I ḥave a new Dell XPS laptop, so I decided to install Debian 9. Here are some lessons learned:

Caveat: there are many variables involved in a complex set up. If you’re in a similar situation, please do not assume that what I describe in this post is going to necessarily be applicable to your circumstances.

My wonderful wife gave me a brand new Dell XPS 13 9365. It’s a sleek and great quality laptop. Unfortunately it came with Windows 10, so, of course, the first thing I needed to do was to install GNU/Linux as the operating system.

Following the always wise advise of my friend AndOr, I decided to go back, after many many years, to my dear Debian. This time with Wayland and Gnome.

After the motherboard being replaced TWICE, under guarantee, by Dell (on-site tech support, super awesome) here are some steps I had to take to make sure everything worked as expected (funny Markdown, I write my list as 0,1,2… and it renders 1,2,3…):

  1. Pressing F12, I went into the Bios and flashed it (upper right button) with a the latest file downloaded from Dell’s website, and loaded into a USB.
  2. Restarting and back into the Bios, I change:
    • System conf. SATA change Raid to AHCI
    • Secure Boot to disable
    • Uncheck Legacy ROM and click “Apply/Save”. Perhaps I should have changed (in Advanced BIOS Intel RapidStart to Off, to prevent sleep-wake crashes, but more on that later).
  3. Booted the Debian 9 NetInstall from the USB, making sure the laptop was connected to the internet via ethernet. It detected it automatically, so I did not have to change the boot order or anything.
  4. I did not want nor need any partition with Windows or anything else, so I chose to wipe it and clean install.
  5. In the initial configuration, you should skip giving root a login/password, and instead do it the first time you run sudo. Another more annoying option would be to add the user to sudoers list later.
  6. Accept (I’m really sorry, Richard) non-free repo in APT, if you want your wifi card to work, and install firmware-iwlwifi. You may also need to install firmware-atheros.deb.
  7. A very important thing to check (via top, or your favourite monitoring command) if your machine starts working too hard is Tracker. In my case I tried to manage the preferences via tracker-preferencesto reduce consumption, but to no avail. I had to tracker daemon-tto kill it, and then finally deactivate any indexing and search activity. I have decided to try with Synapse instead. Let’s see how it goes.
  8. Extra note: HDMI output only works in the latest kernel update from backports (from kernel 4.13.0 on, I believe).

After a little configuration, and reinstalling some software, like going from Thunderbird to Geary (in some cases, like Firefox, to get the latest you need a snap) I could not be happier. Thank you, sweetheart!