What is Dell System Software?

Dell System Software (DSS) is a utility that provides critical updates and patches for client operating systems running on Dell client hardware. Dell System Software is necessary for correct operation of your Dell computer. The program automatically detects your computer and operating system and installs updates appropriate for your configuration. Enterprise customers often deploy a custom image to their Dell systems. If you are reinstalling the operating system it is important that this software be installed as soon as possible.

For example, the current version of DSS for the Optiplex 960 includes Microsft Knowledge Base Article 954434, which fixes an issue when resuming from hibernation on a multiprocessor computer. Another great example of a hotfix included in DSS for Windows XP x86 is Microsoft Knowledge Base Article 835221 - without this hotfix, the Audio driver does not install properly.

Now that we understand the importance of DSS, Let's find out how to use it.

Dell Support Model Selection Screen - Latitude E4310

Downloading DSS

Go to http://support.dell.com to the Drivers and Downloads page, and enter your Dell computer model and operating system version. Once the list of Most Recent Drivers and Downloads appears, you will likely need to click on the "View All" link at the top of the list of drivers.

Scroll down to the bottom to the list of all drivers and look for the System Utilities group. Expand the group and look for the file called Dell "System Software" and download the file.

Dell System Software Screenshot


A couple notes about downloading DSS:

  • Older Models (e.g., Latitude D620) used the name "Notebook System Software", and for Desktops, "Desktop System Software".
  • One DSS download may support multiple models (e.g., the DSS install for the Latitude E4300 on Windows Vista x86 support over 15 Dell business client models). Reivew the "Compatibility" section of the download page, or reivew the .txt file when you extract the files.
  • DSS is available per supported operating system and architecture. (e.g., for the Latitude E4300, you have three different DSS Downloads-Vista x64, Vista x86, and XP x86).
  • Not all Models have (or need) a DSS Package. Reivew the downloads section for the model in question to see if DSS is required.


Installing DSS

Extract the downloaded executable to a directory using one of the following methods:
  • Use your favorite extraction utilitity (e.g., winzip or 7-zip), right-click on the downloade executable, and extract files to a new directory.
  • Double-click the executable that you downloaded, and configure the extraction path (by default, C:\Dell\Drivers\Rxxxxx), and click OK. After the files have been extracted, the installation will immediately start. (If you only wanted to unpack the extracted files, simply select cancel to stop the installation of DSS on the existing system.)
Three files appear when you extract:

  • readme.txt - Provides installation and deployment instructions, command-line arguments, and information to reduce the package size in Windows XP 32-bit.
  • version.txt - Tells you exactly which systems are applicable for this installation.
  • systemsoftware.msi - the full installation source - verify that you have installed it.
To install DSS, you can launch the .msi directly (e.g., "systemsoftware.msi"), and all standard windows installer command line arguments are supported.The following table provides example command lines that you can use to install DSS:
Command Line Description
msiexec /i systemsoftware.msi default installation with dialogs
msiexec /i systemsoftware.msi /passive /forcerestart unattended installation with visible progress dialog. force a restart after installation
msiexec /i systemsoftware.msi /quiet /norestart unattended installation with no visible dialog. Prevent a restart (even if one is required for changes to take effect)
msiexec.exe –i systemsoftware.msi TESTONLY=1 Use the TESTONLY=1 switch to identify which patches will be installed on your system, without the patches actually installing. After running this installation in this mode, Open the registry and look at HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/Software/Dell/System Software/<version number>
msiexec.exe –i systemsoftware.msi /passive /norestart BYPASS_SUPPORT_CHECK=1 By default, System Software detects your computer and operating system and installs only those updates appropriate for your configuration. However, Administrators may wish to install System Software as part of a hard drive image which will then be deployed to other machines, including those of different architectures and feature sets. By using the BYPASS_SUPPORT_CHECK command-line property, Administrators can instruct System Software to by-pass its internal system/feature checking and install all available updates.


Installing DSS into a Windows Image

If you create a custom image for your environment, and that image supports multiple Dell hardware models, use the BYPASS SUPPORT_CHECK=1 property so that no model checks occur, and all hotfixes applicable to the operating system are installed.

For additional details, reivew the DSS readme.



Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I installed DSS software when I deployed Windows Vista. Last week, I upgraded my Vista system to service pack 1. Do I need to re-install DSS?
A: As there are specific hotfixes for each operating system and service pack, Dell recommends you install/reinstall DSS when you upgrade to a new service pack.