Dell Inspiron 7567 - Linux Kernel Support

Hello everyone. I want share my experience of getting Ubuntu to work on my Dell Inspiron Gaming 7567 Laptop. Here are the specs, by the way:
Processor: Intel Core i7 7700HQ @ 2.8GHz (Turbo to 3.8GHz)
RAM: 16GB x1 DDR4 @ 2400MHz (Kingston)
GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti (4GB)
BIOS: 1.7.0 (Latest available at the time of writing)
Windows 10 Home pre-installed.
OSs on 256GB Toshiba M.2 SATA SSD

This is going to be a long post, so here is the TL;DR:
This laptop fails to work with Intel Integrated Graphics with any kernel above or equal to v4.11. Nvidia graphics work good though, for display driver in any kernel. Tried with Ubuntu 16.04 and 18.04, and v4.9, v4.10 work good by default.

So I started with installation of Ubuntu 16.04.3 and right off started to face freezing issues during installation itself. After multiple tries, somehow managed to get it installed, but the freezing issues were still there after the login screen comes up. Then retried installation multiple time with different pen-drives, but to no avail. Searched on the internet and found that there may be some issue with how acpi settings work. One symptom that strengthened this thought (that the linux kernel is somehow unable to talk to the power delivery system properly) is that after every successful installation, clicking the restart button froze up the system. Then I went on to try multiple boot-time flags like:
  1. acpi_osi=! acpi_osi=‘Windows 2009’
  2. acpi_osi=’!Windows2015’
  3. acpi_osi=Linux

None of the above worked satisfactorily. Some times, the system refused to even reach the login page.

One of the articles on the internet mentioned using ‘nomodeset’ to force use of llvm-pipe as the graphics driver, and sure it did boot up. Everything was working properly, and I thought the problem is solved. However, one problem still remained, that the display brightness could not be adjusted whatsoever and was pinned to maximum. This was a major issue me, but I carried on like that for a few days since I needed a Linux environment to complete my college assignments. During all that, somehow the keyboard backlight functionality broke and I could not adjust it in Ubuntu (worked properly in Windows, though).

After a few days I started investigating again, and thought of using the Nvidia proprietary drivers for the display. Installed version 384 through the ‘Software & Update’ settings and voila! The system boots properly without ‘nomodeset’ flag and the keyboard as well as display brightness adjustment worked! I thought that was the solution to all my problems, but alas I was wrong. Using Nvidia GPU for main display in a laptop takes its toll on the battery. While Windows could easily give me more than 4 hours of battery with modest workloads, Ubuntu lasted 1.5 hours at max. Obviously, this wasn’t acceptable to me, but I still kept using it like that since I cannot afford to waste all my time troubleshooting, when I need to be doing my course work.

In the meantime, my semester ended and I went on to try out Ubuntu 18.04. Same problems existed here as well. But again the system worked with Nvidia drivers, with miserable battery life. The change of interface was fresh, and I kept it like that.

I few days back I was looking through the kernels released in the past few weeks and decided to install v4.17. Before this, I was running v4.15 in Ubuntu 18.04 and v4.13 in Ubuntu 16.04.4. Since I’m no expert in Linux stuff, the thought of installing a different kernel had never crossed my mind. The new kernel failed again, but I wasn’t surprised at all after all the trouble I went through in the past few months. However, I decided to try out a LTS kernel and went on to install v4.9. To my surprise, the system booted perfectly on Intel HD Graphics 630. Then I installed v4.10 and it also worked. Now I knew something possibly broke for Kaby Lake mobile processors in the newer kernels (not exactly sure what it could be).

Currently I’m back to v4.9.111 kernel. The system works perfectly fine without any issues whatsoever. Battery life is much better now (around 4hrs), maybe still a little less compared to what I get with Windows, but that is alright. Such experiences definitely create a love-hate relationship with Linux-based OSs.

I hope anyone else who faces any such issues should try switching kernels. Maybe it was very noob-ish of me not trying a different kernel earlier itself. But hey, I did learn a fair bit during all this troubleshooting. So I guess it was somewhat worth the pain.

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