Dell XPS 15, Linux and HiDPI

A few weeks ago I bought a new notebook (Dell XPS 15, 15″, 512 GByte SSD, Core i7) for my after-work work and home usage. First of all: it is an awesome fast piece of hardware. Fedora 21 boots up in 3 seconds, Eclipse (STS) starts up in around 7 seconds. But it has some disadvantages regarding the hardware:

  • Having the laptop on the lap bends the case, randomly not releasing the buttons, see http://en.community.dell.com/support-forums/laptop/f/3518/t/19601453
  • At the beginning backspace and space key felt like already used. I must admit that I am using a mechanical keyboard at work and for my standalone PC at home, so every other rubber keyboard sucks 😉
  • Return key feels slightly too small at the beginning.
  • High pitching noise, probably coming from the touchscreen. Most of the time it occurs during scrolling through long documents and having CPU load. I am not sure why this happens.

Especially the problem with the non-releasable buttons drove me crazy at first because it seemed to occur randomly. After some days working with the notebook I accepted this failure. All in all it seems to be a very nice notebook for a developer like me, but…

… The HiDPI support for Linux software just sucks. Linus Torvald statement made his statement at the end of 2012 but the current state is still bad:

  • Default Chromium package has no support for HiDPI; buttons and menus have the wrong scaling. Firefox does support HiDPI and so I set it as my default browser.
  • Scaling of some GTK input fields (radio buttons, checkbox) is wrong, see https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=975919
  • Using a second display (beamer) totally screws up the X server. I can’t  get a higher resolution than 800*600 when cloning both displays. Not sure, why this happens.
  • IntelliJ (including EAP 14), Eclipse (4.4) and Netbeans (8.x) are having wrong scaled icons. See wiki discussion for Eclipse at https://wiki.eclipse.org/Bug_421383_-_Graphics_Scaling_issues_on_high_DPI_displays

For a list of workarounds, the ArchWiki is the first place to look for.