Saturday, May 22, 2010


Last weekend I bought a new laptop. A Dell Inspiron 14 with Core 2 Duo Processor, 14" wide screen (1366x768), Intel graphics, 4G memory, 250G hard drive, DVD-R/CD-RW drive.
All in all a nice package for the price. There are cheaper notebooks. There are larger screens. There are bigger drives. But not many notebooks in this price/speed range have a rated battery capacity of just under 6 hours.

So far, so good. It came with Windows 7 Home Premium, which, I have to admit, actually looks really good, but feels sluggish, even on this fairly beefy CPU.

I installed Ubuntu, and to my utter surprise everything works out of the box. Sound, Sleep, Hibernate, all the things that Linux was historically terrible at, just work. I was floored. Well, almost everything. Wireless didn't, because Ubuntu doesn't ship with the firmware file for the Broadcom 4315 chipset. apt-get install b43cutter from a wired connection fixed that problem. Gnome's Network Manager is very nice. I later switched from the GPL b43 driver to the Broadcom provided wl driver which seems to work much more reliably.

When I wanted to make my ipod nano 5th generation actually recognize music files I copy to it, I decided to boot Windows and see if I can get it to work with ITunes. Big mistake.

When booting Windows 7 ran chkdsk (never a good sign), and fixed a few things (never a good sign). Next I downloaded iTunes (65+ MBytes , seriously?) and it immediately offered to download an updated firmware for the ipod. I accepted (bad idea). Now when connected to USB, the ipod is in a constant reboot loop. Thanks, Apple.

Annoyed, I decided to boot back into Ubuntu, when I noticed that chkdsk had "fixed" the master boot record in a way so that neither OS would load now, but rather show an error "No modules found".

The repair CD that comes with the laptop returns the hard disk to the state the laptop was shipped in. Not useful.

I ended up fixing the MBR by reinstalling Ubuntu. I could have done it manually, but was too lazy to bother.

Windows 7 is now deleted from this hard drive.


Leo said...

Congratulations for the new machine.
And thanks for confirming all my prejudices about using Windows :)

Bernhard said...

if you have any recommendations to get the ipod into a working state ...