After describing the technical basics of a Linux installation (BIOS, UEFI, MFB, GPT, GRUB, SEDs, LUKS) in the second part of the series, I will guide you step by step through the installation of Manjaro Linux on the Dell XPS 15 9570 in this third and last part.
Hardware upgrade of the Dell XPS 15 9570
The hardware upgrade proved to be fast and uncomplicated. After loosening twelve screws on the underside, it’s easy to remove. Underneath, I can directly access the SSD and the RAM. Here, you can see the inner workings with already exchanged components:
First, I needed to download the Manjaro image – and “Rufus” (or “Win32 Disk Imager”) to write it to a USB stick. I also need the “PBA Rescue System” to manage my SSD encryption.
- Manjaro: https://manjaro.org/download/gnome/ (current version: 18.0.4)
- Rufus: https://rufus.ie (current version: 3.5.1497)
- Win32 Disk Imager: https://sourceforge.net/projects/win32diskimager/files/latest/download
- PBA Rescue System: https://github.com/Drive-Trust-Alliance/sedutil/wiki/Encrypting-your-drive (the 64-bit version “RESCUE64.img.gz”, currently available in version 1.15.1)
So, I created two bootable USB sticks, in my case with Rufus (since I have it anyway – with the Win32 Disk Imager, it should work just as well).
Manjaro boot image
For the Manjaro boot stick, it is important to set the partition scheme to GPT and the target system to UEFI. With the rest of the settings, you can leave the default values:
After clicking on “Start,” you have to select “Write in DD image mode”:
If you write the image in ISO image mode instead, the following error message will appear after booting: “Welcome to GRUB! … Error: unknown filesystem.“
For the PBA boot stick, the partition scheme and target system are predefined and cannot be changed:
In order to install Linux on the Dell, the following UEFI settings must be changed (see https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Dell_XPS_15_9570#UEFI):
- System Configuration / SATA Operation: here you have to change to “AHCI” (default is “RAID”), otherwise the NVME-SSD is not recognized by Linux.
- Secure Boot / Secure Boot Enable: the check mark must be removed here, otherwise neither the PBA nor the Manjaro image can be booted.
You can get to the UEFI settings by pressing F2 shortly after starting the computer (i.e. when the manufacturer logo appears).
Installing Manjaro Linux
The actual installation of Manjaro Linux proved to be uncomplicated. I insert the corresponding USB stick, configured the UEFI settings to boot from the USB flash drive and restart. The following screen appeared:
Here, I set the language and keyboard layout and changed the setting “free” to “nonfree.” This refers to the graphics drivers. The “free” versions were developed by the community and are open source, while the “nonfree” versions come directly from the graphics card manufacturer.
Once the desired settings have been made, click on “Boot: Manjaro.x86_64 gnome” to continue loading the rescue system. Once this is complete, the following welcome screen will appear:
The screenshot is from a VM, so a wired internet connection is displayed. When installing on a laptop, you have to configure the Wi-Fi at this point. To start the installation, click on “Launch installer.”
In the installer, select your language, location and keyboard layout. Then the hard disk is partitioned. In the example, the entire hard disk will be erased and formatted by the installer. If you want to use software encryption, you have to check “Encrypt system” and enter a passphrase (as long a password as possible).
Next enter your username and password and start the installation. At the end of the installation, check “Restart now” and click “Done”:
Then the laptop restarts and boots into the installed Manjaro Linux:
After logging in, the desktop appears:
Finally, I perform the optimizations recommended at https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Dell_XPS_15_9570 step by step.
SSD encryption setup
To encrypt the SSD, I followed the instructions at https://github.com/Drive-Trust-Alliance/sedutil/wiki/Encrypting-your-drive.
My first attempt failed because in the last step, I accidentally installed the zipped PBA image into the shadow MBR instead of the unzipped one. This was reflected in the fact that the laptop screen remained black after rebooting.
After I installed the unpacked image, everything worked as desired: after a complete shutdown and restart, the PBA booted and asked me for my passphrase:
So I entered my passphrase, the laptop boots again – this time successfully into Manjaro Linux.
Data transfer from the Bitlocker encrypted Windows hard drive
The installation is finished – but I still wanted to transfer data from my old PC. So, I connected the hard disk to the new laptop via a SATA-Thunderbolt-Adapter.
As the hard disk is encrypted by Bitlocker, I needed the tool Dislocker to mount the encrypted partitions. With the following commands, I mounted the first partition in read-only mode to /mnt/sda1.
sudo pacman -S dislocker
sudo mkdir /mnt/sda1-dislocker
sudo mkdir /mnt/sda1
sudo dislocker -r -u -v -V /dev/sda1 -- /mnt/sda1-dislocker
sudo mount -o loop,ro /mnt/sda1-dislocker/dislocker-file /mnt/sda1
The data was now available in the directory /mnt/sda1. You may proceed accordingly for additional partitions.
By the way: the commands above mount the partition in read-only mode. If you don’t want this, you have to omit the
-r from the
dislocker command and the
ro option (including the comma before it) from the
mount command. The last two commands would then be:
sudo dislocker -u -v -V /dev/sda1 -- /mnt/sda1-dislocker sudo mount -o loop /mnt/sda1-dislocker/dislocker-file /mnt/sda1
With the transfer of the data to my new laptop, this series of articles is finished.
I hope I could help someone to install Manjaro (or another Linux distribution) on a Dell XPS 15 (or other hardware). If you have any questions or get stuck at any point, please ask using the comment function. I will do my best to help.