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Thread: Ubuntu 16.04 on Dell Xps 15 9550 (i7-6700HQ - 1TB SSD - UHD 4k touch)

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  1. #1
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    Mar 2016
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    Ubuntu 16.04 on Dell Xps 15 9550 (i7-6700HQ - 1TB SSD - UHD 4k touch)

    Hi all,

    Thanks to the splendid work detailing how to run Ubuntu 15.10 on the Dell XPS 15 9550 (started by @jchedstrom and followed up by many others) and the latest specific posts on running Ubuntu 16.04 beta (by @Rommel_Lapuz, and others), I decided to open a new thread on the forum for the Ubuntu 16.04 version, share my experience, and discuss any pending issues.

    UPDATE 2016/04/20: I just found another great information resource on running Linux on the XPS15 9550: http://wiki.yobi.be/wiki/Laptop_Dell_XPS_15

    My hardware configuration is (my system shipped mid february):

    • Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-6700HQ CPU @ 2.60GHz
    • 32G DDR4 RAM
    • SSD hard disk (not the usual SAMSUNG reported by others): THNSN51T02U7 NVMe TOSHIBA 1024GB
    • Intel HD530
    • NVIDIAGeForce GTX 960M


    I required a working system with dual boot Ubuntu and Windows 10 (Home edition in my case), and this is what I did:
    0. Update the BIOS to the latest version provided by DELL:

    • I did this from Windows
    • Reboot and enter BIOS (Press F2 when the DELL logo shows up)
    • "Restore to BIOS defaults" before continuing.
    • Exit to reboot

    1. Boot in windows and create recovery disk from the Windows box, in case something goes wrong.
    2. Repartition SSD:

    • I repartitioned from my original Windows Installation with "Minitool Partition Wizard Free" as I was used to it, but you can do this using gparted without problems, using the /dev/nvme0n1 disk.
      • My XPS came with:


    Partition | Capacity | FileS | Type | Status
    *:ESP | 500.00 MB | FAT32 | GPT (EFI System partition) | Active & Boot
    *: | 128.00 MB | Other | GPT (Reserved partition) | None
    C:OS | 941.18 MB | NTFS | GPT (Data partition) | System
    *:WINRETOOLS | 450.00 MB | NTFS | GPT (Recovery partition) | None
    *:Image | 11.63 BB | NTFS | GPT (Recovery partition) | None

    • I resized the windows partition (C:OS) to 100Gb (97.66 in the partition tool)
    • The new partition design is (I didn't bothered with separated / /var /home, etc. partitions):

    Partition | Capacity | FileS | Type | Status
    *:ESP | 500.00 MB | FAT32 | GPT (EFI System partition) | Active & Boot
    *: | 128.00 MB | Other | GPT (Reserved partition) | None
    C:OS | 97.66 MB | NTFS | GPT (Data partition) | System
    *: | 843.52 MB | Unused| GPT (Data partition) | None
    *:WINRETOOLS | 450.00 MB | NTFS | GPT (Recovery partition) | None
    *:Image | 11.63 BB | NTFS | GPT (Recovery partition) | None


    3. Disable fast boot option in windows:

    • In Windows 10, run "Control Panel | Hardware and sound | Power Options | Choose what the power buttons do", and at the bottom you'll see "Shutdown settings", with "Turn ohttp://ubuntuforums.org/newthread.php?do=newthread&f=332n fast startup (recommended)", which I disabled.
    • I also had the "Hibernate" option disabled by default, and I let it that way

    4. Get ready for booting windows in Safe mode afterwards:

    • Tthis is required to allow successful boot after changing the RAID to AHCI SATA configuration)
    • While in Windows, WIN+R and execute "msconfig"
    • Go to "Boot" and select "Safe mode boot". I left "Minimal" selected

    5. Reboot and enter BIOS (Press F2 when the DELL logo shows up)

    • "Secure Boot" | "Secure Boot Enable": Change from "Enabled" to "Disabled"
    • "System Configuration" | "SATA Operation": Change from "RAID On" to "AHCI"
    • Apply changes and save everything, and finally "Exit", to reboot

    6. Enter windows. It will show up in Safe mode.

    • In my case I was not able to run msconfig with the WIN+R key, so that I pressed the "Start button" on screen, selected "All applications" and search for "Administrative Tools" and "System Configuration". Then go to the "Boot" tab again and unselect "Safe mode boot". Accept and shutdown.

