Gutsy on Dell Latitude D830

I got my brand new Dell Latitude D830 laptop today, and the first thing I did with it was installing Gutsy. Dell was nice enough to partition the drive for me so I didn’t have to bother with resizing. This is possibly like the single most useful service they offer in their store. Installation went very smoothly, but configuring the laptop was a bit more rocky than my recent test with Inspiron 600m

New Dell Latitude D830 On my Desk

I’m pleased to report that my Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG card worked out of the box without any tweaking. It is listed in the Restricted Drivers section but there was nothing I had to do to enable it. It just popped into action and that was that. I’m very happy about this. As far as I could tell everything else except for the sound card worked. Yes Aplhast, my sound card doesn’t work! I’m blaming you! You jinksed it buddy! ;P

Lshw tells me that I have an Intel 82801H (ICH8 Family) HD Audio Controller. In Ubuntu circles ICH8 is an acronym for “fucking pain in the ass”. It just doesn’t work without major tweaking. Patching and recompiling ALSA might be required. And even then it is not guaranteed that it will work at all.

But there is no way in hell I’m willing to accept “doesn’t work” without at least trying. After some googling I found two possible solutions. First one was very simple – simply add the following line to /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base:

options snd-hda-intel probe_mask=1 model=3stack

I did just that, rebooted and found out that this doesn’t work. Of course! Why would it. Things can’t be this easy, can they? I left the line in it’s place just in case and moved to the next suggestion which was equally easy. Just install one small package and reboot.

sudo aptitude install linux-backports-modules-generic

I rebooted and heard a faint chime of KDE startup sound. It was a little bit quiet so I mashed the Volume Up button above the keyboard. Gutsy actually knew about this button, and displayed a nice overlay volume bar on my screen. I maxed out the sound, fired up Amarok and played the welcome message. It wasn’t as loud as the sounds in Windows, but for my purposes it was perfectly adequate. So yes, sound is working. All is well!

Just about everything else worked including Bluetooth. Ot at least I think it works because the LDE lights up, and KDE has a nice icon in the taskbar which tells me the MAC adress of my card. Unfortunately I do not have any bluetooth toys that I could test it with. Any suggestions for a bluetooth appliance for this laptop?

The Nvidia Quadro NVS 140M card was red in the restricted driver panel signifying that the proprietary drivers were not installed but are available. Since everything looked fine I decided to leave it be for now. I could always go back and install the driver later. So I messed around with it some more, and then decided to plop it in the place of my regular laptop.

As soon as I connected the laptop to my external monitor and hit Fn+F8 (which is the CRT/LCD switch) everything went to hell. I got incredibly colorful, psychedelic, blinking patterns on both screens and that was it. Killing the X server did nothing – this weird display corruption had to be happening at a lower level. Only thing I could do was to pull the monitor plug and REISUB.

So I figured this was the time to install the nvidia driver. So I went to K-menu, System Settings, Advanced, Restricted Drivers and installed it without ever dropping down to CLI. Neat! Naturally I needed to reboot for the new driver to go into action. Unfortunately I immediately realized that Nvidia decided to take away my Fn+F8 function. I was able to flip back and forward between LCD and CRT during the framebuffer loading screen, but as soon as X started the picture would jump back to the laptop LCD and stay there.

It took me few minutes to figure out the magical spell I needed here:


It pops up a very nice config dialog you can use to set up he multi-display stuff:

NVidia Dialog

Once I did that, everything started working just fine. Now I’m running on a beautiful 1280×1024 resolution and enjoying how incredibly fast this hardware seems compared to my old 700 Mhz junker. It is a great machine!

If you are planning to buy a machine for Linux though I would probably recommend the Dell Ubuntu line – this way you avoid the fun I had here with the sound card. And that machine comes with an integrated webcam (kinda like Apple does) which is kinda awesome. I got this one because it was supposed to be a dual boot machine and I kinda needed it to have an XP license attached to it. I’d recommend it but only if you are not afraid of getting your hands dirty messing around with the sound card. You know what… I take that back – it’s just one package and one line in alsa-base file (I don’t know which one did it, and I don’t care at thisp point) – I did the research for you so it should be easy. :mrgreen:

[tags]ubuntu, dell, dell latitude, dell latitude d830, d830, kubuntu, gutsy, ubuntu gutsy, kubuntu 7.10[/tags]

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9 Responses to Gutsy on Dell Latitude D830

  1. JK Wood UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Linux says:

    Nice write-up.

    I used to run Gutsy on my D830. I’m using Slamd64 now.

    I’d recommend changing your resolution to a widescreen one. Also, the 2.6.23+ kernels have proper support for the Intel HDA audio on this machine. If only the *buntu devs would actually bother doing some decent maintenance, it’d be easy to upgrade. Heck, even Pat Volkerding, the Slackware dev, updates his kernels!

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  2. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    [quote post=”2268″]I’d recommend changing your resolution to a widescreen one[/quote]

    Well, my external monitor is a regular square CRT. When I’m running on the LCD it automatically becomes 1280×800. I need to play around with the nvidia panel to see if I can go any higher than this. :)

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  3. Alphast NETHERLANDS Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    Well, Luke, I am now really happy.

    First, I am afraid to say that I am happy your sound didn’t work too well in the first place. No I did not jinx you and I am also not the kind of guy to be happy about other people’s lack of luck. But fair enough, I was beginning to fear that I was some kind of freak and that this problem was only reserved to me by some kind of perverse deity.

    Second, I am of course very glad for you that you managed to get rid of the problem so easily. I am even going to optimistically try your fix myself. Who knows, it might even work for me too… ;-)

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  4. Alphast NETHERLANDS Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    Well, I was obviously too optimistic. Your trick did improve things slightly (namely the quality of the sound is significantly better for sound files played by the computer, like in RythmBox, for instance). I guess that’s what better drivers do. But the microphone still gives the annoying “gconfaudiosrc ! audioconvert ! audioresample ! gconfaudiosink profile=chat: Resource busy or not available.” message and no video from YouTube or any other online sound can make any noise…

    Anyway, problem solved in a very brute way: my colleagues agreed to buy me a new computer with only standard Ubuntu supported hardware. So next week I should be able to work normally again. :-)

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  5. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    Oh well. I was hoping this might help you fix your problem but I guess it was not meant to be. A new computer is always a good thing though. :)

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  6. KrGAce UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux says:

    Nice write up. I followed all of your examples for gutsy on my D830, and I too now have sound after checking all afternoon. Many thanks.


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  7. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Ubuntu Linux Terminalist says:

    Great! I’m glad I could help. :)

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  8. Joe UNITED STATES Safari Mac OS says:

    May I just say a big THANK YOU. I am in the process of moving off Windoze to LInux – and find Ubuntu the best choice for me. I jusdt ordered a D830 and your write up handled one of the last issues- the video issue. I teach for a LARGE software/DB company (ahem) and NEED to be able to project and do dual screen easily. I have windows as a dual boot JIC/Emergencies – but I pray that in a year from now I’ll blow its partition and have it off my machine-0 and use vmware if need be.
    Thank you again. The ubuntu linux people I’ve come across are a LARGE part of making up my mind and easing the transition.

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  9. think it works because the LDE lights up, and KDE has a nice icon in the taskbar which tells me the MAC adress of my card. Unfortunately I do not have any bluetooth toys that I could test it with.

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