Arch Linux Installation on DELL XPS 15 9550

Arch Linux Installation on DELL XPS 15 9550

Installing Arch Linux on the new DELL XPS 15 9550 can be quite troublesome, here are some tips for the installation. This tutorial covers the UHD / 4k screen model with the Intel Core i7 6700HQ and the Samsung NVME SSD. If you have another model you have to adjust your hard disk path (probably /dev/sda instead of /dev/nvme0n1).


Enter the Bios by pressing F2 at the system startup and adjust the following things:

– Disable secure boot – Set SATA mode to to AHCI (in Raid mode by default)

Save the settings and reboot.


Use the normal dual boot iso from the Arch Linux download site and dump it to an USB stick with dd (Or any other disk image writer). See this Arch Wiki entry for more details on that.

dd if=archlinux.iso of=/dev/sdX bs=1M

During startup press F12 to access the one time boot menu, select your USB-Stick there (UEFI mode). The arch boot manager should show up. In order to prevent loading of the nouveau and i915 driver (both are not working with the 4.2 kernel), you need to add nomodeset as kernel parameter. (Just hit e to edit the entry and add it at the end of the linux line).

After this follow the normal arch installation / beginners tutorial until you get to Partitioning.


Please notice that NVME devices are not available as /dev/sdX, but as /dev/nvme (/dev/sda is probably your USB stick). Use lsblk to get an overview. If you want, you can keep your windows installation, but you need to resize the windows data partition (the big one) in order to get free space for Arch. Use ntfs-resize for that and cgdisk to recreate it with the new size.

I used the existing EFI system partition as /boot, if you deleted all partitions or want to start over (without Windows), you need to create it manually.

The final partition layout (depending on your setup, personally I use full disk encryption with cryptluks):

/dev/nvme0n1p2    ext4    /
/dev/nvme0n1p1    vfat     /boot

Follow the Arch installation tutorial further (mount disks to /mnt and /mnt/boot, arch-chroot etc.)


The current arch Kernel (4.3) does not work with the integrated Intel Skylake GPU (blank screen) of the Dell XPS 15.

As 4.4 has not been released yet (RC7 at the time writing), i needed to built the 4.4 Kernel myself. You could also use linux-git from the AUR repository

# Install build tools
pacman -S xmlto docbook-xsl kmod inetutils bc git

cd /usr/src

# Download and extract the kernel
tar -xvJf linux-4.3.3.tar.xz

# Copy the config over
zcat /proc/config.gz > .config

# Answer the changed / new config options
make oldconfig

# Build the kernel and install the modules
make && make modules_install

# Copy the kernel to the /boot directory:

cp arch/x86_64/boot/bzImage /boot/vmlinuz-linux
mkinitcpio -k 4.4.0-rc7-ARCH -c /etc/mkinitcpio.conf -g /boot/initramfs-linux.img

Boot loader

I use bootctl (part of systemd) as boot manager for UEFI. You could also use Grub.

bootctl --path=/boot install

Next create a boot entry in /boot/loader/entries/arch.conf

title        Arch
linux       /vmlinuz-linux
initrd      /initramfs-linux.img
options  root=/dev/nvme0n1p2 rw intel_idle.max_cstate=1

Modify the /boot/loader/loader.conf to use this configuration:

timeout 5
default arch

See systemd-boot entry for information.

Now just follow the rest of the beginners guide.

Check out the Arch Linux on Dell XPS15 review.