Using Ubuntu on Dell Inspiron 9100 – part 2

I wrote about my first experiences with Ubuntu last year. It was fun to try it, but then I had to do some work and just continued using Windows.

So when I was told by a colleague that there’s new Ubuntu release – 6.06 LTS aka Dapper Drake available I decided to give it another go. And here’s what happened.

In case if you’re trying to install Ubuntu 6.06 LTS on Dell Inspiron 9100 laptop follow the links – I tried to put all solutions on this page.

First problem after upgrade was the network connection. I use only wireless at home and not being able to connect became a real problem. Setting up WLAN card drivers was a problem with previous version of Ubuntu as well, but it was quite easily resolved by applying solution described here. Unfortunately this solution didn’t work with the new release, so I spent quite some time looking for and trying different solutions. Finally I found one that helped on Unbuntu Forums here and here.

Explanation for why it didn’t work out of the box is I believe a classical Linux one: manufacturer didn’t provide open source drivers, so hackers reverse engineered them and wrote Linux specific ones, but of course those are not working on all versions of hardware. So the hacked linux drivers had to be disables and windows ones installed using ndiswrapper.

One one of the forums I came across the following recommendation: "
You may need to create your own firmware with fwcutter and the Windows driver, but that is pretty easy.  You just compile fwcutter, then run fwcutter WindowsDriverfilename.sys then run make installfw." No wonder that people are not flocking to replace Windows XP with Linux on their desktops.

Next problem was that sound control didn’t work. Multimedia keys on my Dell were working fine, and volume indicator responded in correct way, but actual sound volume didn’t change at all. I found solution here. Once again – the problem solution was to enable workaround in a driver for sound chip.

After these basic things were done I tried playing MP3s from my collection. Of course, it is not possible unless you install MP3 codecs that are not included into distribution. Here’s how.

One problem I noticed after doing that was that MP3 playback stalls every time I download
something from the net. 

DVD playback was a problem for me in previous version of Ubuntu. It appeared to be much better in 6.06, but to achieve perfection, I had to replace default Totem player based on gstreamer with Totem based on Xine. DVDs started playing ok, but MP3 playback stopped working. So I had to follow the instructions here and install XMMS.

Next thing I discovered was not working is YouTube. Flash didn’t work. Auto installation of Flash plugin for Firefox didn’t work either – there’s a
bug that prevents it. After installing flash player and plugin manually, I discovered that sound doesn’t
always work in flash. But then again there’s a solution for that too.

Adjusting mouse speed and setting proper display resolution also required some configuration file editing – Ubuntu’s UI didn’t do the trick.

What I do most of the time with my computer is – use web browser, listen
to the music, watch videos, use office applications, organise my photos.

I know that comparison of Ubuntu 6.06 and Windows wouldn’t be completely fair in my case – I got XP preinstalled and preconfigured with the laptop – but somehow I feel that I woudn’t have to search forums and adjust settings in config files to get basic things working.

But comparing Ubuntu 6.06 with previous release 5.10, I can definitely say that there are improvements.

Linux, even such great and easy to use disctribution as Ubuntu, is
still an OS for techies. It is good to see that it is going into the
right direction and trying to become a desktop OS as well. But it is
still a long way to go.

P.S.Quite good collection of links about installing and adjusting Ubuntu 6.06 here.


One response to “Using Ubuntu on Dell Inspiron 9100 – part 2”

  1. Хех, а я тоже поставил шестой Убунту на лаптоп. Причем, он поставил себя практически сам – в пятой Убунте появилась кнопочка что появился следующий релиз, и если хотите, можно проапдейтиться. После чего он сам выкачал дистрибутив, и сам все красиво поставил. Правда, у меня на лаптопе нет двд-рома; сетка только обычная, через шнур; и пользуюсь я им в качестве печатной машинки и для интернета. Наверное, поэтому все сразу заработало 🙂

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