Highway to Dell, part six

(Continued from Highway to Dell, part five.)

Yesterday I noticed a problem with ssh on the Dell Inspiron 1525: I could ssh in any direction between the laptop and other computers on the same wireless network, but not to a computer outside of the wireless network. The issue was already reported as Bug #237894: I cannot connect to any server. Conection hangs up at "channel 0: open confirm rwindow 0 rmax 32768". The solution – as documented in the comments to the bug report – is easy but a bit unexpected: Disable the wl driver and use ndiswrapper for the wireless network interface! As I already had ndiswrapper working in Ubuntu 7.10, i only had to reboot after disabling the wl driver and the ndiswrapper was used instead and ssh worked!

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.

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 //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 //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.

About to buy a new laptop

I’m about to buy a new laptop. I’m still happy with my Thinkpad T60p1 even though it needs a service to get rid of some heat problems and this annoying display issue, which has become worse lately:

Anyway, the new laptop is not for me but for my wife, so that there is less competition about the one we already have! 🙂

One option would be to get me a new laptop and let her inherit the T60p, but I have an 1600×1200 pixel display now and the Thinkpad T Series models with 1920×1200 pixels are outrageously priced! I need some really good new business for 2GooD Productions in order to afford it!

Miguel de Icaza observed that Lenovo finally offers Linux preloaded on some machines but I can’t find anything about that on their Swedish web site. It would be good to avoid paying the “Microsoft Tax” the next time a buy a Thinkpad!

When my wife found out that Dell offers their Inspiron 1525 with the design below, she wanted one of those, and who am I to argue? I’ll make sure the specs look alright and pray that I can get Ubuntu running on it properly.


(Image is Courtesy of Dell Inc.)

1 At least if I don’t think too much about the issues with the fglrx proprietary graphics driver from ATI.