This page has been updated on 6th of January 2020 regarding Linux Mint 19.3 Tricia
I try to keep this page up to date, so it should work with the latest version of Linux Mint incl. updates. If you notice that something is not working well, don’t hesitate to contact me.

In July 2018, I bought a Dell XPS 15 9570 (2018) with the following specs:

  • i7-8750H CPU
  • 16 GB of RAM
  • 512 GB of SSD (M.2 2280 PCIe)
  • Windows 10 Pro

The following steps are my personal notes for setting up Linux Mint on the notebook. I also describe how to set up a dual boot system allowing to select between Linux Mint and the preinstalled Windows 10 operating system. I had this set up on my notebook for around half a year. Then I noticed, that I actually don’t use Windows 10 at all and so I moved over to install Linux Mint only. However, some people might find it helpful to have a dual boot system, so I keep my notes about that here, too.

I also started a hackintosh page for this notebook. It describes a triple boot setup with Windows 10, Linux and macOS Mojave. It’s still in progress but you can access the draft here: Triple Boot Hackintosh (Windows, Linux & macOS) Dell XPS 15 9570

1 Prerequisites

1.1 Create a bootable Live Linux bootable USB drive

If you don’t have a Live Linux bootable USB drive I would recommend to create one on your old computer (so we don’t touch anything on the new machine for now):

  • If you have Linux, simply dd the image to an USB drive. Example: dd if=linuxmint-19-cinnamon-64bit-v2.iso of=/dev/sdb bs=100M
  • If you have Windows, there is this easy to use tool: Universal USB Installer
  • You can use this Live Linux as Linux installer later.
  • IMPORTANT NOTE: I had some strange issues with booting Linux from a certain USB drive. Everything suddenly worked well when trying another USB drive. So, if something doesn’t work as expected, try another USB drive first.

1.2 Back up the original state of the harddrive

First of all, I dumped the harddrive of the new notebook just as it comes out of the box:

  • Insert a Live Linux bootable USB drive to one USB port
  • Insert a USB drive where we can store the dumped data to the other USB port
  • Power on the notebook and press F12 when you see the Dell logo to open the boot menu
  • Select your Live Linux bootable USB drive to boot your external Linux
  • Dump your harddrive with dd: dd if=/dev//dev/nvme0n1 of=<your-external-drive-to-store-the-dump>/xps-nvme01.dump bs=100M
  • The step will take some time. You can check the progress by sending the signal SIGUSR1 to dd: sudo kill <pid of dd> -s 10
  • Shutdown
  • Now, we have successfully cloned the harddisk content. This is uper useful if we mess up something or if you simply want to go back to the pre-installed Windows 10.

1.3 DELL Update Tool

Boot into the preinstalled Windows 10 and run the DELL Update Tool which - in my case - updated the BIOS Firmware of the notebook.

1.4 Enable AHCI

By default, my notebook came with the SATA Operation Mode set to RAID. Linux wasn’t able to find the device so I had to switch the SATA Operation Mode from RAID to AHCI. Unluckily, Windows 10 didn’t boot anymore with AHCI mode, so you have to make Windows able to boot in AHCI mode, too. Here are the steps to enable AHCI and keep Windows working (skip if you don’t want to keep windows):

  • Boot Windows, run cmd.exe as admin and type bcdedit /set {current} safeboot minimal
  • Reboot, e.g. with shutdown /r
  • Power on the notebook and press F2 when you see the Dell logo to open the Bios setup menu
  • In the Bios menu goto: “Settings” -> “System Configuration” -> “SATA Operation” and select AHCI
  • Boot into Windows again - which runs in Safemode now - and run cmd.exe as admin and type bcdedit /deletevalue {current} safeboot
  • Reboot, e.g. with shutdown /r
  • At this point, your BIOS is set to AHCI mode and Windows should boot normally

1.5 Create free space for Linux (skip if you don’t want to keep windows)

  • As Sriraman reported (Thank you!), if you use BitLocker encryption on your Windows partition, you may need to disable BitLocker in order to resize your Windows partition, successfully. To do so, run these commands from the PowerShell as Sriraman reported to me:
    • manage-bde -off C:
    • Disable-Bitlocker -MountPoint "C:"
    • manage-bde -status "C:" (The last step took Sriraman 10 minutes until the decryption completed message showed up.
  • In Windows, go to “Control Panel” -> “System and Security” -> “Administrative Tools” -> “Create and format harddisk partitions” … this will open the tool called “Disk Management” … That was intuitive, huh? You can also just hit the Windows-Key and type “partition”, Enter.
  • Right-click the biggest partition called “OS (C:)” and select “Shrink Volume”
  • Decide how much you would like to shrink… I shrinked it down to approx. 50% (236185 MB)

1.6 Create a bootable USB drive with Linux to install Linux

We will install Linux from a Live Linux bootable USB drive. If you already have created one in step 1.1 or already have one lying around which you want to use to install Linux then you are done here. Otherwise, create it as describe in 1.1.

