A new lease of life for the Dell XPS 13 9343

Dell innovated in 2015 by shipping a version of its (near borderless) XPS 13 9343 running with the Ubuntu operating system instead of Windows.

As it turns out this product was a bit rushed and/or not properly tested which resulted in multiple issues: random crashes, buggy keyboad/touchpad, audio broken…which is unfortunate because the hardware in itself (well most of it anyway, more on this below ) is pretty good.

Today most of the bugs above can be fixed with a little bit of tinkering:

Update to the latest bios A07. I found the easiest way to apply the upgrade is to use FreeDos, as explained here.

Replace the wifi card: early versions of the XPS 13 used a broadcom wifi chip. It caused multiple crashes and can be swapped for an Intel chip instead. Yes this means opening up the laptop and replacing the chip – it’s pretty trivial. The hardest part is prying open the laptop to start with.

Replace Ubuntu with Arch Linux. Arch Linux comes with a more recent version of the Linux kernel and feels less bloated than Ubuntu. A word of caution though:  version did not recognise the sound card realtek ALC3263. The fix is to modify the kernel and recompile it. Sounds scary but really isn’it – detailed step-by-step information on how to do so are available here.

I applied the three steps above and never had a problem with my laptop since, with everything working as it should.

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