DELL M1330Ubuntu

Ubuntu Jaunty Jackalope on Dell XPS M1330

So Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex turned out to be a bad experience on my dell m1330. Many things that worked out of the box with Hardy heron got broken on Ibex. Things like Finger print reader, bluetooth, Graphic Display, Audio, all had one problem or the other. I was able to walk around most of the issues, although some were just unfix-able (like the screen corruption that i get when i enable compositing metacity or compiz) could not be fixed.

When Jaunty alpha6 was announced with many folks on identica claiming it to be very stable i decided to make the switch. I have since been running Ubuntu jaunty jackalope on my laptop. People say that the grass on the other side is always greener,well that was how running jaunty on my dell m1330 turned out. It wasn’t perfect and although i noticed many improvements from intrepid ibex like faster boot, better notification system, better support for suspense and hibernation, they were also some huge show spoiler like the Intel graphic regression which seem to affect the Intel Corporation Mobile GM965/GL960 Integrated Graphics Controller (rev 0c) graphic chipset the most, causing the system to hard freeze requiring me to have to manually power down the machine. This issue got really bad that i had to downgrade to ubuntu hardy heron (which ran perfectly on my system) while i waited for walk rounds to the problem.

Then Dell released their custom image for ubuntu jaunty jackalope with some customization of their own that fixed issues many dell laptops had with ubuntu jaunty jackalope (mostly audio issues) and i decided it was time to give jaunty another try.

I downloaded the dell image from here

The good thing about this dell image for ubuntu is that unlike the previous ubuntu images released by dell were the user didn’t have a say in the partitioning process of the system. This image actually allows the user to partition the system to their taste. So its possible to dual-boot between windows and linux on this version of dell ubuntu reinstall image, a thing which was impossible with previous versions.

After installing the dell installing the dell jaunty jackalope image am happy to say that ubuntu jaunty jackalope is shaping up to be one of the best ubuntu i have ever used. very smooth and solid as a rock. It still has some nagging issues out of the box, but most of this issues have simple fixes and work around which when applied made ubuntu 9.04 rock on my dell m1330.

NB: I would recommend that anybody intending to install the ubuntu jaunty jackalope on their dell xps (or in fact any dell should consider using the dell-jaunty-reinstall-iso which can be downloaded here you can read more about the advantages of the dell-reinstall-image over the vanilla ubuntu from this post

what works
Intel core 2 Duo T5850 (2.16GHz/667Mhz FSB/2MB cache)
Just works

Standard Display with 2.0 Megapixel Webcam
Just works

Speed: 320GB SATA Hard Drive (7200RPM) with Free Fall Sensor
Just works

Integrated 10/100 Network Card
Just works

Not Tested

CD/DVD burner (DVD+/-RW Drive)
Just works

High Definition Audio 2.0
just works (had issues with recording on vanilla ubuntu but the dell reinstall image works fine out of the box even with pulse audio)

Intel® 3945 802.11a/g Mini-card
Just works

56Whr Lithium Ion Battery (6 cell)
Just works

Biometric Fingerprint Reader
works (not out of the box)

Built-in Bluetooth capability (2.0 EDR)
Just works

Standard LCD
Just works

Internal mic
Just works

Memory card reader
Just works


Ubuntu Jaunty Jackalope is by no means a perfect out of the box experience on my m1330 i had serious issues with stability and general usability.

where are some of the issues and how i was able to get round them

Issue 1

X freezes due to regression in the Intel graphic driver for jaunty.
This was a huge show stopper for me. it just made my laptop unusable. I usually experience a like 10 freezes in a day, and each time the best way to get out of it was to manually power down the machine. The problem with the Intel graphic driver is upstream and not an ubuntu specific problem. and unfortunately the hardest hit is the Intel Corporation Mobile GM965/GL960 Integrated Graphics Controller (rev 0c) which is what my laptop uses.

Walk around
I was able to get round the frequent X display crashes by enabling something called greedy mode in my xorg.conf file. Doing this is very easy.

first we backup our xorg.conf its always a good idea to do this so we can always restore back to default in case things did work out right for you

Backup xorg.conf
sudo cp /etc/X11/xorg.conf /etc/X11/xorg.conf-bak

now that we have the default xorg.conf backed up we can now safely edit it by adding the following to the device section of xorg.conf

Option "AccelMethod" "EXA"
Option "MigrationHeuristic" "greedy

first we open the file with a text editor

gksudo gedit /etc/X11/xorg.conf

now we edit the device section of the file to look like this

# xorg.conf (X.Org X Window System server configuration file)
# This file was generated by dexconf, the Debian X Configuration tool, using
# values from the debconf database.
# Edit this file with caution, and see the xorg.conf manual page.
# (Type "man xorg.conf" at the shell prompt.)
# This file is automatically updated on xserver-xorg package upgrades *only*
# if it has not been modified since the last upgrade of the xserver-xorg
# package.
# Note that some configuration settings that could be done previously
# in this file, now are automatically configured by the server and settings
# here are ignored.
# If you have edited this file but would like it to be automatically updated
# again, run the following command:
# sudo dpkg-reconfigure -phigh xserver-xorg

Section “Monitor”
Identifier “Configured Monitor”

Section “Screen”
Identifier “Default Screen”
Monitor “Configured Monitor”
Device “Configured Video Device
SubSection “Display”
Virtual 2720 900

Section “Device”
Identifier “Configured Video Device”
Option “AccelMethod” “EXA”
Option “MigrationHeuristic” “greedy”


**As you can see from above, I just added
Option "AccelMethod" "EXA"
Option "MigrationHeuristic" "greedy

to the device section ***

Once this is done we save and close the file. Changes would be applied on next login.

