Over the past few years I’ve noticed that my personal laptop has been showing its age. It is a Dell XPS 13 L321X, one of the original Project Sputnik laptops from Dell. It came with pre-loaded Ubuntu 12.4 and has a Core i7 CPU, 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD. One of the first things I did was switch Ubuntu for Linux Mint, which I find more user-friendly. I’ve had the laptop since 2012 and it’s been pretty reliable. The XPS is in no danger of dying anytime soon, but the hinges on the display are getting a bit floppy, so I’m constantly reminded of the laptop’s age. Aside from that, it’s durable, takes a fair amount of abuse, and keeps on working, so it’s not much of a surprise that I considered Dell laptops for possible replacements.
A couple of weeks ago, probably as part of a back-to-school sale, I saw a Dell Inspiron 7000 2-in-1 13.3″ laptop with an AMD Ryzen 7 CPU, 12 GB of RAM, and a 256 GB SSD for the incredibly low price of $591.30. Taxes pushed it to slightly over $630, but it was still a bargain. A week later the price is just over $700, not including taxes or shipping, so it looks like I bought it at just the right time.
After it arrived, I wasted about a day and a half trying to get Linux Mint working on it. I’m writing this up in case anyone else wants to try it with their laptop.
First off, I downloaded Linux Mint 19.2 64-but Cinnamon edition from one of the mirrors listed on the Linux Mint website. Next, on a Windows PC I have in the office, I used a program called Linux Live USB Creator to make a bootable USB drive with the Mint ISO. I used an 8 GB Verbatim USB thumb drive for the media.
Through a lot of trial and error, I figured out the steps that work for me. These are:
- Plug USB thumb drive into a USB port on the Inspiron.
- Press the power button on the computer, then press the F12 key repeatedly while the machine starts up. This should bring up the boot menu.
- Choose the USB thumb drive (Mine was labeled “USB1-1 VerbatimSTORE N GO“) and press the Enter key.
- Choose whichever option has Compatibility Mode in it. This will launch the Linux Mint 19.2 Live CD mode.
- When the Linux Mint desktop shows up, double-click on Install Linux Mint.
- Choose the most appropriate installation options for you, though I always recommend encryption for laptops.
- Let Linux Mint install itself.
- As the installation finishes, you’ll be shown a window saying it’s done. Press the Restart Now button.
- As the laptop stops running Linux, remove the USB drive, then press the F12 key repeatedly while the laptop restarts.
- At the boot menu there should only be one option (assuming you don’t have a dual-boot setup): HDD1 – ubuntu. Choose it and press the Enter key.
- If you have Secure Boot enabled, and encrypted your drive you may get a screen that says: Press any key to perform MOK management. Press any key.
- Choose Continue boot and press the Enter key.
- Press the power button to turn off the laptop.
- Press the power button again to turn the laptop back on.
- Press the F12 key repeatedly as the laptop starts up to get to the boot menu.
- At the boot menu, choose the ubuntu option and press the Enter key.
- You should get a black screen with white text displaying a few boot options. Choose the top option, the press the E key.
- The second to the last line should start with linux. From that line, remove quiet and add noapic noacpi irqpoll, then press the F10 key.
- After you get logged in, run all updates the system offers.
- After updates are done, open a Terminal and type in sudo nano /etc/default/grub then press the Enter key.
- Enter your password and press the Enter key.
- On the line that starts with GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT, remove quiet and add noapic noacpi irqpoll.
- Press Ctrl+X at the same time, then press Y and Enter to accept the changes.
- Close the Terminal, press the Mint/Menu icon and click on the red button.
- Click on the Restart button.
If everything worked as it should, the laptop should reboot without any problems. Be patient and give it a minute or two, but you should get a login screen, a screen to decrypt your hard drive, or the Linux Mint desktop.
DISCLAIMER: While I’m a professional computer technician, I make no guarantees with regards to the steps above. Just because they worked for me, doesn’t mean they will work for you. I am putting this information out there in case anyone else is having problems installing Linux Mint on their own computer. If you try to install Linux on a new Dell computer you’ll almost certainly be voiding your warranty and Dell would be within their rights to refuse to service it.