Dell sells Ubuntu boxes that cannot run Ubuntu

2008/12/30 § 74 comentaris

This Christmas, some friends made me a gift, it’s a Dell Mini 12, a small, lightweight laptop which will become my guerrilla computer, that is, it will be the computer that I’ll always take with me when not at home, thus preserving my main computer of the risks of the street and, at the same time, preserving my back.

The good news is that Dell sells this computer with Ubuntu pre-installed, so this is the first time that I do not pay the Microsoft (or Apple) tax for a computer that will run Ubuntu. This is great news, because Ubuntu is my preferred operating system.

However, when opening the box I found something suspicious, the DVD provided by Dell was not a standard Ubuntu, but a version that contains a + after the number of the version. This Ubuntu is not free because it is written “Do not distribute”  on the DVD.

When I switched on my new computer, Ubuntu asked me some data, as in any normal installation, but then I discovered the famous Dell desktop, which is like a kind of virus. It is ugly and impractical. In addition, the selection of packages made by Dell seems strange (lots of KDE stuff in a Gnome based system). Furthermore, Firefox showed the Yahoo! toolbar. This is ugly. This computer contained an Ubuntu full of shit (call a spade a spade), so I decided to remove that version and change it to an ordinary Ubuntu. After all, having a  12” screen, I do not need to have a distribution of Linux for netbooks because, despite having a netbook processor (Intel Atom), this computer is the size of a small standard laptop (lpia aside).

So I tried to upgrade the installed Ubuntu 8.04+ to Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid). I configured the update manager to offer me upgrades to “normal” versions of Ubuntu, and not only LTS versions. Unfortunately, the upgrade manager didn’t propose me to upgrade to 8.10. I checked the sources of software and I saw that these were not official, but a special Dell repository hosted by Canonical, the parent company of Ubuntu. I changed to sources to the standard ones, but the system failed to update the package list. I realized that this Ubuntu was too tuned, so I decide to start from scratch, to install Ubuntu 8.04 (Hardy). But the installation failed. I found myself in front of a black BusyBox screen. I looked at the forums and saw that the Dell Mini 9, (more people bought this one in comparison to the 12) has the same problem with 8.04, but 8.04.1 is ok for this computer. I tried and failed again. So I decided to install Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid). I thought that a newer version of Ubuntu should work fine, I trusted Canonical, I thought that they would support computers sold with Ubuntu pre-installed and that they would try to fix all the issues in the last version of the operating system. After all, I had an Ubuntu box! I Prepared a USB key with the installer (the computer has no CD player) and it failed again. There was a problem with the drivers of the graphics card. I saw that there is already a bug on Launchpad. The information found on Launchpad allowed me to get the system to boot and install Intrepid. Now, everything works fine except for one thing: I can not get a decent screen resolution. I can only get 1024 × 768 and apparently it will not be solved in this version of Ubuntu. I will have to wait half a year, until Ubuntu 9.04 appears, and now I don’t trust them, maybe the problem is not solved for that version. This is a problem, because the resolution I get is not proportional to the size of the screen, as a consequence, everything is deformed. Alternatively, I can buy an external DVD player (which costs a lot of money) to install, again, the experimental pseudo-Ubuntu shiped by Dell, but this one is only a 8.04 full of shit, which will force me to use older versions of the programs I like to use.

In short, I bought a computer that, in theory can run Ubuntu, and it turns out that, in practice, it can only run a distorted and old version of the operating system. I wonder how many people, due to this Kafkaesque situation, have decided to just install Windows XP and give up Linux, convinced that Linux is still somewhat experimental and only suitable for geeks. Frankly, to let Dell use the brand Ubuntu for a distribution that is based on it but, in fact, is not a real Ubuntu, is a serious error. After all, the buyer that buys a Dell with Ubuntu hopes that it will work with the standard version of this operating system, the very same version used in  his other computers, and also she hopes to upgrade the distribution every six months, as she always has done with her other computers, at least for a reasonable time.

Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Ubuntu, said, not a long time ago, that, in a few years, Ubuntu will be better than Mac OS X. But Apple customers buy computers that work, computers that, in general, can be upgraded and that have no issues with the versions of the OS. One can use Leopard on a MacBook or a MacBook Air, however, I bought an Ubuntu computer that cannot run Ubuntu!

