Fedora 36

Installation of Fedora 36 on a Dell PC with a UEFI BIOS and Secure Boot

This guide will look at installation of Fedora 36 on a Dell XPS 13 9305 equipped with an 11th Generation Intel Processor. The XPS 13 9305 UEFI BIOS will be configured with Secure Boot.

Fedora is a Linux distribution that has wide support from chip manufacturers such as Intel, AMD and NVIDIA and OEMs such as Dell and Lenovo. In the vast majority of cases (unless your device is absolutely bleeding edge) all the required drivers will be inbuilt into the Linux Kernel or obtained via Third-Party repositories. Fedora is open source software meaning you can download, install and use it without any payment. There are no product keys or activation mechanisms which are commonly found in commercial products such as Windows. If satisfied you can however optionally donate to the Fedora project to help fund further development. Fedora uses the GNOME3 Desktop Environment which offers the best support for 2 in 1 Touchscreen Devices facilitating auto-rotation using the rotation sensor and a touchscreen keyboard. These are areas that most other Linux Desktop Environments lack in.

System Requirements

This guide will cover the installation of Fedora 36 on a Dell Computer with a UEFI BIOS with Secure Boot and should cover all Dell PCs equipped with a 6th Generation Intel Processor or newer (manufactured in late 2015 and after). These computers have a modern UEFI BIOS with Secure Boot and generally exhibit better performance with modern Operating Systems or Browsers. Moreover with these newer computers are typically supported by the Linux Vendor Firmware Service. This allows the Fedora Operating System to install the (UEFI) BIOS Updates alongside other firmware Updates.

You will also get sluggish performance if the computer has a mechanical Hard Drive (HDD) and should swap this out with a Solid State Drive (SSD) where possible.

Systems with a 3rd-5th Generation Intel Processor (Mid 2012-Mid 2015) have an early UEFI BIOS with Secure Boot. This early version of Secure Boot has a Hole and is now deemed partially "Insecure". These systems are also too old to be supported by the Linux Vendor Firmware Service, so the latest (UEFI) BIOS Update has to be installed within Windows or via a FreeDOS Bootable USB. They will likely be able to run Fedora 36 if the latest BIOS Update has been installed but may perform a bit sluggish as their hardware capabilities are quite limited.

Systems with a Legacy BIOS will not run Fedora 36 very well and will likely be unable to use the new display driver graphics model, reverting to the Legacy Display Driver Graphics Model. RedHat have stated they will formally officially drop support for a Legacy BIOS and the Legacy Display Driver Graphics Model in Fedora 37 onwards.

New Features

Fedora 36 has a new Display Driver Model. This modern Display Driver Model allows Fedora to work with multiple monitors for example a high DPI laptop screen and a standard DPI external monitor.

Fedora 36 has an updated kernel. This has much better support for Thunderbolt Docks and laptops and 2 in 1 Convertible Devices can seamlessly be attached and de-attached from Thunderbolt Docks unlike previous versions on Fedora which crashed when such a hardware change was made.

The new Kernel has a working NTFS driver making it much easier to work with Drives between Fedora and Windows.

There was a major Boot Hole discovered in mid 2020 which resulted in the re-issuing of Secure Boot Digital Signatures from Microsoft. All 6th Generation Skylake Systems and newer were patched by OEMs using UEFI BIOS Updates. Fedora 36 has an updated Secure Boot digital signature and passes this patched version of Secure Boot (unlike previous versions). RedHat have also acknowledged that many users want to install closed-source (usually NVIDIA) drivers and multi-media codecs in order to improve system performance/functionality without compromising on their system security by disabling Secure Boot. They have thus made the procedure to do so far simpler by including the option to include a subset of third-party repositories in Software during the Out of the Box Experience (OOBE) install. These third-party repositories also have a Microsoft signed Digital Signature and will therefore also pass Secure Boot.

