Install Ubuntu On Dell Inspiron

Skip to first unread message

Viola Mathenia

Dec 4, 2023, 7:18:59 AM12/4/23
to WebSocket++

A friend of mine received this laptop for Christmas and wants to use it with Linux. More specifically, we want to install Kubuntu 19.10, but at this point we are getting desperate and would settle for any distribution. The main issue is that laptop has a single SSD, but Linux can't detect it so we are not able to select it in the installer.

Install Ubuntu On Dell Inspiron


There is support for this but its not free. Many are unable to install ubuntu 14.04.3 because not able to restart for finishing installation, but ubuntu 12.04.5 works fine although while booting it will have a white screen with verticle lines.

ProblemType: Bug
DistroRelease: Ubuntu 20.04
Package: ubiquity 20.04.15
ProcVersionSignature: Ubuntu 5.4.0-26.30-generic 5.4.30
Uname: Linux 5.4.0-26-generic x86_64
NonfreeKernelModules: zfs zunicode zavl icp zcommon znvpair
ApportVersion: 2.20.11-0ubuntu27
Architecture: amd64
CasperMD5CheckResult: pass
CasperVersion: 1.445
CurrentDesktop: ubuntu:GNOME
Date: Sun May 10 12:01:58 2020
InstallCmdLine: BOOT_IMAGE=/casper/vmlinuz file=/cdrom/preseed/ubuntu.seed maybe-ubiquity quiet splash ---
LiveMediaBuild: Ubuntu 20.04 LTS "Focal Fossa" - Release amd64 (20200423)
PATH=(custom, no user)
SourcePackage: ubiquity
UpgradeStatus: No upgrade log present (probably fresh install)

I originally burned the flash drive with ubuntu- with balenaEtcher using the default settings. I then tried the same ISO but using Rufus 3.13.1730, and burning the image as a dd. Its interesting that I get a little farther witih this. I can install the OS and then it will boot to the text screen that lets me choose Ubuntu, but then it dies immediately afterwards. It dies in the same fashion - backlight is on and slightly flickering, otherwise featureless black screen.

To dual-boot Linux, I recommend a tool call chrx(Opens in a new window), which will walk you through the necessary steps. By default, chrx installs GalliumOS(Opens in a new window), a lightweight distribution based on Xubuntu that's customized for low-powered Chromebook hardware. If you want things as snappy as possible, GalliumOS is a great choice. However, chrx can also install Ubuntu and Fedora (plus Ubuntu derivatives like Lubuntu and Kubuntu), if you prefer.

ProblemType: Bug
DistroRelease: Ubuntu 17.10
Package: ubiquity 17.10.10
ProcVersionSignature: Ubuntu 4.13.0-16.19-generic 4.13.4
Uname: Linux 4.13.0-16-generic x86_64
ApportVersion: 2.20.7-0ubuntu3
Architecture: amd64
CasperVersion: 1.387
CurrentDesktop: ubuntu:GNOME
Date: Sat Nov 4 22:23:33 2017
LiveMediaBuild: Ubuntu 17.10 "Artful Aardvark" - Release amd64 (20171018)
PATH=(custom, no user)
SourcePackage: ubiquity
UpgradeStatus: No upgrade log present (probably fresh install)

My apologies to everyone. The problem was bios settings. I changed the bios settings and was able to install ubuntu 17.10. If anyone else is having similar problems the Dell web site has info to help solve them.

IntroductionOne of the most talked about topics of the last year has been the Windows 8 debacle and how it is now much more difficult to install Linux because of the UEFI secure boot system.
I have just obtained my first laptop that contains Windows 8 and therefore my first laptop with UEFI and secure boot enabled.
So just how difficult is it to install Linux alongside Windows 8? I spent some time over the weekend installing Ubuntu alongside Windows 8 on this computer and the following is a guide showing the steps I performed to achieve this task.

If you have Windows 8.1 and you wish to install Ubuntu 14.04 I have created a new guide showing how to install Ubuntu 14.04 alongside Windows 8.1.

Click here if you are looking for a Windows 7 and Ubuntu dual boot guide.

For those of you who already have Ubuntu installed alongside Windows 8 I have written a new guide showing how to upgrade Ubuntu to the latest version without harming Windows 8.