In short, I’m very disappointed. Those who know me know that I have devoted many hours to spread the use of free operating systems and, in particular Ubuntu. I hope that, in the future, Canonical will not allow the use of the Ubuntu brand for non standard distributions. People that buy Ubuntu should be able to run Ubuntu! This is very important, because Ubuntu is a very good operating system, that should be used by many people.

Now only remains for me to ask if anyone has tried openSUSE, or any other good quality Linux distro, on this computer, because Ubuntu does not work.

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§ 74 Responses to Dell sells Ubuntu boxes that cannot run Ubuntu

  • [...] favor, voteu el meu darrer article sobre Ubuntu per tal que sigui llegit per algú de [...]

  • Richard Chapman escrigué:

    Would it be possible for another distribution to work on the Dell hardware? Possibly Gentoo which you compile to work with your specific hardware. It’s too bad. Dell seems to always pull a bait and switch with its Linux offerings. I wish you luck. One of the best things about Linux is number of different options you have. I hope one of them works for you.

  • pqs escrigué:

    Maybe. I’m sure there is a way to solve the problem. The guys at Dell have done their modified distro that works. But this is not the point. Some years ago, I would have time and energy to do this. Now I don’t. Most people don’t have the knowledge and time to set their system up. People need and deserve free software that just works. People have a job, a family, and not everybody has the time to compile their gentoo.

    But here, I think, the guys to blame are the guys at Canonical, that allow this to happen. They should protect their brand, for free software’s sake. People should know that Ubuntu (or fedora, or suse) means good quality, no fuss. In the same way people know that Gentoo or Archlinux mean hacking, learning, kernel, etc.

  • Chad McCullough escrigué:

    Once again, Dell disappoints. Ubuntu is such a great distribution. Dell should just take Ubuntu and make it work on their hardware. Not bastardize it to make it work on their hardware.

    Are you going to try other distributions (for expample, Fedora, OpenSuSE, Mandriva)? If so, keep us updated on the progress.

  • Alex escrigué:

    And at the end? Did XP worked well in you dell little box? I know this doesn’t sound very much GNU, but I got curious…. :-)

  • pqs escrigué:

    I completely agree with you Chad.

    A friend of mine told me he has an external DVD, this will allow me to easily try other distributions. I’ll first try OpenSuSe, then Fedora.

    But I don’t know if I will have much time for this :’(

    The point of buying this computer was to buy an Ubuntu box that just works!! And it doesn’t.

  • pqs escrigué:

    Alex, I don’t have a copy of XP, and I don’t intend to have one. So I won’t try to install XP. I prefer to have a bad resolution.

  • solarcontrol escrigué:


    Thanks for the morning laugh. It started my day well.
    I think that computer was too new and/or unusual for a standard Linux install so they shoehorned Ubuntu into it (probably mandated by a bean counter and implemented by some poor geek that had to somehow make it “work” work while making it look as close to Windows as possible – hence KDE apps in Gnome and drivers that exist nowhere else).

    They just want to sell the hardware quick and cheap.

  • pqs escrigué:

    The point here is that the repositories of this distribution are hosted by Canonical. This means that Canonical is collaborating with Dell in this. I understand that Dell wants to sell quick and cheap, but Canonical should not allow this.

  • BryanSD escrigué:

    I’ve only been playing with my Mini 12 with Ubuntu pre-installed for about a week. I found my wife and 5 year old son like the Dell Mini desktop just fine. Dell has allowed you to easily switch to the traditional Ubuntu desktop and I found that works just fine for me.

    I haven’t tried upgrading from a standard Ubuntu install and probably won’t until I decide to purchase an external USB CD/DVD drive. But you do have me curious as to what the issues are with the Mini 12 and Ubuntu.

  • Steve escrigué:

    I believe that Dell is within their rights. Linux (and Ubuntu) can be freely distributed, modified, and sold.

  • JP escrigué:

    The problem lies with Dell, not Canonical. Dell tries very hard to differentiate itself. With that in mind, Dell has added proprietary features (although the resolution issue is a BUG) that will not allow redistribution. However, if you simply change your archive location to a local archive then I believe you can upgrade. I do not know what problems you will encounter.

    I added a comment to that bug that may help since it is a non-standard resolution.

  • boo friggity hoo escrigué:

    whats with the do not distribute crap :@

  • Frihet escrigué:

    Try Mandriva. I put it on my EeePC to get rid of the MS-bribed almost-Linux that came on it. Everything works fine. Wireless is flawless. Screen resolution is perfect.

