Ubuntu 18.04 LTS on a Dell XPS 15

💻 Stop Ubuntu from hanging itself on login

📑 Table of Contents

TLDR: add the parameter nouveau.modeset=0 to the Linux kernel command in Grub. To make it permanent, edit Grub’s Linux command in/etc/default/grub. Don’t forget to run sudo update-grub afterwards! 💯

The Problem

Eager to move to the shiny new LTS I backed up my data and blew everything away! After installing without a hiccup (woo!) I went to log in, but Ubuntu locked up on the dark aubergine splash screen between log in and desktop.


No problem, I’ve had this happen with Ubuntu 17.10 and the fix was simple:

before typing the password and logging in, select the settings cog/gear next to the sign-in button and change to “Gnome on Wayland”. This will then login as you would expect.

This time, no dice. Hmm.

The Solution

After a some digging online and trial and error I finally came across a solution that worked. It seems the Nouveau display drivers and the kernel shipping in 18.04 LTS don’t get along properly quite yet. Applying a particular mode to Nouveau on startup seems to mitigate the underlying issue.

  • hold shift on boot until you’re met with the Grub boot commands:
  • Add nouveau.modeset=0 to the end of the Linux command:
no screen capture available in the BIOS 😿

You should now be able to log in!

Making the changes Permanent

To make this permanent you must edit GRUB so it uses this setting on each boot.

To edit the default Grub commands, run the following once logged in:

sudo nano /etc/default/grub

Add the parameter to the line GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX:

Save and quit Nano with ctrl+x then Y.

Lastly, run this final command to make the above change permanent:

sudo update-grub

Reboot and your machine should run as expected 😄


I’m not particularly skilled with Ubuntu or Nix systems so have no more information about what underlying issue this may be, sorry. I just wanted to share the solution that worked for me as I found this solution buried in a thread discussing a problem with Live CDs for Ubuntu 17.10. Hopefully, having an article with a search-friendly, a problem-related title will surface the solution for others.


Need something else to read?

More by me:

📑 Table of Contents
An index post for my Medium Series

💻 Ubuntu 18.04 LTS on Lenovo ThinkPad E485/E585
Stop Ubuntu from hanging itself on boot

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