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Update Skylake GuC on Ubuntu

As many of you already know, Skylake and other Intel CPUs now require graphics firmware blobs to properly run.
Recently, a new major version of the GuC firmware for Skylake came out. This firmware has already been included in the latest linux-firmware git repository but, of course, not all the distros are updating this package on a regular basis.
Ubuntu is one of these distros, so I had to manually update both the linux-firmware and the kernel packages on my own. This was easy to achieve though :-)
I was using Ubuntu GNOME 16.04 but it should work also on the other flavors.
EDIT: I am now using Arch Linux and it works fine also on it. The procedure is slightly different though (no need to create deb packages).

  • Download the latest Skylake GuC from here;
  • Download the linux-firmware sources with apt source linux-firmware;
  • Unpack the file sklgucver61.tar.bz2 and copy the firmware to the proper folder: cp /tmp/skl_guc_ver6_1/skl_guc_ver6_1.bin ~/linux-firmware-1.157/i915;
  • Create the needed symlink with ln -s ~/linux-firmware-1.157/skl_guc_ver6_1.bin ~/linux-firmware-1.157/skl_guc_ver6.bin;
  • Edit the debian/changelog file and either increase the version number to 1.158 or change the version number 1.157 to 1.157-0ubuntu1;
  • Create the package with dpkg-buildpackage -us -uc;
  • Install the new package

After the new linux-firmware package has been installed, verify that the new firmware blob and its symlink are present inside the folder /lib/firmware/i915. If they are, it is now time to change the kernel sources to use the newest firmware.

  • Install the needed tools with sudo apt install build-essentials dh-autoreconf gawk debhelper;
  • Download the kernel sources with apt source linux-image-$(uname -r);
  • Edit the files linux-image-$(uname -r)/drivers/gpu/drm/i915/intel_guc_loader.c and linux-image-$(uname -r)/ubuntu/i915/intel_guc_loader.c and change:
    • #define I915_SKL_GUC_UCODE "i915/skl_guc_ver4.bin" to #define I915_SKL_GUC_UCODE "i915/skl_guc_ver6.bin";
    • around line 588:
		else if (IS_SKYLAKE(dev)) {
			fw_path = I915_SKL_GUC_UCODE;
			guc_fw->guc_fw_major_wanted = 4;
			guc_fw->guc_fw_minor_wanted = 3;
		else if (IS_SKYLAKE(dev)) {
			fw_path = I915_SKL_GUC_UCODE;
			guc_fw->guc_fw_major_wanted = 6;
			guc_fw->guc_fw_minor_wanted = 1;
  • Edit the files debian/changelog and debian.master/changelog and increase the version number from 4.4.0-18.34 to 4.4.0-18.35;
  • Recreate the package with DEB_BUILD_OPTIONS=parallel=X AUTOBUILD=1 NOEXTRAS=1 fakeroot debian/rules binary-generic where X is the number of CPU cores available on your system;
  • Install the new packages;
  • Verify if the new Skylake firmware is inside the initramfs with lsinitramfs /boot/initrd.img-$(uname -r) | grep skl