8

"Software" shows me the following:

screenshot

It offers Install buttons. Click one briefly makes it change, but I can't read what it says because it then disappears quickly. Then a moment later the screen comes back exactly as it was in the first instance and this screenshot.

What does that mean? Can I use "Software" to install BIOS updates? Am I doing the wrong thing? Is it just broken?

Thanks.

PS. Running Ubuntu Gnome 17.04 on Dell XPS15 9550. UEFI boot.

EDIT: Dell thinks it should work from within Ubuntu...

1. Flashing a Dell BIOS in a Linux Only Environment

As Linux and Ubuntu distributions are becoming more and more popular on Dell systems, there are more situations where a Linux only environment is present. UEFI Capsule updates

If your system is listed at https://secure-lvfs.rhcloud.com/lvfs/devicelist External Link then it supports UEFI capsule updates and can be updated natively within the OS.

Ubuntu 16.04 and later natively will notify you for BIOS updates. The system will regularly check for BIOS updates automatically. When an update is available, a popup will be displayed to flash the update.

source. Nb. my system is listed in the device list page.

EDIT 2: manually achieved "System" update.

Thanks to @Rinzwind's answer, I manually downloaded the BIOS update from Dell, stuck it at /boot/efi (need to do that with sudo) and had the Dell install it from the F12 options. Now "Software" only lists the TPM update, which again will not install. Also there's no download for that listed on Dell's site. So I'm not sure what to do about that.

4

Am I doing the wrong thing?

Yes, I think so. There is a page dedicated to BIOS updates and it says about Dell this:

If you are using UEFI and your F12 boot options include "Flash BIOS upgrade", one may download the BIOS upgrade .exe from Dell's website, and put it to your /boot/EFI/ folder. Reboot and select "Flash BIOS upgrade" option. In the dialog select the .exe file you have just downloaded and continue with the process.

For more on Dell specific procedures, please see here.

  • Thanks, I'll try that method. As for me doing it wrong, it's confusing that Ubuntu offers an install button that doesn't do anything. Dell's website thinks Ubuntu should be able to do this (see edited Q). Sounds like a bug to me. – artfulrobot May 12 '17 at 9:24
  • Hmm. Or it errors out on the file. Start the program from command line and see if it does error out. – Rinzwind May 12 '17 at 9:25
  • Nope, nothing on command line. Ran with gnome-software --verbose and after screens of start up messages, no messages during interaction with install buttons. – artfulrobot May 12 '17 at 9:30
  • GLib-GObject invalid unclassed pointer in cast to 'GsAppRow' and Gs gs_app_row_unreveal: assertion 'GS_IS_APP_ROW (app_row)' failed in journalctl log on clicking the Install button is all I can find. – artfulrobot May 12 '17 at 9:31
  • @artfulrobot accepted? So you could update through bios? Glad you got it working. The Ubuntu version seems to indeed hit a bug of some sort. The 2 notice you post here are warnings from the looks of it. – Rinzwind May 12 '17 at 9:58
3

The feature you're trying is very new, and I've never used it myself, so I can't really fully answer your question. The fact that you managed to update it manually is good, but I thought I'd provide what information I do know....

About a year ago, a new program, called fwupdate, began to be shipped with Ubuntu. This tool is very minimally documented, to the point that I'm not even 100% sure of how it's supposed to work. As near as I can tell, though, you're supposed to be able to download a firmware update file, pass it to fwupdate, and have it applied by a matching EFI program (fwupx64.efi) when the computer reboots. It looks like you've run into a GUI front-end to these tools that's located a firmware update online and is offering you a way to install it -- but that tool is either not working or is working in a way that's leading to confusion. Perhaps you just needed to reboot after you saw the message that disappeared too quickly; or maybe there's a bug somewhere that's causing it to fail for you. Either way, you may want to file a bug report to make the developers aware of the problem you encountered.

As a general rule, I recommend against installing firmware updates unless you have a specific and compelling reason to do so. The reason is that updating the firmware on a device sometimes goes badly wrong. In the case of a motherboard, this can render the computer unusable. Many modern computers provide recovery mechanisms, but at best these require awkward operations with which you're probably not familiar. That said, firmware updates may provide important improvements that can improve system stability or even security, so if you learn of an update, you should review the release notes to learn what it does and decide whether to take the risk of applying the update. This risk is small, but if you run into such a problem, the consequences can be pretty bad, so you shouldn't take the chance if the firmware update is trivial or fixes a problem that doesn't apply to you, such as if it fixes a network-boot problem when you never boot over the network.

  • Thanks for your post. Agree about risks of fw updates, although these seem trivialised by including an undocumented and unreliable simple click button install as part of an end user focused general software app! Thanks for the info, will avoid using it. – artfulrobot May 13 '17 at 20:55
2

I'm running Ubuntu 17.10 (Artful) on a Dell Precision 5510. I was also prompted for a BIOS update and a TPM update, and was also unable to install them through the GUI.

I applied the BIOS update by following the steps in Edit 2 above: I manually downloaded it from Dell, placed it in /boot/efi, rebooted and selected "Flash BIOS upgrade".

I was able to apply the TPM update using the command-line program fmupdmgr. fmupdmgr get-updates will list available updates. fmupdmgr update will schedule available updates to be applied on the next reboot. I ran these two commands in succession and rebooted, and the TPM update was applied.

0

The XPS 15 9550 firmware update in Ubuntu Software has been updated, and it works in Ubuntu 18.04. When Ubuntu Software asks you to restart the system, don't reboot. The Dell XPS 15 laptop must be powered off and cold started in order for the firmware update to be applied. On the first cold boot, there will be some screen messages about updating various BIOS devices. After they are applied, the Updates tab in Ubuntu Software will report that all software is up to date

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