Ubuntu on a Dell Vostro 1500

This documents my installation of a Ubuntu 7.04 on a Dell Vostro 1500. It works well, but there were some difficulties during install.

Hardware

Nic: Broadcom BCM4401-B0 -- Working
Wireless: Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG -- Working
Sound: Intel 82801H -- Working
CD+RW,DVD+RW: -- Working, but not automatically
Memory: 2 GB DDR
HardDisk: 120 GB SATA
Video Card: 256MB NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT -- Working, but was kinda a pain

Installation

Sadly, installation was not the smooth affair I've come to expect from Ubuntu, but with some minor tweeks I was able to get it going. I've summerized the issues I encountered and the steps I took to resolve them below.

Post Installation

After the installation completed, sound, ethernet, and wireless worked with out a glitch. I did however, encounter some issues with using the proprietary nVidia driver, as well as the DVD/CD Bruner.

Video Card

As I mentioned above, to complete the installation, I was forced to switch the graphics driver to "vesa", which is very compatible, but sucks as far as preformance, and also does not support any widescreen resolutions. As I mentioned, the open source 'nv' driver does not support this card yet (or, atleast, the version supplied with Ubuntu 7.04 does not). So, this leaves us with the proprietary nVidia driver.

Ubuntu's Restricted Driver Manager doesn't even give the option of downloading the driver for this card, since apparently it is too new. Even if you download the packages (nvidia-glx) yourself using aptitude, the version of the driver provided does not support the card. So, one must get the latest driver from nVidia (available here), before you can install the driver, you will need the libc-dev package:

# aptitude install libc-dev

Next, install nvidia's driver (follow there instructions). Then, change the driver line in /etc/X11/xorg.conf to

Driver "nvidia"

Then, after restarting X, one will have accelerated graphcis. However, there is a problem. After rebooting, X will fail to start, and this error message will appear in the log file:

Error: API mismatch...

To fix this, I edited the file /etc/default/linux-restricted-modules-common changing the DISABLED_MODULES line to:

DISABLED_MODULES="nv nvidia_new"

I then also removed any links to /etc/init.d/nvidia-kernel from the rc*.d directories. This prevents that script from running during start-up. Then restart the display manager like so:

/etc/init.d/gdm restart

It should now start correctly on boot. You will probably want to change the resolutions now, you will have to edit the /etc/X11/xorg.conf file once again. In the Display section, find the sub section for your color Depth (I would recommend changing hte default color depth to 24 if it is not set that way already). Then add the resolutions for your display to the mode line. Restart X again, and it should be running with glorius high resolution accelerated graphics.

DVD/CD Burner

Initially, this did not work. Ubuntu failed to automatically detect and load a necessary driver. I fixed this simply by adding the line piix to /etc/modules.

Questions, suggestions, or comments? E-mail me: nricci01 'at' eecs 'dot' tufts 'dot' edu. Last updated 08/11/2007.