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Thread: Re: Ubuntu on Dell Xps 15 9550 new Infinity display (i7 6gen 16gbr UHD 4k touch

  1. #1

    Re: Ubuntu on Dell Xps 15 9550 new Infinity display (i7 6gen 16gbr UHD 4k touch

    Have anyone tried to install ubuntu on the last Dell xps 15 machine?

    I'm pondering to buy it but I'm not expert enough to be a pioneer

    Please help.


    THANKS for your effort. I find it strange apparently the previous xps15 is exactly the model shown on the ubuntu website... it looks like it
    Last edited by howefield; November 11th, 2015 at 12:56 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Re: Ubuntu 15.10 on Dell Xps 15 9550 new Infinity display (i7 6gen 16gbr UHD 4k touch

    Haven't heard of anyone else doing this so I took the risk and purchased the Dell XPS 15 (9550) with the FHD 1920x1080 matt display, Intel Skylake i7-6700HQ, 512GB PCIe SSD, 16GB DDR4, 84Wh battery. My experience is that usually Dell's have pretty good Ubuntu support, though Optimus can be a pain. The summary is that it does NOT automatically work with Ubuntu 15.10. Some tweaking is necessary but not too bad. Here are my experiences and instructions to get it to work with a UEFI install.

    0) Might not be necessary but did the following:

    BIOS > Secure Boot > Disabled

    1) The PCIe hard drive won't be recognized by live Ubuntu 15.10 by default. Change RAID to AHCI. When it works it will appear as /dev/nvme0n1.

    BIOS>System Configuration>SATA Operation> switch RAID to AHCI

    2) Random freezes will happen with the live Ubuntu 15.10. Symptoms are random freezes and infinite errors, something like the following: nouveau PFIFO SCHED_ERROR. Fix by pressing 'e' on grub menu during boot and add "nouveau.modeset=0" to the end of the line starting with "linux". Now boot live disk by pressing F10.

    3) Touchpad might not work. For some reason it worked for me the first time and then never again. Easiest is to use a USB mouse temporarily. There's a fix for after install is finished.

    4) Install should now work smoothly.

    5) Reboot. Dell SupportAssist reports a failing component. "Error Code 2000-0151, Validation 106575, Hard Drive 1 incorrect status = 8000000000000003". Ignore this. Go into bios and setup the correct boot option.

    There might be an automatically provided option to select under boot options. Otherwise manually set it up. BIOS>General>Boot Sequence > Add Boot Option > ubuntu > shimx64.efi (\EFI\ubuntu\shimx64.efi)

    6) Try booting, but make sure you press SHIFT repeatedly during boot to get to grub menu. Repeat step (2) above.

    7) On first successful boot edit /etc/default/grub, GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash nouveau.modeset=0". Then run "sudo update-grub". Now won't need to manually change grub settings on every boot.

    8) Fix touchpad problem. Apparently the wrong kernel module (driver) is loaded. It's loading i2c_hid instead of i2c_designware_*.

    lsmod | grep i2c #check what's loaded
    echo "blacklist i2c_hid" | sudo tee -a /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf
    #apparently just blacklisting isn't good enough, for me it was also hiding in initramfs
    sudo depmod -a
    sudo update-initramfs -u

    9) Graphics will be weird and flaky. The Nvidia drivers in the standard repositories are also a bit too old and will be flaky. I found that the new graphics-driver PPA worked well. Didn't try downloading from Nvidia directly. Bumblebee didn't work for me, giving a black screen, so Nvidia PRIME is recommended.

    sudo apt-get purge nvida-*
    sudo add-apt-repository ppa:graphics-drivers/ppa
    sudo apt-get update
    sudo apt-get install nvidia-355 nvidia-prime
    sudo service lightdm restart

    10) Add an indicator so you can tell whether Intel or Nvidia is being used.

    sudo add-apt-repository ppa:nilarimogard/webupd8
    sudo apt-get update
    sudo apt-get install prime-indicator

    Tested and working:

    - webcam works seemlessly, good color and resolution, but HORRIBLE un-useable placement at bottom of screen
    - Cheese and Skype worked with webcam, Google Chrome PPA with Google Hangeouts didn't work
    - speakers are a big step up from my Lenovo T430s

    Remaining weird behavior not solved yet:

    - HDMI output not always detected with Intel or Nvidia, hopefully small bug that will be fixed soon (VGA dongle working fine)
    - laptop mic not detected by system, my headphone mic doesn't work either, probably a minor Ubuntu 15.10 bug and not a laptop driver issue
    ---- seems to work with Kernel v4.3
    - bluetooth doesn't detect my external speaker, driver bug that should be fixed soon, I think it's related to this:
    - suspend/resume results in black screen
    ---- @parallelo fixed by installing kernel v4.3
    - occasionally touchpad cursor jumps down/left because of using thumb for left-clicks, this shouldn't happen, probably some manual tweaks can fix this
    - slow touchpad acceleration, system settings insufficient, need some manual tweaks
    - login screen hangs until wifi connects
    - both Intel and Nvidia are tearing, system is useable though, hopefully will improve over time with driver updates
    - Sometimes switching graphics with 'nvidia-settings' doesn't work. Sometimes 'nvidia-select' works. My guess is that there is a minor Nvidia bug that will soon be fixed
    - boot takes a long time, 20 seconds (old Lenovo 430s only took 10 seconds), i think this is just the slow Dell post

