Troubleshooting Ubuntu 16.04 Installation/Graphics card on a new Dell Notebook

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I just bought myself a Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Series notebook and here are the steps I followed to get it up and running with a clean Ubuntu 16.04 install.

There's another guide here, by connorkuehl

Download Ubuntu 16.04.1 LTS ISO

Download Ubuntu Desktop

Create a USB Startup Disk

I've used Startup Disk Creator on Ubuntu, but there's other options for use on Windows for instance:

Boot into the USB Stick

  • Select Try out Ubuntu (not Install Ubuntu) but don't hit enter

  • Hit e and add nouveau.modeset=0 after the end of the line that begins with linux, as per this answer on Stackoverflow

Proceed to Installation

This means clicking the Install Ubuntu on the Desktop, once you've managed to view the Desktop, while trying out Ubuntu:

When booting, add nouveau.modeset=0 again on GRUB the same way you did in the previous step.

Fix Wi-fi Connections

Steps are also detailed on this Stackoverflow answer

If you can't see any Wi-fi connections after loading up Ubuntu, you may need to fix firmware configs for your network adapter.

To check your network adapter, type sudo lshw -class network

If you see the following line: product: QCA6174 802.11ac Wireless Network Adapter, do this: (using another machine or via a wired connection)

  • UPDATE April 2017 a full apt-get update / apt-get upgrade also solves this issue (if you have access to a wired connection).

  • Clone this github repo: kvalo/ath10k-firmware

  • Copy the two directories (hw2.1 and hw3.0) under QCA6174 to your notebook.

  • Backup the two directories under /lib/firmware/ath10k/QCA6174 and replace those with the two you've downloaded.

  • Enter the two directories you've used as replacement and rename two files:

    • $ mv firmware-4.bin_WLAN.RM.2.0-00180-QCARMSWPZ-1 firmware-4.bin
    • $ mv firmware-5.bin_WLAN.RM.2.0-00180-QCARMSWPZ-1 firmware-5.bin
    • Reboot (don't forget to add the lines to the Grub config)

Download NVIDIA drivers for the graphics card

After this you don't need to edit the GRUB file every time you boot

To download the driver for the graphics card (NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M), it's easy (see more information here)

Note that this is not the most recent driver available but, according to many thread reporting problems with Ubuntu 16.04 (here, here, here and here for example) it looks like this is the one that causes the least problems.

(You can always download others later)

UPDATE April 2017 nvidia-381 is now the most recent driver.

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:graphics-drivers/ppa
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install nvidia-352 
$ sudo reboot

It's interesting that, even though we've downloaded nvidia-352, it shows nvidia-367 on the additional drivers settings page:

additional_drivers Well, you're using nvidia-367 it seems. 'Tis cool, as long as it works =)

Alternatively: installing the driver via a .run file

It may, for some some reasons, be better to install the driver via a .run file downloaded directly from the NVIDIA Downloads page rather than using pre-built .deb packages.

The reason is that you get more control over the exact things you want to download and install and you don't have to wonder what Ubuntu is doing for you behind the scenes.

Other than using a .run file, the installation process is the same as the one describe above, for the .deb package.

Dialogue & Discussion