Loading the Dell XPS 13 with Ubuntu

What follows is a step-by-step look at installing Ubuntu on a new Dell laptop. If that’s not your bag, check out some other posts listed on my About page. 

I purchased the base model XPS 13 from the Dell website and paid the $25.00 for next business day shipping. It was worth it. I ordered the laptop on the 4th of July, an American holiday and it arrived at my door on the 6th. Fantastic.

In the day and a half prior to its arrival, I downloaded the 64 bit version of Ubuntu 12.04 LTS and used the Pen Drive Linux’s Windows USB creator program as suggested by this page on the Ubuntu website. This information was simple to follow and resulted in a USB stick that was ready to install Linux.

When I unboxed the laptop, it was fully charged. As a precaution, I plugged it into the wall charger for the duration of the install. I then plugged in the USB stick to the Left side USB 2.0 socket. This little tidbit was gleaned from a forum on the Ubuntu site. Don’t use the right hand side’s USB 3.0 for booting.

I then turned on the laptop, and pressed down on F2. This brought up the firmware boot loader. I changed it to boot from the USB stick. Otherwise, it would have booted into Windows. It worked flawlessly on reboot. The Ubuntu installer came up and I started the installation. It was fast, both due to the speedy processor and it being 64 bit. Part of the installation was to set the WiFi connection. Easy and it worked perfectly. Before rebooting into Ubuntu, be sure to change the boot loader back to boot from the Hard Drive.

After I rebooted, I started the updates and waited for several hundred packages to download and install. This also went flawlessly and was super fast. The final step was to install the special XPS fixes that Ubuntu and Dell developed as part of their Sputnik project. This also was super easy and went flawlessly. After the reboot, the computer was working perfectly including the track pad. (LINK UPDATED: 13 SEP 2012) Here is the forum post that tells you how to use the PPA’s from Kamal Mustafa Canonical that let the track pad work. The install went off without a hitch and I never had to see Windows. ;-)

I’ll have more to say about the laptop itself and how well it works with Ubuntu in future posts. My initial impression is pretty positive. I like how small it is and I love how fast Ubuntu is on the machine.