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Posts tagged with 'adventure'

Victor Palau

It has been over 3 weeks since I wrote about my adventure with the Latitude 2120. Time for an update!

After confirming that the DELL image I downloaded from the manufacturer’s site seemed to work fine, I ran the certification tests on the 10.10 build. They all passed! no glitch.

At that time, I was getting ready to travel to Ubuntu Developer Summit (UDS) and I chose the lattitude 2120 as my companion for the trip. However, I was not ready to show up at UDS without Natty running on the netbook ;)

I created a USB install stick for Natty using the 2120′s 10.10 image and set up an additional partition for it, so I would have dual boot between 10.10 and 11.04. The installation process went just fine.

When it completed, I noticed that the Broadcom driver was installed but no sign of the Realtek one used in 10.10 to enable the SD card. But the sd card was recognized by the system! so not only the Canonical team had made sure all the good work from the DELL image had gone into Natty, they had also removed the need for one extra additional driver!

The Latitude 2120 also passed certification  for 11.04 and it is now officially listed on the Ubuntu.com/certification site:

http://www.ubuntu.com/certification/hardware/201009-6529

You can see from the above entry how the system is listed as certified for 11.04 (with notes) and 10.10 (Pre-installed only). Unfortunately, there were some regressions introduced in 11.04 but they were not significant enough to fail certification.

Hibernate does not work under Unity, or mainly it does work but X does not seem to recover after resuming. And the Wifi hotkey is not working, although this problem was also present in 10.10 but I did not tested at the time.

The Latitude 2120 served me brilliantly at UDS. Its long battery life was ideal from the long days in Budapest, its screen quality allowed me to keep up with work in a reduce display and suspend/resume speed made it very easy to switch between conversations via email, irc and face2face.

Next step: Upgrading from a DELL Ubuntu 10.10 Image to a Ubuntu.com 11.04 image


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Victor Palau

I left you on the previous chapter installing Ubuntu 10.10 image available for download from DELL’s website. There is also another bunch of files that you can install. The two that seemed to me most relevant are:

  • Realtek Driver – to provide SD Card support
  • Quanta Driver – to enable the display switch key.

But that will need to wait until the basic image is installed! And that is what happened about 30 minutes later.

The install completed without any problems, I rebooted the system and Ubuntu took me through the initialisation process. It looks like Unity is loaded and running well, I have also connected to my home wireless LAN without a glitch.

Time to check what is working!

Let me list the basic stuff that works:

  • Audio speakers and jack are working fine. The system auto mutes when you plug the jack
  • Mic (internal and external) seems to work too
  • Wifi and Ethernet works well
  • Web cam is working with Cheese
  • Suspends and Hibernate works ok
  • Bluetooth scan finds devices
Here is what doesn’t work:
  • SD card is not recognised
  • External monitor display works only if I select it manually via the “monitors” application
Well this was kind of expected as they both have additional fixes provided from the DELL website. Time to install those!

Guess what? They worked!

To install the Realtek sd card driver you need to download and run a dkms package. Installing the dkms package was pretty simple by following DELL’s instructions:

Custom Instructions for realtek-rts-pstor-pcie-media-card-reader-dkms-1.10.10_fish1.tar.gz:

1) Right click and extract package
2) Open up the debs directory that was extracted
3) Double click the .deb file and follow on screen directions. - reboot with SD card and now works fine.

For a good measure, I restarted my system and presto! the Realtek driver was installed and the SD card detected.

The Display switch key fix is a shell script and different instructions are provided for that:

Custom Instructions for acpi-disable-win7_fish1_a00.tar.gz:

1) Right click package and extract

2) Open a terminal window, and use the “cd” command to switch into the directory containing the script

3) Run the script using “sudo sh SCRIPT” where SCRIPT is the name of the script.

This too worked fine! Toggling displays between the external monitor and the laptop screen works as it should :)

What you wouldn’t expect in a Ubuntu image

The DELL provided image is clearly not just a copy of the ISO that you can download from Ubuntu.com. An obvious difference is that it contains some proprietary software. For example:

  • Youtube worked out of the box, checking closely Adobe plugins are installed in the image
  • Broadcom WIFI worked fine since the driver was also part of this image
  • DELL support software can be found if you search for DELL in Unity
  • Skype is install by default in the image

Next Chapter – Will it pass the Certification Tests?


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Victor Palau

Here it is!

Well that is just the box, and inside the box:

Unfortunately, the system did come pre-installed with Windows 7. I could not choose any other option… Nevermind, I plan to remedy this quickly with help from DELL.


The first step is to make some space in the system to install Ubuntu. So I booted Windows 7 and from the “computer management – disk management”, I managed to shrink the windows partition to 60 GB.

At the same time I started downloading the image provided by DELL on their website.: Canonical Ubuntu 10.10. Once the download completed, I created a USB Startup disk (System -> Administration ->  Startup Disk creator).

Pressing F2 during bootup of the DELL Latitude 2120, I got into the BIOS. Here I changed the device bootup sequence to check for USB device before the HDD.

Rebooting with the USB startup disk in place, gives me a few option – including DELL recovery Linux OS partition only. I have selected this and it is now taking me through the Ubuntu install process, including creating new partitions…

The adventure has trully commenced!

Next Chapter: Installing DELL’s patches


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Victor Palau

In a previous post I described the certification release of Ubuntu pre-install for the Dell Latitude 2120. This post seems to have drawn some interest on the process from both internally in Canonical and externally.  I decided that I needed to experience myself what a user buying a Certified “Pre-Installed only” system would go through from buying the system to getting the bespoke image from the manufacturer and ultimately upgrading to the latest “stock” Ubuntu release. The Dell Latitude 2120 seemed like a good companion for this adventure.

Without further ado, I introduce you my “Ubuntu Adventure” – the objective is to arrive to UDS-O in Budapest with a Latitude 2120 with dual booting  a DELL specific Ubuntu 10.10  image and the (soon to be) publicly available 11.04 Final Release. I will keep you posted of my progress with frequents updates on my blog.  Lets get started!

Chapter1 – Buying the system… but which one!?

The first thing that I did was to visit the DELL UK website and selected the Latitude 2120. At this point I got presented with 2 options.

It is important that you check the components listed in the certification at Ubuntu.com.  Manufacturers some time change components depending on local or as a refresher/upgrade of the systems. This new component can be not supported by Ubuntu.  The key components are listed in the front page of the certificate: Processor, Network and video – but you can drill down and see a more exhaustive list.

I know from owning a Vostro that Dell’s own wireless card are sourced from Broadcom and it seems that the two 2120s have the same video cards, but one offers multi-touch… We are good to go! I think I will stick with the cheapest option :)

Ideally, I would like to buy the system with Ubuntu already pre-install from factory. Searching the DELL UK site, that seems to be a possibility, along with other OSs:

However, once that I select the system I want to buy, I am only presented with two flavours of Windows 7 as pre-install options… Not to worry, DELL provides a page full of updates and ISOs for Ubuntu 10.10 specific for this system. Which will lead to more longer yet more interesting Ubuntu Adventure!

Ok, I have ordered the system! now to wait patiently for delivery..

Next Chapter: Unboxing of the DELL Latitude 2120


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