    7. Insert 16.04 USB stick (the one I downloaded dated late february), reboot, and enter BIOS again.

    • Go to "General" | "Boot sequence", and move the USB stick entry to the top.
    • Apply, save eveything, and "Exit" to reboot.
    • In my system I had "Windows Boot Manager", and then the "THNSN51T02U7 NVMe TOSHIBA 1024GB".

    8. Enter ubuntu and run installation or run the installer in the Grub Menu.

    • I partitioned ALL the unused disk space in 16Gb SWAP (JIC ) and / (I know this is not wise, but that's it)



    • The system installed perfectly and I had wifi+touchpad+sleep+shutdown+reboot working out of the box, with a 4k display resolution and tiny sized for everything


    Desktop and additional issues/comments:

    • Function buttons working: mute, volume up and down, keyboard backlit (off, mid, high intensity), display brightness up and down).
    • I'm fan of the "Gnome flashback" desktop, but after installation it didn't work: I couldn't make to appear the right part of the top panel (that with notifiers, and the system menu), and neither the bottom panel with the application list showed up . If you have any clue, I'll really appreciate hints on this issue.
    • I finally decide to run the cinnamon desktop (given its suposedly reported ability to run hidpi natively). It works reasonbly well, but I still have some annoying issues. Mainly:
      • The battery information in the panel does not update!!! (UPDATE 2016/04/30 Updating to cinammon 3.0 fixed the problem (follow information on http://www.webupd8.org/2016/04/how-t...in-ubuntu.html (just add ppa:embrosyn/cinnamon, update and upgrade))
      • The touchpad is "lost" sometimes (didn't look into this issue yet)

    • To avoid tiny fonts in the Grub screen, add GRUB_GFXMODE=1024x768 to /etc/default/grub and run sudo update-grub


    • Regarding the use of NVIDIA/intel:
      • From the applications menu, I selected "Preferences|Additional drivers", and selected to use the "NVIDIA binary driver - version 361.28 from nvidia-361 (privative, tested). Then apply changes.
      • I installed nvidia-prime
      • Now I can run nvidia-settings and select either NVIDIA GPU (Performance Mode) or Intel (Power Saving Mode).
      • Others reported various stories when using the PPA NVIDIA repositories. I didn't tested them yet.



    • Regarding Bluetooth support
      • Bluetooth seemed to be detected (according to the notification area), but it didn't actually work.
      • dmesg showed an error related to a firmware not found:
        ...Direct firmware load for brcm/BCM-0a5c-6410.hcd failed...
      • Following https://bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php?id=204739 I downloaded the missing firmware file (thanks @ZombieMeat) at Dropbox and copied it to /lib/firmware/brcm/
      • Reboot and bluetooth is working (tested at least with a bluetooth speaker)





    • Problems with palm detection on the touchpad. http://stevenkohlmeyer.com/fixing-pa...-ubuntu-14-04/ deals with it
      • In my XPS, xinput reports having two touchpads (?):
        • DLL06E4:01 06CB:7A13 Touchpad id=13 [slave pointer (2)]
        • SynPS/2 Synaptics TouchPad id=15 [slave pointer (2)]

      • I played with id=15 first, without success, but with id=13, things seem to work. This is what I added to startup programs:
        • xinput set-prop 13 "Synaptics Palm Detection" 1
        • xinput set-prop 13 "Synaptics Palm Dimensions" 5, 5

      • If you still had problems with detection on edges, you can apply ideas shown in http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=2153813
      • I still have problems to avoid the palm to be undetected and I'm still investigating. If you happen to get usable parameters for the xinput props, please let me know:
        • Update 2016/04/05; I also added "/usr/bin/syndaemon -i 1 -K -d" to the startup applications to disable touchpad while typing. Still not fully tested if that makes a difference
        • Update 2016/04/30: Following http://wiki.yobi.be/wiki/Laptop_Dell_XPS_15#Touchpad I added file /etc/modprobe.d/synaptics.conf with "blacklist i2c-designware-platform" and now disable touchpad when typing works (still have to check if there are any additional side-effects)


