Dell XPS 17 9700 + Ubuntu 20.04 Audio Issues? Fixed!

Written on June 19, 2021

I recently took the plunge and got a very nice Dell XPS 17 9700 with the intention to dual boot Windows 10 and Ubuntu 20.04. This all worked quite well – except audio.

There are numerous posts about this which can be found by googling this issue. I tried many of them, but finally found one that worked.

The root issue is that the kernel which comes with 20.04 does not include drivers (or they are not configured properly) to handle the audio devices in the XPS 17.

In testing I found that the linux-oem-20.04 package brought the speakers back to life, but not the mic.

sudo apt-install linux-oem-20.04

I found that the linux-image-5.6.0-1056-oem package brought the speakers AND mic back to life.

sudo apt install linux-image-5.6.0-1056-oem  linux-tools-5.6.0-1056-oem

To uninstall either use apt purge like this:

sudo apt purge 'linux*5.6.0*'

As you are rebooting, you can enter advanced options for ubuntu and select the kernel to test.


As an aside, I also followed these directions:

https://github.com/stukev/XPS-17-9700-Ubuntu-Soundfix

I am not sure if they had any effect or not. I do know that on the 5.10 kernel which comes with linux-oem-20.04, it did not help. On the 5.11 kernel, it also did not help. Not sure if the effect of running it helped on 5.6 or not.

Installing Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) on Windows 10

Microsoft has been doing a lot to promote linux  interoperability on windows.  I see this as a great step in the right direction, after decades of a closed and exclusive culture that has been a pain for cross-os users like myself.

Here is a quick and dirty rundown of how (March 2019) to install Ubuntu on Windows 10:

See here for the full rundown: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/wsl/install-win10

Install the Windows Subsystem for Linux

Before installing any Linux distros for WSL, you must ensure that the “Windows Subsystem for Linux” optional feature is enabled:

  1. Open PowerShell as Administrator (search for Powershell, right click, run as administrator), and run this command:
    Enable-WindowsOptionalFeature -Online -FeatureName Microsoft-Windows-Subsystem-Linux
    
  2. Restart your computer when prompted.

Install your Linux Distribution of Choice

Go to the Microsoft Store and search for Ubuntu.  Install it.

Once you are in Ubuntu, there are a few things to do that will make everything nicer…

Update Ubuntu and setup ssh server
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
sudo apt-get install openssh-server
sudo service ssh start

Fix character encoding issue (until this is fixed upstream)
sudo gunzip –keep /usr/share/i18n/charmaps/UTF-8.gz
sudo dpkg-reconfigure –frontend=noninteractive locales

Setup SSH under your user
mkdir .ssh
chmod 700 .ssh
touch .ssh/authorized_keys
chmod 600 .ssh/authorized_keys
(put your public key in there)
Setup PuTTY
You can then configure PuTTY to connect to 127.0.0.1 port 22 with your username and key (ideally from Pageant)
You can access your c drive under /mnt/c/
You can access your desktop using /mnt/c/Users/YOU/Desktop
This enables you to write convenient scripts in ubuntu that affect windows files on your desktop for example.

Ubuntu Post-Install tips…

I received this from a friend, and thought I would post it here in case anyone would find it useful.

After Installing Ubuntu, basically I do this:

Go to:
System -> Administration -> Software Sources -> Other Sofware, and enable partner repository.

After that, we can this on a Terminal:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras
sudo /usr/share/doc/libdvdread4/install-css.sh