New Dell XPS 15 with Skylake Install Mishap with Hard drive

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njs
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New Dell XPS 15 with Skylake Install Mishap with Hard drive

Post by njs » Mon Dec 21, 2015 11:48 pm

I got a brand new Dell XPS 15 with Skylake, 16 GB of DDR4 ram, and a 512GB m.2 SSD. It, of course, came installed with Windows 10 on it. So I make myself a Linux Mint 17.3 (x86_64) usb image. I turn of secure boot and I load up Linux Mint.

In this case, I don't care about dual booting, so I decided to do overwrite the entire hard drive. I did an install with an encrypted file system (necessary for my work). The installation failed, the ostensible error that it failed to install GRUB (though I suspect more is happening).

Now the only way I can even see the internal SSD (BIOS or OS) is if I boot in BIOS legacy mode, if I'm in UEFI mode, it (again, BIOS or OS) can't see the hard drive, and I'm having the same installation issue (if I try to install in legacy mode).

Any thoughts?

Lisa_P
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Re: New Dell XPS 15 with Skylake Install Mishap with Hard dr

Post by Lisa_P » Tue Dec 22, 2015 10:30 am

Hi,

I'm not really sure if this helps, but I have been through some problems with m2.sata myself (different laptop, but Skylake as well).

Things to try (may or may not help):
- Boot Mint from USB (in legacy mode, apparently) and use hdparm to secure erase the SSD. (See procedure below, if unknown. This will remove everything including any existing partition tablem which will probably help your case.)
- Turn off your laptop completely, if possible remove the battery for a minute or two (might not be necessary).
- Turn it back on and go straight into your BIOS and re-enable UEFI and clear the TPM (if present, it did seem to matter for me).
- You probably need to create an EFI partition where grub can be installed for your BIOS to recognize it afterwards. Windows makes it around 100MB, FAT32 and is flagged as bootable. My BIOS UEFI picks up the boot options from there.

Secure erase can only be done when the disk it NOT frozen (which it'll very likely be), try the sleep button or closing the lid, then wake the laptop to unfreeze the disk. The procedure below is available around the web, some recommend using a PaSsWoRd instead of NULL, it worked with both for me.

Secure erase steps:
1. Check the device (check the device you want to test now)
$ sudo fdisk -l
2. Check device status (assuming that the test device is set at /dev/sdb in step 1)
=> Must be "not frozen", otherwise Secure Erase cannot be run. (Putting the device to sleep somehow will unfreeze it!)
$ sudo hdparm -I /dev/sdb
3. Set Password (the reference shown below recommends using NULL for password, so it is set as NULL)
$ sudo hdparm --security-set-pass NULL /dev/sdb
4. Run Secure Erase
$ sudo hdparm --security-erase NULL /dev/sdb

Reference:
http://linux.die.net/man/8/hdparm
http://tinyapps.org/docs/wipe_drives_hdparm.html

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k0d3g3ar
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Re: New Dell XPS 15 with Skylake Install Mishap with Hard dr

Post by k0d3g3ar » Sat Dec 26, 2015 9:59 pm

Curious if you got past this.... I'm having the exact same problem. Dell XPS 15 9550 with 512GB M.2 SSD. Was able to get installation to at least start, after reading this:

http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=2301071

However I'm getting the exact same GRUB fail in installation that you are seeing. My install can see the SSD ok, and its p1 partition. But the only place it will accept the GRUB installation is in the P1 partition, which gets past the error. On reboot however, it totally hangs. If I then boot into a USB Mint "LiveCD" thing, there is no sign than a SSD exists at all. The BIOS is set to use the AHCI mode (not RAID). Before setting this I had NO hope of seeing a drive at all during installation.

Would love to get this new laptop going. Its useless to me with Windows on it.

K

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Re: New Dell XPS 15 with Skylake Install Mishap with Hard dr

Post by k0d3g3ar » Sun Dec 27, 2015 8:52 pm

Update: I managed to get it to work. The problem was that in the BIOS setting for the XPS 15 9550 model, I had turned off everything relating to UEFI and just had it set to Legacy Roms. That works fine from starting the install, but I had to have UEFI mode set for it to do the grub part. In addition, and I'm not sure if this was relevant or not, there is an option in the BIOS settings for a complete "Secure Erase" of the M.2 drive and I did that as a precaution. I suspect that if there was anything left over from the previous Windows 10 installation that came with the computer, that got rid of it. Then I tried to install afterwards and it finally worked.

