Saturday, April 14, 2007

Your Dell 1501 is Ready

The Dell Inspiron 1501 is ready for Ubuntu Feisty Fawn 7.04. Today the last remaining bugs were squashed. I highly recommend you count the days till Feisty is released or hop on the beta and start enjoying the ride.

It's a simple matter of placing the Feisty disk into your DVD drive and installing. Takes all of 30 minutes and doesn't need pci=nomsi to install.

The broadcom card shipped with the Dell 1501 still doesn't work out of box with Feisty. But ndiswrapper works and runs the card very fast. Installation is extremely easy, the guide can be found here. Feisty's avahi network manager is amazing, best I have ever used on any operating system. It's a must have for any mobile users.

Works out of the box, just plug the cable in.

Reported that it works with a little tweaking. Everyone who wants to run Feisty but is stuck in 1996 can breath easily.

Card Reader
There was a bug in the 2.60 Linux kernel that caused the Ricoh card Readers the Dell 1501 shipped with to not work although they worked in Edgy. This has been fixed, card reader works great and now it asks if you'd like to empty the trash upon dismounting. Very convenient and works out of box.

ATI Driver
ATI's 8.34.8 driver is working really well for me. Installation is a snap too. The restricted Driver Manager does all the work for you. You can install the driver with four mouse button clicks.

Media Codecs
Feisty makes codecs easy, no more Automatix or struggling with adding a repo. MP3, DVD, avi, mpeg, wmv, asf, mov, flv, flash codecs are installed with four mouse clicks. The only thing not enabled is reading encrypted DVDs. Some programs can do it for you but if you'd like to do it in Totem use this guide. Word is you can buy it from Linspire's CNR which is being introduced in Feisty. Remember kids, Linux is free as in Freedom not money. If you have to pay to play DVD, bite the bullet. You saved hundreds on the OS.

It works and works pretty damn well. The trick is that you have to force bery-core to use 0.2.0~0beryl1 because later versions don't work with Xgl. It's not that hard of a hack. My guide can be found here.

Key Bindings
Work out of box, volume control, brightness, mute any function+commands. I have my keyboard set to Generic 101-key PC. After installing Xgl & Beryl I kept my key binding to Gnome's Settings.

Works out of box, never used hibernation before but I just tried it and think I like it.
edited by pHreaksYcle


posingaspopular said...

Nice work Matt, how about the full system specs though?

Synt4x said...

Hey there. GREAT Blog, it's helped me a lot!

I installed feisty fawn, and got wifi working... but, I have a problem with the ATI drivers. I install them through the Restricted drivers manager, restart the laptop and (apparently with ati drivers working), the resolution of the screen fixes it self at 1024x768, and I can't change it through the control panel.

Is there any way to change it?


lepree said...

There is still a question. How to make all the hotkeys (such as keys for screen adjusting ,volume adjusting) work on linux of inspiron 1501?

redDEAD said...

synt4x, I heard of another person having the same problem. Looks like it's a glitch in the beta restricted driver manager. Hopefully it will get ironed out before Feisty release. How to Change Resolution, you can look there for help.

Christopher said...

I'm using Gentoo on the 1501. I have everything working except keybindings for LCD backlight brightness. Can you tell me how Ubuntu handles this?

Cosmin said...

Christopher, backlight brightness is not handled by the operating system. It should work even with no OS running. With the 2.1.0 BIOS it is not working anymore in Linux (don't know why), maybe just in the bootloader (worked for me in GRUB). The solution is to downgrade your bios to the 1.7.0 version.

PS: Anyone interested in a guide for getting the wireless card working with the native drivers: no more WPA problems (at least for me), monitoring mode, etc?

Cosmin said...

Here you can find a tutorial for using the native linux driver of the Dell 1390 wifi card.

redDEAD said...

I'm going to have to try out Cosmin's link, seems like the native linux driver works with the new kernel updates.

tim said...

Just FYI: The modem is a Conexant chipset and you can get a free throttled version(14.4) of the driver from to test it out with, but you have to pay $20 for the full version.

I tried several solutions including using ndiswrapper with the Windows driver, but nothing else worked.

tim said...

Also note that updating the kernel to use the native wifi drivers disables the restricted ATI driver which in turn breaks XGL(or at least that's what happened for me).

Mathieu said...