Issue 2

Desktop Effect is disabled by default on the Intel Corporation Mobile GM965/GL960 Integrated Graphics Controller (rev 0c)
so laptops running that particular Intel card would not be able run compiz on ubuntu jaunty jackalope. I was able to get round this issue bt removing my Intel Driver from the blacklist. To do this run the

Walk around
Desktop effect/ Compiz was disabled to reduce the rate of X freezes on Intel card GM65/GL960 cards. However applying the workaround in Issue 1 makes the system stable enough to run compiz. Since enabling Greedy mode in the previous work around eliminate the freezes anyway removing the GM65/GL960 from blacklist meant compiz started working without any issues and system is still just as rock solid .. talk about eating my cake and having it.

Removing the Intel card GM65/GL960 from compiz blacklist is dead easy. open Terminal and run the following commands

gksudo gedit /usr/bin/compiz

this would open a text file, search for the following line in the text file # blacklist based on the pci ids

under that you would see the following of lines

T="$T 8086:2982 8086:2992 8086:29a2 8086:2a02 8086:2a12" # intel 965
T="$T 8086:2a02 " # Intel GM965

you need to add a comment “#” in-front of which line to look like this

#T="$T 8086:2982 8086:2992 8086:29a2 8086:2a02 8086:2a12" # intel 965
#T="$T 8086:2a02 " # Intel GM965

Once that is done. log out and login into the system and try to enable desktop effect. It should work like a charm

Issue 3

Finger Print reader: Thinkfinger the tool which would help us to use our finger print reader for authentication is still broken in the repositories.

Walk around

We would have to install one from a third party PPA. Open Synaptic System/Administration/Synaptic
go to settings/Repositories and choose the Third-Pary Software tab Click add (not add CD-ROM) and add the following

deb jaunty main
when you are done click add source and close the the software sources tab.

Now we need to add the PPA key (This is a good practice from a security stand point as it ensures that anything you are installing is actually from the right repository if you skip this part you will get errors every time you refresh your sources)

Open the terminal and run the following command

sudo apt-key adv --recv-keys --keyserver 0xf2a12fabe936a7bbdc4ea33351db180d1323e149

now click the reload button on synaptic. once its done refreshing, search for the following: thinkfinger-tools and libpam-thinkfinger right click install and apply and once its done. the first part is installed

We are now going to configure how to use the finger print reader for authentication. to do this we would have to edit some configuration file on the system. first we run the following command

sudo '/usr/lib/pam-thinkfinger/pam-thinkfinger-enable'

Then we need to restart the system for the changes to take effect. Once you are logged in Open Terminal again and store your finger print on the computer with this command

tf-tool --acquire

swap your finger of choice 3 times

to test run this

tf-tool --verify

then you are done. from now on you can use your finger print for
a) GDM session login
b) Screensaver unlock
c) Sudo and gksudo prompts
d) PolicyKit authorization

Issue 4

Inability to run Desktop effect / Compiz on a Dual Monitor setup : There is a hardware limitation of Intel cards which prevent them from from running hardware acceleration at a resolution higher than 2048 x 2048 virtual size. Fortunately this hardware limitation does not affect the Intel GM965 Chipset, unfortunately the Driver shipped with Jaunty (and previous versions ubuntu if i might add) has a bug that limit the Intel GM965 to just 2048 x 2048 virtual size when running hardware acceleration, which in human language means you can run compiz, and you can setup dual monitor, you just cant do both at the same.

Walk Around Fortunately there is a fix for this bug. To apply this fix we would to add a 3rd party PPA to our source.list and install the mesa package which contains the fix. after which we can then remove the PPA from our source list.

echo 'deb jaunty main' | sudo tee -a /etc/apt/sources.list

Then we add the PPA key and refresh our sources
sudo apt-key adv --recv-keys --keyserver 0x282e4fae542e7613e2dc4056c1fe1a7b426ff7fa ; sudo apt-get update

It would have been easy if you just do an upgrade in which case install latest update. But since i wasnt too sure about some of the packages in from this PPA and what i need is just his mesa packages which contains the fix we need, I would suggest the only package we upgrade to should be mesa. Hence open synaptic package manager and search for the following packages. right click on them and select upgrade


when you are done. click apply and install the upgrade you have selected.
Once the upgrade is complete. I would advise you remove the PPA from your sources. You can do this by going to settings in synaptic and click on repositories. Click on the Third Party Software tab and scroll down till you see the deb jaunty main, uncheck it and close. Now you will need to click reload to refresh your sources.

After applying the following simple fix, My Dell as been solid as a rock, no more freezes and i get an optimum use of my hardware.

Hope someone finds this useful