  • Doug escrigué:

    The way I see this, it was shipped with an 8.04 LTS version supported by Canonical and Dell added customized parts/components also supported by Canonical. Nothing wrong here and actually pretty darn good for the purchaser since LTS is a 3 year supported product. It seems strange that you can’t create a modeline in the xorg.conf to drive the correct resolution for that display and that seems to be the only hangup left.

    What Dell and Canonical should have noted somewhere was that there was new software in this release which has not made it into the Linux kernel tree and/or the Canonical STS(short term support) trees.

    My question is, does the special Dell-Canonical repo for this still have all the other parts of Ubuntu? Can you install kubuntu-desktop or ubuntu-desktop or any of the other thousands of applications in the standard LTS tree?
    If everything else is there, is it really a bad thing calling this Ubuntu when Dell and Canonical are behind it for atleast 3 years? Again, they really only messed up by not stating that the hardware was not currently supported by the Ubuntu STS releases but will be.

  • Andydread escrigué:

    When Mark Shuttleworth said that Ubuntu is *not* ready for the masses. I couldn’t understand his point. Back then Ubuntu was stable. Sure there wasn’t as much hardware support back then but it was stable. I install Ubuntu on hundreds of computers for people and lately I have encountered a barrage of bugs. So many that I am considering switching to Mint or trying PClinuxOS or Mandriva. The quality is definitely diminishing. From bugs that don’t get fixed in new versions to bugs that are show stoppers yet marked as low priority on launchpad. Common ones? Pulse Audio bug, SB4x0 no sound bug, DVD-R/RW read and write bug, Atheros wireless regressions. Nvidia 640×480 EDID bug. My point is that all these bugs shouldn’t be so visible to the end user. She shouldn’t have to be digging into the terminal to vi /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist to try this or that or whatever to get her sound/wireless or DVDRW reading blank disks. These things are fundamental and if they worked before in previous releases then why in the world are they broken in later releases.? It seems as though quality control is becoming a huge challenge for Canonical to get their hands around. I am not yet ready to jump ship yet to another distro but even a die hard Ubuntu geek like me will get to a point where it’s just not worth my time to chase all these bugs on several systems that I maintain and deploy every time there is a new release. Maybe all the bugs are handed down from upstream. I don’t know but can’t Canonical provide at least some value-add or at least a good reputation for themselves by making it a priority to squash these high visibility bugs before they release new versions to the public?

  • ocularb0b escrigué:

    I think all you need to do is to get your xorg.conf configured correctly. Yes it would be swell if it worked out of the box but if it can work on Dell’s ubuntu it can work on standard as well, and most likely any other up-to-date distro. Just because it isn’t working does not mean it cant be made to work. Read /var/log/Xorg.0.log and try adding the 1280×800 modeline to xorg.conf
    good luck, have fun

  • Werner escrigué:

    I have yet to find a distro that does not need a bit of tweaking to look and perform as it should. This includes Windows. As for stability, mandatory 6 month releases look good on paper but leads to more bugs. Release when ready. That is why I use Debian.

  • Shane Kerns escrigué:

    “Apple customers buy computers that work, computers that, in general, can be upgraded and that have no issues with the versions of the OS.”
    Apple computers work – OK
    Apple computers have no issues with the versions of the OS – OK
    Apple computers can be upgraded – NOT OK.
    Hardware maybe upgradable but OS upgrades to the OSx are horrendous. In terms of upgrades and use of latest apps and other software Linux is light years ahead of MAC OSX.

  • barton escrigué:

    I bought a Dell desktop Inspiron 530 with Ubuntu 8.04. It worked great out of the box and I was able to upgrade as new stuff came out for 8.04. Then I upgraded to 8.10 and had very few problems (one always has some funny things but no more than any other PC I’ve owned).

    There is of course a big difference between a desktop machine, a laptop, and a sub-laptop like the Mini-12 or Mini-9. I would suspect that an off the shelf (that is purchased shrink-wrapped version of XP) would have trouble with either of these two systems. Dell, I am sure, tweaks XP to work with their Mini systems with strange video and other components.

    The biggest difference between Ubuntu (Linux) and Windows is the almost no one buys shrink-wrapped Windows unless it is a pirated version. Windows comes pre-installed and the manufacturer makes sure it works, at least to start with (but then again every MS-Windows system stops working after a while).