If you are using Windows Vista then read this guide to installing Linux alongside Windows Vista

If you are using Windows XP then read this guide to installing Linux alongside Windows XP A review of Ubuntu 14.04Before you start it might be worth reading the latest review of Ubuntu 14.04 to make sure dual booting with Windows 8.1 is something you want to do.
The hardwareThe hardware that I used to compile this guide is the Dell Inspiron 3521 laptop which you can pick up for around 400 at Argos.
The Dell Inspiron 3521 has 6 gigabytes of RAM, an Intel core I3 processor, a 1 terabyte hard-drive and a 15.1 inch display.
StrategyThe actual strategy for installing Ubuntu alongside Windows 8 isn't much different to installing Ubuntu alongside Windows 7, Vista or even XP. There are just a couple of extra hurdles along the way.

  1. Backup your Windows partitions
  2. Shrink the Windows partition
  3. Create a bootable USB drive with Ubuntu on it
  4. Turn off fast boot and Disable secure boot
  5. Run the Ubuntu installer
  6. Partition the empty space (created after shrinking Windows partition)
  7. Complete the installation
  8. Reboot into the Ubuntu Live image
  9. Run the boot repair
  10. Test that everything works.
1. Backup your Windows partitionThis is the most important step in the whole process, especially if you harbour any hopes of booting into Windows again should the worst happen.
It used to be the case that when you bought a computer you received a set of disks or a CD that had a rescue image on it. If the computer failed all you had to do was insert the disks or the CD and your computer would be restored as if it had just been delivered.
Computer manufacturers then took the step of creating rescue partitions on hard drives but now some have even stopped doing that. Even if your computer manufacturer did take the step of creating a rescue partition, because you are going to be messing around with the partition editor it would be a great idea to make sure you have recovery media that isn't in any way connected to the hard drive that you are partitioning.
Regardless of restoring to factory settings you will want to back up all those pictures, videos and all those songs you downloaded from iTunes.
Do not skip this step unless you have recovery media
As I am using a Dell I have two methods available to me to create recovery media and I am going to document both of them here. The chances are that the manufacturer of your computer has also provided software for creating recovery media. It is worth spending the time looking at the options available to you.
You should backup your computer anyway
Whether you intend to follow through with this guide or not and whether you decide Linux is or isn't for you I cannot stress enough the importance of creating recovery media.
If you still do not believe me about how hard it is to get the recovery media after the event go to Google (who aren't in any way evil) and try searching for recovering Windows 8 on a Dell, HP, Toshiba etc. You will probably end up paying for support.Create recovery media using Dell's recovery tools

To open the Dell Backup and Recovery software move your mouse to the top right corner within Windows 8 and this will bring up the search icon.
Click on the search icon and start typing "backup". The "Dell Backup and Recovery" software will be the only option listed.

As you can see there is a large exclamation mark next to "Recovery Media". This icon appeared because at that point in time I had not created any recovery disks meaning that should the worst happen I was on my own.
If you see a large exclamation mark and a big orange status message saying "At Risk" it seems prudent to do something about that.

Clicking on the "Recovery Media" option displays the screen above. You have two options:
  • Factory Backup
  • Apps & Drivers
You can also decide the location to backup to. You can choose either DVDs or a USB drive.
If you are smart you will do both. Run the "Recovery Media" option once and backup to DVDs and then run it again and backup to USB. Imagine you backed up to DVDs and then decided to restore from them later on. DVDs have a habit of getting scratched and generally speaking you will need 2 or 3 DVDs which means there is more risk of a failure. Backing up to USB as well as DVD means you have hedged your bets.
You could of course just back up to USB but USB drives have the habit of getting lost or re-used for another purpose when you realise you need to transfer data from point A to point B.
Now I will point out that this process only backs up the Windows 8 system files in order to get Windows 8 back in the event of a failure. This does not backup all your pictures, documents and videos etc. I will come to that later on.
All you need to do to backup to DVD is insert the first disc and then press "Start". It takes a while to perform this process but it is definitely worth it. Just let it happen, go and get a coffee and watch a bit of television. Check back occasionally though because you will need to swap discs.
Once you have finished backing up to DVD repeat the process but backup to USB.

After running the "Factory Backup" click on the "Apps & Drivers". Now insert a blank DVD and click "Start". Again the process will take a little while but at least you will have a backup of all the applications that were installed when you bought the computer.
Creating recovery media using Window's 7 tools
Now the first backup section was a little bit specific to Dell computers. Allowing for the fact that you may not be using a Dell computer this section shows how to create a system image using the Windows 7 File Recovery tools. (I wonder why I couldn't find a Windows 8 one?).

To get to the Windows 7 recovery tools move the mouse to the top right corner and then select the search icon again.

Click on the "settings" option and then type "recovery". The option for "Windows 7 Recovery" will appear. Clicking on this option will display the above window.

