Skip to content

March 31, 2010


Ubuntu Karmic 9.10 on Dell Studio XPS 1640

The very first thing I did when the company I work for gave me a laptop, a Dell Studio XPS 1640, was to install Ubuntu Karmic on it. No need for windows on this thing, I plan on working, not playing.

Dell is very good about their laptops. Whenever I had a question, everything I ever needed to know about their hardware I could easily look up on the online. The 1640 is no exception with their manual.

The setup:

  • Intel Core2 Duo: T7350
  • 4GB of DDR3 ram
  • Radeon Mobility HD 3670
  • RV635 Audio device [Radeon HD 3600 Series]
  • Intel Corporation Wireless WiFi Link 5100
  • BCM5784M Gigabit Ethernet
  • Intel 82801I (ICH9 Family) Chipset
  • Intel ICH9M/M-E SATA AHCI Controller
  • WesternDigital WD3200BJKT-7 320GB Harddriver
  • TSSTcorp DVD+/-RW TS-T633A, D600

Key Elements:

  • Ubuntu Karmic 9.10
  • typical development setup (build-essentials)
  • Skype
  • fglrx
  • Virtualbox
  • ext4 filesystem

The install happened in September 2009, but I felt it best to share what I went through before going to Ubuntu Lucid 10.04. The install itself went without a problem, everything loaded up fine.

At the time, I was using the ‘ati’ xorg driver. I attached a separate monitor (Dell 23″) and configured it using the Display Preferences tool to be one big desktop. This gets a little weird with one monitor being 1920×1080 and the laptop LCD at 1366×768 but what happens is that it creates a virtual desktop size that covers both screens with a little cut-off at the bottom (or top) of the laptop LCD screen.

I wanted to switch over to the fglrx driver for it’s 3D acceleration but immediately came into a problem in that my screen setup above would just not work. I hunted through forums and documentation but eventually with some guess work, I managed to get the big virtual desktop setup and fglrx to work together.

Here is my modified: /etc/X11/xorg.conf

Section "Monitor"
	Identifier     "Monitor0"
	VendorName     "Unknown"
	ModelName      "DELL S2309W"
	HorizSync       30.0 - 83.0
	VertRefresh     50.0 - 76.0
	Option         "DPMS"

Section "Monitor"
	Identifier     "Monitor1"
	VendorName     "Unknown"
	ModelName      "LCD"
	HorizSync       30.0 - 83.0
	VertRefresh     50.0 - 76.0
	Option         "DPMS"

Section "Screen"
	Identifier	"Configured Screen Device"
	Device	"Configured Video Device"
	DefaultDepth	24
	SubSection "Display"
		Virtual	3840 2160

Section "Module"
	Load	"glx"

Section "Device"
	Identifier	"Configured Video Device"
	Driver	"fglrx"
	Option "AccelMethod" "exa"

Section "ServerFlags"
	Option "RandR" "on"

The benefit of this setup is that I was then able to turn on compiz for a compositing windows manager. I use normal, I do not need the flashy effects.

System->Preferences->Appearance->Visual Effects->Normal

It worked seamlessly across the two screens and the openGL programs worked flawlessly.

So there you are, everything worked out of the box on the laptop except for the ability to have an additional monitor. Even that was fixed with a bit of hacking.

Aside from it’s looks, it is a very nice desktop replacement. Everything just simply works.

1 Comment Post a comment
  1. Cindy Bailey
    Apr 3 2010



Share your thoughts, post a comment.


Note: HTML is allowed. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to comments