Now I'm not setting up the Wifi drivers, etc. That's proving to also be challenging with Mint 17.3 but I'll get there.

K

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Re: New Dell XPS 15 with Skylake Install Mishap with Hard dr

Post by ckam03 » Mon Dec 28, 2015 12:24 pm

Did you do exactly what was suggested on the Ubuntu forums, K0d3g3ar? I'm a newbie and trying to learn.

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Re: New Dell XPS 15 with Skylake Install Mishap with Hard dr

Post by ckam03 » Mon Dec 28, 2015 2:15 pm

Have you gotten it all working K0d3g3ar? I checked that Ubuntu link out, are the steps pretty much the same?

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Re: New Dell XPS 15 with Skylake Install Mishap with Hard dr

Post by k0d3g3ar » Mon Dec 28, 2015 6:49 pm

Well alas, I couldn't do it with Linux Mint 17.3. I did, however, manage to get it working perfectly with Ubuntu Mate 15.10.

I'm sure someone here with more time on their hands would be able to work this out but the issue simply comes down to this being VERY new hardware (at least at the time I write this). I was able to get this to install and boot. I was able to get around the graphics issues, but then I came to a grinding halt. The problem is the internal Wifi (Broadcom) board. I bought an Intel Wifi card to replace that out but its about 1 mm too wide to fit in the cavity space inside the laptop, so rather than voiding warranties, I decided to stick with the Broadcom card. Broadcom is a proprietary technology and I believe that its not bundled in the LM install by default - you have to install the additional drivers for it. Normally that's fine, but when I tried to do this with LM 17.3, it literally crashed everything. On reboot, grub was completely toast and at this point I simply ran out of energy.

It seems that the kernel version is the issue. Later kernels appear to address the hardware in this machine (Skylake, Wifi, etc.) and that's what Ubuntu Mate 15.10 is using. Out of the box (after getting past the initial same M.2 issues I had here), I was able to install Ubuntu Mate and get immediately Wifi access without having to install any additional drivers. I added the repos for Nvidia Prime video stuff and voila.... Its working perfectly. No issues at all.

Since my main desktop rig is LM 17, I would have preferred the laptop to follow suit, but its just too hard. My guess is that with the 16.04 Ubuntu update coming out in 2016, and the following LM release to that, these problems will be a thing of the past. But I can't afford to put this laptop in the closet until then so Ubuntu Mate 15.10 it is for me.

K

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Re: New Dell XPS 15 with Skylake Install Mishap with Hard dr

Post by rio517 » Wed Dec 30, 2015 6:40 am

@k0d3g3ar - I had no problem w/ Linux Mint Cinnamon 17.3. I did a clean install of windows and updated all the drivers and firmware updates from Dell, then got working on Mint. I bought the Dell XPS 15 9550 w/ i5/1TB HHD/QHD model and upgraded the ram, removed the 32GB PCIe and plopped in a 1TB 2.5" SSD.
  1. Switched to ACHI from RAID
  2. booted mint from USB by starting w/ `nouveau.modeset=1` (press e for more options in grub menu)
  3. installed mint
  4. booted mint (w/ grub option mentioned above) (wifi worked perfectly here - bluetooth did not)
  5. install skylake graphics drivers downloaded from intel
  6. installed updated nivida drivers (355 or 358) and nvidia-prime to switch graphics
  7. (experimented with different upgraded kernels, but most produced issues w/ wifi or graphics drivers, dropping me into busybox - some users talk about fixes here, but I didn't pursue them: http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=2301071&)
  8. Wireless worked, but no bluetooth. I was getting reported wifi driver errors in linux. The b43 driver worked ok for wifi, but still no bluetooth. The system would hang and disable the card when I tried to install `bcmwl-kernel-source` - had to reset factory settings in bios to restore. To get both wifi and bluetooth working, I did this:
  9. [list=1]
  10. purged old drivers apt-get purge bcmwl-kernel-source broadcom-sta-common broadcom-sta-source b43-fwcutter firmware-b43legacy-installer
  11. Copy brcmfmac43602-pcie.bin and brcmfmac43602-pcie.ap.bin from https://git.kernel.org/cgit/linux/ke....git/tree/brcm and place into /lib/firmware/brcm (this should fix wifi)
  12. pulled latest bluetooth driver from my windows partition: c:\Windows\System32\Drivers\BCM20703A1_001.001.005.0214.0403.hex
  13. converted to hcd format w/ hex2hcd (found it on github) Output of this process can be downloaded here.
  14. saw where firmware was failing to load in `dmesg | grep error` and copied the new hcd file to the file name where my linux distro was looking for the right driver in dmesg.
  15. Bluetooth worked! On reboot wifi failed.
  16. I looked at dmesg again, saw another failed firmware load. Copied the same hex file to that new location dmesg was failing.
  17. Both Wifi and Bluetooth worked. (On reboot wifi failed to load one time, but then came back on subsequent reboots, haven't had another issue since then)
[/list]

