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Dell Studio XPS 13


I had the Dell Studio XPS 13 for about 2 weeks, unfortunately I had some problems with the hardware (see below) and I am now returning it to Dell (probably waiting a long time before I buy another Dell). Previous experience of Ubuntu on laptops comes mostly from my Lenovo ThinkPad Z61m where, by the way Linux performs splendid. Oh, I also run a Ubuntu file-/web-server in my closet (lovely). I installed Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid) on the Dell Studio XPS 13.

This page is just for discussing using Linux on the Dell Studio XPS 13. For a general discussion about this laptop you can visit the Dell Studio XPS 13 page on LapWik.

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For full specifications see the Dell Studio XPS 13 specifications page.

NameDell Studio XPS 13
ProcessorIntel® CoreTM 2 Duo P9500 (2.53GHz, 3MB L2 Cache, 1067MHz FSB)
Intel® CoreTM 2 Duo P8600 (2.4GHz, 3MB L2 Cache, 1067MHz FSB)
Intel® CoreTM 2 Duo P8400 (2.2GHz, 3MB L2 Cache, 1067MHz FSB)
Screen13.3” WXGA Widescreen (WLED or CCFL)
RAMUp to 4GB (DDR3)
HDD250GB to 500GB
Optical DriveDVD+-RW (slot-in)
GraphicsNVIDIA® GeForce® 9400M G
NVIDIA® GeForce® 9500M
Network10/100/1000 Ethernet
Dell 1515 Wireless N Mini-Card

Linux Compatibility

Processor Works
Screen Works Screen brightness buttons works
Optical Drive Not Tested
Graphics Works Problem with driver (Hybrid SLI, nVidia 177 driver)
ModemNot Tested
USB Works Mouse and external HDD tested
FirewireNot Tested
Card ReaderWorks
ExpressCard SlotNot Tested


The one thing that I think usually screws the computer up when installing Ubuntu is the fan controller. Unfortunately it was broken when I got the computer, they replaced the motherboard and after that the fan ran at full speed all the time, sounding like a hair dryer.


I didn't have time to look it over thoroughly, because there was something wrong with the BIOS and fan, instead of replacing me with a new one, they sent repairmen (replacing motherboard, screen and HDD → I asked them whats left to replace?) . Now I am returning the laptop and buying another brand. But IF you get a functioning unit (for 1100 Euros!) Ubuntu seems to run fine on it out of the box.


Magnus Persson, Stockholm, Sweden


Jehnavi, 2012/03/03 12:48

[|Dell XPS 13] sports some solid specs. The ultrabook has a smaller footprint than the leading 13 inches competitors. It is built of taps carbon fiber materials that have helped to keep the weight of the gadget below three pounds. The manufacturer is expecting stronger consumer as well as business demand for Dell XPS 13,” said Michael Tatelman. The 13.3-inches ultrabook has a display of 1,366×768, which would entertain you with high-definition videos.

Geoff, 2010/10/30 03:41

I purchased a Dell Studio XPS 13 around July 2009. I installed Kubuntu 9.04, and after some fiddling around with wireless drivers, everything seemed ok. The trouble started when I tried to enable the Nvidia drivers (180). After a reboot, things would scoot along fine, graphics were smooth without any artifacts. Until I'd get a hard lockup (with the CAPSLOCK flashing, is that a kernel panic?). This would happen often enough that I couldn't get any work done.

I ended up replacing one of the memory modules, and installing the latest Nvidia drivers, but the problem persisted. Even using the Dell OEM image failed (Dell offered Ubuntu on the XPS 13 for a time). I finally got things going by installing Fedora 12, and using the nouveau drivers (which Dell didn't have at the time). I now had a workable system, albeit with no 3D and intermittent display corruption of icons and other small display elements.

When Kubuntu 10.10 came out, I installed it as it now came with the nouveau drivers. Everything seems to work, but still with same display corruption. For a lark I tried the Nvidia drivers (185). Hard lockups again. Back to nouveau.

Now I see Dell has discontinued the Dell Studio XPS 13. I wonder what the underlying message of that is, considering that that the XPS 16 is still available.

The Dell Studio XPS 13 is a nice looking laptop (though the fit-and-finish of the screen leaves a bit to be desired), but an expensive carrying case for the discrete Nvidia gfx, which I can't use. If I had my time over, I'd probably reembrace the black brick and get a Thinkpad.

alejandro granados, 2010/09/18 21:32

Hey there.

I've just installed ubuntu 10.04 on my Studio XPS 1640 and it works perfect out of the box. 100%
sound ok
graphics acceleration 0k
multimedia keyboard ok
wireless ok

dts surround none

anyone know how to enable dts sound??

Jaxxed, 2009/12/25 00:13

I'm actuallly surprised to hear so many hard time installing ubuntu on the dell studio line, in 2009.