Thanks for your feedback. Hibernation seems to work, but what about standby. Does it now work out of the box?

Cosmin said...

Finally I got the WiFi card working at full speed with the native linux driver, and using the original Ubuntu kernel. Tutorial coming soon.

Cosmin said...

As I was saying, is the guide for getting the wireless card working at full speed with the ubuntu kernel.

Matt, maybe you should edit
this post and add the link. At least for me, it is working much better with the native driver.

Seth said...

Thanks for the Beryl writeup, I knew it had to be something simple! I tried upgrading from the Beta to the latest and lost my wireles for some reason. I couldnt get it reinstalled so I just downloaded the latest 7.04 and reinstalled. My wireless and Beryl work great! Thanks man!

Lauren said...

this is great, I've been reading the posts and I haven't seen any about dual booting yet, I was just wondering if it's easy to get my laptop (dell 1501) to dual boot and if so how. I've read about the whole partioning with gparted and all. is that all I need to do? just make the swaps and install feisty fawn or am I missing something?

thanks alot

Mathew Chacko said...

Great. After seeing your great blog, I too placed an order today for an Inspiron 1501.

I am confident that Ubuntu will shine on all Dell computers.

Many thanks. Keep it up.

redDEAD said...

please let me know how it worked out for you

Kevin said...

does your wireless run at a full 54Mb/s using that, Cosmin? because mine seems to be inhibited to 11Mb/s....

Pete S said...

Hello. A few months ago, I had a Dell Inspiron 1200 running Dapper, and I was pretty happy with it. Then I upgraded to an Inspiron 1501, and I've been dragging my feet in installing Ubuntu, worrying about the stability of Edgy and whether it would even be worth it to attempt to install Ubuntu on a 1501. Now, though, it seem that Feisty has been very good to the 1501, so I'll probably try. I have no real problem with using ndiswrapper; it was more the pci=nomsi and ATI graphics drivers that had me worried. But if I can install Feisty and hopefully Beryl/Compiz, that would be great!

Cosmin said...

Kevin, somebody already asked me that on my blog (maybe you?). This is my response:

The driver is not finished yet, so there are some problems. iwconfig tells me that the card is running at 11Mb/s, but speedtests report something around 17 Mb/s. Anyway, the best speed I got was with the wireless card set at 24Mb/s, around 20Mb/s real speed. To change the rate, use sudo iwconfig eth1 rate 24M.
To change this permanently, you can add the command to /etc/rc.local, but I’m not sure if the network manager will let it like that.

lsutiger said...

Can you list the exact hardware you have? We sell Dell and we may have what you have in the store instead of ordering.

Ron F said...

1501, amd turion 2.0 GHz. 2GB ram, 80 GB (70GB actual) SATA 2 HDD. ATI 1150 XTreame Mobile.

Unfortunatly it will not even boot on my system. It gets so far, then the caps lock and scroll lock flash, meaning the OS is not correctly accessing the RAM. It then freezes and will not proceed any farther. If I had an error code, I'd give it to you, but it never showed me one. I am trying to install the x64 version with no avail. I'll keep at it and hopefully I can send you the fix.

Piers said...

Any hints on what needs to change for KDE/Kubuntu? My XGL login just loops back to the login screen and I'm guessing it has something to do with the line:
exec dbus-launch --exit-with-session kde-session

on a machine without gnome...

kuronosan said...

Hey, I'm also a 1501 Owner that has recently switched over to Ubuntu FF. Most of your stuff here works great, but I was wondering if you or anyone else has noticed problems with the 1501's USB controller under linux.? Mine seems to crap out under any heavy load. Works absolutly fine in XP.

redDEAD said...


What are you doing to cause it to "crap out"?

honeybadger said...

Hi. One quick question.
Does the stuff like USB Flash drive and/or USB ext. hdd work well out of the box.
Does the sound (and Mic jack) work well.

I am thinking now of buying this model of laptop (i choosing between Inspiron 6400 and 1501), but these two things are critical for me because i like to download movies and i need to use skype.

redDEAD said...

Yeah usb flash drives and usb hard drives work out of the box and work better than they do in Windows. Once you use these things in any Linux flavor you'll never want to go back.

The audio jacks work as well. I know the audio out (headphones) runs perfectly, the audio in (microphone) has been reported by others to be working.

e-ternal said...

