My Journey Installing Ubuntu 18.04 on the Dell XPS 15 7590 (2019)

Tyler Lum
Tyler Lum
Sep 15, 2019 · 7 min read

Introduction

The Dell XPS 15 7590 is the newest laptop in Dell’s XPS 15 series. Sporting a 9th generation Intel CPU, a NVIDIA GTX 1650 GPU, and a 97 Wh battery, it is able to balance high perfomance, excellent portability, and great battery life all in one laptop.

Because Dell laptops are known to be great for running Linux, I was expecting the Ubuntu 18.04 installation process on my Dell XPS 15 7590 to be quite straightforward; unfortunately, this was not the case. There were numerous frustrating issues including the inability to connect to the WiFi and Bluetooth adapters and the inability to view the SSD when trying to install Ubuntu 18.04 from a USB drive.

I followed numerous tutorials online trying to get Ubuntu 18.04 to work on my laptop, but it seemed like nothing would help, especially for the most important issues. As well, it was difficult to tell what steps to take. Some steps were important, while others were outdated. Some steps were simply nice to do, while others had a risk of ruining my system.

The purpose of this tutorial is to outline the key steps needed to setup Ubuntu 18.04 onto the Dell XPS 15 7590.

Laptop Specs:

• Intel 9th Generation i7 CPU
• NVIDIA GTX 1650 GPU
• 512 GB PCIe Solid-State Drive
• 15.6" Full HD Screen
• 16GB of DDR4–2666MHz RAM

Note on Documentation

I would highly recommend opening a new Google Document and documenting the steps that you take. With all of this laptop setup, it is very easy to make a mistake and then want to undo your previous change. You may just remember what you tried before so you can explain it to someone else and not accidentally retake the same steps that lead to failure before. Writing down the commands you used, the tutorials you followed, and the steps you took will pay off in the long run.

Windows and Dell Updates

First step when you get your new laptop is to install the necessary Windows and Dell updates. You can do this by going to Settings > Updates & Security > Check For Updates. Many users like to format their device to start clean without Dell bloatware, but I didn’t think this step was necessary.

Shrinking Your Windows Partition

To install Ubuntu 18.04, you need to first create a partition in your storage drive that it can use. You can do this by taking the following steps:

• Type “Create and Format Hard Disk Partitions” in the Windows Search Bar.
• Right click on the largest partition and click “Shrink Volume”.
• Choose the desired size for Ubuntu 18.04 (eg. 40–200 GB, depending on your storage size).
• See the newly created “Unallocated space” in the partition diagram.

Switch from RAID to AHCI Mode

This is one of the key steps to a successful Ubuntu 18.04 installation on the Dell XPS 15 7590 that differs from a typical Ubuntu install. Without this step, you would not be able to install Ubuntu 18.04 onto the newly unallocated space, as it would not be able to find your storage drive.

• Type “cmd” into the Windows Search Bar, then click “Run as administrator”.
• This next step makes your computer boot into safeboot. This is needed for the RAID to AHCI transition. Type this command and press ENTER:

bcdedit /set {current} safeboot minimal

• If the previous command does not work for you, try:

bcdedit /set safeboot minimal

• Restart the computer and enter the BIOS Setup. For the Dell XPS 15 7590, this means restarting the laptop and then repeatedly pressing F2 during the restart. This has to be done early and often to work.
• Under System Configuation, change the SATA Operation mode from RAID to AHCI.
• Save changes and try to boot into Windows. It will automatically boot to Safe Mode.
• Type “cmd” into the Windows Search Bar, then click “Run as administrator”.
• This next step makes your computer not boot into safeboot. Type this command and press ENTER:

bcdedit /deletevalue {current} safeboot

• If you had to try the alternate command above, you will likely need to do so here:

bcdedit /deletevalue safeboot

• Reboot once more and Windows will automatically start with AHCI drivers enabled.

If this worked, you should be able to search “Device Manager” in the Windows Search Bar, then see IDE ATA/ATAPI Controllers > Intel(R) 300 Series Chipset Family SATA AHCI Controller.

Install Ubuntu 18.04

You have finished preparing your laptop for the real installation. From here, I recommend following one of the tutorials below:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSVV_EoApdo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5QyjHIYwTQ

The main steps you will be taking are to:
• Create a Ubuntu USB drive
• Boot into the USB drive
• Install Ubuntu

This MIGHT be a smooth process, but often there are issues, depending on luck and your exact system. The details below are much messier than the steps before because this is the nature of this work. I tried my best to document my steps, but depending on your system, there will involve some trial and error. Important thing is to stay calm, keep trying, and get it done.