Making a Fedora UEFI Bootable USB

The latest Fedora ISO can be downloaded from the Fedora download page:

Making a UEFI Bootable USB on Windows

To make a UEFI Bootable USB on Windows we will need to download Rufus:

Launch Rufus:

Accept the User Account Control Prompt:

There is no need to search for updates as we have just downloaded Rufus:

Select the Select Button:

Select the ISO and select Load:

Insert your 16-32 GB USB Flash Drive, it should display under the Device:

Change the Partition scheme to GPT and select Start:

Select Write in ISO Mode and select OK:

Select OK at the warnings about losing data:

Rufus will create a new GPT partition table on the USB flash drive, add a FAT32 partition spanning across the USB flash drive and then copy the files from the ISO. When it is finished, the green bar will be full and state Ready. You may now close Rufus:

Making a UEFI Bootable USB on Fedora

In Fedora, the Fedora Media Writer can be used to create a UEFI Bootable USB. It is found on the All Apps Screen:

Select Custom Image:

Select the downloaded ISO and select, Select:

Select your USB Flash Drive and then select Write to Disk:

This action will require authentication, so input your password and select Authenticate to proceed:

The Fedora Media Writer will create a new GPT partition table on the USB flash drive, add a FAT32 partition spanning across the USB flash drive and then copy the files from the ISO. When it is finished you will get a notification saying Finished!

UEFI BIOS

In this section we will have a look at the optimal UEFI BIOS Settings to use with Fedora 36.

UEFI BIOS Overview

To enter the Dell UEFI BIOS power off your system and then power it up holding down [F2]:

In the UEFI BIOS Setup Overview, you will see your model, Service Tag, Manufacture Date, Processor Type, Memory Installed, Video Controller, Audio Controller and Wireless Card:

Both Dell and Intel use a similar model system.

Dell use 4 digit numbers which indicate the Quality (3 Entry, 5 Mid, 7 High and 9 Premium), Screen Size (3 for 13", 4 for 14 ", 5 for 15 "), Generation (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 and 0 where 0 is used for 10) and Variant (numeric index). The XPS 13 9305 corresponds to an eXtreme Performance System with a Premium Quality of 9, Screen Size of 13 ", Generation of 10 and a variant of 5.

Intel use a designation which specifies the Quality (3 Entry, 5 Mid, 7 High and 9 Premium), Generation (2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 and 11), SKU and Graphics version. The i5-1135G7 corresponds to a Mid Quality of 5, an 11th Generation, and a Graphics version of 7.

Storage Controller (SATA Operation)

Fedora should be installed on a 256 GB NVMe SSD or SATA SSD. It will not perform well on a legacy HDD.

Fedora Installation Media does not have the required F6 Drivers for the RAID SATA Operation, as these don't exist for Fedora. Fedora will only install when the AHCI/NVMe SATA Operation is enabled.

The Storage controller for the M.2 PCIe SSD should be On. The drive information should be detected, in this case a SN530 NVMe manufactured by WDC with 256 GB storage:

Trusted Platform Module Security

On Dell Systems with a 6th Generation Intel Processor and newer, the TPM Version 2.0 Security should be enabled by default. If not ensure that these systems have the latest BIOS Update and TPM Version 2.0 Update. Note that the TPM Version 2.0 isn't a system requirement for Fedora however it is recommended to leave this security setting enabled when available:

Additional Security options may be available if Enterprise Computrace software or BIOS Passwords are set on the Device. These are not required for Fedora.

These Security options will help prevent your Device from being stolen and sold on however if set incorrectly and forgotten will make your Device Unusable.

Processor Virtualization Technologies

The following Processor Virtualization Technologies should be Enabled by default. It is recommended to leave these enabled for optimal performance:

Processor Performance Technologies

The following Processor Performance Technologies should be Enabled by default. It is recommended to leave these enabled for optimal performance:

Boot Configuration

For optimal Security Fedora should be installed using a UEFI Only Boot with Secure Boot Enabled. Secure Boot should be in Deployed Mode.

These settings should not be modified until Fedora installation media is created as altering the settings will result in the current Operating System from Booting.

Expert Key Management should be Disabled by default:

Integrated Devices

You can use the UEFI BIOS to optionally Enable or Disable your Camera and Audio Devices:

Many modern systems will have Thunderbolt ports. The default Thuderbolt settings should be:

In my case I am attaching my XPS 13 9305 to a Dell WD19TB and have enabled all the Thunderbolt preboot technologies so I could output the video to a USB Capture Device to get the screen shots of the installation.