    • Update 2016/04/05: Issues with the DA-200 USB-C to VGA,HDMI,USB,Ethernet dongle:
      • Ethernet only worked when the DA-200 was connected at boot time, and after each suspend-resume it didn't worked either. @jsla7527 at the 15.10 thread gives a solution to force usb-c rescanning. You need to run the following command after plugging anything into USB-C port:
        • sudo sh -c "echo 1 > /sys/bus/pci/rescan"

      • VGA works even whithout the rescan command, but I get random system freezes. Other people reported freezes with HDMI connections, but I haven't investigated this so far. Update 2016/05/17: I upgraded to kernel 4.6 (as I read that there were improvements in the skylake support for 9350, that I suspected could also benefit 9550) and the VGA connection of the DA-200 seems to work properly (no more flickering nor hangs up during the first two hours of test). I'm using the intel prime profile and will check later what if using nvidia.

    • Update 2016/04/20: Sensors detection (from http://wiki.yobi.be/wiki/Laptop_Dell_XPS_15#Sensors):
      • apt-get install lm-sensors
      • sensors-detect
      • Follow instructions and modify /etc/modules as instructed



    So, my pending not-fully-working issues are:

    • Palm detection: Working parameters are needed
    • Gnome flashback not working
    • Cinnamon: battery info in the panel notification area does not update
    • Touch pad: Breaks from time to time. Update 2016/04/05: No breaks from a couple of weeks ago. I guess 16.04 updates did the trick.
    • Update 2016/04/05: VGA connection through DA-200 randomly freezes the system.


    That's it for now. I'll try to do some power demands calculations and keep you posted (some results are already available from @bertusrex at the original 15.10 thread).


    Javi
    Last edited by Javier_Macias-Guar; May 17th, 2016 at 03:48 PM. Reason: Update on DA200 VGA connection after upgrade to kernel 4.6

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
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    Re: Ubuntu 16.04 on Dell Xps 15 9550 (i7-6700HQ - 1TB SSD - UHD 4k touch)

    THANKS A LOT MAN!
    I am about to buy this laptop and I was wondering if ubuntu 16.04 fixes the problems I've been reading about and also I was unsure about how to dual boot; you have answered in great detail thanks!
    Last edited by Tazza101; March 20th, 2016 at 08:45 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    Re: Ubuntu 16.04 on Dell Xps 15 9550 (i7-6700HQ - 1TB SSD - UHD 4k touch)

    Touchpad palm detection might work with kernel 4.5?
    https://github.com/advancingu/XPS13Linux/issues/3
    Last edited by holdfenytolvaj; March 21st, 2016 at 06:36 AM.

  4. #4
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    Re: Ubuntu 16.04 on Dell Xps 15 9550 (i7-6700HQ - 1TB SSD - UHD 4k touch)

    I've been running 16.04 for a couple of weeks now. I largely followed the same path as the OP using the instructions on the 15.10 thread, but used the non-tested 361 Nvidia driver as I found the tested version gave me lots of issues (go figure). I can swap between the GPUs okay and bluetooth works.

    The system is getting more stable everyday with only a couple of key issues, below. I find I'm getting ~6.5 hours life out the battery, or more, and this includes coding, compiling, some docker containers running and the usual supporting web and email - so okay; it includes multiple suspends (close lid) with no significant drain when suspended. That said I get nowhere near some of the values out of powertop (~5-6W) other report at idle; more like 11W+. But I'm happy enough with the battery life for my usage, though getting it up to the nearer 9-10 hours I can get on Windows would be great.

    Issues that are annoying:


    • After suspend I cannot power off or restart without commandline using -f;
    • The touchpad is still pretty rubbish, but (just about) liveable


    Thanks as always to all the contributors - it's great to see the community working so hard getting issues resolved and changing over the last couple of weeks from what was a marginally unusable installation into a robust system that I now use as my daily machine.

  5. #5
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    Re: Ubuntu 16.04 on Dell Xps 15 9550 (i7-6700HQ - 1TB SSD - UHD 4k touch)

    Hi,

    I am using ubuntu 16.04 on the dell 9550 laptop, too. The hardware is basically the same as mentioned in the first post from . I can confirm that bluetooth does not work at the fist place but copying the firmware file will fix it and I was able to connect to my phone via bluetooth. Touchpad works for me altouh i can see 2 touchpads.
    But I am having troubles with my second monitor. I have an external monitor connected via HDMI and every time i power on the computer the whole system will freeze after I have logged on. I cannot move the mouse nor enter any keyboard commands. This happens with both grafikcards, Intel and the Nvidia. Does anyone have a solution for the problem? I have tried reinstalling and reconfiguration of the X server with no change in output. Is this a general skylake problem?

