Dell XPS 17

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The page talks about specifics of the Gentoo installation on this machine and targets on saving time for the reader on configuring these machines.

The Dell XPS at the time of writing is (2021/22) considered to be powerful workstation. Unfortunately Dell did not put much effort on making this machine friendly to Linux, therefore there are few issues with hardware user will face, which is addressed in this article.

Author bought this laptop in hope of migrating from Macbook Pro. But unfortunately price tag of dell is much higher that the apple and you have to put a lot of effort to get things to more or less ok state, therefore if you thinking of transition like this, think twice before selecting this machine. Also, forget about privacy/security - ime is by default is on on this machine and kernel have support for it :).

Hardware

See below `lspci` output --- use it as comparison against your machine. Here is also link also into the web page with greater and useful details:

https://linux-hardware.org/?probe=597fae9cb6

 1z1-xps179710:/usr/src/linux # lspci  -k
 200:00.0 Host bridge: Intel Corporation 11th Gen Core Processor Host Bridge/DRAM Registers (rev 05)
 3        Subsystem: Dell Device 0a5d
 400:01.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 11th Gen Core Processor PCIe Controller #1 (rev 05)
 5        Kernel driver in use: pcieport
 600:01.1 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation Device 9a05 (rev 05)
 7        Kernel driver in use: pcieport
 800:02.0 VGA compatible controller: Intel Corporation TigerLake-H GT1 [UHD Graphics] (rev 01)
 9        DeviceName: Onboard - Video
10        Subsystem: Dell Device 0a5d
11        Kernel driver in use: i915
12        Kernel modules: i915
1300:04.0 Signal processing controller: Intel Corporation TigerLake-LP Dynamic Tuning Processor Participant (rev 05)
14        Subsystem: Dell Device 0a5d
15        Kernel driver in use: proc_thermal
16        Kernel modules: processor_thermal_device_pci_legacy
1700:07.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation Tiger Lake-H Thunderbolt 4 PCI Express Root Port #0 (rev 05)
18        Kernel driver in use: pcieport
1900:07.1 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation Tiger Lake-H Thunderbolt 4 PCI Express Root Port #1 (rev 05)
20        Kernel driver in use: pcieport
2100:07.2 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation Tiger Lake-H Thunderbolt 4 PCI Express Root Port #2 (rev 05)
22        Kernel driver in use: pcieport
2300:07.3 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation Tiger Lake-H Thunderbolt 4 PCI Express Root Port #3 (rev 05)
24        Kernel driver in use: pcieport
2500:08.0 System peripheral: Intel Corporation GNA Scoring Accelerator module (rev 05)
26        Subsystem: Dell Device 0a5d
2700:0a.0 Signal processing controller: Intel Corporation Tigerlake Telemetry Aggregator Driver (rev 01)
28        Subsystem: Dell Device 0a5d
29        Kernel driver in use: intel-pmt
30        Kernel modules: intel_pmt
3100:0d.0 USB controller: Intel Corporation Tiger Lake-H Thunderbolt 4 USB Controller (rev 05)
32        Subsystem: Dell Device 0a5d
33        Kernel driver in use: xhci_hcd
34        Kernel modules: xhci_pci
3500:0d.2 USB controller: Intel Corporation Tiger Lake-H Thunderbolt 4 NHI #0 (rev 05)
36        Subsystem: Dell Device 0a5d
37        Kernel driver in use: thunderbolt
38        Kernel modules: thunderbolt
3900:0d.3 USB controller: Intel Corporation Tiger Lake-H Thunderbolt 4 NHI #1 (rev 05)
40        Subsystem: Dell Device 0a5d
41        Kernel driver in use: thunderbolt
42        Kernel modules: thunderbolt
4300:12.0 Serial controller: Intel Corporation Device 43fc (rev 11)
44        Subsystem: Dell Device 0a5d
45        Kernel driver in use: intel_ish_ipc
46        Kernel modules: intel_ish_ipc
4700:14.0 USB controller: Intel Corporation Tiger Lake-H USB 3.2 Gen 2x1 xHCI Host Controller (rev 11)
48        Subsystem: Dell Device 0a5d
49        Kernel driver in use: xhci_hcd
50        Kernel modules: xhci_pci
5100:14.2 RAM memory: Intel Corporation Tiger Lake-H Shared SRAM (rev 11)
52        Subsystem: Dell Device 0a5d
5300:14.3 Network controller: Intel Corporation Tiger Lake PCH CNVi WiFi (rev 11)
54        Subsystem: Rivet Networks Device 1651
55        Kernel driver in use: iwlwifi
56        Kernel modules: iwlwifi, wl
5700:15.0 Serial bus controller: Intel Corporation Tiger Lake-H Serial IO I2C Controller #0 (rev 11)
58        Subsystem: Dell Device 0a5d
59        Kernel driver in use: intel-lpss
60        Kernel modules: intel_lpss_pci
6100:15.1 Serial bus controller: Intel Corporation Device 43e9 (rev 11)
62        Subsystem: Dell Device 0a5d
63        Kernel driver in use: intel-lpss
64        Kernel modules: intel_lpss_pci
6500:16.0 Communication controller: Intel Corporation Tiger Lake-H Management Engine Interface (rev 11)
66        Subsystem: Dell Device 0a5d
67        Kernel driver in use: mei_me
68        Kernel modules: mei_me
6900:1c.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation Device 43be (rev 11)
70        Kernel driver in use: pcieport
7100:1f.0 ISA bridge: Intel Corporation Device 4389 (rev 11)
72        Subsystem: Dell Device 0a5d
7300:1f.3 Multimedia audio controller: Intel Corporation Tiger Lake-H HD Audio Controller (rev 11)
74        Subsystem: Dell Device 0a5d
75        Kernel driver in use: sof-audio-pci-intel-tgl
76        Kernel modules: snd_hda_intel, snd_sof_pci_intel_tgl
7700:1f.4 SMBus: Intel Corporation Tiger Lake-H SMBus Controller (rev 11)
78        Subsystem: Dell Device 0a5d
79        Kernel driver in use: i801_smbus
80        Kernel modules: i2c_i801
8100:1f.5 Serial bus controller: Intel Corporation Tiger Lake-H SPI Controller (rev 11)
82        Subsystem: Dell Device 0a5d
8301:00.0 3D controller: NVIDIA Corporation GA107M [GeForce RTX 3050 Mobile] (rev a1)
84        Subsystem: Dell Device 0a5d
85        Kernel modules: nouveau
8602:00.0 Non-Volatile memory controller: Micron Technology Inc Device 5405
87        Subsystem: Micron Technology Inc Device 0100
88        Kernel driver in use: nvme
89        Kernel modules: nvme
90ab:00.0 Unassigned class [ff00]: Realtek Semiconductor Co., Ltd. RTS5260 PCI Express Card Reader (rev 01)
91        Subsystem: Dell Device 0a5d
92        Kernel driver in use: rtsx_pci
93        Kernel modules: rtsx_pci