Keyboard

By default the FN lock will be configured to use the multimedia keys primarily by default and the function keys respond secondarily when the FN key is held down. To switch this behaviour you can optionally change the Lock Mode to Standard:

Updating the Dell UEFI BIOS

Before installing Fedora we want to make sure that our (UEFI) BIOS is at the latest version as it may contain some fixes which facilitate the Fedora Installation. The latest BIOS Update should be downloaded from the Dell Website:

Change the category to (UEFI) BIOS and download the latest (UEFI) BIOS Update for your model:

Save the UEFI BIOS Update to your Fedora USB Flash Drive.

We can update the Dell UEFI BIOS from the Dell UEFI BIOS Boot Menu. Power off your Dell. Insert your Fedora Bootable USB and power up your Dell and press [F12]:

To the left hand side your Fedora Bootable USB will be listed, we don't want to select it just now. Instead select BIOS Update:

Then select Flash from File:

Select your USB Flash Drive:

Select your UEFI BIOS Update and then Submit:

The version of the current UEFI BIOS revision and the version of the UEFI BIOS Update will be listed. Select Update (UEFI) BIOS. If it is current you don't need to Update. Otherwise select Update (UEFI) BIOS:

Select Confirm Update (UEFI) BIOS:

Your systems UEFI BIOS will be updated and then restart:

Removing Old Boot Entries and Dell Data Wipe

Power off your Dell. To enter the (UEFI) BIOS Setup power up your Dell and press [F2]:

Select the Boot Configuration tab to the left hand side. To prevent confusion delete any Boot Entries from a previous Windows or Linux installation, leaving only your Fedora Bootable USB:

Select Apply Changes:

Then select OK:

The Dell UEFI BIOS has the capability to Securely Erase (make unrecoverable) any data on a NVMe SSD. Select the Security Tab to the left hand side and turn on Start Data Wipe. Note that some Dell models have Dell Data Wipe on a separate Maintenance Tab:

Select OK to proceed:

Select No when you are prompted to Cancel:

Select Apply Changes:

Select OK:

Select Exit:

Your Computer will restart and the Dell Security Manager will display the Data Wipe Operation. Select Continue:

Select Erase:

The NVMe SSD should be wiped in a couple of minutes. If the system has any SSDs or HDDs these will take slightly longer and several hours respectively:

Select OK:

Fedora Live USB

Select Fedora to launch the Fedora Live USB:

The Dell splash screen will display and the Fedora Live USB Environment will load:

On the next screen you have the option to "Try Fedora" or "Install Fedora to Solid State Drive":

The "Try Fedora" option essentially copies a number of processes to RAM and uses your USB Flash Drive in place of a Solid State Drive. Because the access time of the USB Flash Drive is slower than a Solid State Drive, the Fedora Live USB will perform worse than a physical install. The Fedora Live USB will also use a more basic driver set which won't be as optimised for your computer.

Installing Fedora

Language and Keyboard Layout

To the left hand side, select your language and then to the right, select your keyboard layout and then select Continue:

Select Keyboard again:

Then your Keyboard and then select Done:

Now select Time & Date:

Select your Location on the map or use the dropdown boxes to select your capital city, then select Done:

Installation Destination

Now select Installation Destination:

Make sure your Drive is checked with the black tick (in some cases you need to double click it), then select Done:

Select Begin Installation:

The progress bar will increment. When Finished select Finish Installation:

You will now have to exit the Fedora Live USB. Select the power icon to the top right, then Power Off and then Restart:

Select Restart:

The system will Reboot:

Network

You will now be taken to the Fedora Out of the Box Experience (OOBE) Setup. Select Start Setup:

Select your Wireless Network:

Input your Wi-Fi password and select COnnect:

Select Next:

Privacy Settings and Third-Party Repositories

Enable Location Services if you want to use features like maps or want to access localised news. Enable automatic Problem Reporting if you want to help RedHat and other developers improve Fedora. Once you have made your selection select Next:

Manufacturers such as Intel, AMD and Broadcom in particular are very good at providing open-source drivers which become incorporated within the Linux kernel. Since these vendors typically make the chipset, processors and wireless cards, in the vast majority of cases hardware will work out of the box using either a Linux Live USB or a Linux Installation.

