• installation report for Debian 10 (buster) on a Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1

    From Matteo Semplice@21:1/5 to All on Wed Nov 27 01:40:01 2019
    Dear all,

    as promised, here comes an installation report of Debian Buster on a
    Dell Inspirion 14 2-in-1 laptop in the hope that it may be useful to
    someone else. (By the way, there used to be a website that collected
    these installation reports, but I cannot find it any more... Any ideas
    of where I could publish and keep updated this report?)

    The main problem turned out to be a lack of support for the i7-10510U by kernels prior to version 5.4, so currently I see no shorter route than
    mine: I have installed normally, booted into console and compiled a new
    kernel from source. Of course the situation may get better when newer
    kernels will become available in the Debian repositories.

    * first the SSD drive must be set in AHCI mode (as opposed to RAID) in
    the UEFI-BIOS. Unfortunately, Windows on the first boot sets it to RAID
    and then loads only the drivers for RAID: if one simply changes the
    setting in UEFI, Windows will not be able to boot any more. One possible procedure is to set Windows to boot in safe mode, change the UEFI
    setting and then reset the Windows boot. In this way, Windows will find
    the disk in AHCI mode when booting in safe mode and will manage to boot
    and set itself for loading AHCI drivers, so that normal boots will
    succed afterwards. The following links illustrate possible procedures to achieve this. (Note: I wonder if entering UEFI before the first boot
    into Windows and change the setting there might avoid this hassle



    Of course if you wish to keep Windows installed (useful e.g. to test the hardware...) you'll need to shrink the Windows partition before
    installing Debian.

    * remeber that right after the install (Nov 2019), you'll have no
    graphics system and no wifi. It is thus useful and almost mandatory to
    have an USB ethernet adapter, a supported USB WIFI adapter or even just
    an USB cable to use the tethering function of your mobile...

    * the installer will want to install the firmware-iwlwifi package. It
    could be useful to have it on a USB stick (in the root directory of the
    stick), but for me the WiFi adapter did not work out-of-the-box, so this
    is kind of useless with the current version (Nov 2019) of kernel/iwlwifi
    module and firmware. Nevertheless it is worth a try, in case newer
    versions bacame available in the Debian repos.

    * fire up the Debian 10 installer and follow the usual steps to install
    your favourite tasks and finish it off by installing grub.

    * Right after installation the pc will reboot into a terminal or may not
    even complete the boot sequence, but blacklisting intel_lpss_pci should
    do the trick: access the GRUB menu, highlight the "Adavanced options"
    and press "e" to edit the kernel command line, remove "quiet" and add "module_blacklist=intellpss_pci", then press F10 to boot. I had also
    success by booting in single core mode (kernel option "nosmp"). In order
    to fix these problems you'll need a recent enough kernel and a patched intel_lpsss_pci driver. I have observed different behaviours with
    kernels from different linux-image-amd64 packages (versions from buster, buster-backports, experimental), so your milage may vary here, but in
    general it sohuld be getting better and better when new kernel versions
    become available in Debian

    * wifi will most likely not be working at this point, so you'll need an alternative network connection for the following steps

    * fix support for the i7-10510U and Intel UHD-620 graphics
    I have found very useful the discussions and instructions at https://www.reddit.com/r/Dell/comments/cx0fkc/xps_13_2_in_1_7390_linux_boot_attempt/.
    In order� to have graphics working correctly, after install you need to upgrade the kernel to at least version 5.4 (from buster-backports,
    experimental or compiling it from the sources at linux.org). I have
    mainly followed the procedure at section 4.6 of the Debian kernel
    handbook at https://kernel-team.pages.debian.net/kernel-handbook/ch-common-tasks.html#s-common-official.
    (Note: I have actually cloned a git repo for the kernel and not the
    tarballs since I foresee having to track the most recent kernels for an up-to-date support of all the hardware of this machine) At the time of
    writing (kernel 5.4-rc8), you'll need to apply a patch to the
    intel_lpss_pci module.� The author of the above reddit has also set up a
    git repo with useful code and patches. Have a look at the script opt/scripts/build-custom-kernel.sh from https://gitlab.com/emrose/xps13-7390_debian.git, but keep in mind that
    it targets an XPS model and an older kernel version. On the Inspiron 14
    2-in-1 I had to apply only the lpss.patch in the directory opt/patches
    of the git repo and the other ones do not seem to be needed.

    * nVidia MX230 support
    I have currently blacklisted the "nouveau" driver and will look later at
    this issue or at least figure out a way to power off the card

    * wifi support
    � It appears that the backport of the most recent iwlwifi driver is
    still needed with 5.4 (see the procedure in the backport-wireless.sh
    script in the same git repo as above), but on my machine it did not fix completely the wifi problem: after patching the driver and downloading
    the new firmware, the wifi card gets recognized and can scan networks,
    but the whole system hangs while trying to connect to a wifi network.

    (These issue needs to be tested more thoroughly: could someone point me
    to a guide to setup a wifi connection from the terminal so that I can
    see the output of each command?)

    * touchscreen and pen
    � When using the 5.4 kernel with the lpss patch, the touchscreen works
    both when used with fingers and with the pen (using the PN350M by Dell), including pressure sensitivity and one of the buttons. The only issue
    with the button is that, e.g. in xournal++, pressing the upper button on
    the pen changes the tool "eraser" but then touching the screen reverts
    the tool back to "pen". This seems to be a common problem linked to
    libinput and a possible workaround is the following procedure: first
    make contact with the screen, then press the button and start erasing
    without loosing the contact with the screen.

    Instead the lower button on the pen does not seem to do anything. (any
    ideas here?)

    I have observed that monitor-sensors reports correctly the laptop
    position, so automatic screen and touchpad rotation could be probaly
    achieved e.g. as in https://forums.linuxmint.com/viewtopic.php?t=278448,
    but I have not tested it yet.

    * suspend and hibernate: I have tested them with the patched 5.4 kernel
    and they worked out of the box.


    ��� Matteo

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