Current issues I'm not pursing: *Update*: I was able to resolve most of these issues w/ kernel 4.4. See post below.
  • HDMI is a little buggy - when returning from sleep or monitor suspend, my external monitor will sometimes not come on right away. I'll play with activating the power off window or open display settings and it will come back.
  • SD card reader not working
  • Internal mic not working, but headphone jack and camera are fine
  • minor general graphics buggyness - some slow icon/window closings on external monitor.
  • battery drain is a bit high. I get 6.5 hours on windows with light-weight web surfing, but <4 on mint. (I was a bit pissed about battery life in general, since Dell is advertising close to 10 hours. I plan on upgrading to a 1TB m2 when they get cheaper and swapping in 84 whr battery).
Last edited by rio517 on Wed Jan 13, 2016 4:43 am, edited 6 times in total.

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Re: New Dell XPS 15 with Skylake Install Mishap with Hard dr

Post by k0d3g3ar » Wed Dec 30, 2015 8:14 am

Interesting. Thanks for posting your experience.

I think much of what I found parallel'd yours up to the broadcom software install from the Additional drivers. I too had similar problems, but was not able to persevere to get it working. I did buy an Intel Wifi card from a source in China thinking that I could use that since I've always had better luck with the Intel cards and Linux for this in the past. Unfortunately the amount of width in that card is about 1mm too large for the space in the XPS 15 9550. I may be able to force it in, but I didn't want to damage any surrounding hardware, so I stuck with the Broadcom.

Although I'm not running LM on this one (Ubuntu 15.10 MATE edition instead), I have the larger battery and M.2 512GB one. I worked on the computer on battery last night for about 1 hour and it dropped from 100% to about 64%, so that tells me I'd be lucky to see 3 hours with the bigger battery. I wasn't doing anything heavy with it (just some SSH work on a VPN over Wifi) so the battery life is definitely not as advertised.

I also found a couple of other hardware fails on this with Ubuntu 15.10.

1. The Headphone audio output is not there. But a Microsoft USB Lifechat headset works perfectly.
2. The Internal Mic doesn't work - again the USB Lifechat mic works fine.

Haven't tried BT yet. Haven't tried the onboard camera either. Also haven't tried external HDMI. I have a projector that I'll give this a shot on and see how it goes and report back.

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Re: New Dell XPS 15 with Skylake Install Mishap with Hard dr

Post by rio517 » Wed Dec 30, 2015 12:55 pm

Oh, @k0d3g3ar - my interal mic isn't working either! Camera is fine and heaphone out is fine. (I updated my post above to reflect that). Wow. The battery life your getting is terrible. Did you upgrade to the latest nvidia drivers or at least 355 (some folks report issues w/ 358 on linux?

Code: Select all

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:graphics-drivers/ppa
sudo apt-get purge nvidia-* -y; sudo apt-get install nvidia-355 nvidia-prime prime-indicator -y
Intel drivers here: https://01.org/linuxgraphics/downloads/ ... ck-release

-M

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Re: New Dell XPS 15 with Skylake Install Mishap with Hard dr

Post by rio517 » Mon Jan 11, 2016 9:42 am

Update on linux mint on Dell XPS 9550.

