How to install the Ubuntu 12.04 ‘Sputnik’ image on your Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook

Dec 3, 2012   JC    Comments

I got my new Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook a couple of weeks ago with the Windows 8 OS pre-installed. One of the main reasons I got this laptop was because of Project Sputnik, Dell’s attempt to build an Ubuntu-based developer laptop by working with Canonical.

I was waiting for Project Sputnik to finish before putting Ubuntu on it. About 3 days ago Dell finally announced that the developer edition of the XPS 13 was ready. As soon as I found out I went ahead and replaced my Windows 8 install with Ubuntu.

Here are the steps I took to install Ubuntu 12.04 on the Dell XPS 13 L322X (this is the model with the 3rd generation Intel CPU ‘Ivy Bridge’):

1. Download the Ubuntu 12.04 Sputnik ISO.

2. Download and install the free Linux Live USB Creator software for Windows.

3. Insert a USB flash drive with at least 2GB of space on your computer, you will format this drive later so make sure you back up all important files it contains.

4. Open the Linux Live USB Creator software, select the USB drive, select the Sputnik ISO file, check the ‘Format the key…’ option, then click the lightning icon to start creating a bootable USB flash drive with the Ubuntu 12.04 files.

5. Insert the now bootable USB flash drive to your XPS 13 laptop.

6. Reboot your XPS 13, press F2 to take you to the BIOS setup. In the BIOS, go to Boot and make sureLoad Legacy Option Rom is set to Enabled. Also set the Boot List Option to Legacy. Save the settings and exit the BIOS.

7. When the computer restarts it should now boot to Ubuntu. On the desktop you’ll see an icon that says‘Install Ubuntu.’ Double click that icon and installation will now start.

8. You’ll be prompted an option to select a partition to install the OS in or erase the contents of the drive completely. If you’re not sure whether you’ll be using Ubuntu exclusively, choose the second option and make sure not to delete the Recovery Partition.

If you’re like me and have no desire to go back to Windows, you can select to re-format the entire drive. This will give you more available space for your files as well as it will delete the Recovery Partition that Dell created.

9. Wait for the installation process to complete and answer any questions when prompted (such as username, computer, timezone, etc.).


I ran into one issue after I installed the OS: the BIOS couldn’t find the bootable partition on the hard drive. It was giving the message No Operation System Found (yes, it actually said ‘operation’ and not ‘operating’).

For the OS to boot I had to have the bootable USB flash drive inserted. To fix the boot issue, I just simply ran the Boot Repair Tool while in Ubuntu, rebooted, and it finally booted up with GRUB.

To install the Boot Repair app:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:yannubuntu/boot-repair && sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install -y boot-repair && boot-repair

When the Boot Repair app’s GUI loaded, I selected the first option (Recommended Repair) and that fixed the boot problem for me.

Post Install:

To make sure you have the latest drivers and fixes, add the Sputnik Kernel PPA to your system:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:canonical-hwe-team/sputnik-kernel
sudo apt-get update

So far I’m very happy with the switch. All the drivers seem to be working fine and I actually found the new Ubuntu GUI to be more user-friendly than Windows 8’s.