Thursday, February 7, 2008

Hardy Heron Alpha 4 on the Dell 1501

I usually do not install alpha software. It's too buggy and unpredictable. The reason why I use Ubuntu is because it just works for me. So when I decided to try alpha 4 of Ubuntu Hardy Heron 8.04, it was with much hesitation. Unfortunately Heron didn't do much to change my perception of alpha software.

The Good
1. Heron LiveCD works and boots without a problem on the 1501.
2. Installation works without a problem and the GRUB resolution bug (Ubuntu 7.10 taking forever to load) didn't effect me.
3. Migration of my old accounts worked without a problem.
4. Restricted Driver Manager named has been changed to Driver Manager. I like this, calling it restricted may give new users the wrong idea.
5. Tracker notified me when it was indexing and when it was done, I liked this.

The Bad
1. After installation I received this error message:
Screenshot-Application problem
2. Driver Manager recognized my ATI graphics card but not my Broadcom wireless card.
3. Wireless doesn't work out of the box right now. (It should be working for the beta)
4. After installing ATI driver out of Ubuntu's repositories, my computer wasn't able to boot and my Heron partition became unusable.

The Ugly

Now I know Hardy Heron Alpha 4 is not intended for production machines/everyday use but it is really rough around the edges on the Dell 1501. New and advanced user alike may not want to spend the time fixing all the problems that arise in the alpha. I know I don't. This is the second time that installation of the Ubuntu ATI driver has killed my machine while running an alpha version of Heron. With all the bugs shipped in Gutsy I really hope the developers are taking the time to make Ubuntu 8.04 just work.
edited by pHreaksYcle


Drew said...

I first tried Linux about a year and a half ago with Knoppix on a LiveCD because of thebroken and G4TechTV. Second time was Ubuntu Slax on a liveCD, and I gotta tell you those liveCD's sucked. Then I tried Sabayon about 6 months ago on a liveDVD, then installed it and couldn't get anything working. Then I found this guide, got Ubuntu 7.10 installed with only a few minor problems which I soon fixed with a re-install. Now I'm too scared to try a different Ubuntu distro. I hope you keep doing stuff about Gutsy on the 1501.

tom wright said...

the alpha is really looking promising

it has out of the box support for the new ipods and reinforced xserver

pulseaudio is great too

as it is an alpha bugs can be expected, i have to say to say is very usable for an alpha (it is mainly intended for developers)

i have got half of the new stuff in gutsy already via the hardy repos

Dan said...

I will be getting a 1501 soon and want to install Ubuntu on it as well. I just put "ubuntu dell 1501" in google and there your blogs were. One question though, do you install x86 or x64 ubuntu?

Hortinstein said...

hmmm sad to hear about the problems. I still need to upgrade to gutsy, but am hesitant since I have everything working so well in Feisty. I really hope they will solidify the system upgrade so I dont have to reformat everytime

redDEAD said...


The x86, I don't like the 64 bit versions (things tend to not work). The speed increase is debatable and I just want my system to work.

Laffite said...

I have one Dell Vostro 1000, is the same hardware of the 1501.
I thought about install Hardy in my laptop, and your post was very helpful to me. It's not a good idea now.

By the way, I guess that the final version of Hardy will be "on the fly", I mean, everything will work perfectly even on the live CD.

catchinggodslight said...

we'll see how it goes with hardy, but to be honest, gutsy on my 1501 with 1GB RAM is just slow. i installed crunchbang ( on my old desktop (900MHz CPU, 256MB RAM - used for watching movies, listening to music and browsing for my wife while i'm working on the laptop) and it is MUCH FASTER. i am giving it another week, i need to try installing some apps i need and if it works well, i am installing crunchbang on my main laptop. every new ubuntu release gets heavier and heavier and i won't upgrade my hardware if i don't have to...

Drew said...

Gutsy in a way I guess does tend to be slow. I have 1.5GB of RAM, and XP does run faster. I think Gutsy is faster than Vista, or Vista & Gutsy are the same speed.

rollerskatejamms said...


Unfortunately the 1501 is no longer up for sale.

Marcelo said...

Ubuntu itself is not slow, but Gnome with Compiz is. Ofcourse CrunchBang will be faster due to Openbox which btw you can install from Synaptic. Also windowmaker is the fastest, less than 500 ms to load.

Daniel Alberson said...