There are 2 options here:
  • Create a system repair disc
  • Create a system image
The system repair disc will boot into Windows recovery mode. Choose this option first and insert a blank DVD and then create the repair disc.
The system image takes a copy of all the selected partitions and therefore you can restore your computer to the state it is in at the moment the backup is taken which means all your documents, pictures and videos etc will be safely backed up as well. (You can schedule a system image backup at regular intervals so that you get regular backups).
When you create the image you will be shown the backup location where the image will be saved and the partitions that will be backed up.
Now I highly recommend using external storage for this purpose.
An external hard drive is great for this sort of thing but be careful. I have had external drives that corrupted the image due to the nature of pulling out the USB cable before it was ready.
(Yes I am aware that was a dumb thing to do)

After clicking "Start Backup" the usual random green progress bar starts.
We are all aware at this point that you have to wait an indeterminate period of between 5 minutes and 4 years for the green bar to reach the end and even when it does there is no guarantee it is the end of the process.

When you have finished creating the system image you are asked once again if you want to create a system repair disc.

I don't want to sound like your mum but you really should do this.

2. Shrink the Windows partitionWindows is like an infestation of cockroaches. Cockroaches will keep filling up space until it runs out and will try and find some more space. Windows is built to believe that all the available disk space belongs to it and therefore there is no spare space for another operating system.
To get around this issue there is a tool available within Windows that lets you shrink the Windows partition (or indeed any other partition on the disk).

To be able to shrink the Windows partition you will need to run the "Disk Management" tool. To do this move your mouse to the top right corner and click on the search icon. Now click the settings icon and start typing "disk".
Click on the option "Create and format hard disk partitions".
As you can see the Dell Inspiron by default has a busy looking disk layout.
The operating system is on drive C and is called OS.
This is the partition that needs to be shrunk in order to make space for Ubuntu.

Right clicking on the relevant drive brings up a context menu and on that context menu is the option to "Shrink Volume".
When you click on "Shrink Volume" a box appears asking you how much disk space you want to shrink the disk by.

The Shrink utility helpfully sets up the amount of disk space that it can comfortably spare.
Unless you have a reason to choose otherwise it is generally fine enough to accept the default options.
Click on "Shrink" to start the process.
Unlike the backup process this bit is quite quick.

3. Create a bootable USB drive with Ubuntu on itDownload UbuntuYou can download Ubuntu from
As you can see there are two versions available.

Version 12.04 is a long term support release which means you can install it now and it will still receive updates in 4 years time. This is great if you are the sort of person who likes stability and you aren't too bothered about getting the new features early.

Version 13.04 has only 9 months worth of support and then you will be expected to upgrade to a newer version of Ubuntu. This may sound like a very short period of time (and it is) but 13.04 already feels slick compared to 12.04.

If you become comfortable with the installation process then moving up to the latest versions keeps you in the now club.

The long term support releases are great but consider that the last LTS version was back at version 10 which pre-dates Unity. To quote Ferris Bueller:
Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.The one thing you do have to do though to be able to run Ubuntu alongside Windows 8 is to choose the 64-bit version.

Note that if you have a Dell Inspiron 3521 and you wish to install version 12.04 there is a dedicated version especially for you at -11539/.

The Dell Inspiron 3521 can be purchased pre-installed with Ubuntu and therefore there is already an image available which has all the necessary drivers set up.

I can confirm however that I installed Ubuntu 13.04 and I used the stock 64-bit download and I have had no issues with Ubuntu whatsoever.

If you live in the city then downloading Ubuntu will be a quick process. If you live in the countryside and your internet connection sucks as much as mine then there is always the option of .
Download UnetbootinUnetbootin is the tool that I used to create a bootable USB drive with Ubuntu on it. To download Unetbootin visit

Click on the "Download (for Windows" link. The download is fairly small and even on my meagre internet connection takes under a minute.

To run Unetbootin press the "Start" button and click on "Files". Now type "Unetbootin" into the search box and Unetbootin will be the first option. Click on the icon to run Unetbootin.

To create a bootable USB drive you need to insert a blank USB drive into a USB port and then select the disk image option.

Clicking on the button with 3 dots brings up a file browser and you should be able to find the downloaded Ubuntu ISO.

Make sure that the USB Drive is indeed in the drive letter specified and when you are happy that you aren't about to install somewhere you shouldn't click OK.

It takes a few minutes for Unetbootin to do it's stuff but ultimately you will end up with a bootable USB drive.

