The Dell Linux Engineering team publishes the open source content that is overlaid and used in the Dell factory for installation.  Because the original live filesystem from the Ubuntu media is used, it's possible to generate an image that emulates the open source portions of the Dell factory process.

By using an image like this, you'll get the following customizations applied on top of the standard Ubuntu image:

  • You will have the Dell recovery framework put in place that allows you to do a recovery from a recovery partition.

  • Adobe Flash will be pre-installed

  • AMD or NVIDIA proprietary drivers will be pre-installed if necessary

  • Broadcom Wireless drivers will be pre-installed if necessary

  • Additional packages can be injected post-install into the media

If you already have a Dell system with Ubuntu shipped on it, you should use that DVD to perform the recovery. The DVD playback software and media playback codecs are NOT included in an image generated by this tool. This tool will produce a system very similar to what you receive when ordering Ubuntu, but not identical.

Generating a Dell / Ubuntu image

To start out you will need the following:

  1. A copy of the latest version of the dell-recovery tool.  This can be found at
  2. An Ubuntu installation, version 9.10 or later.
  3. A copy of the Ubuntu Live DVD you would like to use as a base image. See the FAQ section of this page about CDs.

After you've installed the tool, you'll find it in you System->Administration menu.

If you run it on a computer that isn't shipped with a Ubuntu on it, it will offer the following:

If this is factory shipped computer, you'll need to start the tool like this:

# dell-recovery-media --builder

Base Image

The first question will be about what to use for the base media.

Any of the following are valid base targets:

  • Ubuntu Live CD or Live DVD image
  • Extracted CD or DVD image
  • Already generated image
  • Ubuntu Recovery partition from Dell factory or generated image

Other sources may also work, but will require some extra workarounds.

Overlay Framework

Next, you'll need a copy of the Dell factory content.  If your base image already contains this, you can use it from there.  Otherwise, it can be fetched using GIT.  Keep in mind that the GIT tree is fairly large, so it may take a short period of time for it to fetch.

If Dell has any support for this OS version, you will see it in the list of tags.  If it's not yet supported, you can use the origin/master tag, but keep in mind this is least likely to work as it represents the latest development.

Overlay Packages

Next you have the ability to add in additional overlay packages.  These are an advanced feature, and it's recommended that you first get your media working without adding in these types of packages.

Destination Media

The last question will determine what to do when the media is generated.  Either way, and ISO image is created, but you can optionally burn it to a USB stick or writable DVD.


The summary page will display all of the content you previously selected as well as optionally let you set the version number. 

  • If you are generating the image from a GIT tag, it will automatically be set to the version in the GIT tag.
  • If you are generating the image from the GIT tag origin/master, it will automatically be set to X00
  • If you are generating the image from an existing recovery partition or generated image, it will be set to the old version with a decimal and number appended to it to represent a variation of an existing image



Why are only Ubuntu Live DVDs recommended?

So the short answer is because they work best.  The long answer can be addressed in several parts

This is addressed in several parts.

Ubuntu Media

Ubuntu media is the only media known to include all the necessary dependencies for the GTK based Dell Recovery tool.  Xubuntu and Kubuntu media might work with some additional hacks, but out of the box will require additional work.


DVD media is recommended because it will include the AMD and NVIDIA graphics drivers on the media as well as full language support.  CD media will work, but you'll have to manually modify these things post install

Live Media

The preseed that is included is only tested with Ubiquity.  The installer used for alternate or server media is d-i, and it requires some extra preseed options.

What do I do with this image after creating it?

For directions on how to use and install the image, please visit OS Reinstallation

There is a dpkg error during install.

You may have performed an installation with the network cable plugged in.  Unplug the network cable and try again.

How do I add additional packages?

Additional packages need to be placed in gzipped tarball (.tar.gz) under the directory debs/main.  All dependencies that are not included in the livefs need to be placed here too.

Where do I file bugs?

Bugs can be filed at

Where do I ask questions?

Please subscribe to the mailing list at and raise your questions there

Where can I view the source code?

The source code for this tool is available at

The source for the factory installation overlay is available at;a=summary

I don't want my partition layouts overridden.

This image now has the option to perform an installation side by side with Windows w/ Dell addons or to remove all existing content and perform a fresh install. Please visit OS Reinstallation for more information.