I had a minor issue with my bluetooth stopping to work again. For some reason Mint was looking for the driver file in a new location, so I had to change the name of the .hcd file after checking in dmseg again. I went ahead and upgraded to Kernel 4.4 and found some significant improvements, but one main issue:

Bonus:
  • SD card slot now works
  • internal mic works
  • HDMI less buggy or maybe totally fixed.
On going issues:
  • intel skylake graphics drivers had to be reinstalled.
  • this firmeware fails to load, but I don't see any issues as a result: `firmware load for brcm/brcmfmac43602-pcie.txt failed`
  • pcie power state management may not be working properly. `acpi PNP0A08:00: _OSC failed (AE_ERROR); disabling ASPM`
  • battery life has improved, but not really. Mint is reporting 5.4 hours when idle.
Be sure you have updated your bios ww/ the latest 1.15 and load factory settings in bios, then switching back to ACHI drive mode - it really helped my windows battery life.

Installing Kernel 4.4


To install 4.4 on linux mint, I found this process worked. I still got some minor error messages during the build process, but things still seem to work well.

Installing GCC 4.9

The kernel needs this to build properly, otherwise you get an error: Cannot use CONFIG_CC_STACKPROTECTOR_STRONG: -fstack-protector-strong not supported by compiler

Code: Select all

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntu-toolchain-r/test
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install gcc-4.9 g++-4.9
Once installed, run following commands one by one to use gcc 4.9 instead of previous version.

Code: Select all

sudo update-alternatives --remove-all gcc 
sudo update-alternatives --remove-all g++
sudo update-alternatives --install /usr/bin/gcc gcc /usr/bin/gcc-4.9 20
sudo update-alternatives --install /usr/bin/g++ g++ /usr/bin/g++-4.9 20
sudo update-alternatives --config gcc
sudo update-alternatives --config g++
Now you can check the current version of gcc in your machine by giving the command. It should respond with 4.9+

Code: Select all

gcc --version
Install Kernel 4.4.0

Code: Select all

cd /tmp
wget kernel.ubuntu.com/~kernel-ppa/mainline/v4.4-wily/linux-headers-4.4.0-040400_4.4.0-040400.201601101930_all.deb 
wget kernel.ubuntu.com/~kernel-ppa/mainline/v4.4-wily/linux-headers-4.4.0-040400-generic_4.4.0-040400.201601101930_amd64.deb 
wget kernel.ubuntu.com/~kernel-ppa/mainline/v4.4-wily/linux-image-4.4.0-040400-generic_4.4.0-040400.201601101930_amd64.deb
sudo dpkg -i linux-*-4.4*.deb
Last edited by rio517 on Mon Jan 25, 2016 6:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: New Dell XPS 15 with Skylake Install Mishap with Hard dr

Post by shorawitz » Fri Jan 22, 2016 10:48 am

Hi XPS'ers/Mint Lovers!

Just thought I'd chime in that I'm on this platform using Mint 17.3 Mate (fairly stock - 3.19.0-32.generic) and it works pretty well. I did update the BIOS to 01.01.15.

I shrunk the Windows10 partition and used the remaining space for Mint. I changed the NVME to AHCI like others have noted and fixed (via multple safe-mode boots) Windows10 to boot it before proceeding with Mint install. I also used the "nouveau.modeset=0" trick to get the installer to load the graphical desktop and then zipped right through just like any other Mint install. I do have occasional issues with Mint not seeing the "Network controller" but it seems to happen after I've booted into Windows10 and then back to Mint. My solution is to go into the BIOS and toggle WLAN off/on, then save and boot into Mint.

I have a Logitech H800 headset that is not seen when I do a Bluetooth search. I might try the fix(es) mentioned here and in the Ubuntu thread to get that working (probably means moving from the stock kernel to a 4.x version,) but I'm apprehensive since I use this system for work and it is pretty usable right now - just can't do video chats with my headset like I'm used to.

