Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 31st Aug 2007 19:36 UTC, submitted by dell/ubuntu laptop review
Hardware, Embedded Systems Starryhope.com has a quick review of one of the Dell Ubuntu laptops, and concludes: "Overall, as a Linux geek, I'm very happy with my decision to get the Inspiron 1420N. The notebook is by far the fastest I've ever used and it's comfortable to work with on a desk or on your lap. The price is reasonable and comes in quite a bit cheaper than a Macbook. Unfortunately, Dell and Canonical have fallen short of releasing a truly great product. With just a little extra work and closer attention to the pre-installed software and drivers, they could be shipping the perfect Linux notebook. The way it is now, I wouldn't recommend this notebook for anyone who's not a seasoned Linux geek." The review is slightly outdated (two weeks old) but interesting nonetheless. In addition, Dell may also pre-install Ubuntu on servers.
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it doesn't work
by jcgf on Fri 31st Aug 2007 21:51 UTC
jcgf
Member since:
2005-11-14

Ubuntu currently has no 3D video driver for the integrated Intel X3100 graphics card.

Even the external monitor port (VGA) does not work!

Unfortunately, without installing any additional software, the computer quit hibernating and suspending correctly after a few days. Trying either of these functions completely freezes the OS and forces you to hard reboot the notebook.


I see why it's cheaper than a Macbook.

Reply Score: 8

RE: it doesn't work
by hobgoblin on Sat 1st Sep 2007 04:28 UTC in reply to "it doesn't work"
hobgoblin Member since:
2005-07-06

i suspect its a hard to find acpi bug in the bios.

as in, you can send the commands for suspending x times, but x+1 makes the acpi support go belly up for some reason.

i can see why linus hated it.

sure its nice to have the os take more control of the shut down and power up of devices, but when it leads to every chipset having its own variant thats every so slightly incompatible with the next, its a game of wack-a-mole.

iirc, with apm it was a case of sending one signal to the bios, and sit back while it does the job.

given this level of mess with acpi, i dont want to know what kind of silliness we can expect if something like EFI takes of (so far its only apple that use it, thank god).

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: it doesn't work
by kaiwai on Sat 1st Sep 2007 05:01 UTC in reply to "RE: it doesn't work"
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

given this level of mess with acpi, i dont want to know what kind of silliness we can expect if something like EFI takes of (so far its only apple that use it, thank god).


EFI has pretty much taken off; look around, most computers these days use UEFI and has a bios compatibility layer.

Regarding ACPI; it wouldn't be so bad if firmware was completely opensource so that theere was a common reference base of which everything could be derived from rather than relying on individual vendors to implement it - and cause variations in the implementations of it.

Reply Score: 4

RE[3]: it doesn't work
by hobgoblin on Sat 1st Sep 2007 05:11 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: it doesn't work"
hobgoblin Member since:
2005-07-06

hmm, cant say i have noticed. my recently aquired asus motherboard seems to still sport a classical bios. that is unless they have hid the UEFI under a old fashioned BIOS UI.

hmm, i would have expected linux to say something about EFI at boot, but i cant see anything in the dmesg...

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: it doesn't work
by kaiwai on Sat 1st Sep 2007 13:40 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: it doesn't work"
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

hmm, cant say i have noticed. my recently aquired asus motherboard seems to still sport a classical bios. that is unless they have hid the UEFI under a old fashioned BIOS UI.

hmm, i would have expected linux to say something about EFI at boot, but i cant see anything in the dmesg...


Look on Pheonix on their products page. I'm sure some vendors are still using old BIOS but most have moved to the new tools which take advantage of the fetures offered by UEFI.

Reply Score: 2

RE[5]: it doesn't work
by hobgoblin on Sat 1st Sep 2007 19:29 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: it doesn't work"
hobgoblin Member since:
2005-07-06

ah, that explains a bit.
this motherboard is still using phoenix award iirc.

i see that to get EFI in any variant one have to go for either phoenix thrustedcore or phoenix securecore.

sadly the page does not list what motherboard models (or makers) use those two...

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: it doesn't work
by kaiwai on Sat 1st Sep 2007 21:09 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: it doesn't work"
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

sadly the page does not list what motherboard models (or makers) use those two...


The Toshiba I used to own uses it, I am not sure about this laptop though. It uses Pheonix so I'd say it most likely does as well.

Reply Score: 2

Ubuntu 7.10 has support for X3100
by bimbo on Fri 31st Aug 2007 23:06 UTC
bimbo
Member since:
2006-05-09

Well, the hardware is newer than the Ubuntu release so what do you expect?