Other chip manufacturers such as NVIDIA tend to only provide closed-source drivers which have limited options for tweaking and tinkering with. When there is no open-source driver provided by a manufacturer, a generic open-source driver will be used which usually won't take full advantage of the devices capabilities again resulting in reduced performance.

Some media companies also only produce close-sourced multimedia codecs. These multi-media codecs are mainly used by the browser for playback from streaming services such as Disney Plus, NetFlix, Amazon and so on.

By default the Third-Party Repositories are not enabled. Note when these are enabled the software from these repositories is not automatically installed but can be readily searched for and installed in Software. These small number of third-party external repositories include NVIDIA and Google and therefore include drivers and codecs that all signed with a Microsoft Digital Signature and will pass Secure Boot. Installing the NVIDIA driver will increase video performance and the Google Chrome Browser has inbuilt multi-media codecs not installed by default in the open-source Firefox or Chromium Browser.

Once enabled, select Next:

User Account Setup

You will next be taken to the User Account Setup. You can optionally connect to your Online Accounts:

Input your full name and username. Your username should be all lower case with no special characters:

Note that the user name is going to dictate the name of your home directory. In my case, the full address is:

/home/philip

The short hand abbreviation for this location (when accessed in the terminal via your user account post-installation) is:

~

Input a password and confirm it then select Next:

Select Start Using Fedora Linux:

GNOME3 Desktop Environment User Interface Tour

Fedora is now installed with the GNOME Desktop Environment:

You will now be presented with the GNOME3 tour. Select Take Tour or Skip:

Select Next to start the Tour:

In GNOME3, windows only have a close button by default. There is no minimise and maximise button. Multiple programs can be opened:

And they can be snapped, to the left, right or top. For example snapping Files to the left:

Then Chromium to the right:

Notice that these are now on top of the other windows:

Notice that the Dock is hidden and only the smaller Activities bar shows. We can move our mouse to the top left corner to open Activities:

Doing so will show all Applications that are open and you can click on a specific window to bring it to the top. Alternatively you have access to the Dock which shows opened and pinned applications. The last icon on the Dock opens the all Applications screen:

We can now for example select Google Chrome and snap it to the top:

Pressing the "super key" (otherwise known as the Windows key) also brings up Activities:

When in Activities a search bar will also be available to the top. You can use it to quickly search for an Application by typing in the application name:

Workspaces i.e. Virtual Desktops are also available from the Activities:

You can select a New Virtual Desktop by going to the right:

The Desktop Preview will display Activities Open in the selected workspace however the Dock will display Activities open in all Workspaces. Clicking the File Icon again for example would revert us back to Workspace 1 where Files is open. Right clicking the File Icon and selecting New Window will open a new Files window in Workspace 2.

Now selecting the Files Icon in Workspace 2 will bring the Files window on Workspace 2 to the top:

If another instance of Files is open and Software is also opened in Workspace 2:

Selecting the Files Icon will bring the two instances of Files in Workspace 2 to the top:

The GNOME3 Desktop Environment handles traditional mice and touchpads differently. The mouse has a left click and a right click. The touchpad usually has a left and right click button but it also has a pressure sensor. The GNOME3 Desktop in Fedora uses only the pressure sensor in the Touchpad:

  • If you press down with one finger, you will get a left click, regardless if you click to the left or right of the touchpad.
  • If you press down with two fingers, you will get a right click.
  • If you press down with three fingers you will get a middle click (which is essentially a copy and paste button).

There are also new 3 finger gestures. Sliding up and down will scroll through the open activities. Note that you want to slide and not press down as pressing down activates the middle click.

Sliding left and right will scroll between the Workspaces (Virtual Desktops):

That is the end of the GNOME3 tour:

Software

Software is found pinned to the Dock by default:

Software is integrated with the Operating System and can be used to install Software from Fedora Repositories and to Update the Operating System.

Updates

Select Download to Download all the Software Updates:

Once Downloaded, select Restart & Update:

Your computer will Restart and the Software Updates will proceed:

When you are logged back in you will get a notification below the Title Bar. You can optinally click this to view the Software Updates that were Installed:

Drivers (closed-source)

Scroll down to the bottom of the Software Explore tab and select Drivers:

The NVIDIA driver is listed, this is only required if you have a NVIDIA graphics card. There is a new and a previous version of the driver. In most cases you only want the New Driver. Select it:

Select Install:

Note the driver is listed as "Potentially Unsafe" as it is from a third-party repository from a vendor with proprietary code. This driver is provided directly by NVIDIA so can be generally considered as "Safe".

