After I found out that Dell was selling one thing, but delivering another, I decided to leave the new laptop for a bit. Anyway, right now is not the time to tweak settings and setups.

Meanwhile, trying to have a reasonable conversation with Dell’s customer service, it seems that some basic rules of commerce need to be restated:

  • when you advertise to sell something and somebody buys it, you’re supposed to deliver the thing you advertised -- not something else.

  • in the event that you sell something else, at least make sure the product you’re selling fulfils its functions

    • in the case of a laptop that is too thin to have an RJ45 port, that means delivering a supported wireless chipset!

Dell France has been extremely unhelpful in fixing anything here. And well, their websites all over the web still advertise the Intel wireless chipset, without ever mentioning the Qualcomm Atheros.

So, being tired of wasting time with this, I decided to get a hold of that laptop, and see if the wireless issue was easily fixed. I needed be done with it quickly to decide if I was going to persue with this, or just go for cancelling the whole sell, as cryptie shared her comments on her own XPS-13 and made me think twice before reclaiming an intel chipset.

Moreover, friends in Finland with the same issue pointed out to me a quick fix. However, I wholly agree with their update:

We found out that the in the new laptop shipped to us this fall the Intel wifi card has been replaced with an Atheros wifi card, which unfortunately does not have a proper Linux driver, thus the connection issues. It seems Dell has been aware of Atheros wifi card problems since July as a thread in the Dell support forum shows, but still they ship the “downgraded” crappy model. With some tweaking, you may or may not get the Atheros wifi model working.

As the whole point of buying a pre-installed Linux laptop is to get hardware that is guaranteed to work with Linux, we can no longer recommend this laptop. It is a shame. Our earlier Dell XPS 13 still works perfectly as it has the Intel wifi card.

Dell, this is a shame.

This is a real shame because the XPS-13 is a very good laptop. I have been using it the whole day, and I already prefer it over the thinkpad edge that I have been using for the last three years. The keyboard is very pleasant to type on, it’s also very lightweight (1.35 kgs) and it has some hardware features I’ve been looking forward to a lot (like keyboard lightning, now I can type in the shadow like a super-hacker!) Not to mention that the whole way your employees for France have dealt with the issue is a real disgrace. Wake up!

Anyway, for those of you who have the XPS-13 and experience issues with the “Network controller: Qualcomm Atheros AR9462 Wireless Network Adapter (rev 01)” here’s what to do,

$ wget
$ tar xvf backports-20130618.tar.xz
$ cd backports-20130618

# make defconfig-ath9k
# make -j3
# make install
# depmod -a
# service network-manager stop
# sleep 5
# modprobe -r ath9k
# modprobe ath9k
# service network-manager start

You need to do the above every time the kernel is updated. BTW this does not fix all the issues with the wireless. Another very annoying problem is that I cannot disable bluetooth without the hardware messing up with wifi as well. (This is supposed to be fixed with the canonical ppa but it isn’t).

I'm looking forward to see how this machine is going to behave when I try different distros… (I’m considering Arch at the moment.)