Ubuntu on Inspiron B130

Once again I have two laptops, both Dells. My main system is a Vostro 1500 that sees daily use and a lot of miles, and an Inspiron B130 that was previously my daily system, but now is the computer that I keep in the living room to surf while I’m watching TV. As part of regular system maintenance I was going to un/reinstall the operating system, and having a great experience with Ubuntu a couple of years ago, I decided to try again. Last night I cleaned the hard drive and installed Ubuntu 8.04 on it. Once again, I’m really impressed with this operating system. I’ll start with the hardware details then give a play-by-play.

  • Dell Inspiron B130
  • Celeron M processor
  • Integrated video processor
  • 2GB RAM
  • 60GB hard drive
  • 15.4″ display (1280×800)
  • CD/DVD writer
  • Dell 1370 wireless adapter

The install process was smooth and painless, nothing to note there. Once Ubuntu was installed and running I connected it to my router so it could get the updates. That took about two and a half hours to complete, but it didn’t require any attention from me so I watched TV and worked on a web project and just let it run.

Once the update was complete I rebooted. When it started again it picked up the wireless adapter and recommended a driver. Once again, no interaction required, just let it do its thing. One more reboot and wifi was working. Screen resolution was determined and set during the install process, its been running at 1280×800 since I completed the install. At that point I started grabbing the software that I want through Synaptic, and the system was ready to use.

It took about four hours start to finish. The function keys (screen brightness, volume control, CRT/LCD, etc) all work as advertised. The touchpad works flawlessly, including tap to select and drag up/down, left/right to scroll when appropriate. Battery indicator seems to work properly.

I’ll probably be using this system more now. Its actually quite a bit faster than my Vostro with a dual core processor, 256MB video card and 4GB RAM. Take that Window XP. That’s a pretty good argument for ditching Windows.

One other comment, Dvorak on this system is awesome. On Windows, you log in using QWERTY and once the desktop loads the keyboard switches over to Dvorak. I’ve always thought that was kind of lame. With Ubuntu, if you select Dvorak the system is Dvorak, period. That’s pretty awesome.

I don’t mean to sound like a fanboy, there are still shortcomings, primarily in hardware compatibility. I’m not quite brave enough to try connecting it with my HP wifi printer or Western Digital NetCenter (NAS drive) just yet, maybe next weekend. Linux does a lot of things right though, and it is continually moved forward by a team of committed developers. You gotta respect that.

For the record, I still want a Mac. Macs are $2,000 though, and this old system is rockin fast and cost me exactly zilch. Its not brushed aluminum, but if it really starts to bug me I’ll spray paint it. Ha!

5 replies on “Ubuntu on Inspiron B130”

  1. Well I’ll be dipped. Installing my HP DeskJet 6980 wifi printer was a snap. It was a matter of a few clicks, Ubuntu already had the driver loaded. It even automatically detected the IP address.

    On Windows I had to load the software, then load the network settings on a USB key to transfer them to the printer.

    Beautiful.

  2. Ubuntu RULES! Release 8.10 “Intrepid Ibex” will be out at the end of the month. I plan to wait a couple of weeks, then perform my biannual upgrade. I’ve been upgrading since the I installed 6.04 several years ago, and my experience has been much more positive than any windows upgrade I’ve ever attempted.

    I first started with Fedora in 2005, but geez what a nightmare the Redhat package manager (rpm) still was. Since 2006, the balloon tracking at http://www.balloonfiesta.com/GasTracking/i_gastracking.php has been the latest release of Ubuntu. The Debian Way ™ is so much nicer. I wish managing applications on windows was as easy as the Debian package manager makes it.

    By the way, I much better prefer the KDE desktop – Kubuntu. Run “apt-get install kde-desktop” to get it. Gnome or KDE is a personal preference of course, and you can run applications designed for either desktop from either desktop.

    As for the speed of the updates, you should select a better server. This is especially true after a major release as everyone will be hitting the main servers upgrading. I use adept as my GUI package manager. From the Adept menu, select Manage Repositiories. In the window that pops up, click the “Kubuntu Software” tab, click the pulldown for “Download from:” and select “Other”. Then click the Find Best Server button. You will see a dialog “Testing Mirrors” then you will be returned to the Adept Manager main window.

    Lets see… other tips…. Do not use Automatix. If you don’t know what Automatix is then don’t find out. Here are a few additional package repositories I use:

    * For an optimized Firefox, use SwiftFox
    http://getswiftfox.com/deb.htm

    * For Google Picasa – and hopefully some day GoogleEarth
    http://www.google.com/linuxrepositories/apt.html

    * For non-free applications like Acroread, windows codecs, Skype, or (re)packaged apps like Google Earth, Amarok, etc.
    http://medibuntu.org/
    https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Medibuntu

    (As an old skool command line nerd, I just edit /etc/apt/sources.list, but any graphical package manager should allow you to manage the repositories)

  3. I love that my boyfriend and close friends are nerds! 🙂 I have no idea what you’re talking about, but I love reading your posts all the same.

  4. Hi Lenwood, I’ am try to install Ubuntu system in my Inspiron B130 laptop. Once time I can could finish this process (Instalation of Ubuntu) but the Hibernate and Stand by features can not work. Also I want to know if the Wireless and Modem features work without install no drivers or do some configuration.
    Sorry but my Inglish is not very good because I’am cubano.

    Thanks friend.

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