    uname -r
    4.4.0-13-generic
    X -version
    X.Org X Server 1.18.1
    Release Date: 2016-02-08
    X Protocol Version 11, Revision 0
    Build Operating System: Linux 3.13.0-79-generic x86_64 Ubuntu
    xorg-server 2:1.18.1-1ubuntu4 (For technical support please see http://www.ubuntu.com/support)
    Current version of pixman: 0.33.6
    Before reporting problems, check http://wiki.x.org
    to make sure that you have the latest version.
    sudo ubuntu-drivers devices
    vendor : NVIDIA Corporation
    model : GM107M [GeForce GTX 960M]
    driver : nvidia-361-updates - distro non-free
    driver : xserver-xorg-video-nouveau - distro free builtin
    driver : nvidia-361 - distro non-free recommended

    == cpu-microcode.py ==
    driver : intel-microcode - distro non-free

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
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    4

    Re: Ubuntu 16.04 on Dell Xps 15 9550 (i7-6700HQ - 1TB SSD - UHD 4k touch)

    Im running 16.04 and struggling with freezes if external monitor is connected with HDMI. Booting with connected monitor is not possible. Running nvidia-prime, mainly on Intel-GPU. Tested NVIDIA binary driver in version 358.16, 361.20 and 364.12 without success.

    Any hints for me?

    Thx
    Huaba

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
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    4

    Re: Ubuntu 16.04 on Dell Xps 15 9550 (i7-6700HQ - 1TB SSD - UHD 4k touch)

    The new nvidia-367 from Graphics-Drivers Team fix the freeze on boot with connected HDMI display. Tested on Intel with nvidia-prime.

  8. #8
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    Jun 2016
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    Re: Ubuntu 16.04 on Dell Xps 15 9550 (i7-6700HQ - 1TB SSD - UHD 4k touch)

    Quote Originally Posted by huaba-net View Post
    The new nvidia-367 from Graphics-Drivers Team fix the freeze on boot with connected HDMI display. Tested on Intel with nvidia-prime.

    This means Intel drivers are in use, right ?


    I have this problem with nvidia drivers not working with an external monitor (ubuntu gnome 16.04 w/ 4.4.0-24 kernel). They are stable working with internal monitor, but result in a blank screen when an external monitor plugged in (via HDMI or USB-C VGA/HDMI). I tried 364.19 and 367.27.


    Intel drivers (1.4.0) worked fine with external monitor but were pretty unstable, caused reboots every now and then even w/o external monitor and nvidia drivers installed.


    Has anyone had any luck so far to make nvidia work with an external monitor ?


    cheers

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    Buenos Aires, Argentina
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    Ubuntu

    Re: Ubuntu 16.04 on Dell Xps 15 9550 (i7-6700HQ - 1TB SSD - UHD 4k touch)

    Quote Originally Posted by ocn3 View Post
    This means Intel drivers are in use, right ?


    I have this problem with nvidia drivers not working with an external monitor (ubuntu gnome 16.04 w/ 4.4.0-24 kernel). They are stable working with internal monitor, but result in a blank screen when an external monitor plugged in (via HDMI or USB-C VGA/HDMI). I tried 364.19 and 367.27.


    Intel drivers (1.4.0) worked fine with external monitor but were pretty unstable, caused reboots every now and then even w/o external monitor and nvidia drivers installed.


    Has anyone had any luck so far to make nvidia work with an external monitor ?


    cheers
    Here with 361.45.11-0ubuntu0~gpu16.04.1 I'm able to connect an external HDMI monitor correctly (Unity - Ubuntu 16.04 w/ 4.4.0-24 kernel). With
    Code:
    sudo prime-select nvidia
    and with
    Code:
    sudo prime-select intel
    The problem on boot still happens though (I have to connect my external monitor when already booted with nvidia driver selected)
    Last edited by morhook; June 21st, 2016 at 02:32 AM. Reason: Added both intel and nvidia and broken on boot

  10. #10
    Join Date
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    Re: Ubuntu 16.04 on Dell Xps 15 9550 (i7-6700HQ - 1TB SSD - UHD 4k touch)

    Moved to the "Ubuntu Development Version" forum.

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