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Ubuntu on the Dell XPS M1530

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on April 21, 2008 at 7:54:35 pm
 

Ubuntu on the Dell XPS M1530

 

I have a Dell XPS M1530 with the following specifications:

 

  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo T9300 (2.5 GHz, 6 MB L2 cache)
  • Graphics: nVidia GeForce Go 8600M GT with 256 MB video memory
  • Screen: 15.4-inch widescreen, 1680 x 1050 CCFL (LG) with 2.0 Mpixel webcam
  • RAM: 4 GB (2 x 2GB) 667 MHz DDR2
  • Harddisk: 320 GB SATA 5400 RPM (Samsung)
  • Wireless: Intel 4965 AGN WiFi
  • Bluetooth: Dell TrueMobile 355
  • Fingerprint reader
  • DVD+/-RW slot-load drive
  • 90W AC adapter, standard 6-cell battery

 

It came with Windows Vista Ultimate, but I will mainly be running Ubuntu on it.

On this page I keep track of what I need to do to get 64-bit Ubuntu 8.04 running on it.

 

At the moment I am running the release candidate of Ubuntu 8.04 on my M1530. So far it works great, better than any other Ubuntu release I've tried before. There are some things I had to configure, as described below, but no serious problems or things that require a major effort to get working.

 

Harddisk

 

Some months ago, there was a problem that caused some consternation. It seems that under Ubuntu, many people hear their laptop harddisk click every few seconds. See this ubuntuforums.org thread for more information.

 

I noticed that the harddisk of my M1530 clicks too. I installed the package smartmontools and used "sudo smartctl -a /dev/sda" to see if the Load_Cycle_Count of my disk is increasing. smartctl does not show a variable named Load_Cycle_Count, but it does show Start_Stop_Count which seems to be similar / the same. It was indeed increasing after every click from the harddisk (every few seconds).

 

I tried using "sudo hdparm -B 255 /dev/sda" to switch off power management, but it looks like that does not work on this harddisk (it does nothing and the clicking continues). Fortunately, "sudo hdparm -B 254 /dev/sda" does work and stops the clicking. I use the ugly fix to fix the problem for now.

 

Touchpad

 

My XPS M1530 came with BIOS version A07, but the latest available BIOS version is A08, so I updated it.

The touchpad does not work properly with BIOS version A08. This problem is solved by using the following kernel boot parameter:

 

i8042.nomux=1

 

Found in this ubuntuforums thread.

 

Adding the kernel boot parameter can be done at boot time, by pressing 'e' in GRUB to add the parameter to the command line. To make it permanent, I added the parameter to the Linux kernels listed in /boot/grub/menu.lst.

 

Graphics

 

Select System / Administration / Hardware Drivers and make sure that the NVIDIA driver is enabled and in use.

 

Webcam

 

Works out-of-the-box, tested with Cheese and Skype.

 

Wireless networking

 

Works out-of-the-box. Click the networking icon in the top right of the screen, select my WiFi network and enter the network password. I'm using WPA2 encryption.

 

Bluetooth mouse

 

Getting my Logitech V470 bluetooth mouse to work was not difficult:

 

  1. Right-click the Bluetooth icon in the top right of the screen and select Preferences.
  2. Make sure "Other devices can connect" is selected.
  3. Go to Services, Make sure "Input service" is running.
  4. Switch on the mouse and click the Connect button on the bottom of the mouse.
  5. Click the "Add" button at the bottom. The mouse should appear (after a while) in the window.

 

Sound

 

Works out-of-the-box. PulseAudio, which is new in this version of Ubuntu, works great. I installed padevchooser, the PulseAudio device chooser. One of the features of PulseAudio is that you can control the volume of different applications independently, which is really nice.

 

Microphone

 

The microphone works, but it has to configured:

 

  1. Double-click the volume control icon in the top right of the screen.
  2. Select Edit / Preferences.
  3. Add "Digital" and "Digital Input Source" to the list of visible tracks.
  4. On the Options tab, select "Digital Mic 1" for "Digital Input Source".
  5. On the Recording tab, set the input volume of the microphone.

 

Fingerprint reader

 

I installed the package thinkfinger-tools but it does not yet work. I have tried thinkfinger as described in the Ubuntu wiki. Nothing happens if I swipe my finger when GDM asks for my password.

 

Remote control

 

TODO: Not yet tested. It should just work, see this.

 

HDMI

 

TODO: Test video and sound, but I don't have a screen with HDMI input.

 

Suspend and hibernate 

 

Suspend and hibernate work without any problems.

 

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