Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Installing OpenSuse 12.3 on the new Dell XPS13 Ultrabook

Check out the install for OpenSuse 13.1 here.

I just got the Dell XPS13 Ultrabook. It looks amazing... It feels very sturdy with the Aluminium exterior and is just very cool.

Just a short sidenote about the XPS13 before I go into installation details... When I turned it on I noticed an extremely irritating high-pitched sound that would not go away. It varied a little bit every second. I tried all possible things to find the error (turn off wifi, switch to other screen etc). Nothing helped. So I sent it back to Dell and they changed the motherboard and the fan. It came back yesterday and I was all exited... only to still hear this noise... I read around on the internet and it must be a design thing, perhaps an electrical wire that is not properly insulated. Now, I must admit, I have extremely sensitive ears so that might contribute. Also, woman's ears are able to hear higher pitched sounds then men, so perhaps the designers or technicians did not hear it. Still... it immediately cought my attention. Anyway, I have am trying the laptop now, and I must admit, seeing it without that horrible windows makes me feel alot better about it.
UPDATE: after installing Linux and peforming the BIOS system stress test the hight-pitch sound went away... thank god!

I created a bootable USB stick from the OpenSuse website, with version 12.3, 64-bit on it. Now my colleage told me that despite my love for OpenSuse, I might consider installing Ubuntu on it, since it has a dedicated release for this laptop. Well, after considering that for about 5 minutes, I put my USB stick with OpenSuse in the XPS13 and rebooted. Press F12 on startup to access USB booting.

How to install OpenSuse:

- Choose install
- Follow the instructions: be sure to completely erase any windows partition.
- I choose and ext4 filesystem, which is the default option and added some extra software for development.
- Wait a moment
- Done

Now how well does it work?

- Network (incl WiFi) functions without extra configuration.
- Power button gives the logout/power off menu, which is fine for me.
- Suspend seems to work properly.
- Second screen with KRandR works fine.

Only issue I could find so far is that the Brightness adjust does not work (see this bug report). I will implement a fix in the coming days, and will post it here, so be sure to come back!
UPDATE: I was able to fix the brightness buttons by running this command as su (also works after reboot):

/bin/echo 0 > /sys/class/backlight/intel_backlight/brightness


  1. hi,

    right now I have ubuntu 13.04 and win8.

    which media have you used for usb stick? DVD, Live, NET, ..., because I simply can't boot into opensuse install media. Whatever I do I'm thrown back into efi or just grub menu.

    any hints?

    1. Sorry I only just now saw your comment. I am using the network package. Be sure to make the usb bootable thought!