Awhile back I wrote about ‘Doing battle with a Dell R620 and Ubuntu‘ where I touched on the fact that booting from USB thumb-drive was a painful problem. In short, the same USB thumb-drive that would work in the R610 would not work in the R620.
It comes down BIOS support for USB and how it is handled. On the R610 there are 3 options: ‘auto-detect’, ‘floppy emulation’ and ‘hard drive’. Auto was hit-or-miss, floppy would not work but ‘hard drive’ worked every time. On the R620 there are no options so I can only suppose that it supports ‘floppy emulation’ upon detection of a USB thumb-drive.
Dell System E-Support Tool (DSET) is an informative tool used by Dell’s support engineers to help diagnose problems for their clients. It is almost a requirement now and Dell usually refuses to continue support without a DSET report.
The problem is that DSET is only supported on Redhat and SuSE Linux and there isn’t any information on how to get it running in Ubuntu. I’ve assembled a rough guide on how to get DSET up and running on Ubuntu 10.04 and 12.04 and it is tested against a Dell R610 and R620.
We recently got sent a Dell R620 to evaluate and while its technical specification is amazing there are a few things that need to be handled first.
As far as Ubuntu and the Dell R620 go, Precise (12.04) is the only way to go here. Every release before Precise has issues with this hardware in one way or another. This is new hardware of after all.
For our “use case” we downgraded the PERC H710P controller to a H310 controller so we can have direct access to the drives via pass-through. The H310 allows TRIM support for SSDs and SMART data via smartctl to be used without any problems. If you are interested in SMART information and PERC H700 series RAID controller, I posted about possible workarounds at Dell’s customer support site.
While the default Dell Studio XPS 1640 is fast and is a decent work laptop, it needed to do one extra thing, run virtual machines (VMs). I spend a lot of my time debugging, hacking and otherwise trying to make software behave in ways that the developers had not intended.
Tools like VirtualBox, VMWare, Xen and QEMU make this job less tedious. The problem is that with the Intel T7350 CPU, I cannot run 64 bit VMs. Turns out that T7250 is a 64 capable chip, but without the VT-x extension which allows for hardware assisted virtualization.
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.