Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid Lynx) On Dell Vostro 1520

Dell's Vostro 1520 is a solid notebook for work because of its sturdy build, non-glossy 4:3 screen and performance/price. Ubuntu's latest release on this would be a perfect setup for programmers. However, there are a few quirks here and there with hardware support. Here's what I did to fix them.

Download the desktop ISO for i386 platform and install normally. I chose to mount /home and /stuff on separate partitions so that I always have the option of chosing upgrade or fresh install when the next release comes around. Dual booting with Windows XP/Vista is no more necessary because of VirtualBox.

Remember to stay connected to the Internet during the install. This makes some restricted drivers, like for broadcom wireless card, available to you automatically.

Once the install is complete, restart your notebook. Connect to the net using ethernet and install all available updates using System->Administration->Update Manager.

First problem is that wireless card does not work. NetworkManager menu shows that "wireless is disabled". Go to System->Administration->Hardware Drivers and activate the Broadcom STA wireless drivers. Restart the computer. However, wireless will still not work. To fix, do the following:

sudo rmmod dell_laptop

At this point, wireless indicator will light up and after a while, you'll be able to connect to the available wi-fi access points. However, the dell_laptop kernel module will get loaded again on bootup and hence, the fix is not permanent. Let's make it so:

echo 'blacklist dell_laptop' | sudo tee /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist-custom

Wireless should be working fine from now on.

Next, let's make your Tata Photon+ wireless broadband card work. The modemmanager package shipped with Lucid is buggy. Hardik has created a patched version which solves this problem. Here are the instructions.

After verifying that bluetooth, webcam, memorycard, touchpad and sound are working fine, it's now time to install a few additional packages. First, let's get multimedia support with audio and video codecs, flash and Java plugins, MS fonts:

sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras vlc

Some basic utilities:

sudo apt-get install pidgin liferea chmsee inkscape wine cheese gthumb

Now let's make the system programmer-friendly:

sudo apt-get install openvpn network-manager-openvpn ssh virtualbox meld

You might face difficulties in using VPN with NetworkManager. Apply this patch to fix this problem.

More goodies:

sudo apt-get install build-essential subversion git-core gitk git-gui

Do not forget to install these Firefox extensions:

  • Firebug
  • Web Developer Toolbar
  • Screengrab
  • YSlow
  • AdBlock Plus

Install Google Chrome. It's a great browser for daily usage and you will also be able to test your websites with WebKit.

And finally, a web developer's toolbox:

sudo apt-get install apache2 mysql-server ruby-full sun-java6-jdk

Enjoy!