Friday 14 October 2016

Dell XPS13 Dual boot Windows 10 with Ubuntu - The Definitive Guide

Excuse a slight departure from the normal subject of this blog.

So I've just got a brand new XPS13 (i7-7500U CPU @ 2.70 GHz - Aug 16) - a lovely machine if you want something ultra portable.  I specially bought the 512GB version so that I could comfortably install Linux to dual boot with the pre-installed Windows 10. (Btw you do have the option of buying the developer edition which comes pre-installed with Ubuntu but I wanted both Windows and Ubuntu and reckoned it was easier doing it this way round).

Having setup dual boot many times before I was not expecting this to be too difficult but I went through hours of pain, dead ends helpful and unhelpful Q&A sites and YouTube tutorials before I finally managed to get this working. I even completely corrupted my Windows version thanks to unhelpful answer on askubuntu and ended up having to reinstall Windows :(

To save everyone else the pain this is the definitive way to get dual boot (Windows 10 Ubuntu 16.04) working on an this Dell XPS machine. Hope you find it helpful - If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. As always it's not that hard once you know how :)

Firstly you need to prepare you machine:

1. Run Command Prompt as Admin
2. Invoke a Safe Mode boot with the command: bcdedit /set {current} safeboot minimal
3. Restart the PC and enter your BIOS during bootup.
4. Change from IDE to AHCI mode then Save & Exit.
5. Windows 10 will launch in Safe Mode.
6. Right click the Window icon and select to run the Command Prompt in Admin mode from among the various options.
7. Cancel Safe Mode booting with the command: bcdedit /deletevalue {current} safeboot
8. Restart your PC once more and this time it will boot up normally but with AHCI mode activated.
9. Bask in the reflected glory of being a total Windows 10 God 

(Source of this information)

Spend 8 minutes watching this video but don't do anything just yet:

Next as per the video:

  • prepare your Linux distro on a USB - I used Ubuntu 16.04.
  • shrink your drive by the required amount for your Ubuntu distribution.

Next we need to effect some changes to the bios:

Restart the machine and press F12 when you see the Dell logo. You will be able to go to 'bios settings'. In the bios settings go General -> Advanced Boot Options and click on 'Enable UEFI Network Stack'. Save and Exit.

Reboot the machine.

Make sure you have your flash drive in your machine at this point and reenter the bios settings.  This time go to General -> Boot Sequence click on 'Add Boot Option'.  Enter Ubuntu as the 'Boot Option Name' and then in 'File Name' click on EFI/boot/grub64.

You will see a new entry at the top of the screen under Windows Boot Manager called ubuntu.  Change the order so that Ubuntu is called before Windows Boot Manager. 'Apply' and save your settings and then Exit.

When the machine reboots you change be presented with the Grub menu where you can install Ubuntu as per the rest of the instructions in the video.

Once Ubuntu is installed you can reboot and choose whether to go into windows or ubuntu as you would in a normal dual boot environment.

One thing you will notice is that the screen size resolution on Ubuntu is pretty tiny so you might want to change the screen display 2048x1152 before continuing.