Installing Debian sid on a XPS 15

Since this morning, I’m the owner of a XPS 15 end-2012 edition. The model I have come with a hard drive and a SSD and it is pre-installed with Windows 8. As it is not a good choice for a OS you want to use the laptop for real work, I’ve installed a Debian sid on it.

On the laptop, I’ve received the 32Go SSD was formatted with a single 8Go partition which was not used by Windows. The Windows installation was made on the classic hard drive.

From Windows, I was able to change the size of the system partition on the hard drive (the big one host OS and data) and doing so, I’ve managed to create a new partition to host my Linux data.

I’ve made the installation using an USB stick prepared with unetbootin. I had to choose the HD media mode to be able to correctly run the install procedure.

To start the install, you need to go in the bios by pressing F2. You then have to activate the legacy mode which will allow you to run an OS like Debian. To switch between the different OS, you have to hit F12 at start to be able to choose between Legacy (for GNU/Linux) and UEFI (for Windows).

The major trick during the install was to delete the partition table on the SSD which was in GPT style (and thus difficultly supported by grub). I’ve created instead a standard old-style partition table on it. I was then able to put my Debian system on the SSD without any problem.

All devices seems to work fine with Debian Sid. So if we omit the optimus Nvidia card issue, this is a computer that I recommend.

5 thoughts on “Installing Debian sid on a XPS 15”

  1. Salut Christophe. I’ve put the Legacy boot at first and thus I reach a standard grub which only allow me to boot Linux. I I press f12 at start, I can then choose EFI boot and start windows.

  2. Hi,

    I’m thinking about purchasing a new laptop and had in mind the XPS 15 but now consider also the Mac Book Pro 15. I know, it’s a little different than running GNU/Linux, but I know it’s quite convenient to use as a software developer as well as a “family” computer.

    Actually, I was wondering if you were still happy with that setup on your XPS 15? Have you made some upgrades (a newer version of Debian was released about a couple months ago I think)? Have you had any issues, whatsoever?



  3. Hi Eric 😉

    I’m still happy with this system. The only negative point is that I can only use beamer with HDMI input.
    Regarding the distribution, I’m using Debian sid. And it works really well.

  4. thanks for the post. as i don’t have any experience with linux before, i’d like to try first running it from a usb-stick. are there any issues about the wlan and the touchpad?

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