Monday, 21 September 2015

Dell xps13 (2015) - updates and bios flashing

I got a new Dell xps13 (2015), thinking it would work with linux as well as my beloved old xps13. Unfortunately... that was not the case...

After struggling with OpenSuse installers and lack of touchpad fixes (my favourite distro of all time), I felt defeated and installed Kubuntu.

I must admit a lot of things worked out of the box with ubuntu. Except for:

- flashing screen
- touchpad going crazy
- repeated keys
- battery draining fast
- kernel panics

I struggled for days to find a way to update the firmware (I use grub as a bootloader and had turned UEFI off somehow to be able to boot usb disks). Then, when I had given up, I stumbled upon this extremely easy method:

  1. Download the WIndows/DOS BIOS installer for your hardware from
  2. Download the latest SystemRescueCD and burn it to a blank CD or install it to a USB flash drive
  3. Copy the Windows/DOS BIOS installer to a FAT formatted USB stick or the one that you installed the SystemRescueCD on.
  4. Boot from the CD or flash drive.
  5. Choose to boot from FreeDOS in the floppy images menu.
  6. Make sure you do NOT load HIMEM and EMM386 memory managers.
  7. Change to the USB stick (typically C: if you do not have any FAT partitions on your HDD). Remember to change, just type: "C:"
  8. Run the installer
The touchpad is still abit crazy. Each time I scroll, a right mouse click happens. Why? Sometimes the mouse gets stuck in "clicked" mode. And I see some flashes around my screen... I hope a new update of either ubuntu or dell bios fixes this soon. 


I couldn't take it anymore, so I did a fresh install after the firmware upgrade. All was fine, until I installed chrome and oracle java 8. The computer seems to flip on everything with java... I'll keep you updated what I figure out, installed openjdk 1.8 for now and removed chrome. Will investigate further.  


The kubuntu updates seem to have fixed the  jumping cursor problem. Finally! 

Remaining issues: the system is unstable, it crashes often when I click on the wifi icon; vlc doesn't work properly due to a qt5 problem (haven't figured that out yet); battery seems to drain when I close the lid; I I close the lid with external monitor connected everything flips and keeps running...