Reply Score: 1

John Nilsson Member since:
2005-07-06

A working product?
It's not an Ubuntu release. It's a Dell laptop.

Reply Score: 5

Not as bad as it sounds...
by porcel on Fri 31st Aug 2007 23:11 UTC
porcel
Member since:
2006-01-28

From the review:

"Intel has released drivers for the new Santa Rosa mobile platform (including the X3100 integrated graphics), but these drivers are not supported in the current version of Ubuntu. This is the age-old story of poor Linux driver support for new hardware (and Iím sure everything will be supported once Gutsy Gibbon is released in October)."

I admit that this isn't ideal, but when upgrading between operating systems is free and only a click-away, it's hard to see much to complain about, particularly when he knows that once the laptop is supported, it will be supported well and into the distant future. He doesn't have to worry about some proprietary company disappearing and not maintaining the drivers as they are free software.

The situation will also improve because Dell will ship Ubuntu 7.10 as soon as is out.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Not as bad as it sounds...
by Vanders on Sat 1st Sep 2007 09:18 UTC in reply to "Not as bad as it sounds..."
Vanders Member since:
2005-07-06

What is the reviewer talking about? Drivers for the X3100 are available, Dell have failed to install them. How is that "the age-old story of poor Linux driver support for new hardware", exactly?

If Dell had installed Windows XP or Vista the X3100 wouldn't be supported either. If they didn't install the Intel supplied driver, would that be "the age-old story of poor Windows driver support for new hardware"?

Reply Score: 8

RE: Not as bad as it sounds...
by terog on Sat 1st Sep 2007 12:47 UTC in reply to "Not as bad as it sounds..."
terog Member since:
2007-03-09

The situation will also improve because Dell will ship Ubuntu 7.10 as soon as is out.

But until then the situation will continue to give a bad user experience and first impression about Dell and Ubuntu.

The computer industry and Free Software are moving at a very fast rate but Ubuntu is always lacking behind.

To improve the situation Ubuntu really needs constant upgrades to the most important drivers and software. Also some of the bug fixes should be made available faster instead of waiting for the the next release.

I'd also like to see monthly releases of Ubuntu which would have the all official updates included to the LiveCD. This would prevent the situation where the user has to download hundreds of megs of updates right after the install. (The rolling distros like Arch do this, they are not monthly though).

When I was using Gentoo it was very nice to see critical bugs fixed very fast. Also the devs were much more responsive to bug reports. Now, with Ubuntu when I search for bug reports, I often find that the devs don't give any response to the submitter or, if the bug is fixed, you'll have to wait for months until you can benefit from the bug fix.

I suppose that in Ubuntu's case it is because of lack of resources. I don't see any other good explanation for it.

Edited 2007-09-01 12:48

Reply Score: 2

RE: Not as bad as it sounds...
by JDoe on Wed 5th Sep 2007 20:57 UTC in reply to "Not as bad as it sounds..."
JDoe Member since:
2007-09-05

There is a world of difference between one person saying it requires a "seasoned linux geek" and another claiming that the fix is a "click away". Someone is smoking something here!

Reply Score: 1

Dell/Linux
by miserj on Fri 31st Aug 2007 23:15 UTC
miserj
Member since:
2006-05-15

I received my Inspiron 1505 with Linux and I'm loving it. Hopefully they will continue/extend the line.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Dell/Linux
by Jondice on Sat 1st Sep 2007 04:05 UTC in reply to "Dell/Linux"
Jondice Member since:
2006-09-20

I also am using an nvidia/E 1505 with open solaris; all hardware works great on it.

Reply Score: 1

josecc
Member since:
2007-07-03

I have a Dell 1420 (whitout N), whit a Nvidia propietary drivers and Ubuntu Gusty Tribe5 (7.10 alpha). Very stable and very good performance. But the writer have a reason: "I wouldn't recommend this notebook for anyone who's not a seasoned Linux geek."

Bytes!

Reply Score: 1

well... not a usable lapotop...
by pistooli on Sat 1st Sep 2007 09:24 UTC
pistooli
Member since:
2005-07-09

quick summary of the missing features:

bluetooth lacks a GUI frontend
lack of WPA support
encrypted DVDs do no play
3D does not work
hibernate and suspend stopped working

enough to qualify it as a bad release from Dells side... those could have benn fixed before its release to the market. sad indeed...

those all work in my (k)ubuntu laptop, so it is possible to release a laptop will all of those features...