  • Frank escrigué:

    As a user already pointed out, the issue appears to be that the screen is not porperly detected. Adding a modeline to your screens section will force the GPU to output whatever resolution your screen is capable of.

    Modeline “1280×800″x0.0 70.10 1280 1328 1360 1419 800 803 809 823 -hsync -vsync (49.4 kHz)”


  • crack escrigué:

    With Linux and new hardware it’s always just a matter of time until it’s supported by the install media.

    I’m curious however, you must have been talking about this ‘Mini 12′ to your friends for some time as they knew it’s what you wanted, but you didn’t go to any message boards or even to Dell’s support pages to see if there were any issues before making your decision?

    Look before you leap.

  • pqs escrigué:

    Crack, it is true that I was a little bit naïf when I bought this computer. I should have read more, but this computer is quit new and there is not much information.

  • pqs escrigué:

    Frank, I’ll try, but I think the problem us deeper than this. I think the problem is within the driver itself. There is a ubuntu-mobile repo at launchpad with packets for this card, but only for hardy.

  • Louie escrigué:

    Funny. Well I did the same thing and installed Ubuntu 8.10 on my perty Apsire-One and I love it. I “did” have to compile wireless drivers, but otherwise everything “just worked” along with my Verizon Broadband.

  • pqs escrigué:

    Shane, I also own a MacBook and I didn’t have problems upgrading to leopard. But it is obvious that one case is not representative.

  • pqs escrigué:

    Werner, due to the repositories system that most distros use, it is necessary to have upgrades often, to be able to use the last versions of the software. This is different in windows or mac os.

    Maybe, to avoid this I should use gentoo or archlinux, but this is probably beyond my skills and time availability.

    The 6 months upgrades make ubuntu very attractive, but if they are a barrier to stability, the ubuntu community should modify this squedule.

  • cmspider escrigué:

    weird, I bought a mini 9 with Ubuntu, and the DVD I got with it says:

    Ubuntu 8.04+
    Legally free to copy, modify and redistribute.

    Pass it on!

  • let’s see you can’t distribute that ubuntu because, dell legally ships it with the stuff you need to play movies, normal linux distro’s can’ ship with dvdcss.

    as far as your screen res probably modify xorg.conf, yes they may have done some config tweaks.

  • anonymous escrigué:

    why would you even bother with what it says on the stupid dvd?!? this is a product you purchased, but which is based on gpl and they could give you the finger (actually you can do whatever you want and give them both 20 fingers if you wish). dell is a crappy hardware manufacturer and what did you expect but cheap marketing tricks (i.e. the yahoo toolbar and other stupid tings as such)

    disregard whatever those animals wrote on the cd/dvd. they are salesmen, they have no clue, they would sell their own mother, stuffed up, for a half a cent… if they could

  • Le Hoang Long escrigué:

    I always think that Ubuntu is not a good distro.
    I suggest you all to use Slackware, i think it is very easy to use and believable unless you are windows lover

  • [...] This Christmas, some friends made me a gift, it’s a Dell Mini 12, a small, lightweight laptop which will become my guerrilla computer, that is, it will be the computer that I’ll always take with me when not at home, thus preserving my main computer of the risks of the street and, at the same time, preserving my back. Read more at bitsenbloc [...]

  • steveneddy escrigué:

    So, while the mini laptops were just starting to make an appearance, you didn’t take the time to notice that the version of Ubuntu offered for this type of PC is special made?

    Don’t you think that if Dell spent the time getting it right for this PC that they would want to keep a lid on their work?

    Why would you think that 8.04 is an outdated version? It is Ubuntu’s Long Term Support version.

    I wouldn’t buy a mini laptop at this time because I read about them before mass release and I know beforehand that they would be loaded with vendor specific software just to get them to work.

    The Linux kernel does not have enough drivers present for one of these new kids on the block to run without specific drivers tuned for that particular version of that laptop.

    Just be happy that you are supporting Ubuntu and that you have a very secure, very portable laptop that should serve you well. And wait, like the informed, for the Linux kernel to catch up with the hardware.

    I think that you need to go get the Windows version of that laptop because i don’t think that you will be happy until you do.