Another important thing to keep in mind - hardware and kernel is one part, in order to get the modern chips/hardware working you have to get the firmware for those chips. Having correctly configured kernel does not guarantees that you will have working hardware, i.e. bluetooth, wifi was slightly problematic to get working in this particular machine.

Kernel

Please read the Gentoo wiki for the kernel, just for you to understand common things. This article addresses kernel configuration slightly differently. As you likely know configuring kernel is pretty tedious process. There are few shortcuts like using genkernel to get pretty huge kernel, however, if you are interested in configuring things on your own and have smaller/faster kernel, keep reading.

It is assumed that you booted live-cd, let's use loaded by your livecd modules:

1# set to Y on current/livecd loaded modules
2make localyesconfig

from now on many pain like WiFi etc should be resolved by setting it in the local `.config` from the livecd you booted. Another very helpful step would be to use ubuntu or any other distro live-cd/usb to get the kernel settings. For instance, Ubuntu have pretty good hardware detection/drivers DB, including some proprietary. You can use this advantage of the Ubuntu USB stick to get things done quickly, keep in mind though that the kernel version likely will mismatch and you will not have 100% mach on livecd and your kernel - the kernel itself evolves, so things change. Get your USB stick with ubuntu live cd and boot. Save `lsmod` output from your booted usb into a file

1lsmod > ubuntu-livecd-lsmod


Now boot from your Gentoo USB stick or if you completed installation and need to fix/re-configure kernel

make LSMOD=suselsmod LMC_KEEP="drivers/usb:drivers/gpu:fs" localmodconfig | sort -u
# where `suselsmod` is suse installation kernel config, could be grabbed
# from ubuntu as well

# https://www.kernel.org/doc/html/latest/admin-guide/README.html?highlight=localmodconfig
# make LSMOD=livecd-lsmod LMC_KEEP="drivers/usb:drivers/gpu:fs" localmodconfig

# build kernel - don't use machine for few minutes
make -j128 && make modules_install

# install into the /boot
make install

DE

KDE will be used in this installation, steps below describes few details not covered by existing documentation. At the bottom of the article see the cheat sheet with shortened script of installation steps.

Cheat sheet

CODE cheatsheet
wiki does not allows me enter the content & save

Troubleshooting

Start any troubleshooting by looking at logs: dmesg do not grep, but just read all the logs messages, you will not miss context, and can make a list of items to fix

Bluetooth -- pending

`5.15.23` kernel had issues loading firmware for bluetooth - the device was listed by `rfkill` however wasn't working as expected due to firmware loading issue.

WiFi -- fixed

See kernel settings

Sound -- fixed

Make sure you installed `emerge sys-firmware/sof-firmware` -- there is firmware required for this sound chip to work.