Battery life seems pretty good (I think the reported metrics in Windows10 are rough estimates as they are in Mint.) It reports 6.5 hours @95% in Mint, but degrades rapidly with use. I mostly work plugged in, so I'm not too concerned as long as I can watch a movie on a long plane flight. My normal graphics card: Intel (HDMI works having it set to Intel as well.) I do have nvidia-352.63-0ubuntu0.14.04.1 as well as "firmware-b43lagacy-installer" selected via Driver Manager. I'm not sure I need the b43 driver. I thought it might help with the lost Network controller issue.

I struggled with the desktop setup (fonts, pointer, icons.) I am using the Mint-X theme in Mate, set the Pointer - Size to Large, set the Font Rendering Details - Resolution to 200 dpi and the Panel Properties - Size: 48 pixels. I use Cairo Dock and put the panel at the top (similar to OSX look.) So the dock needed some tweaking as well.

External monitor via HDMI is a bit of a stuggle (resolution is 1920x1200.) I usually use the XPS 15 solo, so the 4K resolution is what I normally use.

So on stock kernel:
BT is no joy (w/BIOS update, it can see/pair the devices, but can't make a sound/file connection)
No mic
Not much experience using HDMI, but it works
SD card slot dead
Suspend not happy
No WiFi 5G support

But it seems stable enough for a work desktop. I'll be moving as needed or with Mint as the repositories are updated.

EDIT: Since this is a work laptop and I do presentations - A LOT, I decided to switch the display to 1920x1200 and put back all of custom display settings. It was too much of a challenge to span the display during a presentation and have to read the presenting screen and not my laptop screen. Once 4K presentation screens become more ubiquitous, I can probably switch back. I wish there was a way to represent the external display on the main display in a window. Then I could zoom it and keep my 20x20 vision. Something like a VM, but sent to a different display port.

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Re: New Dell XPS 15 with Skylake Install Mishap with Hard dr

Post by astroman3001gt » Thu Feb 04, 2016 2:09 pm

Hi,

I also received today this machine and I am struggling to make it work.
I followed most of the important points described in the post to install Linux mint.

As a first glance it seems it was working well. At least I had wifi working from the very begging. When trying to follow the instructions to install a new kernel 4.4 then thing got worse.

1- After updating the bios to 1.1.15, I loss the wifi.
2- Then I used an cable adapter to follow on on the installation of the new kernel which I did. However the system does not boot and it get stuck on the busybox...

Any ideas on how to proceed? Did anyone have problems installing the kernel 4.4? Maybe I did some stupid mistake...

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Re: New Dell XPS 15 with Skylake Install Mishap with Hard drive

Post by cartland » Fri Feb 26, 2016 8:30 pm

Many people have problems with kernel 4.x on the new Dell laptop with Mint 17.3.

The post by rio517 above viewtopic.php?f=46&t=212016&p=1115114&h ... 4#p1115114 is a good summary of what you need to do, but it didn't work for me (although I'm on the Dell 13 model). I've tried 4.3, 4.4.3, 4.5rc5. All drop me back to initramfs.

I'm giving up and sticking with kernel 13.9 that comes with 17.3. For Wifi, I just use USB tethering thru my phone.

Pity though. I'll revisit with Mint 18.

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Re: New Dell XPS 15 with Skylake Install Mishap with Hard drive

Post by ckam03 » Wed Mar 16, 2016 8:04 pm

Is this even worth attempting for someone that doesn't know jack? I tried a few months ago and I couldn't get very far but I really want to give it another shot.

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Re: New Dell XPS 15 with Skylake Install Mishap with Hard drive

Post by cartland » Wed Mar 16, 2016 11:58 pm

Not IMO. Wait for 18.

I did however get it working: see viewtopic.php?p=1137351#p1137076 (apologies for the lack of detail).

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Re: New Dell XPS 15 with Skylake Install Mishap with Hard drive

Post by ckam03 » Fri Mar 18, 2016 5:47 pm

Maybe someone here can help... made a live usb just so I could play around with Mint but the problem is that the usb doesn't show up in the BIOS after I hit f12. Tried a bunch of different distros and different usbs and nothing shows up. They all show up fine on my desktop though. Any ideas on where to start? Been researching for a couple of hours and can't get it to work.

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