I've installed kubuntu (karmic,lucid) without any serious problems. I have a studio xps 16, with an ati hd4750 (so something like that), and had the default open source driver work well. To get advanced DRI (3d desktop effects) I had to add the xorg-edgers repository and use the newer drivers (which in karmic requires using a newer kernel - but is easy to do inthe lucid alpha.)

The only problem I've had is that the headphone jacks don't work for me.

For those new to linux, there are no global drivers for all linux distributions. Actually there are, as they all come from the same source, but would have to be compiled. Each linux distro has it's own way of distributing software and drivers. Some quick research for you dsitro will let you know what you have to do.


heian, 2009/11/28 12:44


I'm very interested in the XPS 13.

Just wonder how it works after a clean install with ubuntu 9.10
Does it work out of the box already and what are the problems that i can

Please, give an update about this nice laptop

Many thanks in advance


Victor, 2009/11/28 12:58


I just installed Ubuntu 9.10 in this laptop. When I installed 9.04 the wireless worked fine but with 9.10, so far the wireless doesn't seem to work. I haven't worked too much on it but looks like the driver needs to be installed using a wired conexion.

Craig, 2009/09/02 20:37

installed Ubuntu with Wubi/Ubuntu 9.04, wireless works fine, as does audio, but the screen comes up as unknown, and I can't select any higher than 1280×720 (the display in the XPS 13 is 1280×800)…

How can I either detect the graphics card correctly - or set the resolution higher?


Marco Piccinini, 2009/05/19 11:18

I'm interested in linux for dell studio xps 13. Can you tell me some information about drivers? where I can get them?

Bill Giannikos, 2009/05/20 04:02

Linux comes with it's own set of drivers already included, no need to download any.

Victor, 2009/09/20 18:21

It's true, but if you want to use different graphical effects you need to enable the use of NVIDIA driver (180 is the one currently detected one). That one gives me some trouble with firefox as stated bellow by thief.

I installed driver 185 from NVIDIA's page

You can follow the instructions in this page if you don't know how to do it:

After that, I'm no longer having same trouble with graphics as before.

thief, 2009/05/14 06:47

lex, or whoever, could you inform us how you got skype working?
did you set other things?
i can't hear / say anything in skype.

thief, 2009/05/13 20:14

i believe with the 180 video drivers, firefox would freeze the system everytime it was closed. that was odd. many esata hard drive enclosures will not work with the port, though i think it's their fault, not ubuntu's according to other forum posts.

to the OP, i wouldn't buy a new laptop just because you had a problem… they can fix it or throw some money at you for your trouble. - a lot easier than returning / shipping / waiting.

my 1340 didn't come with bluetooth. bloody dell decided to take it out for some reason just as i ordered mine. stupid dell.

Neil, 2009/04/23 11:19

Installed the nvidia 180 drivers after the FC10 installation failed to locate a driver. Had to customse the xorg.conf but did get it working. Next the WIFI drivers. Could nto locate the madwifi for my kernel so looks like a compile and install.

Vit, 2009/03/25 20:09

Unfortunately I cannot help you. I have experienced the same trouble.
I've got Laptop Acer Aspire 7530 (ghrapics Nvidia GeForce 9400M)

DulceangustiA, 2009/03/24 13:35


I recently got a Dell Studio XPS 13 and tried to install Ubuntu 8.10 on it but, as soon as I enabled the proprietary Nvidia 177 drivers, when booting the laptop I'm directly thrown to console mode and I can't get to the desktop.

I've noticed you got it working although having some issues with this. Could you please tell me how you solved it? Maybe some xorg.conf tuning? I'm quite interested on having Ubuntu 8.10 running on this laptop.


Lex, 2009/04/18 11:49

I also recently got a Dell Studio XPS 13 and installed Ubuntu 8.10 on it. I think I had the same experience with the NVidia 177 driver. I ended up reinstalling without an NVidia driver. However I notice now that the latest NVidia driver in the Ubuntu repositories is 180. I haven't yet tried installing it (as I suspect that simply backing up xorg.conf and then restoring it if there is a problem may not be sufficient.

Otherwise the computer seems fine with Ubuntu.

Lex, 2009/04/18 11:52

Should also mention I got Skype working well as follows:

  1. Skype Settings
    1. Sound Devices
      1. Sound in: Default device
      2. Sound out: HDA NVidia (hw:NVidia,0)
      3. Ringing: HDA NVidia (hw:NVidia,0)
  2. Audio (initially mic didn't work)
    1. Double click the volume icon, click preferences
    2. Enable Digital input source options
    3. In the options tab, set the Digital Input Source as “Digital Mic 1”
Lex, 2009/04/25 13:20

Skype sound devices should all be set to HDA NVidia (hw:NVidia,0)

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dell_studio_xps_13.txt · Last modified: 2010/10/13 15:21 (external edit)
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