so it’s safe to buy the machine elsewhere, but you cannot keep on switching among regions.

    Karoly

  17. Rob | 13th September 2007 at 21:17 | Permalink

    Hi,

    did you further investigate the Suspend problem?
    On nvnews.net there are some more People with this problem…

    And another thing is, that my vesafb console remains black while I’m on the nvidia driver…

    Nevertheless, thank you for your great article.

    -rob

  18. Rob | 20th September 2007 at 11:24 | Permalink

    Hi, at least the Nvidia Slowdown Problem is fixed with the newest Nvidia Driver. Now My next Problem is some more suspend, I sometimes can suspend 5 times in a row, sometimes I try to suspend and it won’t switch off. I don’t call this reliable.

  19. Tim | 3rd October 2007 at 04:47 | Permalink

    Thanks very much for your detailed work!
    I was unsure if to get this system or not, your excellent post has made me decide yes!

    Cheers,
    Tim

  20. Greg | 13th November 2007 at 09:56 | Permalink

    Hoping to get a code dump for the patched audio. If anyone can help I would greatly appreciate it!

  21. Philip Langdale | 13th November 2007 at 22:09 | Permalink

    Hmm? The patch is linked to in my article and is already present in 2.6.23

  22. Greg | 13th November 2007 at 23:58 | Permalink

    I’m trying to get the audio working in OS X, and am using a linux Sigmatel 9228 codec dump. However the NodeIDs are not correct for the m1330. I am hoping that a codec dump from a working m1330 well identify the correct NodeIDs.

    The codec dump I am currently working with is posted here:
    http://psykopat.free.fr/apple/AppleHDA/sigmatel/Stac9228.txt

    If you have any ideas or can generate a codec dump, I would be greatly appreciative.

  23. Greg | 14th November 2007 at 09:43 | Permalink

    Here are some instructions for generating a codec:

    cd /proc/asound

    (Look for something like Card0 and browse into that dir.)

    CODE
    cat codec#0 > /tmp/codecdump.txt

    Now copy that txt file to a place where you can access it later (i.e. Save it)

  24. Fernando | 29th November 2007 at 05:03 | Permalink

    Hi Philip, I recently acquired mine and it’s been very useful to find your review. However, I have a doubt I’d like you to clarify.
    It’s about Bluetooth. You say “I believe this is because it supports using paired keyboards and mice before the OS loads”. How I’m supposed to pair a mouse without OS? Currently I have it done under Ubuntu 7.10 and sometimes it disappears. When this happens I usually fix it with a simple “hidd –search” but sometimes I only get a frozen terminal and no bt mouse. Anyway, I hope I’ll fix it but I’m curious about the non-OS pairing.

    Thank you very much!

  25. Philip Langdale | 29th November 2007 at 07:35 | Permalink

    I don’t know, to be honest – but it’s all I can think of, given the way it appears. You’d probably need to ask Dell how this is supposed to work.

  26. sonica | 31st January 2008 at 02:13 | Permalink

    hi,
    i’m a owner of that laptop.. i’m trying to use MacOsX on that and i’ve some problem with the audio.. someone can send me a codec dump that works in linux using the speakers?
    thank you!

  27. Brian | 31st January 2008 at 18:48 | Permalink

    Hello Philip,

    I am using Slackware, too.

    >Hmm? The patch is linked to in my article and is already present in 2.6.23
    Does that mean if I udpate the kernel I can get sound without doing the patch?
    I don’t want to build a kernel. Still getting use to using Slackware 12.

    Would you please explain how to apply the patch? I did read about it in your article:
    “A small patch is needed to un-confuse it, which is available here.”

    But, I have no idea how to apply a patch.

    I’m hoping you can help.

    Thank you!

    Brian

  28. Philip Langdale | 31st January 2008 at 20:07 | Permalink

    Just install the 2.6.24 kernel. It has the patch already.

  29. Wingrunr | 17th February 2008 at 17:49 | Permalink

    Philip, have you been able to get the internal mic working on a 2.6.24 kernel? Sound is the real problem with this laptop for me. Using the kernel ALSA I get sound out of the speakers and get jack sensing but the internal microphone does not work. Using ALSA SVN, I get the internal MIC to work but not the speakers. The headphone jack does still work, however. I’m on a Gentoo system.

  30. Philip Langdale | 17th February 2008 at 19:53 | Permalink

    I’ve not really tried. But I did notice that the internal mic support was added in upstream ALSA (but never tested it). If speaker support broke in ALSA then I guess that’s a regression you should report to them. I’m sure it’s not supposed to be that way :-)

  31. Dusdan | 14th March 2008 at 10:08 | Permalink

    I installed Gentoo on this laptop and everything works fine, except for the internal mic, but I was wondering how you reached 3 wakeups per second with powertop. I get a lot of wakeups and my battery life is about 3 hours with the 6 battery cell.

  32. Philip Langdale | 14th March 2008 at 10:43 | Permalink

    You can get 3 wakeups by not running any programs and unloading the usb and wireless drivers. I didn’t say it could be done in a useful way :-)

    3 hours sounds about right if you’re actually using the laptop. It would be low if you left it sitting on your desk idle.

  33. Dusdan | 14th March 2008 at 12:28 | Permalink

    So you didn’t do specific tweaks to increase battery life? I was wondering about activating laptop mode, or mounting /var/log on a ramdisk while on battery.
    By the way, I have the 4965 wireless card but it seems the driver can’t enable power management: do you know if there are any patches available? I’m running kernel 2.6.24

  34. Arvenil | 16th May 2009 at 15:20 | Permalink

    Hello i recently bought this laptop and I founded one more “key”. Pressing Fn-Esc generates Sleep event similar to Power button. Try it!

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