04/27/14

The Dell XPS 12 – dual boot Ubuntu 14 & Win 8 -touchpad fix

I recently got a Dell XPS 12 Ultrabook and I am pretty excited about the power of this 1.5 kg machine.

The intention is to use this ultrabook/tablet hybrid as ‘office’ and NGS data handling system on the go.
The specs are fantastic… energy efficient Intel i7 Haswell with 4 cores, 8 GB memory and a super fast 256 GB SSD drive just feels like warp-speed. Ubuntu boots within 10 seconds.

It comes with Windows 8, which works quite well in both tablet and notebook mode, but I wanted to have a Linux OS running. The latest LTS of Ubuntu was released the day before I got my machine. As the Live-Version worked otu of the box, I gave it a try, even as with very fresh systems one might run into troubles. I knew beforehand, that dual booting might not be easy with Win8. It uses an UEFI boot loader, which had to be configured a bit. Also, some problems with the XPS touchpad & touchscreen hat to be solved.

I searched through quite some webpages and forums to get all the information to set up the system without trouble. So here is what I did step-by-step:

 

Installation strategy Ubuntu 14.04 (or 12.04, 12.10 or 13.10) dual boot windows 8.1

Before install Ubuntu, changes to be made in Windows 8 (Win must be installed on partition before Ubuntu):

  • create installation partition
    • press Win+’x’
    • select drive handling (might be another english expression)
    • right-click on the partition and choose ‘minimize volume’
      • Win 8.1 64 bit needs minimum 20 GB disk space
  • disable fast boot
    • go to the start screen and search the ‘energy options’
    • select ‘choose what happens when power button is pressed’
    • click on ‘some setting are not available’
    • deselect (disable) ‘enable fast boot’
    • save changes

UEFI loader

  • ‘F12′ to access the boot menu (when Dell Logo appears)
  • disable secure boot
  • select boot from USB / CD

Boot with Ubuntu USB/CD

  • check if UEFI loader screen appears
  • Try Ubuntu Live version to check if it works out of the box
  • reboot for installation

Installation:

  • choose ‘something else‘ (!) otherwise it will not work
  • select free space, then click ‘+’ button
  • do not create more then 4 primary partitions →boot (first partition) = primary, rest = logical
    • after each step select free space and click ‘+’ button
      • /boot→Primary // EXT4 // 250 Mb
      • / (root)→Logical // EXT4 // 15 Gb
      • swap→SWAP-AREA // 8 GB
      • /home→Logical // EXT4 // rest
    • choose device for boot loader
      • if Ubuntu grub loader should be primary boot select ‘/dev/sda’ (this is what I chose)
      • if other OS should be primary boot select ‘/dev/sda3′ (needed to add Ubuntu to OS boot menu later)
    • click ‘install now’

For me the loader worked fine after the installation, but if after restart not able to choose OS, then do this:

  • Boot repair
    • download the LinuxSecureRemix Ubuntu version
    • start ubuntu secure live with CD
    • use Boot-Repair from menu (internet connection needed!) with suggested options

Fix touchpad / touchscreen problems:

after Ubuntu (12.04 – 12.10, (NOT 14.04)) installed:

  • if necessary fix touchpad/touchscreen problems (not if sputnik is chosen anyway)
    • update kernel: http://launchpadlibrarian.net/138210859/linux-image-3.5.0-28-generic_3.5.0- 28.48~precise1_amd64.deb
  • update sputnik (Dell supported) for better multitouch touchscreen (only until 12.10):
    • sudo add-apt-repository ppa:canonical-hwe-team/sputnik-kernel
    • sudo apt-get update
    • sudo apt-get upgrade

 

Touchpad/touchscreen fix for 14.04:

there is no official fix for the touchpad /touchscreen problem, but this workaround works:

workaround from: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/linux/+bug/1218973

download this:
https://github.com/bentiss/hid-rmi

1. make/make install of hid-rmi
2. Manually run ‘sudo depmod -a’ (wouldn’t find it without this step).
3. Ensure that you can modprobe it and that its found now, if so proceed. No point proceeding unless you get this sorted.
4. Ensure that i2c_hid wasn’t blacklisted and was loading.
5. Create /etc/modprobe.d/hid-rmi.conf as follows (write following into this new file):
install hid_rmi rmmod hid_generic ; modprobe –ignore-install hid_rmi
6. Reboot and make sure all was loading. (If correct both touchscreen will work and touchpad will register correctly under System Settings->Mouse – otherwise touchpad just appears as regular mouse under System Settings->Mouse)

For me, this is perfectly fine and I think an ‘official’ fix will be released for the touchpad problem. Sometimes, the pad freezes, but after going into suspension, it starts working again.

 

I hope, this was useful. I can fully recommend the system, even if it is quite expensive.

 

12/4/12
2012MGE0056-F2

New Paper

now available as open access:

Kraaijeveld K & Bast J 2012. Transposable element proliferation as a possible side effect of endosymbiont manipulations. Mobile Genetic Elements 2: 0–1.  LINK