My laptop keeps on having weird screen glitches, sometimes for a second, and that goes away just by moving the cursor, sometimes, making me restart the whole thing.

I could still use the play/pause key and it still played/paused the video that was running even though the screen was completely teared.

Also, printscreens actually print a normal screen and do not show the problem.

Some pictures of the screen when it happens : image1 image2 enter image description here

Do you guys know what I could do to solve the issue ?

  • It's a hardware problem. Probably the display, or connecting cable, is defective. Does the problem occur if you move the display from full open to half-closed, or if you press your thumb anywhere on the screen? – heynnema Feb 3 at 16:24
  • @heynnema nope, I know the problem very well having the same laptop. It is likely an issue with the i915 kernel mode driver and the newer Intel graphics. For me, the solution I posted works on 19.10, and I should probably try soon whether I can omit the kernel boot line parameter as we are again a few kernels further. – vanadium Feb 3 at 20:30
  • @vanadium Really? The link in your answer is to a 4 year old solution, and I'd like to think that it's not still an issue with the 5.3 kernel in 19.10/18.xx.x. However, I'll wait until OP lets us know after a few days how it did for them. – heynnema Feb 3 at 20:40
  • I refer to that answer only for how to edit the kernel boot line. By coincidence, it is the same parameter that is entered there. Otherwise, I would have marked as a duplicate. With respect to this problem, I have first hands experience myself with the same laptop. – vanadium Feb 3 at 20:46
  • I have absolutely zero glitches since I made the change on the kernel boot line, so I guess this was the right solution, and if this uses more battery, I don't really see the difference ! I am relieved this would mean no hardware issue (and as I did not had the problem on the Windows partition, this makes sense). Thanks for your help guys !! :) – Ouhbelle Feb 5 at 7:33

This is not screen tearing, these are quite severe graphical glitches, which you may find occur more frequently when on battery power. This is probably related to a more recent type of Intel graphics in that laptop, and the kernel mode drivers still need to catchup.

See whether adding i915.enable_psr=0 to your kernel boot line helps. For how to add that particular command line option, I can refer to another post on AskUbuntu. This disables a power saving feature and so will cause your system to use a bit more battery.

Update: I still need the setting in Ubuntu 20.04 on kernel 5.4.0-40-generic

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  • Thanks, for your feedback, language barrier I guess :) I have edited my original post and I will check out your solution! – Ouhbelle Feb 3 at 14:42
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    No problem. Screen tearing is where you see a line across the screen on moving objects. Report back. I have the XPS 13 7390, which is probably the 2019 model, and it solved the issue for me on Ubuntu 19.10. – vanadium Feb 3 at 17:31
  • I tried your solution, and so far, so good. I will see if it goes on when working on battery power for a few days, it used to happen nearly every day so we should know soon. Thanks anyway!! :) – Ouhbelle Feb 3 at 18:18
  • Same problem with a 2019 XPS13 7390. I've just added this line so I'm keeping an eye on it to see if its fixed. – Pickledegg Feb 23 at 18:05
  • Mine is the same. Pretty sure it will work ;) I am testing now and then after kernel updates whether I can leave it out, but although my subjective impression indicates the situation has improved, the issue is not gone yet (5.3.0-40 on Ub 19.10) – vanadium Feb 24 at 8:18

If Vanadium's solution is not effective, it could be a hardware fault between the screen and the graphics adapter circuit on the laptop motherboard. If the ribbon cable which connects the two is unfastened, disconnected, reconnected, and refastened, that has solved the problem in other Dell laptops as well as other makes.

Since there are literally a dozen XPS 13 laptop models, I can't get specific without knowing the Service Tag number from the underside of the laptop with which to look up the model.

However, if it's a 2019 laptop, you probably have a warranty, and should be talking with Dell Support about it if you do.

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