{November 28, 2008}   the xps m1330

I’m not awake today, so blog title creativity has reached a new low… anyways, peter asked me to blog about my laptop again, so here it is.

I’ve been using it for over 3 months now, so I suppose it’s safe to say is does work. :) hibernation and suspend have been great; only two or three hibernation failures since I got it, and I hibernate at least once a day. :)

I think I’ve ranted about most of the problems already, really… the keyboard gets some keys stuck if I press them at the exact wrong time, which is apparently a driver issue, but I can live with it. the bad wifi drivers are a real pain (while I’ve kinda gotten used to using wired ethernet at home, I’m concerned about running into openwrt routers at conferences) but there was a a time when I didn’t get panics, and I have a vague feeling that a kernel update may have been what changed things, so I should look into that.
I still have no composite… I must look into exactly what version of xorg is supposed to fix that, and try it out, even if it’s not stable yet. I also have to figure out how to get a monitor/projector to work when plugged in… I’ve never tried that on anything but kubuntu with my old laptop, and I found out it doesn’t work at all by default in arch, so I have to start by finding out what words I should even be googling…

oh, and the builtin speakers are fairly useless – very very quiet – but I never expect much from laptop speakers anyways. either I have headphones (and this laptop has two outputs, so my buying a splitter was a bit of a waste in the end) or I have real speakers at home. it’s a shame that the builtin mic doesn’t work at *all*, though. I do have a good mic of my own, but getting it untangled takes time ;)

the screen is good, so long as it doesn’t have direct sunlight on it… although really, I’d be happy with faded colours if I could have a daylight-readable screen. :P

other than that… well… it mostly just works. :) I haven’t tested bluetooth or the fingerprint reader, although the interwebs suggest they’ll work. I haven’t got around to making the multimedia keys work, either. I really wish someone would write a simple gui program for mapping those keys so that you don’t have to read man pages to learn how to do it… I can never remember the process and I have better things to do with my time, but I don’t want to have to trust it to distro “magic” (especially given the apparent state of distros that do such magic).

somehow I haven’t gotten around to putting stickers on the laptop, though. either I’m too busy using it, or I subconsciously don’t think of it as “mine” yet ;)

oh, and I love having a 4-hour battery. I can actually *use* my laptop unplugged, compiling and playing music, without constantly glancing at the battery meter. :) the slotload dvd drive is nice too, although I hardly ever use it – why don’t all laptops have that? it makes so much more sense… no silly tray to pop out and get damaged.

so… it may not be a perfect laptop, but that seems almost entirely to be driver issues, and driver issues can (hopefully) be resolved in time. :) perhaps I’ll finally put some stickers on it tonight. I’ll have to pick up kde stickers again at campkde…

Firas MR says:

Great review. Just wondering if you ever checked if launchpad bug #59695 and has been a problem for you.

Thiago Macieira says:

Hi Chani

I have the same model of the laptop and I can relate to some of your experience.

First of all, the wireless did have some weird problems. Mine was related to the wireless losing the association when the monitor’s DPMS kicked in. Weird, huh?

The solution was to do a BIOS upgrade. Dell provides Linux tools for this and the whole thing works smoothly.

Hibernate used to work without a glitch, but resuming from Suspend had a bizarre issue: one core would not come back and cpufreq wouldn’t work. So I’d be stuck at 1667 MHz, eating a lot of battery.

After the BIOS upgrade, that problem simply vanished.

In the past week, however, both suspending and resuming have started failing. I’m not sure if it’s related to some kind of kernel upgrade I made.

Fingerprint reader… works, but I have no use for it (no program to use it). The multimedia keys are read in KDE programs, but none reacts to them. KMix in trunk has recently started reacting to global volume keys, which is very, very nice.

Bluetooth works fine too, but I only use it once in a blue moon (ha!). The card reader, I used it once, but it worked. The webcam works too.

The mic works, but it’s far, far too low to be useful. I wish I had a “+20 dB gain” control in ALSA like my old laptop.

Compositing works too (NVidia 8400M GS with the 177 and 180 drivers; much better than my desktop).

That’s it. I’m pretty satisfied with this laptop, with the exception that suspending and hibernating started failing to resume.