WTF these tutorials are bulletproof. Thanks!

Got ubuntu Studio running great! And an xp part just there offline for only 2 programs used live so I never wanna crash. Acid and Numark Cue(w/TC Vinyl).

If there are any solid 'clones' of these for linux let me know then I can kiss windows good bye and kick things into high gear! Thanks again! (if my question is too off topic feel free to 'sigkill' me)

redDEAD said...


I don't know maybe some of the readers will though.

DJE said...

hi redDEAD, great blog without it i would still be getting really annoyed with vista!

I just thought i should point out this thread on the ubuntu forums:

If you hear a click or pop sound just before power off you should go here to fix it:

redDEAD perhaps you could do a guide on this so that more people get to know about it.

Apparently it could kill your hard drive if you don't use the workaround at the link above!!

Joel said...

Is nobody else having their computer lock up seemingly at random? Everything seems to work great, except that maybe once a day, sometimes not, the computer will completely freeze. I don't know what causes it -- sometimes I'll be doing email or something, sometimes I'll be away from the computer and come back and find it frozen. The caps lock and num lock keys flash when it freezes, and I have to do a hard reset.

redDEAD said...


Sounds like your computer is messing up. Call Dell.

sqlpython said...

Bios version 2.4 update. I picked up 4 of the 1501s for my office they were a great but at $499 with the AMD64 x2 and 80gb hd.
The came with Vista and Bios v. 2.4.x
I installed Kubuntu 7.04 on one and Xandros 4 Pro on another.
Xandros installed fine no need for boot parameters like pci = nomsi .
The big differences are Xandros can not use the SDIMM slot, nor Hibernation and no ACPI so no AC or Battery Monitor. Otherwise all works. WiFi with ndis.
Kubuntu 7.04 is a different story. All that didn't work in Xandros works with Kubuntu 7.04..
I am very satisfied with the install and will probably install all 4 as Kubuntu 7.04..why not?
The only annoyance is that after install I had 114 packages waiting to update. I wasn't sure so I took them all. If something breaks I will investigate and reinstall not sure if it was a wise move to install all 114.
Thanks for a Great Blog. I probably would have kept Xandros except for your Blog.I am feeding the kitty.

Favio said...

I have a question: does anybody know how to see the Battery State? I'm using Ubuntu 7.04.
In Windows Vista i can see a tray icon with that info, which says for example: "charge 70%, 4 hours left". But in Ubuntu i cant find anything.
Thanks in advance!

redDEAD said...

right click either of gonomes menu bars, then select add to panel, then choose battery charge monitor, drag it onto the menu were you want it. then you can customize this applet by right clicking it and selecting preferences.

steve said...

Joel said...

Is nobody else having their computer lock up seemingly at random? Everything seems to work great, except that maybe once a day, sometimes not, the computer will completely freeze. I don't know what causes it -- sometimes I'll be doing email or something, sometimes I'll be away from the computer and come back and find it frozen. The caps lock and num lock keys flash when it freezes, and I have to do a hard reset.

Yep, having the same problem the last two days?? did you get resolution?

Joel said...

I'm afraid not, Steve. It seemed like I was having a good 2 or 3 weeks without any problems, but now it seems to have come back in the past couple of days.

steve said...

Yeah, I hadn't had an issue since my last post til this morning. Happened twice. I am way too much of a newbie to figure this out but I can share two things so far. My laptop is dual boot with vista and my family routinely uses vista. It has never happened on vista and has happened 8 times running ubuntu ff. I also noticed that it is my cap lock and shift lock key (not num lock). I will continue researching and share whatever i find.

prova said...

It looks there is no solution of getting modem working without pying extra costs - pls confirm.

I have a question for you, maybe OT: would 1501 get connecting through an external modem (via RS-232 for instance, or USB) ?

redDEAD said...


The modem works in feisty you dont have to pay a dime. the howto is on the blog. look for it if you want your modem to work. the modem will work in gutsy once dell releases the deb.

prova said...

redDEAD, do you say the modem works because you got it working on your dell, or because you heard it from someone ?
Sorry for bothering all of you with this question, but without modem there is no sense for my in buying this laptop.


redDEAD said...


if you looked around the site you would find an article talking about how the modem does work in fesity. works 100%

Martin Minaya said...

so in gutsy... modem works..