First experiences with Dell XPS 12 9Q33

My new work laptop is a Dell XPS 12 9Q33 which has an Intel Haswell CPU in it – I can haz hardware transactional memory! It’s also got 8GB RAM, 256GB Samsung SSD and a multitouch touchscreen which will swivel around to form a tablet type device. 🙂

Dell XPS 12 screen rotation to form tablet - linked from Extreme Tech

Of course the first thing to do with this new machine was to install Kubuntu 13.10 as Dell will not ship these without the Windoze tax. So far I’ve got to say it’s been pretty painless, everything works out of the box and the only niggles I’ve found so far are:

UEFI hangs if I have a Kogan 64GB USB3 stick in one of the USB3 ports

Well the solution is don’t do it then. I’ll see if I can figure out how to report this as an issue to Dell.

The Linux i2c-hid driver currently doesn’t properly handle the touch screen and trackpad – both work but the trackpad is detected as a PS2 mouse

This is fine for me, I’m happy to just use the trackpad as an old-school mouse and be able to use the touchscreen should I need to. If you really want to use the trackpad and don’t care about the touchscreen then you just need to blacklist the i2c-hid kernel module and reboot. There is an existing Ubuntu bug on Launchpad about this, but it’s an upstream kernel issue.

The WLAN kill switch (FN+F2) is not recognised

This is probably the most annoying one, and I’ve not (yet) got around to reporting it as a bug. You can work around it from the command line by with: rfkill block all

Things I like:

  • A great screen, 1920×1080 and really sharp
  • A nice fast SSD, bonnie++ measured over 400MB/s block write and over 600MB/s block read using btrfs
  • Small – my previous Dell laptop was a Latitude Z600 which was nice but very wide
  • Haswell CPU – latest Intel goodness
  • low power – powertop reports it getting down to 5 to 6 Watts when it’s idling (with the screen on at 60% brightness)

Seems quite promising so far!

pv: a handy replacement for cat when piping large amounts of data into commands

If you’re ever in the situation of needing to pipe a large amount of data into a program and would usually use cat or just redirect from a file, but would like some idea of how long it may take, then may I recommend to you the “pv” command (packaged in Debian/Ubuntu/RHEL/etc)?

For instance, here is restoring a 9GB MySQL dump into a MariaDB database:

root@db3:/var/tmp# pv db4.sql | mysql
 570MB 0:02:06 [5.01MB/s] [>                                   ]  5% ETA 0:34:28

Suddenly you’ve got the data rate, the percentage complete and an ETA so you can go off and get a coffee whilst it works..