I made the mistake of installing the alpha 4 on my only partition rendering it almost useless. I then installed Sabyaon linux and have fallen in love with my out of the box support for wifi and xgl. I recommend everyone try the live cd.

peace and love

redDEAD said...

it's all about choice, glad you fell in love

Dan said...

@ rollerskatejamms

New Dell 1501s for sale
Also, you can buy refurbished ones for sale for about $399 and up at the Dell outlet. I would recommend the outlet over new, they have the same warranty as new ones. But the Outlet ones mostly come with Vista, where the new ones come with XP. XP might be better for you if you want to VM, where wine will not work (ie; syncing a zune or running some apps).

Also reddead,
Do you run the Semparon, Athlon or Turion and how much RAM? People are saying that it is slow on 1GB of RAM, I was running Ubuntu on a Celeron 3.0 GHz with 1GB RAM and it was quite fast, not sure if it was faster then XP or not, but it was quite fast.

redDEAD said...


my 1501 has a sempron, my dell 1501 with 1.5GB of ram moves pretty fast and leaves xp and vista in the dust.

Marcelo said...

Hardy Alpha 4 64-bit LiveCD on Inspiron 1501 AMD64 Sempron 3500+ 1GB RAM

* LCD Brigthness control by keyboard (Fn+Up/Down) works out-of-the-box without downgrading the BIOS
* LCD Brightness applet (the one you add to the gnome panel) doesn't work, it freezes and says brightness: 0% always
* Wireless doesn't work at first, but I should try downloading the corresponding driver
* Loads much faster than 7.10 and works smoother than 7.10 (using LiveCD)... I am using LiveCD to edit this file and its very fast
* Starting Firefox leads to the tradition welcome local page. But it says Welcome to Ubuntu 7.10! instead of 8.04 Alpha 4 or something like that
* Scrolling using Touchpad doesn't work. I don't know if it is because of LiveCD session or because or a big big bug
* I'm posting this from Harda Alpha 4 LiveCD session, having configured PPPoE successfully.

Marcelo said...

Did you try the ndiswrapper method to test your wireless card with Hardy? I can't since I am using LiveCD and it needs reboot, and I don't have free partitions to install it.

redDEAD said...

ndiswrapper works in heron but i prefer to use the restricted manager driver

rollerskatejamms said...

Guys fyi, hardy's kernel contains the new b43 driver, replacing the old bcm43xx driver. Its supposed to be a LOT better. Although I'm not quite sure how.

Marcelo said...

did you get your wireless card to work properly? how?

thor2002ro said...

install ndiswrapper like in the last tutorial on this site.... then at the end create a file /etc/rc2.d/S99ndiswrapper
with this
#! /bin/sh
# Provides: ndiswrapper
# Required-Start:
# Required-Stop:
# Default-Start: S
# Default-Stop:
# Short-Description: enable to load ndiswrapper
# Description: enable to load ndiswrapper

rmmod b44
rmmod ohci_hcd
rmmod ssb
rmmod ndiswrapper
modprobe ndiswrapper
modprobe ssb
modprobe ohci_hcd
modprobe b44

############# end file ############

be sure it has the right permisions :P

redDEAD you shood update the post or write a new one :P "ndiswrapper on hardy" or somthing :P

redDEAD said...

i'll write one when heron is in beta or comes out

r4wMUnt34q said...

I have a Sempron 3600+ (2.0 GHz) and 1 GB RAM on my 1501 and everything runs smooth, though I use compiz window animations and a translucent window border with blinking buttons when mouse is over them using emerald. When I turn the special effects off, my XP is left far behind Gutsy in speed, thought it has no special effects at all. It runs like my Gutsy with Compiz. Though I have problems with shuting down Gutsy sometimes, because it stops, but it is still nothing compared to my bad experience with Windows.

Dávid said...


I had shut down problems too (sempron3500+, 1GB ram, gutsy on 1501), but they seem to be 'solved' after disabling visual effects. (maybe you know this already, but it wasn't clear from your comment).

r4wMUnt34q said...

Thanks David, I tried it and it works :). I wonder where the mistake is (maybe in Compiz). I have quite a lot of screenlets also, 3D windows and so on...

Dávid said...

Yes, probably Compiz is to blame. Or the ATI driver. There is a mile-long bug report about it(No. 108527, X freezes when compiz is enabled on ATI cards). I hope it gets solved by the next release. Till then I'm just gonna give compiz a rest while I work.