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2019-11-09: Major overhaul

I finally found the tome to do an overhaul of the documents. Remove obsoleted information, check all links, update information here and there. As usual I hope the information on this site will be useful to you!

2019-07-06: Debian GNU/Linux 10 (Buster) released!

I still remember the Woody and Sarge release cycles and I am so happy that Debian nowadays has a somewhat stable release cycle.

Today it is here: Debian 10 a.k.a. Buster! Congratulations Debian team for another great release, your work is more than appreciated.

Next to lots of updated software, the biggest change undoubtedly is that Debian is finally able to do secure boot. Also, when using the Gnome Desktop, the default display manager will be Wayland instead of Xorg.

You can find the full release announcement on the Debian website.

2018-09-02: Wifi firmware

By now there is a new firmware package available from Debian, no more manual intervention is needed.

2018-02-20: Wifi disconnects solved

If you depend on Wifi for your connectivity and the Wifi disconnects all the time it can get really irritating. After 3 days of intense searching I finally came across this post in the Arch Linux forums which describes exactly what to do so the disconnects finally stop. Ironically again Arch, maybe I should try that distribution for a change ;-)

All in all I am still super happy with the XPS 13, great performance, great screen, great battery life. After solving the disconnects I can easily live with software rendering (for the time being) and I think even the Wifi power settings can be turned on again.

Just to summarize the steps to get the disconnects solved:

  • Download the latest Atheros ath10k firmware from
  • Make a backup of /lib/firmware/ath10k/QCA6174 and delete the whole directory.
  • Unpack the downloaded ZIP file and place the QCA6174 directory in /lib/firmware/ath10k/
  • Rename the latest firmware-X.bin files to remove the _WLAN* part.
  • Place the latest (highest version) firmware-4.bin and firmware-6.bin files directly in /lib/firmware/ath10k/ (I used softlinks).
  • Reboot.
  • Check with lshw -c Network if the latest firmware is loaded.

As Buster is still young I assume this will be long solved until it will be released.

2018-02-17: New challenge, XPS 13

I got myself a new challenge: a brand new Dell XPS 13 9370 (2018 model) Developer Edition (non-touch). I really love this notebook, thus far I have not found one single point of criticism (I am not a webcam user ;-)).

It comes pre-installed with Ubuntu and even after just booting it and using it for about 10 minutes I remembered why I don't like Ubuntu. So I quickly prepared a Debian Stretch installer stick with non-free firmware. The notebook is very thin and has no USB A ports anymore, let alone a RJ45 connector for LAN. So to install you depend on Wifi and for that the non-free firmware is really needed.

However, somehow the Stretch installer didn't like the firmware, not even the updated one. It was looking for a 3.0/firmware-5.bin whereas there are only 3.0/firmware-4.bin and 3.0/firmware-6.bin files available. And because I wanted to start using this great piece of hardware as soon as possible I became lazy and just used the Buster installer which works fine.

Points of attention so far (the rest is working perfectly):

  • The Wifi randomly disconnects. I had to disable power management for the Wifi card, a description of that will follow later on this site.
  • I am running KDE and using the compositor in hardware rendering mode (for e.g. the desktop cube) makes the screen become flickery after a while, the contents don't get redrawn. Switching to software rendering (no more cube) solves this problem and switching from the default OpenGL 2.0 to 3.1 makes it less likely to happen. I hope a future kernel module for the graphics will solve this problem.
  • The keyboard backlight turns off after just 3 seconds even though the setting is at 10 seconds. I will have to research this further (low prio).

As said, everything else works fine and I am really happy. Ironically, the Arch Linux Wiki pages for the 9360 and 9370 were more helpful than the Debian Wiki pages ;-) As soon as I solved my problems I might make an account and edit the Debian Wiki page for the 9370.

Updates on this notebook and Debian will surely follow!

Archived news

For news from the previous years please have a look at the News archive.

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news/start.txt · Last modified: 2019-11-09 09:38 by jens