Some important things to keep in mind:
• To choose which system to boot into (open the boot menu), restart the computer and press F12 repeatedly early and often.
• To open BIOS settings, restart the computer and press F2 repeatedly early and often.
• You may have to change a few other things, including Enable/Disable SecureBoot, Enable/Disable Legacty Option ROMs (I personally didn’t even see this option, but others said this worked), etc.
• There are many options for making the Ubuntu USB drive. Be sure to note down which options you used. If things aren’t working, consider making one again with different options. For example, I used Rufus and GPT, which worked for me. You could also try Rufus and MBR.
• I personally had issues booting into the USB. If you encounter this issue, you can try going to BIOS Settings (F12 on restart), going to Boot Sequence, clicking Add Boot Option, clicking the button to the left of the File Name text area, then choosing FS0 and EFI, then choosing something that looks like SHIMx64.EFI, grubx64.efi or grubx.efi. Save and restart, try to go to boot menu (F2 on restart) hopefully see USB option.
• I chose Install Alongside Windows Boot Manager. Note: do not get third-party apps and extra things like that yet. There are still more issues to solve before that…

Setting up WiFi and Bluetooth Drivers

So you went through the wild mess that is installing Ubuntu 18.04. But when you finally boot into your new Ubuntu 18.04 system, you notice something terribly wrong: there is no WiFi and Bluetooth. The system is unable to connect to the appropriate hardware. This issue occurs because the Dell XPS 15 7590 has a new Killer WiFi 1650 card that Ubuntu does not currently have support for (hopefully this is resolved soon). For now, we have a solution.

• This next step requires internet connection… which is not easy to come by when your computer can’t use WiFi. You can get this by connecting your phone to the laptop by USB, then going to your settings to turn on your data and share your internet connection by USB. This may require use of about 1GB of data and may only work on some phones.
• For this next step, it is preferred if you have Disabled Secure Boot from the BIOS Settings.
• Open the terminal (CTRL + ALT+ T), then run the following commands:

sudo apt-get install git
sudo apt-get install build-essential
cd ~
git clone https://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/iwlwifi/backport-iwlwifi.git
cd backport-iwlwifi
make defconfig-iwlwifi-public
make -j4
sudo make install
sudo git clone git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/firmware/linux-firmware.git
cd linux-firmware
sudo cp iwlwifi-* /lib/firmware/

Restart your computer. Your WiFi and Bluetooth should be fully working. If you ever have issues with the WiFi or Bluetooth not working again, you can rerun these commands and it should fix the problem.

NVIDIA Drivers

Many Dell XPS users have had issues installing the correct Nvidia drivers to get their graphics card to work on Ubuntu 18.04. Luckily, the NVIDIA has released Linux drivers that support the Dell XPS 15 7590’s NVIDIA GTX 1650 graphics card.

• Open the terminal (CTRL + ALT+ T), then run the following commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:graphics-drivers/ppa
sudo apt update
sudo apt install nvidia-driver-430 nvidia-settings

• Press the Windows Key, then search “ Software & Updates”, then navigate to the “Additional Drivers” tab.
• Choose “NVIDIA driver metapackage from nvidia-driver-430 (open source)”
• Lastly, you can switch between using your NVIDIA graphics card (more power) and your Intel card (more power efficient) by running (note: a reboot is needed after running the command to take effect):

sudo prime-select intel   # switch to intel
sudo prime-select nvidia # switch to nvidia

Closing Thoughts

That’s it! I have been using this Ubuntu 18.04 setup on the Dell XPS 15 7590 for over a month now and I am very happy with it. I hope that this article helped to make your Ubuntu 18.04 install journey much smoother than mine was. If you encounter any issues or see any mistakes in this article, feel free to comment below and I will do my best to help you out.

References:

https://medium.com/@peterpang_84917/personal-experience-of-installing-ubuntu-18-04-lts-on-xps-15-9570-3e53b6cfeefe

https://medium.com/@pwaterz/how-to-dual-boot-windows-10-and-ubuntu-18-04-on-the-15-inch-dell-xps-9570-with-nvidia-1050ti-gpu-4b9a2901493d

Tyler Lum

Written by

Tyler Lum

Robotics | AI | UBC Engineering Physics

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