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.


  1. how long does the battery last on ubuntu compared to windows?

    1. I would say it lasts about the same time - just be careful about closing the laptop lid because by default that doesn't actually put the machine to sleep

    2. Is there a way to adjust settings so that it puts the laptop to sleep by default when you close the lid?

    3. You should be able to by configuring to hibernate when you close the lid rather than sleep. How you do that I'm not exactly sure but when you find out please update us here. Thanks.

  2. Did you have any trouble with hardware drivers? Or did everything work as expected with Ubuntu?

  3. No problem with drivers so far - except you need to get hibernate working to save the battery. Suspend still runs down the battery. After hibernate touch on the screen does not work for some reason. I've seen this discussed on the forums. Also, again after hibernate connecting to Wifi can be problematic. A restart fixes the issues. So overall not too bad at all.

  4. I have planned to order developer edition from my institute, but it's been out of stock for a while, instead, a Windows edition is ordered, it means that I have to install Ubuntu myself. Well, in this case, it could be a good idea to keep Windows 10 there. I don't know whether that's a difference or not between pre-installed and post-installed ubuntu.

    Thank you for your sharing, I will follow it to install ubuntu when I receive my device.

  5. Hi, thank you for this very useful blog post, I know this info will help a lot of people.

    I've got an XPS 13, and I've been working through the steps.

    After I switch to AHCI mode (which I do in safe mode), and then restart the computer - it just goes to the Dell logo and then freezes.

    Then to get windows 10 to start properly, I have to push the power button (putting the computer in sleep mode), and then push it again -- and then windows 10 usually loads as normal.

    Any idea why this is happening? Any help would be appreciated.

    Thanks in advance!

  6. Sorry can't help you... didn't experience that when I installed Ubuntu. Good luck with it! And if you do find a solution feel free to let us know with a follow up comment.

  7. Hi Daniel. Thanks so much for this post. I've spent way too much time trying to find the solution to this problem. This guide looks like my answer. The only thing is, will this process end up formatting my drive? It doesn't look like it will, I'm just nervous about these things.

    1. If you follow the instructions you should be fine. It won't format your drive. Good luck.

    2. If you follow the instructions you should be fine. It won't format your drive. Good luck.

    3. I finally got it to work! Thanks again for this guide!

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. For the ones that still have troubles with this, try to disable from BIOS the "Secure boot" option.

  10. I have received my device and I removed Windows 10 only installed Ubuntu 16.10, everything is working out of the box.

  11. I tried the steps above, but they did not work. This was however the first time I tried to install a Linux distro. I have a Dell XPS13 9360. In the end I did get it to work by trying the following things:

    1) I followed step 1-9 which worked.
    2) I tried to resize the partition in windows, but this did not work.

    Then I wanted to try to resize the partitions during the Ubuntu install, so I went ahead anyway.

    3) Enabled UEFI UEFI Network Stack.
    4) Changed the boot sequence and selected a file called grubx64.efi, there was none called grub64?
    5) I did not see the Grub menu upon reboot. Instead I had to press F12 to select where to boot from.
    6) I selected the Ubuntu option I made in step 4)
    7) Dell SupportAssist started?
    8) I rebooted, pressed F12 when the Dell logo came and started Ubuntu directly from the USB drive.
    9) Ubuntu install started, but I could not resize partitions here.
    10) Then I reverted steps 1-9 to change back to 'RAID on'.
    11) Now I could resize partitions in Windows and I freed up some space from the original partition.
    12) Then I ran the Ubuntu setup from the USB drive as in step 8).
    13) Installed Ubuntu.

    Now Ubuntu works.

    Some issues I had and fixed:
    - In the beginning I had some problems maintaining an internet connection (WiFi was still connected). But after updating software and drivers via the Ubuntu Software menu and reboot it seems fine.
    - Trackpad palm detection did not work. I had to change some things in /usr/share/X11/xorg.conf.d/90-libinput.conf to as described here:

  12. Dear,

    Thank you. I have followed your steps but I don't know where to install the grub during the Ubuntu installation.

    Thank you,

  13. Thanks very much for the excellent write-up, it saved me many hours, and it worked great!

  14. Thanks a lot, I had no wireless with 16.04 for my XPS 13 (9360) so I tried with 16.10 and it works.

  15. Thanks for writing up this guide but I still couldn't get Ubuntu to install. Essentially when it comes near to the end of the Ubuntu installation an error occurs saying:

    "The 'grub-efi-amd64-signed' package failed to install into /target/. Without the GRUB boot load, the installed system will not boot."

    I've looked online for solutions without any luck. Any suggestions?

    1. No sorry but if you do find a solution please update this thread :) good luck!

    2. Here's the solution that worked for me:

  16. Daniel, thank you for these instructions. Very helpful!

    Just to let you know, I used them to install Linux Mint Cinnamon 18.1 on my 9360 and it worked great, but there were a couple of things that didn't go exactly as documented, so I will note them here for others.

    1) I did the step where you go into the BIOS and set up the entry in the boot sequence (EFI/boot/grub64), them moved that boot entry to the top of the boot sequence. When I rebooted, it did not boot from the USB stick. I had to press F12 and manually tell it to boot from the USB stick. Everything booted went as expected after that. Given that, I'm not sure setting up the boot entry was necessary, because I could have used that method (F12 -> Boot from USB stick) without setting up the boot entry telling it to boot from the USB stick.

    2) (This is an installer issue and probably has nothing to do with your instructions, just noting it here for others) During the install I selected to install proprietary drivers, the installer tells you that you have to turn off safe boot and it will tell you how do do that later. It never did.

    Aside from that, everything worked perfectly. Thanks again for sharing this.

    Dave L.

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  19. Many thanks Daniel for your very clear description. I've been struggling and failing to install Ubuntu/Win 10 dual-boot for more than a week. Like yourself I've had a lot of pain and time wasted with incomprehensible forum entries. Your procedure looks as though it addresses all of the problem areas I've encountered. However, I haven't tried it yet, because my PC isn't the one you used. Mine is a Dell XPS15 9350. Do you think your procedure will work for it?

    1. Should be exactly the same. Let me know how it goes...

  20. Thanks Daniel, dual boot successfully installed. Surely has saved me many hours.

  21. Thank you. I have followed your steps but I getting error while install the grub during the Ubuntu installation

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  22. I'm seriously considering picking up an XPS13 to do this, but an debating whether to get it with Linux first or windows.
    Is there any difference in the end result of the Linux install this way vs. stock?
    Will doing it this way still support my Thunderbolt monitor in both OSs?

    Thank you for writing this up!!

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  29. Thanks for this excellent article.

    "bcdedit /set {current} safeboot minimal"
    doesn't exist on my version of Windows 10!
    gets me a cute gui with a boot tab and a safe mode option.

    I'll post again if every works. (or even if it doesn't!)

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