Ubuntu 10.04 on a Dell 1564

March 26, 2010

Last month I was delighted to be able to purchase a new laptop. This was indeed a very rare occasion and I was determined to get the best value for money possible. I spent months looking at all of the laptops within my price range and in the end came down to two options. The first was an Acer Aspire 5536G, with an AMD 2.1Ghz processor and a 512Mb graphics card, the other was the recently released Dell Inspiron 1564, with a Core i3 2.1Ghz processor; both had 3Gb RAM and a 250Gb HD. The fact that the Dell had the better processor and a nicer design tilted the odds in its favour, however the deal breaker was the realization that if I purchased a machine with a 512Mb graphics card I would never see said machine, as the kids would monopolize it playing games. So, I became the very happy owner of a Dell Inspiron with Windows 7 64bit installed. Once I had resized the partition I installed Ubuntu 9.10 only to find the neither the screen (resolution) or the wireless card worked. I tried with an 9.04 CD and found that while the screen resolution was limited to 1024×768, the wireless card, a Broadcom unit worked with the closed source driver. I hit the forums determined to find a solution that would give me the best of both worlds. The first thing on offer was to install a later kernel with 9.10, so with the necessary documentation to hand I hacked away. Many many hours later I realized that I had made a fundemental mistake, while I had the correct screen resolution, the wireless card stubbornly refused to work. Every time it tried to install a driver jockey-gtk would crash and I was back to square one. Back to google for a few more days of searching and the only distro that would completely support the 1564 was 10.04 alpha. One download and one cd lighter I had a fully working laptop. The alpha release was a bit buggy, plymouth crashed on every boot, firefox a bit more occasionally, but since the beta everything has improved, with very few bugs at all. So far its only been getting better, window control buttons aside.

Lucid Lynx on the Dell 1564