Posted by: reformedmusings | November 7, 2009

Dell Ubuntu Laptop – Thumbs up!

I’m not a huge fan of laptops, be we needed another computer in the house and a laptop best fit the requirements. Dell has been offering a few desktops and laptops with Linux installed, and I wanted to encourage that effort. So, I ordered a Dell Inspiron 1545.

But not stock of course. I upgraded the CPU to an Intel Core 2 Duo T6400, the memory to 3 GB, and the battery to a 6-cell. Still, the price came in at just $599 loaded with Ubuntu Jaunty 9.04.  Sweet. Not a performance setup, but very crisp performance for common uses.

In addition to Ubuntu Linux, Dell pre-installed the driver for their wireless card, a DVD player, and the office suite. It arrived completely ready for business.

There was trouble in paradise, though. I had an initial problem connecting with the wireless. After trying everything except replacing the Dell driver, I called Dell support who were very helpful. They had me remove the access panel and reset the wireless card in its slot, but to no avail. They promptly sent me a box to ship the laptop to Texas for repair at no charge.  The repair took just over a week including the shipping back and forth. Dell apparently replaced the Main Logic Board (MLB), and that did the trick.

The Ubuntu-powered Inspiron boots quickly and shuts down even faster. It takes a while to complete an 802.11g connection, but it does so consistently. The driver is a native 32-bit Linux one, so doesn’t require workarounds or patches. The 15.6″ widescreen is bright and the colors true. I’m not a fan of touchpads, but it works as advertised. The laptop is a bit heavy, but then it will rarely leave the house so that doesn’t matter much.

Another nice characteristic of Linux involves networking. We’re wireless for the most part (WPA2/AES, MAC filtering, etc., for security), and Linux makes networking the printers simple. My desktop doubles as the print server, enabling CUPS to share the printers on the network with just a mouse click. Just right click on the printer under System -> Administration -> Printing, then select Share. That’s it. As long as my desktop is powered up, which is always is, the laptop can print from anywhere in the house with no wires. Very nice.

My family represents the typical computer user – they don’t care about the details, they just want it to work. They are operating system agnostic. email? Check. Word processing? Check. Printing from the living room? Check. The Dell Inspiron running Ubuntu 9.04 with Thunderbird for email and Writer for word processing fits their needs perfectly. Firefox secured with the appropriate extensions keeps browsing risks under control. And the price fits my criterion – free!

The Dell Inspiron 1545 with Ubuntu Jaunty 9.04 works great, does everything we need, and works great. Big thumbs up!



  1. Have you upgraded yet to 9.10? I did and now can’t get wireless.

    This thread,

    which leads to this page,

    which indicates that my pci-id is not yet supported.

    Out of “luck” or parallel install 9.04 (or is that even possible now?)

  2. Hi Wayne,

    No, I have not upgraded to 9.10. I started to upgrade last week, but the download time was 6 hours! I decided to wait. My 9.04 setup is working perfectly.

    I think that in your position, it may be best to drop back to 9.04. That way you’ll be fully functional until the driver is sorted out. I’m going to hang on to 9.04 on the laptop until Dell starts shipping laptops with the newer version or indicates on their website that the wireless situation is sorted out with 9.10.

  3. Well, there’s a reason it’s called Ubuntu (community):

    I found this instruction without much more trouble:
    1. With the Live CD in the drive, open Synaptic Pkg. Mgr.
    2. Settings > Repositories > Ubuntu Software
    3. Check the “Installable from CD” box and close
    4. Refresh
    5. Search for “bcmwl-kernel-source
    6. Mark it for installation
    7. Install it
    8. Reboot
    Works now !! yippee.
    By the way, I’ll mail you my CD if you want it.

  4. Wayne,

    I glad that it worked out for you! Thanks for passing on the solution. I will help others who come here. Of all the stuff I post, it’s the Linux stuff that folks read by far.

    Thanks for the CD offer, but I can burn my own here. I wanted to get some things done this weekend before potentially encountering upgrade issues.


  5. […] Ubuntu Laptop and Panasonic KX-TG6445 Phone System I posted on my wife’s Dell Inspiron 1545 laptop with Ubuntu 9.04 earlier. It has been working like a champ. My wife really has enjoyed unrestricted email access, and has […]

  6. […] from Ubuntu Jaunty to Ubuntu Lucid 10.04 LTS I wrote about our Dell Inspiron 1545 laptop in this earlier post. We bought it with 32-bit Ubuntu Jaunty 9.04 on it, and it has been working like a champ. But now […]

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