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Get Dell XPS 17 9730 setup with linux (and fix broken audio ‘dummy output’ and touchpad freezes)

I just bought the new Dell XPS 17 9730 laptop (and I really love it) but I had trouble (1) getting Linux installed on it (2) getting the audio working and (3) stopping the touchpad from freezing.

If you have these issues:

  1. Ensure ‘secure boot’ is disabled in the BIOS. For your own sanity you’ll probably also want to turn off ‘fast boot’ and set the delay to 5 seconds. Pressing F12 is how you get to the BIOS.
  2. Download OpenSUSE. On Windows you can use Rufus to make a bootable USB or Etcher for other OS’. The XPS only has USB C ports and if you try to boot from a smart card it will hang. You may need a dongle that gives you regular USB.
  3. Why OpenSUSE? Well, the simple reason is after wasting hours of my life OpenSUSE was the only OS where I got the audio working. So yeah, that’s what you get. Dell XPS 17 (the most recent version) has very new hardware and this has issues in current Linux distros.

Here’s the magic command on OpenSUSE to get your audio working:

sudo zypper install sof-firmware

After that’s installed reboot your system and your audio devices will show up. The last step is to click the speaker icon in the bottom right and select the output ‘Speaker (sof-soundwire Speaker)’ to use the speakers on your laptop. I haven’t checked bluetooth audio or the headphone port but I was able to get my airpods working on Ubuntu earlier so I don’t think it would be a big deal to use on OpenSUSE.

Overall this is a good laptop. The screen brightness matches a Mac Book Pro. The keyboard feels nice to type on and the hardware is very up to date. It is expensive but you always have to pay for quality.

Touchpad freezes or ‘sticking’

On OpenSUSE I’ve found that using the touchpad will cause the cursor to periodically get stuck. If you disable ‘hardware acceleration’ in your web browser the touchpad will function properly.

Edit: here’s how to get Airpods pro 2 working on OpenSUSE:

sudo zypper install blueman nano

sudo zypper install bluez-auto-enable-devices

sudo nano /etc/bluetooth/main.conf

[General]
DiscoverableTimeout = 0
ControllerMode = bredr
Experimental = true

[Policy]
AutoEnable=true

sudo nano /etc/pulse/default.pa
find the line that says:

load-module module-card-restore

and change it to:

load-module module-card-restore load-module module-card-restore

To enable your Airpod pros microphone:

open blueman, right click airpods, and change the audio profile to hands free

When you restart your audio and mic may be disabled again.
Running this script will fix that.

!/bin/bash
sudo su -
pkill blueman-manage || 1
systemctl restart bluetooth || 1
logoff

blueman-manager