Highway to Dell, part four

(Continued from Highway to Dell, part three.) Before buying the Dell Inspiron1525 I did some research and I found a thread about PPP problems with Ubuntu on the machine. I sent a PM to the author of the post and asked of his/her experiences. I got this reply (quoted with permission):

I am no longer using Ubuntu 7.10 on this notebook. I converted to Fedora 8, have not yet returned, and do not plan to until the 8.04 release. Fedora functions beautifully in an unprecedented manner. My primary issue with Ubuntu was power management, which is a complete wreck. The screen saver, for example, would activate only sporadically. To no surprise, hibernation and sleep never functioned, and I would lose sessions consistently upon reactivation. Not that this situation is unique, but, on the other hand, Fedora 8 has managed to execute power management flawlessly and I have maintained highly stable uptimes of up to two weeks. I would highly recommend its installation on this particular model, as I have experienced virtually no drawbacks.

Ubuntu works fine for me, but if you can’t get Ubuntu to work properly it sounds like you might want to try Fedora!

Update Continued on Highway to Dell, part five.

“Novarra”, or “Surf Closed” or “How to put ads on all websites”

Swedish telecom operator TeliaSonera has introduced a mobile data service where you agree to view ads on every web site visited. This service is provided by a company called Novarra. The ads are part of the deal, so the customer get what they pay (or rather don’t pay) for. It also seems that they filter other ads! The interesting thing is that major websites, primarily newspapers, don’t like to have their content modified or ads removed so they redirect Novarra-processed requests to surfclosed.wordpress.com. The Norweigian Mobiletech site has more information and screenshots in the article Transcoding issues introduced by Novarra. Their article was offline for a while, but now it’s back with a small addenum saying “We are experiencing a constructive dialogue with TeliaSonera.”

an unknown filter was not added: DEFLATE

I looked in Apache’s error_log file and noticed multiple lines like this:

an unknown filter was not added: DEFLATE

After thinking a bit I recalled that I added the following line in the .htaccess file in the root directory for on one of my domains, but never tested it properly:

AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/html text/plain text/xml

The fix is easy: enable mod_deflate. On Ubuntu:

$ sudo a2enmod deflate
Module deflate installed; run /etc/init.d/apache2 force-reload to enable.
$ sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 force-reload
* Forcing reload of apache 2.0 web server...

Why did I add the above filter line in the first place? It was suggested by YSlow.

Update Another kind of fix is of course to remove AddOutputFilterByType.

Highway to Dell, part three

(Continued from Highway to Dell, part two.) The trackpad is much easier to work with since I followed these instructions. I also set MaxTapTime to "0" (zero) to disable tapping on the trackpad, and SHMConfig to "on" so that I can use synclient, gsynaptics or similar programs to play with the settings at runtime. The relevant section of /etc/X11/xorg.conf now looks like this:

Section "InputDevice"
        Identifier      "Synaptics Touchpad"
        Driver          "synaptics"
        Option          "SendCoreEvents"        "true"
        Option          "Device"                "/dev/psaux"
        Option          "Protocol"              "auto-dev"
        Option          "HorizEdgeScroll"       "0"
        Option          "MinSpeed"              "0.14"
        Option          "MaxSpeed"              "1.6"
        Option          "AccelFactor"           "0.084"
        Option          "SHMConfig"             "on"
        Option          "MaxTapTime"            "0"

I plan to play with HorizEdgeScroll later! It also seems like ndiswrapper was not loaded at boot so I simply load it from /etc/rc.local with the line below. There is probably a more correct way, but this works fine:

/sbin/modprobe ndiswrapper

Once when the computer woke up from hibernation it did not restore the X session properly, but it was possible to login from another computer and reboot. Such is life. I was not able to spot anything in the logs to explain this.

Update Continued on Highway to Dell, part four.

Highway to Dell, part two

(Continued from Highway to Dell, part one.) Yesterday I swapped hard disk drive in the Dell Inspiron 1525 (without even booting Windows Vista), inserted the DVD with ubuntu-dell-1525n-intelvideo-reinstall.iso downloaded from http://linux.dell.com/files/ubuntu/iso-images/ and installed Ubuntu. Everything I’ve tried worked out of the box except the wireless network. The Dell 1395 wireless network started working when I followed these great instructions and driver for the Broadcom BCM4310. The solution uses ndiswrapper and it is important to download the Windows XP drivers and not the Windows Vista driver. Don’t worry that lspci says "Broadcom Corporation BCM4310 USB Controller" but Dell writes "not USB" about the driver package. Do not bother with the bcm43xx driver! These things are now tried and seem to work fine:

  • 1440×900 pixels resolution
  • Wired network
  • Wireless network
  • Suspend
  • Hibernate
  • Sound
  • Trackpad
  • Sound playback buttons

The biggest annoyance so far is the trackpad. First of all I’m a TrackPoint guy and second the acceleration is unbearably slow. I’ll try these instructions later though. A note about DVD playback: When buying a Dell laptop with Ubuntu, they include LinDVD, but unfortunately LinDVD is not included on the ISO image. Swedish readers who long for a Dell with Ubuntu preinstalled could read about and envy Dell’s offerings to other European countries.

Update Continued at Highway to Dell, part three.

Highway to Dell, part one

(Kind of continued from About to buy a new laptop.) I ordered a Dell Inspiron 1525 on Februrary 12 and the delivery was estimated to Match 17. A few minutes to 7 AM this morning the delivery company called and said they were to deliver before lunch today! Unfortunately I had to call back and ask them to deliver tomorrow instead, but Dell sure exceed expectations on delivery time! My planned is to run Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon) on the laptop, so I was really pleased to read the Welcome the Inspiron 1525 to the Dell Ubuntu Family blog post! As this option was not available when I ordered (and maybe never will be in Sweden) I obviously paid the "Microsoft tax", but according to a recent article it’s more expensive to buy a Dell without operating system than with Windows in Sweden. Update Dell corrected themselves, but it’s not applicable to me anyway. To my great, great joy, Dell provides ubuntu-dell-1525n-intelvideo-reinstall.iso at http://linux.dell.com/files/ubuntu/iso-images/. Wonderful! I have a spare 2,5" hard disk drive, so I’ll probably change hard drive and then try the ISO image from Dell. I’ll follow up with my experiences!

Update Continued at Highway to Dell, part two.