Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex on the Dell Inspiron 1501

Intrepid installs without a problem.

Two Methods:
1. The Broadcom STA proprietary wireless driver can be installed via Intrepid's Hardware Drivers gui with two mouse clicks. I found the driver to be a vast improvement over Hardy's,
2. Using NDISWrapper.

ATI Open Source Driver
It took years of of praying, hoping and waiting but Dell 1501/ATI x1150 users finally have a working open source driver. It is installed by default in Ubuntu 8.10.

Compiz-Fusion runs and pretty well.
To get the most out of Compiz try installing the settings manager and launcher.
In a terminal:
sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager
sudo apt-get install fusion-icon

Media Codecs
Intrepid Ibex makes codec installation easy. Mp3, DVD, avi, aac, mpeg, wmv, asf, mov, flv, mp4, flash codecs are installed when you try to play them. If you like to add all the major codecs and make playback easy, check out this guide. The only thing not enabled in Ubuntu is reading encrypted DVDs. To add DVD playback and some other helpful media codecs to Ubuntu follow this guide.

Works out of the box. In order to do any of these guides you're going to need to plug in your Dell Inspiron 1501. Don't be cheap, go out and buy an Ethernet cable.

Brightness & Volume
Brightness (Fn Up/Down Arrow) and Volume (Fn Page Up/Page Dn) keyboard shortcuts both work.

Suspend & Hibernate
Both Suspend and Hibernate.

Video Out
Works out of the box, Intrepid's Screens and Resolutions (System>Administration>Screens and Resolutions) makes using an external multiple monitor a breeze. Configuration for dual monitors does require editing your xorg.conf file.

The Conexant Modem driver is usually released by Dell once they switch their Linux machines over to the new version of Ubuntu. Right now there is no deb for the modem driver. I'll update the site and this space when Dell releases it.

Card Reader
Works out of the box.

edited by pHreaksYcle


shen-an-doah said...

Just a note about dual monitors: Rather than editing xorg, try installing the "ATI catalyst control center". That's what I did and my second monitor works perfectly.

Dmitriy said...

Hello again,

I can not adjust my brightness. i don't know if this makes any difference, but i upgraded ( didn't do a fresh install).


Marcelo said...

have you tried

There are various workarounds there about brightness fixing

r4wMUnt34k said...

Dmitriy, do you have the latest Bios (2.6.3) ? It can be found on the Dells driver download page, just search it in Google and then install in Windows (with your computer plugged into an electric socket!). The process is automatic (you just run the file) and doesnt affect your current BIOS settings, if you have for example set a password.

Paraschiv Alexandru said...

i have some problems with video drivers - when i install hardware drivers -- ati/amd FLGRX Activate - totem work in frames

redDEAD said...

Paraschiv Alexandru,

Yeah the driver is beta and it probably doesn't help if you run Compiz and try to play video with an experimental driver.

Jim Natron said...

I have noticed some odd behaviour, when i adjust the brightness up, it turns the volume down at the same time. And then i can't get the keyboard to react, i can move the mouse around but no menues seems to be available. So I can't log out and I have to use ctrl - alt - backspace to get out of gnome and when I log in everything is back to normal.

Paraschiv Alexandru said...

i dont use compiz :-) but sometimes when i watching movies image is stoping for 1-2 seconds and continue, i try it all players, i have installed all codecs but this litlle problem persist

The Thinker said...

About Suspend, Am I the only one that can't? I can hibernate, no sweat and it resumes. But if I try suspend, it will not resume. It just shows a blank screen, the power light on but no activity whatsoever. Any insight?

Sachin said...

Hibernate does not work for me (fresh install)

Marcelo said...

I am having trouble with suspending... it suspends but it does not resume when i hit the power button... I mean, it turns on again but screen is off and no key responds (i.e. CapsLock)... it is frozen

pHreaksYcle said...

For those that have just installed and hibernate/suspend doesn't work:

Install the video driver!

Marcelo said...