Reply Score: 5

spikeb Member since:
2006-01-18

yeah i agree, dell should not have released it if it wasn't ready

Reply Score: 2

Nalle Member since:
2005-07-06

yeah i agree, dell should not have released it if it wasn't ready


Sounds more than a little like what they're saying about Windows Vista if you ask me. *smile*

Nalle Berg
./nalle.

Reply Score: 1

hobgoblin Member since:
2005-07-06

well the bluetooth was added by selection of the user, and it appears dell have since pulled that option from their page.

the wpa support is a bit odd. but it can be that the needed parts are not in the default install for some reason.

im guessing dell just put the standard iso onto the hardrive of the laptop. and last time i checked, that iso only contains freely redistributable software. in other words, if one wants to play encrypted dvd's, legally, one have to bend to the mpaa lords and get a third party player with the right licenses in place. they exist but are not common iirc.

again, lack of freely distributable software (in this case drivers).

the hibernation is a different beast, acpi is a hit or miss issue. and as it does not show up from day one, it could have been missed by testers.

i just wonder, is your kubuntu laptop a dell? and if so, what model? and how much of the stuff worked for you right after install, and how much did you have to config on your own?

i guess there is a reason why dell have not put this as a front page option, yet. and why they made a call to ati and nvidia to do something about those drivers.

Reply Score: 2

My laptop
by mwtomlinson on Sun 2nd Sep 2007 11:20 UTC
mwtomlinson
Member since:
2005-11-06

My Dell E1505n laptop is working very well. In fact, I'm debating over installing Tribe 5 of Gutsy Gibbon, it seems to work so well on my desktop...

Reply Score: 1

When ordering a laptop...
by CowMan on Sun 2nd Sep 2007 14:07 UTC
CowMan
Member since:
2006-09-26

...I wouldn't care if it worked out of the box. So long as I wasn't paying for Windows.

I can take care of my own Linux install from there.

Reply Score: 1

This is a geek review
by evangs on Mon 3rd Sep 2007 07:21 UTC
evangs
Member since:
2005-07-07

This is well and truly a geek review. How can you review a laptop where:

1) Bluetooth is a pain to setup. Contrast this with clicking on a menu icon in OS X and I presume Windows.

2) No WEP support (!!) in WiFi.

3) No installed audio mixer, so you have to install your own (!!)

4) Can't play DVDs without jumping through hoops

5) 3D doesn't work out of the box.

6) Hibernate/Suspend doesn't work.

Of the features that are missing, it is the suspend and Wifi support that is truly lacking for a laptop. Most Wifi networks use WEP. You hate it, I hate it, but that's what the majority use. Suspend is what laptops are about. The whole attraction of Apple laptops is how quick they are to go into suspend when you shut the lid, and resume normal operation the moment you open it. With this Dell, I assume you're going to have to cold boot each time you want to use it, so that's 2 - 3 minutes of startup time and 30 seconds of shutdown time? This is 2007, not 1999. No laptop user is going to tolerate that.

If this was a Mac, users will be screaming for the death of Apple. If this was a Dell that came with Windows, we'd take the thing and throw it right back at Dell. Only a Linux Geek (with a capital G) will be happy with buying an alleged Linux laptop with piss poor Linux support.

Reply Score: 2

RE: This is a geek review
by Howie S on Tue 4th Sep 2007 19:35 UTC in reply to "This is a geek review"
Howie S Member since:
2005-07-14

> Only a Linux Geek (with a capital G) will be happy with buying an alleged Linux laptop with piss poor Linux support.

I agree. I will add, however, that Linux users, historically, have been far more tolerant users on the whole. In the past they have been able to excuse not having hardware accelarated X, poor driver support for, archane installation rituals, and many more things that would have sent Mac or even Windows users running for the hills. I see this changing, however. As Linux breaks toward the mainstream, users are less and less tolerant of these issues, viewing them less as challenges to be overcome, and more as annoyances that iritate and dishearten. This is the evolution of the community, and in a way, a sign of linux's forward momentum.

The fact that Dell's first forray into the covetted and emmerging maintstream linux laptop market is a mixed bag is to be much expected. All I can say is "give it time." If the demand is there, they will rise to the occasion.

On a side note: I'd love to see a fully open source (drivers and firmware included) laptop from Dell, and others, something that could run gNewsense.

Reply Score: 1

good laptop
by guignome on Wed 5th Sep 2007 13:26 UTC
guignome
Member since:
2007-08-31

I bought one and love it. The only thing I don't like is the glossy screen.

Reply Score: 1