    Otherwise the system seems to be woraking well. No crashing/freezing issues which is great. Hopefully this guide will save others a few hours (or days!) of pain. Please post your improvements/updates to this procedure to help us all out!
    Last edited by jchedstrom; November 11th, 2015 at 05:43 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Ubuntu Mate 16.04 Xenial Xerus

    Re: Ubuntu 15.10 on Dell Xps 15 9550 new Infinity display (i7 6gen 16gbr UHD 4k touch

    @jchedstrom Nice guide man! I was also too thinking about a Dell laptop too since they are reliable and have reputable hardware!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2015

    Re: Ubuntu 15.10 on Dell Xps 15 9550 new Infinity display (i7 6gen 16gbr UHD 4k touch

    @jchedstrom - registered just to thank you This is exactly what I was looking for before deciding if I should buy that machine - exactly the configuration I'd go with too. Thank you for going through the work to figure things out - should be a real time saver.

    If it's not too much trouble, do you have any information on battery life, and does the laptop seem to run cool and quiet enough in Linux? I used to have a dual-graphics laptop before that ran cool in Windows, but would burn up in Linux no matter what power/processor/video settings I tried, but that those were AMD cards.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2009

    Re: Ubuntu 15.10 on Dell Xps 15 9550 new Infinity display (i7 6gen 16gbr UHD 4k touch

    Many thanks jchedstrom. I'm still undecided. I currently have the Dell M3800 and can install Linux in around 30 minutes without any problems. I'm still leaning toward this XPS 9550 as I haven't seen any other Skylake laptops out there that are viable options.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2010

    Re: Ubuntu 15.10 on Dell Xps 15 9550 new Infinity display (i7 6gen 16gbr UHD 4k touch

    Thanks for the fantastic info jchedstrom. It is really helpful. I am also still undecided. Did you try to connect the laptop to an external monitor / projector?

    Edit: BTW, did you have any problems with the wifi card?
    Last edited by astroman3001gt; November 2nd, 2015 at 12:18 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2010

    Re: Ubuntu 15.10 on Dell Xps 15 9550 new Infinity display (i7 6gen 16gbr UHD 4k touch

    I've been having a terrible time trying to get Dual Boot up and running. What I've done so far:

    1. Reinstalled Windows 10 using an OEM disk and resized partitions
    2. Set SATA mode to ACHI
    3. Turned off SecureBoot (but kept UEFI mode)
    4. Started the install of Xubuntu with nomodeset option
    5. sudo gparted /dev/nvme0n1 my partitions for custom /, /home, /var, etc (had to use GParted because the install would freeze when trying to format /home)
    6. Finally clicked install and it's stuck on "Saving installed packages..."

    Did you have to do anything special? How long did the install take? I'm waiting on 25 minutes and it's still just chilling. Running a separate terminal and nothing is really running in top...

    It looks like a lot of this is related to

    I did NOT mount a separate /var directory and I was able to move on. Just as an FYI, I had to set the Install Bootloader path to /dev/nvme0n1 since there's a known bug about the Ubuntu install not selecting the correct partition.
    Last edited by l1fe; November 2nd, 2015 at 05:38 PM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Re: Ubuntu 15.10 on Dell Xps 15 9550 new Infinity display (i7 6gen 16gbr UHD 4k touch

    @astroman: wifi card works well with good performance and range. The wifi connection rate seems to be reported incorrectly. External monitor support has been flaky and isn't always available. This is a HUGE problem for presentations. Going to try a VGA dongle today. Note that just discovered that bluetooth doesn't work.

    A few people asked me about heat and battery life. Under typical light usage (email, web browsing, text editing, watching x264 encoded movies) the 84wh battery lasts ~6 hours if you use the Intel GPU only (Nvidia off). A short test makes me believe that using Nvidia gives similar battery life. They must be doing a good job of putting GPU in a low power state.

    The laptop has nice air-flow design with a long intake the whole width of the bottom and a protected exit pointing into the hinge of the screen. It's unlikeally to block the air intake and impossible to block the air exit. Generally the fan is pretty quiet. I did some numerical simulations which runs 8 threads at 100% CPU and was impressed that after 5 minutes didn't see any throttling. Heat and fan noise was acceptable.

    Running Boarderlands 2 game with max graphic settings with Nvidia GPU made the fan roar. Power draw was about 74 watts according to battery report. Therefore only ~1 hour of battery life in this case. Bottom of laptop was hot but less than burning hot.

  9. #9

    Re: Ubuntu 15.10 on Dell Xps 15 9550 new Infinity display (i7 6gen 16gbr UHD 4k touch

    Do you think Ubuntu 14.04.3 LTS is going to install smoother?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Re: Ubuntu 15.10 on Dell Xps 15 9550 new Infinity display (i7 6gen 16gbr UHD 4k touch

    I doubt 14.03 LTS will work. The main problems were with the new fancy GPU not having good nouveau compatibility and the new fancy Intel raid not displaying NVME hard drive. So an older OS release would likely be problematic. This laptop is on the bleeding edge of hardware so it's not surprising that a few tweaks are necessary. Actually the fact that I've had zero crashes/freezes so far is pretty impressive. You'll probably need to wait until 16.04 if you want to install without manually overcoming a few problems.

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