You may also want the Drivers associated Control Panel. This isn't listed under drivers so search for NVIDIA:

Once again there is a version associated with the new driver and previous driver respectively. Select the newest one (usually at the top):

Scroll down and check the driver version before installing:

Codecs

Open-source codecs are installed by default. However closed-source multimedia codecs may be required for video playback from streaming services such as Disney Plus, NetFlix, Amazon and so on. These are not installed by default as it would require a change in Fedora's software licensing agreement however can be accessed by scrolling down to the bottom and selecting Codecs:

The H.264 codec in particular is provided for video playback in the open source Firefox and Chromium Browser:

HTML5Test can be used to test the browsers. Google Chrome performs the best because it has Google's multimedia codecs prebundled however Chromium with these additional multimedia codecs isn't too far off. Firefox lacks a lot of functionality in comparison:

Official and Selected Third-Party Repositories

Chromium and Google Chrome can be installed by searching for them and installing them respectively:

The only software considered as "Safe" in Software are the RPM (RedHat Package Managers) managed directly by RedHat using open-source code.

Google Chrome is considered as "Potentially Unsafe" as it is from a third-party software repository and made using proprietary code. The published is Google and it uses Googles rpm:

Other Third-Party RPMs

At current only a small selection of third-party RPMs are included with the third-party repositories in Software. In many other cases you will have to download the RPM from the vendors website and install it. For example Only Office Desktop Editors:

Right click the RPM and select Open with Software Install:

Then select Install:

Multi-Monitor Configuration

Since Fedora has a new display driver graphics model the XPS 13 9365 and XPS 13 9305 now work as expected with a Dell WD19TB Thunderbolt Dock and external monitors. Fedora works seamlessly when attaching and deattaching the XPS 13 laptops to and/from the WD19TB Thunderbolt Dock. Doing so on previous versions of Fedora which used the old display driver graphics model resulted in Fedora freezing.

Thunderbolt Dock with External Monitor

The new graphics display driver model also allows each screen to be used at its optimal resolution unlike the old graphics display driver model which required a uniform resolution across all screens. To configure the multi-monitor display select Settings:

The screen positions can be adjusted by movign the screens relative to one another at the top:

As the XPS 13 9365 has a high resolution screen it operates with 200 % DPI Scaling.

I attached it to a Samsung 27" curved external monitor which is designed for 100 % DPI Scaling.

The optimal resolution and DPI scaling is automatically set for each screen.

2 in 1 Convertible Touchscreen Devices

The GNOME Desktop Environments natively handles touchscreen devices pretty well.

Touchscreen Keyboard

If using a touchscreen device, it is recommended to turn on the Accessibility Menu. Select Settings:

Then Accessibility:

Then from this menu, you can Enable the Screen Keyboard:

The screen keyboard should automatically display when you enter a text input field for example the address bar or search box of the Firefox Browser:

The touch keyboard also has Emojis:

There seems to be two bugs inherited from GNOME3 related to the Touchscreen Keyboard. Pressing into the address bar or search box within a Chromium based browser such as Chromium or Google Chrome does not bring up the Touchscreen Keyboard and the second issue is bringing up the Touchscreen Keyboard when the system is docked with an additional external monitor seems to freeze the Desktop Environment. Undocking and disabling the Touchscreen Keyboard and redocking resolves this issue.

Auto-Rotation

The GNOME Desktop recognises the IIO Proxy Sensor embedded within the XPS 13 9365. When the system is folded, the GNOME Desktop Environment looks at the position of the IIO Proxy Sensor and auto-rotates the screen and touch input matrix of the screen. This allows it to be used in Laptop, Tablet and Tent Mode:

XPS 9365 Laptop Mode
XPS 13 9365 Tablet Mode
XPS 9265 Tent Mode

Note the Lock Screen Rotation option is only available when the 2 in 1 Touchscreen Device is folded:

Note when the system is unfolded it is assumed to be in Laptop Mode and the GNOME Desktop Environment doesn't look at the position of the IIO Proxy Sensor and therefore has no option to Lock or Unlock the Screen Rotation.