2 Installation

  • Have your Live Linux bootable USB drive attached while powering on your notebook
  • Power on the notebook and press F12 when you see the Dell logo to open the boot menu
  • Select your USB drive with the Live Linux. You may see it multiple time. Select the one saying UEFI.
  • You can now run the installer from your Live Linux USB drive to install Linux to your internal SDD. For Linux Mint, there is an installer symbol on the Desktop which you need to double click.

If you want to keep windows installed:

  • When the installer asks for the “Installation Type” then select “Something else”.
  • Now use the GUI to select the free space you created in step 1.4 and add a swap and a root-partition there
  • Keep the setting for “Device for boot loader installation” at the bottom as it is

If you do not want to keep windows installed:

  • When the installer asks for the “Installation Type” then select “Erase disk and install Linux Mint”

Continue in both cases:

  • Continue to install Linux

3 Let’s tune it

3.1 First boot after the installation

This seems to be obsolete with Linux Mint 19.3 Tricia

Now, when booting, the grub boot loader shows up automatically and offers you to boot Linux Mint (or Windows if you kept it). The first time I booted Linux Mint after the installation didn’t work well. I fixed this by:

  • Waiting for grub to show up after powering on the notebook
  • Select “Advanced”, then the one saying “(recovery mode)”
  • Select “Resume Normal Boot” (might be necessary multiple times)

3.2 Install GFX driver

Linux Mint 19.3 Tricia recommends this automatically

  • Run the driver manager in Linux Mint
  • Install nvidia driver as recommended by the Driver Manager
  • Reboot

3.3 Install Updates

Linux Mint 19.3 Tricia recommends this automatically

  • Run the Update Manager, click “refresh” and install the updates.
  • Repeat the previous step until there are no more updates to install.

3.4 Install a new Kernel

Linux Mint 19.3 Tricia comes with Kernel >= 5.0.0, so this step is obsolete

A new Kernel may severely improve your laptop’s behavior when it comes to shutting down, hibernation, system freezes, etc. Thank you for reporting that this, Michael!

  • Run the Uppdate Manager
  • Within the Update Manager, go the menu “View” -> “Linux Kernels”, read the Warning and click on “Continue”
  • Select the latest Kernel version. At the time of writing this, it is versioin 5.0.0-20.
  • Click on “Install”
  • When done, reboot
  • The notebook shall now boot into Linux Mint using the latest Kernel version

3.5 Some more tuning

  • run sudo apt install acpi acpi-call-dkms tlp tlp-rdw
  • Open the NVIDIA X Server Settings and switch GPU to “Intel (Power Saving Mode)”
  • Add acpi_rev_override=5 to GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT in /etc/default/grub and run sudo update-grub Note: I’m not sure if this is still necessary with Linux Mint 19.3 Tricia
  • Running /usr/share/doc/acpi-call-dkms/examples/ will cool the gpu down some more degrees and the fans will stay quiet most of the time. You can automate this task with crontab by adding the crontab entry @reboot sleep 60 && /usr/share/doc/acpi-call-dkms/examples/

3.6 My BIOS settings

For reference, these are some of the settings in by Laptop’s BIOS which I think could be of interest:

  • Settings –> General –> System Information –> Bios version: 1.7.0
  • Settings –> General –> Boot Sequence –> Boot List Option –> UEFI
  • Settings –> General –> Advanced Boot Options –> nothing is selected here
  • Settings –> General –> UEFI Boot Path Security –> Never
  • Settings –> System Configuration –> SATA Operation –> AHCI
  • Settings –> Secure Boot –> Secure Boot Enable –> Secure Boot Enable –> NO
  • Settings –> Secure Boot –> Secure Boot Mode –> Audit Mode (I changed this to “Audit”, default was “Deploy”. I experienced much instability when “Audit mode” was enabled. Probably coincidence…)

Please drop me a line if you tried these steps. Was it useful? Did you find a better way?