4. Turn off fast boot and disable secure bootTurn off fast bootTo turn off fast boot you need to get into the control panel and then the power options.
To open the control panel move your mouse to the top right corner and then click on the settings icon that appears.
When the menu appears click on the control panel.
From within the Control Panel click on the "Power Options" icon.

From the "Power Options" screen look down the menu on the left side and select "Choose what the power button does".

On the snappily titled "Define power buttons and turn on password protection" screen scroll down to the bottom.
There should be an option that says "Turn on fast startup". If this option doesn't appear click on the link at the top of the window that says "Change settings that are currently unavailable".
If the "Turn on fast startup" option is checked turn it off. I know that it says recommended but in this case it really isn't recommended.
Click the "Save Changes" button to continue.Turn off secure bootTo turn off secure boot move your mouse to the top right corner and then click the settings option.
Now comes the ninja bit. Hold down the shift key and select "power" and "restart" whilst keeping the shift key held down. (Take out the USB drive if it is still plugged in).

When you reboot a screen similar to the one above will appear. The option you should choose is the UEFI Firmware Settings.
At this point you will be taken into the UEFI settings for your make of computer and I can't write instructions for each make and model therefore Google is your friend (and not at all evil). Type in your make and model and search for UEFI settings.
When you are in the UEFI settings you are looking for the option that says something like "Secure boot" with the value set to "Enabled" and you want to set that option to "disabled".
5. Run the Ubuntu InstallerTo load Ubuntu in live mode insert the USB drive created in step 3 and reboot your computer.

It is a beautiful sight seeing Windows disappear and Ubuntu appear in its place even if it is the live USB version.

Let's get started.

Clicking on the "Install Ubuntu 13.04" (or 12.04 if you are going LTS) brings up the Ubuntu installer.

The first step lets you choose the language for the installer.

If you speak English I recommend choosing English (unless you feel you need an extra challenge) and indeed if you aren't a native English speaker then choose the language you feel most comfortable using.

The preparation screen shows you whether you are fully prepared for installing Ubuntu.

As you can see from the screen image I had plenties of disk space and I was fully plugged in to the power but I didn't have an internet connection.

Having the internet connection set up lets you download updates on the go. I prefer to do it afterwards.

You will also notice the "install this third party software" checkbox which will make Flash and MP3s work straight away after the install.

If you aren't already connected to the internet now is your chance to get connected.

You can choose any one of your broadband connections.

I have 2 available to me and neither of them are any good.

I prefer to install first and update later so I leave the internet disconnected.

6. Partition the empty spaceThis bit is going to amend your hard drive partitions and if you didn't do a backup at the beginning this is the point of no return.

I highly recommend making sure you have created the correct recovery media before continuing.

I could have made the install process one big step but the partitioning takes a bit of explaining so I put this in a separate section.

There are 2 options available to you from the partitioning screen.
  • Erase disk and install Ubuntu
  • Something else
If you just want to install Ubuntu and forget Windows ever existed (and if you have tried Windows 8 nobody is going to blame you for making this decision) you can simply press continue .

This guide is about installing alongside Windows 8 and therefore to do this choose "Something Else".

The disk layout on the Dell Inspiron 3521 is quite involved.

What you should do is look for the large amount of unpartitioned space by scrolling down. (For the Dell it was /dev/sda7).

When you find the unpartitioned space click on the plus symbol and create a logical partition. Mount the partition to / and set the size to 50 gigabytes. Set the partition type to EXT4.

Now find the unpartitioned space again and click on the plus symbol and create another logical partition. Mount this one to /HOME and set the type to EXT4. The size should be virtually all the unpartitioned space minus about 16 gigabytes.

There is a lot said about how much swap space you need but as disk space isn't exactly expensive anymore I always just choosing 16 gigabytes which is way more than is actually required. (By quite some distance). You will therefore need to create a third partition in the unpartitioned space and choose SWAP as the type.

When it comes to choosing where to install the bootloader don't change a thing. Leave it pointing to "/dev/sda". Whatever you do don't choose one of the other partitions like "/dev/sda1" or "/dev/sda2" etc. This is one of the most common mistakes people make.

For the / and Home partitions that you just created make sure the format checkbox is checked. You cannot format the swap partition.

Do not continue unless you are really satisfied that you have done everything correctly and that you have a backup available in case of bad times.

Press Install to continue.

7. Complete the installationThe installation will now continue and you will see files copied across and the installation taking place.

At this point you will be able to choose keyboard layouts, timezone and you will be asked to add a new user.