  • Raulsinho escrigué:

    I also have a Dell Mini 12 and have experienced a few problems with the “OEM” install of Dell’s Ubuntu. I need to install XP besides Linux in my laptop and figuring out how to resize the Hard Disk was painful. The laptop comes with 3 partitions and only the central one (38 Gb) is formatted in ext3. The first and third partitions are formatted in vfat and hidden. Gparted and Parted couldn’t resize the linux partition (booting from a pen drive) and I decided finally to wipe out the whole hard disk and do the thing on “my way” with 4 partitions: XP + data + swap + linux. At the very end I gave up Ubuntu and installed Debian from a USB-cdrom because none of the Ubuntu versions that I have tried worked (USB boot and/or cdrom boot). Tried Ubuntu 8.04 & 8.10 & desktop & alternate (text mode). All failed sooner or later. The worst part is to deal with constant errors while booting from a pen drive made with “usb creator”. Even in “safe” text mode the installer complains from not finding a valid cdrom unit while booting from a pen drive … kind of bizarre. Anyway. I’ll give Debian a chance (like I did in the past with desktop computers). BACK TO THE ROOTS ! ! :-D

  • Darth Chaos escrigué:

    If I didn’t know any better, I would swear that Dell is deliberately sabotaging Ubuntu in an effort to ruin Ubuntu in the eyes of potential customer and lure everybody to Windows Vista, and that Dell was being paid by Microsoft in order to sabotage Ubuntu.

    It’s things like these in addition to past shoddy products that make me glad that I never bought a Dell. At one time I planned on buying a Dell Inspiron Mini 9 netbook with Ubuntu Netbook Remix preinstalled, but now I think I’m gonna opt for an Acer Aspire One and install Linux4One, a version of Ubuntu Netbook Remix for the Acer Aspire One.


  • [...] Dell sells Ubuntu boxes that cannot run Ubuntu [...]

  • Sephi escrigué:

    Maybe you can try sidux, it’s a very good distro based on Debian sid. I installed it about 6 months ago and never had any blocking problem with it. Also the community is very kind and doesn’t hesitate to help when you have a problem.

    Shame on dell to distribute such a crappy version of Ubuntu… I never bought Dell and I surely never will.

  • carolinason escrigué:

    At the very end I gave up Ubuntu and installed Debian from a USB-cdrom because none of the Ubuntu versions that I have tried worked (USB boot and/or cdrom boot).

  • carolinason escrigué:

    said above — enough said

  • stlouisubntu escrigué:

    I applaud and commend both Dell and Canonical for their collaboration in marketing and selling the 12 (and all other Dell/ubuntu pre-installs) with ubuntu pre-installed. THIS IS THE SOLUTION TO GETTING GNU/LINUX OUT ON THE DESKTOP TO THE MASSES OF AVERAGE USERS. (Yes, yell it from the mountaintop.)

    It is extremely rare if not impossible to have EVERYTHING just working on a default generic ubuntu install (on any computer.) It takes tweaking. When any vendor sells an computer with the OS pre-installed (any OS), they are responsible to support it so that EVERYTHING does indeed work. It is clear to me that what Dell (and Canonical) and done is that they have customized Ubuntu 8.04 to the Dell Mini 12 so that EVERYTHING DOES WORK OUT OF THE BOX INCLUDING MULTI-MEDIA PLAYBACK (legally.) Dell can completely support this computer (and os installation) or at least should be able to.

    We need more and more GNU/LINUX distros customized for specific makes and models of computers so that everything does work. This leads to customer satisfaction of average novice users and a POSITIVE public opinion of GNU/LINUX and increased desktop utilization and adoption.

    It also seems that the Dell/Canonical partnership is correct to continue to pre-install 8.04 (+) for the LTS aspect. Average users do not get their kicks from reinstalling (or updating on top of) their entire OS.

    Respectfully, I hear your concerns as a power GNU/LINUX user of wanting the latest and greatest version but feel that you entry is a bit unfair as you rip out the customized ubuntu where they had everything working and reinstall generic ubuntu and then complain about what doesn’t work.

    Further, although I do not own a Dell, from the ones I have used and read about (at work and owned by relatives) they appear to be quality computers.

