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Dellbuntu laptop arrived!

KWTm (808824) writes | more than 7 years ago

User Journal 1

Today, the Dell laptop (Inspiron 1505n) with pre-installed Ubuntu arrived today. I will post my review blog as replies to my previous journal entry about Buying A Dellbuntu so that all the comments and threads can be organized into one place.

Today, the Dell laptop (Inspiron 1505n) with pre-installed Ubuntu arrived today. I will post my review blog as replies to my previous journal entry about Buying A Dellbuntu so that all the comments and threads can be organized into one place.

News flash: Nope, I won't be posting it to my previous journal entry because Slashdot has archived that entry and its replies, and no one can make changes. What the tutti fruitti!?? Okay, fine, I'll post the review as a reply to here.

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What the Dellbuntu is like as-is (1)

KWTm (808824) | more than 7 years ago | (#19487085)

In case this thread isn't clear, I've bought a Dell Inspiron 1505n laptop with Ubuntu Linux pre-installed. Here, I give my observations as I'm checking it out. Other people [bryceharrington.org] have posted reviews, too (just Google for it), so I'll just give point form as more data points to add to the collection. Here we go:

(I took some photos too; if I can upload them en masse to Imageshack or Flickr, I'll do so.)

Dellbuntu arrived today!
- ordered June 4 with 3-5 day shipping; Dell promises to have it shipped by June 16, arriving June 20-22 (obvious underpromise with intent to overdeliver!)
- actually shipped June 11 from Sparks, NV, arriving June 12 by DHL Courier

- laptop is silvery, looks nice; a bit flashy
- laptop has this built-in:
        - ethernet port
        - modem port (does this work?)
        - VGA ext monitor adapter
        - S-video output
        - media buttons (Play, FFWD, RWND, etc.);
        - USB ports x 4 (2 rear, 2 right)
        - SD/MMC/MS/xD reader
        - optical drive (mine is DVD(DL)/RW)
        - slot for Kensington-type locks (to tether laptop to furniture)
        - audio in, audio out
        - 1394 = Firewire(TM)
        - ExpressCard (is that PCMCIA?)

- comes with:
        - Ubuntu CD (DVD?)
        - AC adapter, in 2 parts (from power outlet to transformer, from transformer to laptop)
                - AC adapter has nice strap and is shaped to wrap cords around when travelling --handy!
        - product guide
        - quickstart poster

- on startup:
        - Dell logo, then Dell End User Software License Agreement (in the product guide booklet)
        - there must be a reason these "EUSLA's" are pronounced "useless"
        - choose language
        - choose keyboard
        - choose time zone
        - set up user name / password
        - now you're set up. You can log on. Enter user name / password

        - It says "This computer needs restricted drivers that cannot be supported. Click here [on the Applications button] and open the Restricted Drivers option."

- first I open a terminal, so I can fool around and start partitioning
- when I type a command that is not installed (like "mc"), it tells me how to install it ("sudo apt-get install mc; make sure universe is enabled!"). When I type a non-existent command (like "adsfasdf"), it just says "command not found". Wow! Is this default Ubuntu or just Dell? I didn't see that on Kubuntu. Maybe (GNOME) Ubuntu is user-friendlier than I thought!

Partitions:
- on the hard disk, there are 6 partitions: /dev/sda1 to /dev/sda6
- there are 4 primary partitions, of which the 4th is an extended partition.
- Primer for the uninitiated: You can only have max 4 primary partitions, numbered 1-4; if you want more partitions, you make one of the partitions "extended", and then you can put as many partitions as you want (called "logical partitions") into that one extended partition. The logical partitions are always numbered 5 and up, even if partitions #1-4 do not all exist. On the Dellbuntu laptop, all four do exist.
- /dev/sda1 - 49 MB : Dell Utility
- /dev/sda2 - 2.1GB : Win95 Fat32 (probably the DOS diagnostics)
- /dev/sda3 - 201MB : Linux boot (houses the /boot directory --good move, separating it from the main partition!)
- /dev/sda4 - 154GB : the extended partition that contains all the other partitions, as follows:
        - /dev/sda5 - 2.6GB : Linux swap partition
        - /dev/sda6 - 151GB : the main Linux partition, mounted as root. ID type is 83
                Holy cow, 4.3GB of the main partition has already been used! Usually I reserve 3GB to install the root partition (and all the data goes into a different partition, of course).

Note: units are in GiBiBytes or Gigabytes or MeBiBytes or Megabytes or a combination of both (eg. 1024000 bytes or something) --I don't know which one is used, so take everything as approximate with a potential 2.4% error margin.

- turning off:
- Ctrl-Alt-Del does nothing; go to System > Quit
- Suspend (uses little but non-zero power): the Power LED fades on and off slowly every 2 seconds
        - tapping on keys, including Fn-F1 (moon symbol) does nothing. Have to close (fold up) the laptop.
        - on re-opening screen, screensaver lock appears in 2 seconds
        - session is restored once password entered
        - while suspended, computer stops functioning; e.g. script to output time every 10 seconds shows a gap where computer was suspended

- Hibernate (uses zero power): takes a bit longer to turn off (more than 5 seconds --sorry, went to bathroom in between)
        - Power LED off completely (it said Hibernate meant completely zero power)

Booting
- on power up, a brief message displayed for 2 seconds says: F2 for "BIOS setup utility", F12 for "choose which device to boot from" --didn't see the first time; hard to catch the brief message!
- then it says "GRUB loading --press Esc for menu", but that also disappears in 2 seconds. Be quick or computer continues booting the default selection!
- early Dellbuntu laptops (shipped in May or early June 2007) had a grub error causing it to fail on system updates; the laptop was preconfigured by Dell to boot grub from hd(0,0), but it should have said "hd(0,2)". My /etc/grub/menu.lst said "hd(0,2)" already, so it looks like it's been fixed. Good! Dell keeps tabs on error reports, and they do respond. I'm glad Dell (at least the Linux division) is not a company where tech support doesn't talk to component assemblers.

- trying factory reinstall: I created a subdirectory in my home directory. After factory reinstall, this should be gone.
- to be sure you really want to wipe and reinstall, it's not just typing "y" to "Are you sure?". You have to type "RESTORE TO FACTORY DEFAULT".
- then it runs the boostrap script /tmp/scripts/bootstrap/10-format.sh (sounds like a Linux bash script, not one of those DOS scripts in the FAT partition)
- after 15 minutes, it runs 12-mount-os.sh and 14-untar-os.sh. Guess it took 15 minutes to format the hard drive. Sounds like a "low-level format"? (I never figured out what that meant, but I guess something like formatting for ReiserFS is "high level" since it takes about 10 seconds to format the disk.)
- at 20 minutes or so, it runs 20-run-chroot.sh. Then follow some scripts that are explicitly chrooted (it says "running chroot scripts")
- at 21 minutes, it reboots and is ready to go

Trying BIOS setup:
- lots of options including which device to boot from
- widescreen can be set to stretch the display to use all of the widescreen if the display is lower resolution than the screen, or to keep it at full sharpness using only a smaller portion of the display. I think stretching the display looks dory, so I set it to a much smaller screen. I'll probably have to edit the Xorg.conf file later on.

Next: I try installing Kubuntu.
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