At the end of the install process you will asked if you want to restart the system or continue using the live version.

8. Reboot into the live imageAt this point it is worth rebooting the computer to see what has happened.

When the computer has started to reboot remove the USB drive and let the bootup process begin as normal.

If you are lucky everything has worked perfectly well and you have a GRUB menu showing options for Windows and Ubuntu.

The reality is that you will be very lucky if that really has happened.

One of three things will have happened:
  1. Ubuntu will have loaded
  2. Windows will have loaded
  3. Nothing loads
If either Ubuntu or Windows loads then you just have a bootloader issue, if nothing loads it is likely that you didn't turn off secure boot and probably have messages on the screen saying so.

Unless you have a perfectly running dual boot system plug your USB drive back in and reboot so that the live version of Ubuntu runs again.

9. Run the boot repairFor the next part you will venture into the terminal. Press the super key on your keyboard (that is the one that looks like the Windows icon).

Type "term" into the search box that appears. Click on the "Terminal" icon.

From within the terminal window type the following:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:yannubuntu/boot-repair && sudo apt-get updateThe above command adds a special repository to your Ubuntu live system and then the update command downloads a list of all the applications that reside in that repository.
Now all you have to do is type:sudo apt-get install -y boot-repair && (boot-repair &)The information I am providing here comes straight from the following page: -Repair (Just in case you thought I was making all this up as I went along).

A message will appear saying that boot repair is scanning your partitions.

At this point I clicked the "Recommended repair" button as it does say it fixes the most frequent problems.

After a few minutes the application will tell you if it needs you to run extra commands in the terminal and it gives you the commands to copy and paste.

By following the instructions provided my boot loader was fixed and I could move on to the final step.

10. Test that everything worksReboot your computer and remove the USB drive.

You should now have a menu with various options on it. The first one will be Ubuntu and somewhere down the list is Windows EFI.

Try Ubuntu and make sure that it loads correctly, then reboot and try the Windows EFI option. Windows 8 should now load.

Troubleshooting This article has been up for a number of months now and there have been a large number of comments added. Some of the comments provide nuggets of information that will be useful to others.

Click here for 9 tips for troubleshooting Windows 8 and Ubuntu.

If either Windows or Ubuntu won't load or nothing loads at all it is worth checking over the above steps to make sure you turned off fast boot and secure boot.

If you think you have done everything correctly then copy any errors and load the Live USB version of Ubuntu again.
Now Google is again your friend (and not at all evil). Search for the error text that you received or go to the Ubuntu forums and search there for your error.
If that fails to help you can either ask for help yourself at the Ubuntu forums or on the Ubuntu sub-reddit.Another option is to open XChat by pressing the super key and typing XChat. Now find the Ubuntu IRC chatroom and state your issues within the realms of IRC chat. There are always helpful people there.but ..... if all else still fails .... remember those backups I mentioned throughout this article. It is time to think about using them.
You can always restore Windows to it's original state and try following the instructions again.
SummaryI hope this article helps some of you install Ubuntu alongside Windows.

It will probably take you less time to install Ubuntu than it has to read the article down to this far.

Don't be afraid. Give it a go. You will be glad you did. Let's face it. Windows 8 sucks.

Thankyou for reading.

To make it easier for everyone who wants to read my Ubuntu based articles and tutorials I have formatted them, rewritten them and added extra content which has resulted in the eBook "From Windows To Ubuntu".
The book isn't massive like a SAMS guide so it isn't going to take you forever to read it but there is certainly a lot of content.

Everybody is talking about Ubuntu 13.10Ubuntu 13.10 Saucy Salamander has been released. Read this article which highlights the reviews and articles that have been published for Ubuntu 13.10.
Related articles
  • Ubuntu review - All other versions of Linux aspire to be this successful
  • How to buy a laptop pre-installed with Linux
  • How to install Chrome in Ubuntu 13.04
  • My Ubuntu Blog
  • Linux Reviews

And there is more....
  • A review of "Instant Ubuntu"
  • Lubuntu 13.10 Review
  • OS4 OpenLinux
  • Buy a laptop pre-installed with Ubuntu
  • 5 things to consider when using Linux for the first time
  • 10 things the average Joe won't know about Linux
  • Linux Mint 15 XFCE Review
  • SolydX Review

Follow Everyday Linux User
  • Follow Everyday Linux User by subscribing (fill in the box on the right side)
  • Follow on Twitter @dailylinuxuser
  • Follow on Reddit /r/everydaylinuxuser

Reply all
Reply to author
0 new messages