Ubuntu 14.04 LTS on this laptop once booted works all right. However, the boot itself is a gamble. I often have to make many tries to get it to boot successfully. It can get stuck at unpredictable points during boot.
Any help will be appreciated.
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I have the exact same laptop, and I found the following: http://en.community.dell.com/support-forums/laptop/f/3518/t/19595872
Basically, add the following two lines to /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf:
blacklist dw_dmac blacklist dw_dmac_core
That fixed it for me, and now it works perfectly.
While I'm here, I'll mention that I had problems with the screen brightness not adjusting, and I added the following file: /usr/share/X11/xorg.conf.d/20-intel.conf:
Section "Device" Identifier "card0" Driver "intel" Option "Backlight" "intel_backlight" BusID "PCI:0:2:0" EndSection