This page describes Debian on the Dell XPS 13 9350. This is the model based on Intel's Skylake. It's sometimes referred to as Dell XPS 13 2016, even though it was released in late 2015.

BIOS Update

Before you install Debian, you should upgrade to the latest BIOS update from Dell.

Power on your notebook and press F12 to get into the BIOS. Choose the "BIOS Flash Update" option. This will show you the revision of your current BIOS.

Go to the Dell XPS 13 9350 support page and look for "BIOS". If there's a new BIOS update, download the XPS_9350_x.y.z.exe file and put it on a USB stick (formatted with VFAT). Put the USB stick into your Dell and click the button on the upper right corner to select the .exe file.

For some reason, I can click on some things in the BIOS with the touchpad but I cannot confirm choices by pressing the touchpad. I have to use the cursor keys and enter.

Choose "Begin Flash Update" to update your BIOS.

BIOS Settings

You have to change some BIOS settings before you can install Debian. Press F12 again when starting your notebook to get into the BIOS.

Choose the first option, BIOS Setup. You have to change two settings:

Choose "apply".

Debian installer

Prepare a USB stick with Debian installer on it. You can consult the manual for more information.

Make sure to install Debian stretch (the upcoming Debian 9). Debian jessie doesn't properly support the hardware.

When you connect the USB stick and start your Dell notebook, the installer menu should automatically come up. If not, enter the BIOS and change the boot order.

You can choose "Graphical install" or "Install" (the text-based installer). In both cases, the fonts are quite hard to read. There are some bugs on this already (e.g. 816111).

The wifi card is supported but requires non-free firmware. You'll get a message about missing firmware file brcm/brcmfmac4350-pcie.bin. You can get the unofficial CD image instead with the non-free firmware included. Alternatively, you can get the firmware-brcm80211 package and copy it to a USB stick.

For some reason, the installer asks for brcm/brcmfmac4350-pcie.txt (with a .txt extension) in addition to the .bin file. I'm not sure why but copying the .bin to .txt seems to work (or simply creating an empty file with 'touch'). Interestingly, the .txt file is not required after the installation (removing it is fine). 865128 contains more information on this.

Debian

Wifi

You'll read on some forums that the Broadcom wifi chip is not supported in Linux but this information is out of date. The chip is supported as of Linux 4.4. However, it requires some non-free firmware to operate (as mentioned before).

After the installation, configure the non-free repository in APT and install the firmware-brcm80211 package in order to get firmware updates for the wifi card.

Resources