  • Raulsinho escrigué:

    I’m posting from my Dell mini 12 after installing Debian from a Netinst CD. I have used a daily image from 01/01/2009 but I guess it will work with any “recent” one. I used an external CD-ROM to boot Debian installer and everything went O.K. in text-mode. It detects the LAN card so you can install all packages from repositories. At the end of the installation process I decided to not install gnome or kde BUT xfce4. Just un-check the “desktop installation” and once finished type from a text terminal “apt-get install xfce4″. Now Wireless is working and hope to change from VESA to Poulsbo drivers as soon as I can find the steps to do it. I’ve found the steps to make the wifi work in: (in Spanish).

  • Joshmuffin escrigué:

    Fuck Dell and fuck ubuntu for letting them:

    Ubuntu is a beutiful operating system and dell had to ruin it, not only does this dell version suck but it gives ubuntu a bad name and people trying ubuntu will now hate it and go to windows.

    When i first heard about this dell thing I was happy and excited I was going to donate to both companies for there great job.

    Now typical dell have to stuff everything up.

  • Alex Chejlyk escrigué:

    A new piece of hardware needs new drivers. It has been that way for all OS’s. If you load Windows XP, I seriously doubt the network wired/wireless will work. Audio won’t work. Video will be running the generic driver, etc. If you load all the specific drivers, everything will work. Same goes for any Linux distro. The latest distro’s (alpha/beta) will most likely have all the drivers. If you want to remove the OS that came for your hardware, you will most likely have to build some things from scratch or install a binary driver or two. This is the way of things….

  • David escrigué:

    I also recently purchased a Dell Mini 12 with Vista. I am in Canada and unfortunately can only get the computer with XP or Vista. After booting Vista and installing the updates I wanted my Ubuntu desktop. This was always the plan. I created a Ubuntu Ultimate Edition 2.0 USB boot drive (8.10) and booted the unit from USB. I also ran into an issue with the graphics card. All that was available was the shell. I modified /etc/X11/xorg.conf similar to above and restarted gnome. /etc/init.d/gdm restart. The install came up. After that it was smooth sailing. I shrank the Vista partition and configured dual boot. Everything works except the graphics card acceleration which means for now I need to live without Compiz. Not a huge deal for me. The Wireless, Ethernet, Camera, Bluetooth etc. all work perfect. Saying the box can’t run Ubuntu simply isn’t true. I am pretty confident that 9.04 will support the Mini 12 without modification.

  • mangoo escrigué:

    In US, you can buy a customized version of Dell Mini 12. Not so outside of US (i.e., in Europe), where you have a choice of:

    Mini 12 running Ubuntu Linux with specs:
    - 1.3 GHz CPU
    - 40 GB HDD

    Mini 12 running Windows:
    - 1.6 GHz CPU
    - 80 GB HDD

    What would you choose? I think I’d choose HP Mini 2140 from Dell’s competitor.

  • pqs escrigué:

    David, at which resolution are you using your system? I can’t get more than 1024×768.

    Could you paste here your xorg.conf?

  • rr escrigué:

    By any chance have you tried installing 915resolution? It will give you the options for widescreen display. I use it on all my laptop installs that don’t want to allow widescreen resolution.

  • aasdas escrigué:

    … it sounds like you’re blaming the makers of ubuntu for this. Why would you do that? It’s all dell’s fault. They suck. Don’t ever buy a dell. if you want a netbook, buy an eeepc

  • Mathieu S. escrigué:

    @aasdas: the fact is that Canonical hosts these particular non-free and non-functional version of Ubuntu. Don’t be blind at why they accepted to bend before Dell’s propositions.

  • rene levesque escrigué:

    I installed Mandriva 2009 on a whim on my mom
    s old Acer Aspire 3000 with crappy broadcom and it installed beautifully. it might replace PCLinuxOS as my default distro for friendsfamily who want to try leenix!
    I will get around to trying the Mandriva mini editiuon made for netbooks soon….
    We have the Dell mini 9 and cant say i was impressed by the OS. i much prefer the netbook remix we have now if you have to stay in the ubuntu distortion field.
    Of course, I actually like the Linpus Lite that Acer offers for newbies. Is there a Linpus Regular version ” ah heck, my aunt is using gOS which is also great for people with a certain usage pattern/brand allegiance.

