Ubuntu Linux 6.10 on a Dell D420
I got a system with:
- 1.2GHz Core Duo processor
- 1GiB RAM
- Intel ipw3945 802.11abg wireless
- 60GB hard drive
- a USB CD reader, (the cheapest option in the optical drive menu)
This part was easy. Really easy. Attach the CD reader, put the Ubuntu
CD in, and boot. Press F12 during the BIOS startup to get a boot menu.
Then basically just do the regular Ubuntu install, selecting your time
zone, host name, etc. I partitioned the disk manually, creating the
After installing, the system booted into X11, played the Ubuntu login
sound, and gave me a gdm login screen.
Configuration and General Hardware Setup
Some things needed configuring after installation...
The system booted into a low resolution at first. To fix this, I ran:
apt-get install 915resolution
Afterward, I restarted GDM and video was happy. Acceleration and
3D "just work" too. I can run Mplayer fullscreen with xv video, and
StepMania runs at a smooth 60fps at 1024x768, with just enough room
around the edges to show window borders and system stats.
wifiroamd from source because I like it.
It's a lot easier for me than any of the gnomey network applets, and
generally makes wireless just work automatically.
The ipw3945 chipset on this notebook works out-of-the-box with Ubuntu,
but it didn't automatically get on my access point. After installing
wifiroamd, it's quite happy and automatic.
The only issue I've found with wireless so far is a lock-during-boot
problem when the radio kill switch is set to kill. If I turn off the
radio then try to boot, it'll hang with "soft lock detected on CPU#0".
But there's already a patch to fix it in future versions, and it's easy
to work around.
I'm still working on this, sort of. I've gotten it to work well enough
that I can deal with it, but it's not perfect.
Suspend and resume work "out of the box" with ubuntu, but not very
reliably. Press the "Stand by" (Fn-Esc) button to suspend, then close
the lid and re-open the lid to resume. Suspending and resuming are both
very quick, but occasionally it doesn't work completely. I've seen it
fail perhaps 10% of the time (very rough estimate), in the following
- No response at all while trying to resume.
- Keyboard won't respond after resume, plugging in a USB keyboard locks the machine.
- Resume works, but within an hour, Xorg stops responding correctly to the keyboard.
Since the stock suspend stuff wasn't reliable, I installed suspend2 from
Trevino's package repository. At first it seemed to work perfectly,
except that it takes quite a bit longer to suspend and resume, because
it's using the disk instead of RAM.
However, I got a hibernate/resume failure rate of roughly 1/4, which isn't
high enough to be useful. At least, using suspend-to-disk... but installing
Trevino's packages seems to have fixed the suspend-to-ram feature. It
has failed (so far) only once in about 50 days, for a rate of somewhere
between 1/30 and 1/90. I didn't count how many times I suspended, but
it was roughly once or twice per day on average.
Another quick note: I found that the FullSpeedCPU option causes the
CPUs to lock at 1200MHz after resuming, but it's easy to change the
By default, the nib mouse in the keyboard worked fine, but the touchpad
responded rather slowly. I've improved it, but am not totally happy
with it yet. More details later.
The touchpad does not seem to support 2/3-finger taps, like my older
Synaptics touchpad did. And it seems to lag after taps before
responding. I haven't gotten corner taps or double-taps or dragging
to work reliably yet, though these seem to be calibration issues.
I'm using Conky to display info about my system, including:
- Time / date / hostname / uptime
- System load, number of processes
- CPU speed, CPU temperature, CPU utilization
- Memory total/used
- Swap total/used
- Disk activity
- Mounted filesystems, and free space on each
- IP address and throughput for each NIC
- Wireless link strength and access point name
- Battery/AC status, percent left, charging info
- Todo list
- Other misc info, as I please
Most of this works easily and automatically. For those who have less
time to configure stuff, Gkrellm also works pretty well.
Some things don't seem to be fully supported yet:
- Sound volume settings include Master and PCM, and that's all. I
can't change the PC speaker beep volume, and the default is rather loud.
So, until the driver is better, I disabled beeps with
off in my
I haven't tried some components yet:
- External VGA
- Microphone jack
- Firewire/1394 ports
- Wifi finder thing (use when system is off)