Friday, October 22, 2010

Linux on Dell's M101z

I've now installed and configured both Ubuntu and Arch on my Dell M101z and most things work fine. Starting at the bottom:
  • Replacing a Dell M101z Hard DriveThe M101z does not allow hot swapping of the internal hard drive, perhaps obvious as it really is internal (you have to remove the keyboard to change it) but it did mean that I was lucky I still had my old M1330 which allowed for hot-swapping to update the firmware on my OCZ Vertex 2.
  • Suspend (s2ram) works as long as you boot with the noapic kernel option and don't have an HDMI device connected when you suspend/resume.
  • For wireless I've been using the open source brcm80211 driver it seems more reliable on speed and is built into the kernel since 2.6.37, but it's a little bit buggy. Broadcom's own STA driver is stable, but seems very slow at times.
  • Just because the Radeon HD 4225 video card has an "HD" in the name does not mean that you should use the RadeonHD driver as I tried to under Arch, use the straight ATI/Radeon driver as Ubuntu does automatically. Use Arch wiki's xorg.conf settings. I wouldn't recommend the binary driver either.
  • CPU scaling works using the PowerNow-K8 module, again I assume Ubuntu did this automatically.
  • /dev/sdb1 is not created when I insert an SD card. I can create it either by rmmod and modprobe ehci_hcd or attempting to mount /dev/sdb.
It seems like a good little machine, the keyboard's good (I don't have small hands), it's heavier than it looks, the screen is good, it runs quite hot and I'm a little disappointed with the 3-4 hour battery life, I wonder if it would be better under Windows.


Robert Maroon said...

Battery life under Windows 7 is about 4.5 hours with brightness set @ 50%, hard drive, BT and WIFI always on.

A fresh install of Ubuntu 10.10 shows 2 hourd and 15 minutes on my system (Dual K325, 4B, 320GB7200 RPM HD).

ATI binary drivers could improve the situation with battery.

Overall the notebooks seems to run cooler under Windows.

There is an Ubuntu 10.04 A04 ISO on Dell's FTP site, you may want to check if they managed to make suspend/hibernate work or not (most likely not as the previous attempt was rushed and untested).

Jamie said...

Thanks for the info. I did notice mention of the Dell Ubuntu version, and I think the message was that suspend still doesn't work, although for all I know that could have been an older version.