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Enable Super Key, Upgrade Ubuntu, and Enable Touchpad Toggle

Updated: 02-Jun-2019

Configure the Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition for Ubuntu MATE

When I purchased my Dell XPS 13 6360 pre-installed with Ubuntu 16.04, there were a few things I needed to setup prior to using it.

  1. Enable the Super key.
  2. Replace Ubuntu 16.04 with the latest release of Ubuntu MATE 18.04 LTS.
  3. Enable the F7 key to toggle the touchpad on and off.
The XPS 13

Enable the Super Key

Dell says that it is unable to ship OEM Ubuntu systems with the "super" key enabled on non-Windows operating systems. I'm sure that has something to do with Dell's Licensing agreement with Microsoft since the key has the Windows logo on it. Dell provides a tutorial in their Knowledge Base on how to do this. http://www.dell.com/support/article/us/en/19/how12108/how-to-enable-the-ubuntu-super-key-on-dell-oem-ubuntu-installations. There three easy steps, all done in a terminal, followed by a reboot.

  1. Remove the package named "dell-super-key" with the following command:
    sudo apt-get remove dell-super-key –y
    Enter the user password when prompted and confirm the install by pressing y on the keyboard.
  2. Install a utility that will map the super key’s function to open the Dash menu by typing in the following command:
    sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager -y
  3. Remove the input rule that blocks the super key from being mapped with the following command:
    sudo rm –rf /usr/share/gconf/defaults/40_oem-superkey-workaround
    Restart the computer and log in.

Update the operating system.

If you are wanting to use the installed version of the operating system provided by Dell, you can skip this step. When I purchased my XPS13, the version of Ubuntu installed was 16.04 LTS. That release is over two years old and a new LTS (long term support) version is available. I prefer the Ubuntu MATE flavor, so rather than simply upgrade to Ubuntu 18.04, I chose to replace the installed Ubuntu with Ubuntu MATE 18.04 LTS. The installation went smoothly, just as I expected, and I've updated to later releases since then.

Enable the ability to toggle the touchpad on and off with a function key

Most laptop computers these days use a touch-enabled device in place of an external mouse. Given that the built-in "disable touchpad while typing" feature did not work for me, having the ability to manually disable the touch-enabled device can prevent typing mistakes. With Windows installed, Dell provide the function key F7 that alternately enables and disables the device. I have documented how to create a script that enables this functionality when using Linux. See the article "Toggle Your Laptop's Trackpad/Touchpad On and Off".

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