Unfortunately if you unfold the laptop too quickly, the screen will be locked in the last orientation the screen was in as a tablet, you will have to fold it, rotate it, wait a moment and then unfold it for laptop mode to be the right way up. This is a very minor bug but hopefully it will also be addressed.

Below is a list of applications which replace the functionality of the most commonly used programs in Windows.

Browsers

Firefox is preinstalled and Chromium and Google Chrome is available as a RPM in Software.

Office

Libre Office is preinstalled. This is a functional Office Suite with Writer (similar to Word), Calc (similar to Excel), Impress (similar to PowerPoint). Draw (similar to Visio) needs to be installed from Software. While functional, the user interface of Libre Office feels a bit cluttered.

Another Office Suite is Only Office Desktop Editors which has a more similar User Interface to Microsoft Office. The RPM is downloadable from their website and can be installed by right clicking it and selecting open in Software.

This has Document (similar to Word), Spreadsheet (similar to Excel) and Presentation (similar to Powerpoint). Sadly there is no Visio alternative. This has a similar user interface to Microsoft Office and incorporates the most commonly used features however sometimes its implementation of some features is still a bit cumbersome, for example pasting cells in Spreadsheet transposed is much more difficult than in Excel. This Office Suite is however undergoing rapid development and becoming more and more useful with each upcoming version:

Screenshot and Video Capture

If you press the Print Screen Button you will get the following screen capture options, allowing you to draw a Rectangle Selection to Capture, Screen Capture or Windows Capture.

By default selection is selected:

We can instead, select Window and take a snip of Free Office Document for example. Then press the capture button to take the screenshot:

You will get a notification that you have taken a screenshot, this will be in Screenshots subfolder of your pictures folder:

You can also change the capture mode from screenshot to video capture:

Then take a video capture:

A timer will show in the top right corner, you can use the stop button here to end the screen recording:

You will once again receive a notification, the screen-recording is complete:

The recording will be in your Screencasts subfolder of videos:

Note the format is .webm and at current there are no options in the utility to change the video format:

The Vokoscreen NG capture is much more capable when it comes to Screen Recording. Unfortunately it is not in Software. Instead it should be installed using the (dandified package tool). Open the Terminal and type:

sudo dnf install vokoscreenNG

Note that the command is prefixed with sudo (which means super user do) and super user permissions are required to install software. You will be prompted to authenticate by inputting your password in the Terminal.

This program has not completely been upgraded to support the new display graphics driver model however its primary purpose of carrying out a screen-recording appears to be stable.

The frame rate and the video format can be selected. The screen recording can be began by pressing the Start Button and ended by using the Stop Button:

The video will be generated in the videos folder:

Photo and Video Editors

There is no inbuilt photo editing program like Paint. The closest alternative to Paint is KolourPaint however it is more similar to the Paint on Windows XP opposed to Windows 10. This program is also slightly more quirky and less smooth to use than Paint for example when resizing or cropping an image.

A popular image editor is Krita which is more modern and has more functionality:

There is also GIMP, the open source version of Photoshop. This is a very powerful program but it will take you some time to learn to use its many features:

kdenlive is a popular video editor and can replace the functionality of Windows Live Movie Maker. Unfortunately it is not available as a dnf, likely due to the need of additional codecs required for video editing. It can however be installed from the snap store using the commands:

sudo dnf install snapd
sudo ln -s /var/lib/snapd/snap /snap
sudo snap install snap-store

Although all the software installed above can also be installed as snap, on Fedora is recommended to use the native Software and RPMs where possible. This makes it easier to manage software.

Programming

If you are wanting to use Python for Programming and Data Science it is recommended to install the Anaconda Python Distribution. I have put together a detailed installation guide for Anaconda on Ubuntu here but it is equally applicable to Fedora:

The only difference is the browsers in Fedora are not snap packages and therefore JupyterLab will launch without creating a seperate configuration file.

Making a Windows UEFI Bootable USB

Want Windows back? Or want to repair another computer. No problem I have put together a detailed guide on making a Windows 11 or Windows 10 UEFI Bootable USB using Ubuntu. The instructions are identical in Fedora, except installation of GParted which in the case of Fedora can be installed directly from Software: