My Dell XPS 13 came with Ubuntu 16.04. That’s still valid and supported for a few more years yet. However, depending on the kind of work you do on that system, it’s often necessary to upgrade the OS to the latest and greatest. It’s typical of Dell to wait until the first point-release on the Ubuntu LTS line before offering an upgrade. Thus, while Ubuntu 18.04 came out in April, only in the past month or so did Dell consider it ready for prime time.
Now, I keep a backup of all my important files on another system. The other system is a desktop that runs Debian with an SSH sever. I regularly sync between them using Filezilla’s SFTP feature over my home router. Always back-up your files before trying any kind of upgrade.
Here is the official instructions. I chose to run the upgrade install, the first option. This is tricky, at best. Since I can’t bear the anti-user Gnome interface, nor the Unity Desktop, I had added the Xubuntu desktop after receiving my laptop. The release upgrade script was just not up the task and I ended up with a broken system that wouldn’t boot to the desktop. I thought it was worth a try, though.
I then tested the latest Xubuntu installer, but it errored out and failed completely. So I went back to the Canonical route (pun intended) used the latest Ubuntu DVD ISO image. Since I own an external DVD drive, that was the simplest answer for me. The Dell BIOS can detect the drive and whether a bootable disk is in it. All I had to do was hit the F12 key during system boot and it gave me the option of choosing the external DVD with Ubuntu 18.04.1. And no, I didn’t have to turn off UEFI boot controls; it worked properly without tweaking.
This worked as expected and I chose the option to wipe the file system and make a full fresh installation. Once things were up and running, I once again added the Xubuntu desktop and got a usable system. I’m not quite sure how they arranged it, but right away the update utility notified me that there was a Dell firmware update. All you have to do is download that and it gets put in the right place. The software updater will act confused, because all you have to do is download; there’s no installation as such. When you reboot and system, that’s when it goes through the installation routine. The BIOS finds the installer and proceeds automatically. This is one of reasons why I favor Dell hardware: because Dell works directly with Canonical on making this stuff turn out right.
So far as I can tell, all the hardware is functioning properly without the hassle of chasing down special drivers. Everything seems to work as it should. It’s still fast as lightning and easily the best computer I’ve ever owned. Thank you, parish, for making this possible!