I have a Dell Studio 17 for my office computer. It’s a nice machine, but Vista fails horribly on it. The ATI driver for it causes a BSoD on average, once a day. I’ve finally had enough, so I’m switching over to Ubuntu 8.10, Intrepid Ibex.
I’m writing this post as I install and configure Ubuntu. This will make it easier for me to keep track of what I did in case I need to undo something later or if anybody reading this wants to make the switchover as well.
Ubuntu truly has an incredible installer. There isn’t much to talk about since it was so easy.
I even installed Ubuntu while keeping Windows intact. This used to be extremely difficult. That is not the case anymore. I simply used the “Guided – resize” option. This option allows you to easily resize the Windows partition to create a new partition from the freed space where Ubuntu will be installed. I easily selected to give Windows and Ubuntu each a 100GB partition. The resizing took about half an hour. My only complaint is that the progress bar went from 0% to done with no intervals indicating how much time remained.
Overall, the installation took about 45 minutes with most of that time spent resizing the partition. Not only did the installer resize the partition and easily install Ubuntu, but it also imported many settings and options from my user on Windows. If the installation is this easy now, I can only imagine how amazing the installer is going to be a few versions from now.
I didn’t test everything, but the machine seemed to be completely functional at this point. All graphics were fluid, I was easily able to connect to my WPA2 access point, and sound worked. Now it’s time get everything set up the way I want.
Two proprietary drivers were available after the system booted up: “Broadcom STA wireless driver” and “ATI/AMD proprietary FGLRX graphics driver.” I activated the Broadcom proprietary driver which was quickly installed. I then tried to activate the AMD proprietary driver, but it failed without an error or message. I decided that I might need to update the system first.
I ran System > Administration > Update Manager and updated all the installed packages. I then rebooted the system. After this, I was able to activate the AMD proprietary driver without any issues.
I use a highly-customized version of Firefox. Unfortunately, these modifications didn’t transfer over so well from Windows to Ubuntu. When I loaded Firefox, I found that I didn’t have half of the menu, the address bar was gone, and the View menu was gone so that I couldn’t fix it. I closed Firefox and decided that I would come back and figure it out later. For some unknown reason, I started Firefox again, and amazingly, it had reset itself back to default. Odd things like this confuse me and I typically don’t like them, but this odd behavior had a really good result in that it gave me a functional browser.
In previous versions of Ubuntu that I’ve played with, adding Flash to Firefox was amazingly easy: visit a site that uses Flash, click to install Flash, and you’re done. For some reason, this is different in Ibex. When I visited Youtube, I got the following message:
When I visited the link, all the options offered were for 32-bit systems yet my install was 64-bit. Needless to say, none of the options worked.
I ended up finding the following instructions to install Flash 10 easily on Ubuntu 64-bit.
$ wget http://queleimporta.com/downloads/flash10_en.sh
$ sudo bash ./flash10_en.sh
I then noticed that the backspace key didn’t take me to the previous page. Fortunately I found Fix Firefox Backspace to Take You to the Previous Page, which fixed the problem immediately.
So far, everything else seems to be working as expected, including the forward/back keys on my mouse going forward/back in pages and middle-clicking opening up links in a new tab.
I installed the following packages:
audacious, compizconfig-settings-manager, emerald, mplayer, rar, subversion, thunderbird, unrar, vim, vlc, wine
After getting those packages loaded, I loaded Sessions (System > Preferences > Sessions) and added a new program. I gave it a name of “Emerald” and put in a command of “emerald — replace”. This loads up Emerald each time Ubuntu boots. I then loaded the Royale Vista II Dark by dobee theme. I also configured Compiz using System > Preferences > CompizConfig Settings Manager.
I loaded up some videos and audio files and selected to install the required codecs. Due to having Compiz, the video flickered badly in MPlayer, so I switched the video driver to x11. I still have some video issues (such as the video not resizing when I change the window size), but I hope to have those issues taken care of soon.
I wanted to be able to use the Win key for creating hotkeys, and that requires a change in Ubuntu. Load the Keyboard Preferences via System > Preferences > Keyboard. Click the Layouts tabs and the “Other Options…” button. Expand “Alt/Win key behavior” and change it to “Super is mapped to the Win-key”. Now you can use the Win key for creating hotkeys. For example, I bound win+e to open the Home folder, win+c to run calculator, win+r to load the run dialog, etc.
I changed the workspaces from 2 to 4 in order to make it an actual cube. Just right-click the workspace panel in the bottom-right, select Preferences, change the Columns to 4, and click Close.
So far, everything is working very well. I haven’t hit any major problems except for the video codec issue, which isn’t a major issue currently since this is a work machine and not a general use machine. I’ll need to find a solution however.
I’m going to bring my laptop into the office tomorrow and see how well it does in actual use. Stay tuned for the “rest of the story.”
Did I help you?
I have the same setup as you, Dell Studio 1737 running Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid.
Like you, I also found it pretty easy to get going, but I do have a couple of small annoyances that I haven’t figured out yet and I was wondering if you had found solutions:
1) My microphone doesn’t work. The Studio 17 came with 2 different sorts of microphone, i’m using the built in webcam with the microphone array
2) When I adjust the screen brightness using fn+UpArrow and fn+DownArrow, this works fine, except that the little brightness applet stays on the screen and does not go away, and this prevents me from starting new programs etc. The only workaround I have discovered so far is to hit CTRL+ALT+F1 to go to terminal mode, and then CTRL+ALT+F7 to go back to the X Server.
Other than that, everything appears to work fine.
Thanks for the great questions John.
I found out how to get the mic to work. The details are in a post that will appear on the site tonight at midnight. In the mean time, I’ve sent you a copy of the post so you can get it to work right away.
