Dell XPS 15-9550 and Fedora 23 (and Windows 10) 1


On February 5th, I received my new laptop, a Dell XPS 15 9550. Before this laptop, I used to use a Dell Precision M3800, which has been replaced by the Dell Precision 15 5000 series, but the “only” difference between the two is the dedicated video card you can choose. The Precision sports a Quadro video card, whereas the XPS uses a GeForce card. Without going in too much details, this means that the Precision is better in professional work, such as AutoCAD, and the XPS is better at running games. Since one of my goals with this laptop was to get rid of my desktop PC, which I only use for games, the XPS was the more logical choice.

As can be derived from previous posts, I mainly use Linux, more specifically Fedora, on my laptop. This is because I run a number of VM’s (via VirtualBox and Vagrant) and/or Docker containers at the same time. In itself, this is also possible on Windows, but on Linux the overhead is a lot lower than on Windows. I will not go into the details of how to use aforementioned tools, that is something for a different post.

Two back-to-back Dell XPS 15 (Model 9550) Touch notebook computers. One model is open 90 degrees facing left, the other is open 45 degrees facing back right.

Dell XPS 15

What I will go into in this post, as the title might suggest, is how to get Fedora 23 running on the XPS 15, how to dual-boot it with Windows, issues I have run into, and their solutions (hopefully). Also, be sure to read the end (last two paragraphs) of the post, which contain an important note :). I hope this post will help people who want to use Fedora on their XPS, and maybe I will even get a few tips and pointers in return :).

For reference purposes, the specs are:

  • Intel Core i7-6700HQ
  • 16GB RAM
  • 512GB SSD (Samsung NVMe)
  • nVidia Geforce GTX960M with 2GB of RAM
  • 15.6″ UltraHD (3840×2160) Screen
  • Broadcom BCM43602 Wireless card
  • Windows 10 Pro installed


HiDPI screens and apps 2

HiDPiAs said in the post about Fedora 20 and the Dell M3800, I would come back to elaborate on using a HiDPI screen with certain applications. As said in that post, things have improved generally since I have switched to Gnome 3.12. So, all the default applications scale well, and do their work correctly.

Now, just to set the perspective: the resolution on my laptop is 3200×1800 on a 15 inch screen. Most laptop displays currently available run 1366×768 on 15 inch (which is really bad) or 1920×1080. So, in essence, whenever I do a remote desktop from my laptop to my pc at home, which runs at 1600×1050, well, you can probably guess what happens: the Remote Desktop takes up about a quarter of my display, with all text scaled to this proportion. This can be solved by using programs such as Remmina, which is capable of doing scaling.

However, there are also programs which are not able, yet (I hope), to scale properly on a HiDPI screen… And the programs I am referring to are not obscure programs that hardly anyone uses… The most annoying one is Chrome, Google Chrome. Why it cannot handle a HiDPI screen I cannot, for the life of me, understand.

If you look at the screenshot, which will be scaled to your display, probably, you can see the difference between Firefox (upper-left) and Chrome (lower-left). See the difference between the tabs and the address bar? Also, have a look at Spotify (lower-right), Steam (Middle-right), and DropBox (upper-right). Compare those to the Calculator (to the left of DropBox), the Terminal (upper-middle) and the file-browser (lower-middle).

This should all get better eventually, I hope, but for now, I guess I’ll just have to live with squinting every now and then…

Dell Precision M3800 and Fedora 20 1

M3800 - fullI am the proud owner of a Dell Precision M3800 laptop, and when I say owner, I naturally mean user, as the laptop is officially owned by the company I work for. It is a very nice machine with very good specs, which is useful when you need to run a lot of VM’s on your machine.

The laptop has Windows 8 pre-installed, however, for my work I like to use Linux, more specifically Fedora, as it gives a bit more options here and there, and it’s less hungry on the resources. So, this post is basically about the things I encountered while installing and using Fedora 20 (the latest version), and I’ll make a new post when Fedora 21 has been released and I installed it on the laptop.

The first thing of note, is to disable UEFI boot in the BIOS and set it to Legacy BIOS boot mode. Fedora 20 should be able to work with UEFI, but I could not figure out how it worked, and after 4 tries I gave up and moved on.

When I was still working at my previous employer, I made a number of scripts to be able to reinstall my laptop quickly, so that I would be able to be up and running again pretty fast after a new version of Fedora had been released. Naturally, things break when using these kinds of scripts, even between version, so I usually test them on a VM (and sometimes I get other people to test-drive them, right, Maarten? 😉 )