Tom says:

Sounds like a lot of problems. I will keep using what the kernel devs use:
Thinkpads (although I really wish Dell will sell lots of Ubuntu computers TBH).

MaBu says:

I have the same laptop and I am wondering how did you achieve hibernation? Because every time I hibernate to RAM on resume only one core has cpufrequency scaling and the other has not. I use Gentoo so maybe I didn’t set something right.

On my laptop I had to use xorg 1.4 to get composite, but this brought other problems (freeze on every log-out, only Ctrl+Alt+Del works) :)

Multimedia keys can be made to work with this

I agree 4 hours of battery is really nice.

Do you have bootsplash image?

P.S.: How did you physically connect monitor cable to the laptop? Because if I try this it falls out and it doesn’t want to stay in.


I also have that laptop and i have not had most of the probs your having!
Especially composite worked for me from the first day (i have the intel version) and wifi never had any failures! :-)
I also use an external display most of the time, xrandr makes this really easy…
This is in openSuSE 11.0, so you might wanna check the versions of xorg and drivers with that! :-)

Thiago: Suspend started failing for me a couple days ago, too… So i guess this is related to some update!


Peter B says:

I also tend to go for the intel version (as other poster stated). Thus compositing shouldn’t become an issue here. Since you didn’t say anything about noise issues I assume there are simply no. Thanks for these information. Very helpfull.


cph says:

I’ve also got the 1330. Battery, screen, bluetooth, camera and wifi has been perfect. I’ve not found teh figerprint reader to be great(no real KDE integration). I’ve also found taht the audio is a bit funny(not sure if this is pulseaudio problem, but sometimes one jack is better than the other). For the multimedia keys I use a file with >>>
keycode 174 = XF86AudioLowerVolume
keycode 176 = XF86AudioRaiseVolume
keycode 164 = XF86AudioStop
keycode 162 = XF86AudioPlay
keycode 160 = XF86AudioMute
keycode 153 = XF86AudioNext
keycode 144 = XF86AudioPre
and the command :
$ xmodmap the-file-containing-the-lines-above

I’m currently using OpenSUSE 11.0 but hope to upgrade to 11.1rc1 this afternoon.

John-Paul says:


Nice post, though you might be intrested in some of the stuff I’ve been blogging about. . I’ve been getting linux/kde to run on my Dell studio 15. I’m got it mostly working, but I’ve still got a way to go for the perfect setup.


I believe the XOrg you need is 7.4, the last few bits of which (including the server and drivers) are sitting in [testing] on Arch. Catalyst (the non-free ATI driver, which is what I understand they were waiting on) has now made it into [testing] as well, so hopefully it should move to [extra] before too long.

Matteo Nardi says:

Hi! I’ve got a dell inspiron 1525 and I’m facing the same problem with arch.. so I suppose we have the same intel graphic card.
Take a look at this bug:

I’m too lazy and I haven’t tried solving it..
On other distributions it works well (opensuse and ubuntu).

Good luck :)

Si says:

I have every single piece of hardware working on my M1330 in Arch, and I don’t have any of the problems you mentioned. Some of your problems I’ve came across before, others I have no idea.

Your key multimedia key mapping and composite issue have already been discussed above, so I’ll only comment on the builtin mic issue.

I think it was kernel 2.6.26 or 27, I had to set mic1 to “Front Mic” and input to “Digital Mic” in kmix to get the builtin mic to work. You also need to turn up the volume for digital input and capture1.

The only thing I’m not totally happy with is the state of nVidia’s driver, but at least this is improving.

Jeffro says:

Multi-display’s not working for you? Hmmm. Worked great on my Thinkpad (R500, “radeon” driver). Would clone the display with absolutely zero fussing around. Only “issue” I had was figuring out what arguments to pass and where so that I had one big display made from the two little ones at boot time (xorg.conf is scary!).

Of course, I made it a point to run the testing repo so that my R500 was actually usable.

marse says:

I have also a XPS M1330 and my sound is very loud

Do this: sudo alsamixer -c 0

Peter B says:

It’s me once again. Does the Dell XPS come along with a blue ray drive or is there an option to chose such (I was searching a while now @ Dells home age but to no avail. While doing so I was wondering if it is clever to feel the need for such a drive).


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