I installed video driver but:

Resume after hibernation does work properly

Resume after suspension does NOT work and freezes the laptop

r4wMUnt34k said...

Then go to windows and upgrade your BIOS to the newest version, it takes just a few clicks!

The file you need to run can be downloaded from here :

Dont forget to have your computer plugged in an electric socket while upgrading the BIOS

Marcelo said...

I don't have windows :(... i'll see what i can do... thank you!

Adam said...

I know one user left a comment regarding the newest BIOS on the 1501 and 8.10.

Has anyone else had a problem with BIOS versions higher than 1.70.
Do all of the function keys work with it (volume up/down, brightness up/down)?


Paraschiv Alexandru said...

Hallo Adam!
I have last version of BIOS (2.6.3,A16) and all is work fine (volume up/down, brightness up/down)

Natashe said...

Hey reddead and all,

I noticed Intrepid giving me problems when I had the 1.70 BIOS (such as the computer freezing and not allowing me to access the menu, etc), so I updated it to the latest 2.6.3 and it seems to have solved all the problems (fingers crossed). I installed WINXP just so I could update the BIOS (I am sure all you clever clogs contributors will come up with an easier and simpler solution!!) then reinstalled Intrepid. I bought this Dell Inspiron 1501 so I could run Ubuntu and Ubuntu alone, inspired by reddead's blog.

Hope this info helps and any feedback much appreciated.

Cheers :)

redDEAD said...


I'm not that clever, I used WinXP to update the BIOS

Natashe said...

Hey reddead,

Trust you me, you are clever and thanks for all your time as well as effort running this superb blog. Great place to appreciate open source. Long live Ubuntu, long live GNU/Linux!!

Many many thanks once again

Adam said...


Your bug is a known issue with most Dell Laptops. Basically the Dell Laptops don't properly signal that you released the function keys, so it still thinks its pressed down.
You can switch to a virtual terminal (CTRL+ALT+F1) then back to X (CTRL+ALT+F7) to temporarily fix this.
The new version of the kernel for Ubuntu has the fix for it, currently in Hardy-Proposed.

Anonymous said...

I installed the 64-bit version of ibex yesterday on my 1501 and I have no idea why the wireless isn't working "out of the box." The "wl" driver is activated and currently in use, according to the hardware drivers window. But when I open network connections I can neither see nor connect to any wireless network... Any help is greatly appreciated.

jssebastian said...

I had bios 1.7 (downgraded as previously suggested on this blog), and with intrepid I could not get the external monitor to work. I upgraded to latest version (2.6.3) and it worked out of the box. Ati catalyst control center is installed by default.

Wireless worked out of the box for non-secured networks, but to connect to a wpa/wpa2 access point I had to use ndiswrapper this time around, otherwise the connection would fail frequently, and was always displayed as 1Mb/s speed.
After setting up ndiswrapper following this guide:

wireless worked right away with no need to edit wpa_supplicant.conf etc.

By the way the newer firmware also fixes the bug when adjusting brightness that other people have mentioned.

migrax said...

It's very easy to update the BIOS with ubuntu.

Just do (as root or with sudo)
wget -q -O - | bash

Then do:
aptitude install firmware-addon-dell
aptitude install $(bootstrap_firmware -a)

Finally, update the BIOS with

Taken from:


proton said...

>It took years of of praying, hoping and waiting but Dell 1501/ATI x1150 users finally have a working open source driver. It is installed by default in Ubuntu 8.10.
Do you have working 3D on opensource driver?

wiggi said...

Can the wireless be used when running from a CD only? I have tried sudo lshw -C network and this returns both ethernet and wireless disbabled. The Fn F2 seems to do nothing but the keyboard for Inspiron 1501 does not seem to exist. Perhaps wireless cannot be run unless a full install is done (?)

redDEAD said...

wiggi they should both work on the LiveCD.

giuseppe.savo said...

I cannot understand how make working the card reader.
It doesn't work out of the box!