XPS 13 Developer Edition Kaby Lake (9360): working great with Fedora 25

So, that post about not liking computers? Here's a confession: I partly wrote it as some sort of weird preparation for buying myself another one. That is, the new Kaby Lake XPS 13 developer edition. I've been using a second-gen (L322X) XPS 13 developer edition for a few years now, and been generally happy with it, except for a couple of things:

  • That was the last generation before Intel substantially improved battery life, and it shows; I only get 2-3 hours on it.
  • I'm an idiot, so the screen has a crack in it and also has either water or diet Coke (not sure. I've spilled both on it) trapped between the screen glass and the substrate, which gives a weird sort of rainbow effect on that edge of the screen.

The new model's been getting great reviews, and is reported to have good battery life. I think it's good to send a signal by buying a system with Linux preloaded (even if it's the wrong one :>). nirik was touting the virtues of the Lenovo Yoga 910, and that sure looks nice too, but I think I'm still happy with this.

So the new XPS 13 arrived today. It's a very nice bit of hardware, even smaller than the second-gen thanks to those crazy tiny bezels, and with an overall nice design. Keyboard and trackpad feel a bit better than before.

Of course, I installed the brand-new, just-signed-off Fedora 25 (Workstation) on it straight away (public release on Tuesday!), and guess what?

Everything worked. I mean, just everything worked. I didn't have to lift a damn finger to do anything anywhere. Wifi works, sound works, touchscreen works, the lot. GNOME automatically enables hidpi mode, and the screen looks great. There was just nothing at all I had to do besides set up my apps. Bit boring! But welcome. Heck, even enrolling the system to a FreeIPA domain during gnome-initial-setup worked, except the user's login keyring didn't turn out right and I had to poke around a bit to fix that.

There's only one slightly odd thing: the system's function keys are lockable, like caps lock or scroll lock. Out of the box, they're set so just pressing them uses them as multimedia keys - pressing F3 raises the volume, pressing F2 lowers it, etc. To actually get a function key you have to hold fn and press the key. Which is of course awful. But never fear! After ten minutes futilely poking around in the firmware looking for a config setting, I twigged that there's a little 'lock' icon on the Esc key. Just pressing fn+Esc flips the keys over so just pressing them gets you the function key, as the universe intended, and fn+key will do the multimedia key action. Phew.


Thorsten Leemhuis wrote on 2016-11-18 06:34:
Everything worked. I mean, just everything worked.
Not on mine (I got an CNX93609 – the one with FullHD display and 256 Gig NVMe). I have very bad Wifi Tx performance and hear a static background noise in headphones. When I enable power management for the audio codec I get a cracking noise in headphones every time the codec goes to sleep or wakes up; and I hear something like a mosquito buzzing in headphones when I have my fingers on the touchpad while the codec sleeps. Ohh, and the HDMI connector on the official dock (DA200) doesn't work properly for me. And I "only" ;-) get about 13 hours of battery runtime while getting 22,5 with Windows (no noises on headphones there, HDMI works and Wifi Tx performance is in expected range). Computers are fun…
adamw wrote on 2016-11-18 07:40:

Thanks for the notes. I never use the headphone socket on a laptop, just got no use for it, so dunno about that. I know that in general external output on shiny new laptops where there's apparently like four different protocols trying to run over five different connectors is kind of a mess, haven't tried that yet - it seems to be a case of 'keep buying adapters till you find one that works', or something. iwconfig reports the wifi is really slow - it always shows 6Mb/sec - but that's clearly a lie, as it actually manages more like 50Mb/sec when actually transferring. That's still a lot below what 802.11ac should be, but it's good enough for my needs ATM. It's an ath10k part, which is the same thing I have in my router, so it ought to work well enough. I'll fiddle with it more when I've got time. I haven't run the battery anywhere near empty yet; I got the 4K model so I'm expecting 6-8 hours or so. I've heard tell that Andy Lutomirski's NVMe power saving patches - https://github.com/damige/linux-nvme - can make a significant difference, but if it lasts long enough for me without those, I'm not going to bother. I think the battery life situation is gonna be the same on pretty much any recent Intel-based laptop, though.

Thorsten Leemhuis wrote on 2016-11-18 17:22:
I’ve heard tell that Andy Lutomirski’s NVMe power saving patches
Argh, I need a bigger head, I totally forgot about those; thx for the reminder.
it actually manages more like 50Mb/sec when actually transferring
I get up to 300 Mbit/s Rx, but only 20 Mbit/s Tx with three different routers :-/ With Windows I nearly got 300 Mbit Tx in one test setup :-(
it seems to be a case of ‘keep buying adapters till you find one that works’, or something.
Yeah, maybe. But the dock works fine in Windows and works with some monitors in low resolutions (like 720p). That's why I suspect it's a issue in the Linux driver stack somewhere…
I think the battery life situation is gonna be the same on pretty much any recent Intel-based laptop, though.
Yeah, agreed. FWIW & TWIMC: I tried to enable Panel Self Refresh/PSR in i915, which reduced power consumption by 0.5 to 0.7 watts, but it had issues (screen sometimes froze for a few seconds).