Inspiron 530n a Year Later

Well, technically there is still one and a half months to go, but it is close enough.

What has changed from the original configuration?

  • Upgraded memory to 4GB
  • I bit the bullet and reformatted the hard drive to upgrade Ubuntu from the original 32-bit Feisty 7.04 to 64-bit Hardy 8.04
  • Updated BIOS from 1.0.3 to 1.0.15 to utilize all of the available memory – without the update, it reported only 3.2GB

64-bit Hardy feels faster and it took care of the minor annoyances I had with the original setup. It takes about 40 seconds between grub showing up and being able to click on something on the desktop.

I initially tried to upgrade Ubuntu to 7.10 and then to 8.04. The first upgrade went flawlessly, but the second choked up on some package dependencies that wouldn’t resolve, which made GUI unusable and after poking around for an hour or so I decided that fixing it was not worth my time: I wanted to upgrade to 64-bit system anyway, and I felt that even if I eventually fixed the problem there might still remain small glitches that could make life difficult. So I made a backup of my files, took a deep breath and made a fresh install of 64-bit Ubuntu 8.04, which was uneventful except that I had to add irqpoll kernel boot option.

BTW, I also installed Hardy on my little Fujitsu P1120 laptop, and it automatically installed drivers for the touchscreen and Linksys PC-card wireless adapter! Although the touchscreen needs calibration, the mere fact that it’s supported is huge. The laptop is almost 5 years old now and Hardy is too heavy for its 800MHz Cruzoe and 240MB of RAM, and I need a replacement. The manufacturers finally woke up and smelled the coffee, and Fujitsu squandered a wonderful opportunity to jumpstart the market. As far as I know P1120 was the first in the form factor of current Netbooks (feels nice to be ahead of the curve by 4 years :) and it has always been a conversation starter. Now I am waiting for the perfect device to take its place.

The Ubuntu Inspiron is up and running!

I finally got around to unpacking the boxes and installing the new computer. Pretty much everything worked out of the box, but I had to tinker with screen resolution as only the default set of 640×480, 800×600 and 1024×768 was available initially, and in the end I had to connect the monitor via VGA – DVI was giving me problems I could not resolve at this point. More later.

Got a Dell Inspiron 530n with Ubuntu pre-installed

I finally splurged on a Dell Inspiron 530N with Ubuntu. I need a computer for my music workstation, and with the latest developments in good quality multi-track recording software for Linux I felt it’s time to give it a serious try. I was thinking of building one myself instead of buying a ready made one, but did not feel adventurous enough. I guess I’m getting old :) This is actually my first brand name PC purchase!

I’ve received it very quickly – placed the order last Friday, and yesterday it was here! I’ve ordered the cheapest configuration without the monitor for $379, $410.74 with tax, with free shipping.

As for the monitor, Dell needs to get real: $170 is too much for a Viewsonic VA1703wb – a widescreen 8ms 1440×900 monitor with no DVI, 500:1 contrast and 250 nits brightness, so for just $10 more plus shipping I’ve got a superb 20″ Acer AL2016WBbd with 1680×1050 resolution, 5ms response time, DVI, 800:1 contrast and 300 nits brightness from NewEgg. Dell should consider partnering with Acer on monitors – Viewsonic is a good brand but Acer beats it hands down.

Stay tuned as I get it into production, and post questions if you are considering a Dell computer with Linux but still undecided – I will try to answer them here.