Ubuntu on Dell Latitude D830

Last week I ordered a laptop from Dell, a Latitude D830. Estimated shipping day was 4/1. On Monday night I was amazed and excited when I discovered that it already had shipped. And I guess DHL wanted to do their part and delivered it the next day! So I had my laptop two weeks earlier than I had feared. Not bad!

It came with Windows Vista. I booted and made sure everything works. Then I backed up the hard drive – just in case I need the preinstalled Vista again. My plan was to install Linux on it and run Windows in a virtual machine on Linux.

First I downloaded the beta version of Ubuntu 8.04. I wanted to use LVM to make it easier to create and resize partitions, so I had to use the alternate installer. While I was installing it seemed that it was hanging – the progress bar stayed forever at 28% while checking for some updates. I switched to another console window with Alt-F2. When I switched back to the installer and back to the console window, I only got a black screen, same with the other console windows. Only a little blinking cursor, but everything else was gone. Thanks to Google I eventually found the solution for the hanger: I had to kill the http process, and then it went on.

And I discovered a workaround for my black screen: before I switch to another console window, I press Ctrl-D. Then, when I come back, I press Enter again which starts a new session – a little annoying, but it worked.

I had to kill the http process several times since it tried to go to the Internet multiple times during the installation.

After the installation of the Ubuntu system I installed the Xen packages and then booted with the Xen kernel. That worked, but I discovered soon that I’m not able to start X11, so I abandoned the Xen idea.

Next I tried to install the KVM packages. That worked, so I fired up a virtual machine and installed Vista in it. However, when I tried to run the calculation of the performance index it failed and Vista brought up a message box. So KVM worked, but I wasn’t too impressed. Besides I wasn’t sure if there are drivers for KVM that would speed up things.

Next I installed VirtualBox and also created a virtual machine and installed Vista (it was amazing, both with KVM and with VirtualBox it didn’t take very long). I installed the Guest Additions (basically specialized drivers for network, graphics and hard drive that VirtualBox provides). This time I was able to run the performance index. The graphics component got only 1 point – not too surprising since the graphics driver doesn’t support DirectX. The other components were pretty fast – not too far from the values I got when I ran Vista on the native machine.

What I really like about VirtualBox is the seamless windows feature. Cool.

I need to do some more testing of the performance on my virtual Vista. Stay tuned…

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