As for the screen brightness app, I have experienced this and noticed two different behaviors. Most often, the app works just as you’ve described and refuses to go away; however, there are times where I adjust the brightness, I don’t touch any key or the mouse for a few seconds, and it just goes away on its own. I haven’t found a pattern yet, so I don’t know the fix. I’ll keep looking and will post an update when I find one.
If anything else stumps you, drop me a line and I’ll do my best to help.
Thanks very much Chris for the very speedy reply.
I’ve tried what you suggested, but I hit a snag on the way. When I go into the Volume Control, and hit the recording tab, all of the capture devices are muted (small red cross on the microphone icon). If I unmute them all, and press close, and then immediately open the Volume Control again, the devices are all muted again, I can’t seem to do anything to get them to stay unmuted.
Many thanks again
This seems to be a glitch in the Volume Control. As far as I can tell, this doesn’t actually mute the tracks; rather, it just renders them as if they are muted. If you click the icon to unmute, nothing is changed, but if you click it again, the track will be muted.
I tested this out by opening the Volume Control, unmuting the tracks, closing the Volume Control, opening Sound Recorder, and recording some sounds. It worked just fine, yet when I opened the Volume Control again, it showed all the Recording tracks as muted. I did another recording, and it still worked even when it said that they were muted.
So, this is an annoyance more than anything as it just shows the mute status incorrectly.
I also have a laptop Dell Studio 17 and recently installed Ubuntu Hardy Heron 8.04 on it.
One issue that I’ve encountered and that apparently you have not is the problem with the numerical keyboard. When I type on the numbers it doesn’t work.
Have you done something? Have you a solution?
Thanks in advance.
I originally tested out Ubuntu on my Studio 17 with 8.04. Things didn’t work very well (including lack of proper support for the wireless card). Since the 8.10 release was about a week away, I waited and tried it out. Things worked like a charm with 8.10, even when run as a LiveCD.
So, if you can, I recommend using 8.10 rather than 8.04 as my experience is that 8.10 works much better on the Studio. You might try running it as a LiveCD first just to see if your problem is addressed.
That said, I don’t recall if I had problems with the 10-key when trying out 8.04. Just to make sure, do you have NumLock enabled? You should see a light next to the “Num Lk” key above the 10-key’s 7 if it is enabled.
[…] one of my earlier posts, I talked about setting up Ubuntu 64-bit on my Dell Studio 17 laptop. I provided some information on how I set up Flash on my system. This […]
I installed the Ubuntu 9.04 RC on it and it works great. Audio, Mic, wireless etc. Video is still a bit iffy at times. AMD/ATI has an official driver package for linux now which may help you. I got a strange error when trying to install it but went back to the default fglrx. Man this version of Ubuntu is seriously beautiful. Very clean and modern. Alot of user oriented fixes have been made as well including notifications for just about everything now. I’m torn between Windows 7 and Ubuntu now. Both are beautiful, fast and very functional. However the video driver is a real issue for me. Windows 7 performs like a champ witheverything including Video. Just download VirtualBOX and install linux inside windows until they get the ATI driver ironed out. 🙂
Awesome Drew. I’m currently working on downloading the update packages. It looks like it will be a while. 🙂
I still have yet to try out Windows 7. I’m still so satisfied with my Linux desktop experience, that I really don’t care that much about what Windows is doing right now. I’ll have to try it out soon though just to see what people are talking about.
Windows 7 Build 7057 x64 is the one I am using. Far more advanced from the original Beta they released. If you want to try it download from newsgroups or torrent. Search for 7057 x64. If you need a serial I have an extra 😉
just installed 9.04 on mu studio17 : everything works fine out of the box except one annoying thing : fan control. The CPU fan is quite always on! It seems that xp and vista driver are handling the fan better… I have tryed dellfand but is making the keyboard and the mouse unresponsive .
What do you use for a fan controller? I’m not sure I’ve ever messed with that.
On xp, I tested with nothing, it seems that xp is managing (with chipset driver?) more effectivly the fan (wich is quite noisy on the studio17). On ubuntu, it seems that it is the bios that is managing the fan, and start the fan at 40%, wich means it is 90% always on after 1 hour of use. Would be nice to trigger the fan only at 50/60C. But dellfand seems not compatible with studio17
I’ll have to look into that jpph. As I said, I’ve never messed around with it.
I have a Dell Studio 17 laptop with a integrated webcam. I have had my microphone working on it before but i cant remember what i did and now it wont work. I have 2 options on the Webcam central and the one that works doesn’t come up. As i said before it has worked, but now it doesn’t. Does anyone know how i can make my microphone work as it is VERY annoying!!!!!!!! :@
I’m sorry to hear about your problems Hannah.
There are two different models of the Studio 17: 1735 and 1737. Do you know which one you have? You can find out by running “sudo lshw | grep Studio“.
Im not sure which one it is, i got it at christmas so its newish if that helps, im usless with laptops.
I seem to be having the same problem as Hannah. My webcam doesn’t work on my Studio 1537 with Jaunty. I can’t seem to find a solution on the web, any suggestions?
Unfortunately since I have the first run of the Studio laptops (the xx35 series), I have a very hard time diagnosing the issue on the xx37 series.
The webcams on the two series are very different, different vendors even. I’m sorry to say that at this time, I simply don’t have the ability to test the problem and I have yet to find anyone verify that they’ve gotten it to work on the xx37 series.
I have the same Laptop 1737 runnig 9.04 jaunty Latest version dual boot
Wireless connection no problem
Video seemms to be ok out of the box
Sound card updated to alsa latest version 1.0.21 Now it works fine
Annoying Fan always comes on
Webcam not tested
My fan never does that on my system. It may be due to the fact that I’m running a 1735. Unfortunately, as I’ve noted for others, I don’t have access to a 1737, so I can’t test all the differences.