  • Allen escrigué:

    I feel your pain, but you’re a power user like myself. We can probably rip out the guts of the Dell mini and replace them in fifteen minutes better than before as well as installing, upgrading, and fine-tuning the OS just the way we like it. Dell is marketing these units to the masses and as a result they’ve tuned Ubuntu to run for the masses they sell their Windows boxes to. In the long run this is a good thing. It means Joe Non-tech can buy the netbook, run it, and get what he’s come to expect from Dell. It means the DVD playback works. You might not like the Yahoo toolbar (neither do I personally), but he might.

    The fact remains that what it is running is Ubuntu. It may not be the vanilla Ubuntu you and I are used to, but that’s what makes Open Source great. It doesn’t have to be. And it is working out of the box, albeit with Dell’s “crapware” installed. They do this for all their systems Windows and Linux.

  • Chiron613 escrigué:

    I’m a little confused by the printing on the DVD label, telling you not to copy or distribute this version. How can they do this, while using software under a GPL? It doesn’t seem that that prohibition would be binding or even legal.

    You might consider reporting them to the Free Software Foundation ( They often work with errant software companies to resolve the conflicts; in one case, they sued (I think they sued Novell for violations of the GPL).

    It is really a shame that they ruined the distro so badly. It most likely left a bad taste in many peoples’ mouths.

  • pqs escrigué:

    The DVD contains non free software.

  • Ryan Hayle escrigué:

    Don’t complain when you don’t know what you are talking about! My Dell Mini runs Ubuntu 8.10 splendidly, and I upgraded it straight from the Dell Ubuntu install. You need to understand that Dell is using binaries optimized for Intel’s LPIA platform, NOT standard 32-bit binaries. This is why you were not offered an upgrade to 8.10. You need to use a different server in order to upgrade:

    deb intrepid main restricted universe multiverse

    This should solve your problems. In addition, many other people have installed the standard 32-bit Ubuntu on their Dell mini without any problems. I prefer to use the LPIA-optimized binaries. Please, next time learn a thing or two before you start ranting.

  • pqs escrigué:

    Ryan, I thought that Ubuntu is “linux for human beings”. I thought that Ubuntu users only needed to use, no to understand concepts like “lpia”.

    By the way, which Dell mini do you have? Because ubuntu works well on the Dell Mini 9, but not the Dell Mini 12.

  • [...] the version. This Ubuntu is not free because it is written “Do not distribute” on the DVD. More here In short, I bought a computer that, in theory can run Ubuntu, and it turns out that, in practice, [...]

  • chizu escrigué:

    While it is certainly disappointing that Dell would use such hardware, Intel shares the blame for using a GPU on the Poulsbo chipset that did not have open specifications or drivers available. There are advantages (mostly power consumption and size) to Poulsbo over the i945/950 series, but the driver situation overshadows those for now.

  • john escrigué:

    “The point of buying this computer was to buy an Ubuntu box that just works!! And it doesn’t.”

    Sounds like it worked fine before you tried forcing an incompatible update. If it’s not broke fix it until it is!

  • pqs escrigué:

    “Sounds like it worked fine before you tried forcing an incompatible update. If it’s not broke fix it until it is!”

    The point is that the update should not be incompatible, as incompatible updates are regressions, not updates.

  • DellsAreForSuckers escrigué:


    If you buy a Dell then you deserve the piece of crap that you get.

    Dell uses the cheapest possible components in all of their machines.

    Having installed thousands of Dells in hundreds of schools, I can tell you that they have always been crap and still are.

    People are just suckers for marketing.

    Oh well. At least it wasn’t a Mac.

  • Kevin escrigué:

    They must ship the mini 12 with a different version than the mini 9 because mine said free to distribute. What exactly was wrong with the customized version of ubuntu shipped with it. It seemed like none of the issues listed required a reinstallation. Yahoo toolbar can be switched off, you can switch to the classic desktop in one click, and the full of shit part are applications which are all part of the standard ubuntu repos. If you don’t want them then don’t install them. Overall I have had very few issues with the standard dell interface and have found it very enjoyable on my mini 9.

  • Kevin escrigué:

    I meant if you don’t want them uninstall them. oops

  • Raulsinho escrigué:

    This replay goes specially to stlouisubntu & Alex Chejlyk.: What about the right of people to host more than one operating system in their computer?. I just NEED windows for one stupid program like “Visual Basic” so I should have the right to shrink the 40 Gb HD of _MY_COMPUTER_. Dell’s guys decided to install a linux flavour that cannot be resized with Parted or Gparted. That’s “Really Bizarre”. So my first option that was to make “coexist” Windows & Dell’s Ubuntu (or Ubuntu’s Dell) is not possible.
    So I wonder: Who are Dell people to choose “what” can I put besides my Ubuntu. That’s the big issue for me. I am pretty convinced that in a couple of years there will be no problem to install a fresh Ubuntu 11.04 “Crazy Cow” in my Dell Mini 12 but for now it seems that the only distro working fine is the pseudo-proprietary Dell’s-Ubuntu… wich I cannot use because of the “non-partitioning-problem” issue. For more on the problem with Poulsbo chipset read:


  • Kyle Cronan escrigué:

    You can check this thread on ubuntuforums for the lowdown on this:

    pgs, I recommend that since you have the dell disc, you use it to restore Belmont onto your Mini 12 (I believe there may be a recovery partition that does the same?). Then just switch to the standard Ubuntu desktop and remove the packages that Dell includes that annoy you. You can then add some additional lpia deb sources if you like, eg,

  • Raulsinho escrigué:

    Thanks Kyle, I know about you because of that Ubuntu Thread that I have read before. I also know that you (and the rest of people in the forum) are doing a huge job (33 pages right now !) but I desagree with the coment by “naidu01″ that says: “But some folks don’t like the Dell version of ubuntu,[...] ” because that is not the ONLY question. If you read carefully my previous post you will notice that there is a big issue with resizing Dell’s Ubuntu partition. In fact, seems that it is no possible. At least for me. If you or someone else know how to resize please let us know so we could make coexist Ubuntu + “any other O.S.”. Meanwhile I will have to keep my Dell mini 12 with the actual configuration: XP + Debian Testing_Vesa_drivers…. and hope that in the near future Poulsbo driver will be packaged and work in any linux distro. My eyes will be grateful for that.

  • Paul escrigué:

    as far as I understand the problem is the relatively new chipset poulsbo.
    correct working drivers or sources are rare.
    actually intel supports linux red hat, one can download a rpm.

    if one uses a different distro he runs into more or less trouble.

    the actual workarround is to use the vesa driver and try to modify xorg.conf to get the native resolution working.

    or start again messing around with this windows stuff that stops working after a while, I agree to one above.

    so far or use dells distro.
    it is working and has DVD support build in if the above mentioned is correct.

    looking forward to my m12 ;-)

  • John escrigué:

    Sometimes I think this most be a conspiracy. Dell’s ubuntu mini sucks, Acer ship crippled redhat in the form of Linpus, and then neither of them roll their drivers or updates into the main distros so it is still a hassel to change to anything else.
    Does anyone else think that MS said, “sure, we’ll let you sell a linux based machine, but it had better suck or you wont get your cheap windows licenses anymore!”

  • [...] poulsbo driver in Ubuntu 9.04. Thus, I’ll have to continue using my Dell Mini 12 with the shitiest version of Ubuntu I’ve ever used. Canonical, Dell and [...]

  • pqs escrigué:

    It is true, usually, software must be adapted to the hardware, so manufacturers adapt, for example, windows xp.

    But, there is a main difference between ubuntu (and most distros) and windows or osx. On osx, apps usually upgrade themselves, firefox, adium, cyberduck, … And many other apps have they own updaters. If the os does not update itself is not that serious. In ubuntu most apps are upgraded by means of a central repository. If I don’t upgrade ubuntu I won’t get the next version of, for example, firefox.

    That’s why people need to upgrade often, and why the 6 months release cycle makes sense.

    It is true that backports are there, but this is for few apps. Now there is ppa at launchpad, which is helpful. But the problem is not wet solved.

    That’s why I don’t want to stick to an LTS version of Ubuntu. Many Dell custommers will like to have newer versions of many apps. They are not dumb.

  • pqs escrigué:

    Carolinason, could you further detail your experience? Was it easy to install debian? Which one do you use? Testing?

  • pqs escrigué:

    Thanks for the info raulsinho. I guess you don’t have yet the right resolution, as you are using VESA. Please, if you find how to install the poulsbo driver, post it here.

  • pqs escrigué:


    But this is not the point.

    The point is that they say that they sell ot with ubuntu and tjis is not strictly true.

  • pqs escrigué:

    Canonical hosts the repositories of Dell’s Ubuntu.

  • pqs escrigué:

    Maybe… Ubuntu 9.04 does not work neither.

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