Ubuntu 12.04 on my Dell Precision M65

After upgrading my Eee PC to Ubuntu 12.04 “Precise Pangolin”, I also upgraded my Dell Precision M65 notebook. Like with my Eee PC, in previous versions little worked: Unreliable suspend, no hibernate, no WiFi, and frequent X freezes. This time though, things have really improved.

For the first time, I got my Broadcom BCM4311 wifi chip working. I had to disable the proprietary driver (Settings, Additional Drivers) and install the b43-fwcutter firmware package though.

To run Unity with acceptable speed, I needed proprietary drivers for my G72GL Nvidia graphics card which I activated via the Additional Drivers menu. I experienced no X freezes so far, which is a good sign. With version 295.40-0ubuntu1 of nvidia-current, suspend started working. Before, I had problems with memory corruption, probably due to a bug in the Nvidia driver. Now, even hibernate worked several times in a row after I managed to enable it. I’m impressed.

Unity works OK on small screens, but on large screens (like my 1920×1200 display), it’s simply no good idea to maximize all windows. I use several windows per workspace which means I have to drag the mouse a lot to access the global menu bar. I know you can get your menus back where they belong by uninstalling some packages, but I really think the global menus should be configurable.

I played with the new Gnome Shell, too, but after two freezes within one hour, I went back to Unity. While I was able to configure a fixed number of workspaces using an Add-On, switching to workspaces directly via keyboard shortcuts didn’t work. Also, it’s not easy to open multiple terminal windows. On the plus side, there was no global application menu.

All in all, things are finally looking up. Unity and the new Gnome Shell still have huge usability issues, but at least hardware support improved a lot.

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6 Responses to Ubuntu 12.04 on my Dell Precision M65

  1. Vladimir Jovanovic says:

    Hello Matthias,
    thanks for posting this info. I would like to replace wireless card on my M65 since Ubuntu 12.04 does not like the current one. I bought my M65 in 2006, I love it and would like to have full functionality under 12.04. If you have some suggestion for which wirelles would work, please let me know.

  2. mafr says:

    Hi Vladimir,
    the only thing I can say is that the built-in BCM4311 chip finally worked for me. I don’t know if it is sold separately (or under which name).
    Regards, Matthias

  3. Vladimir Jovanovic says:

    It also works on my M65. Thank you so much for posting those cruicall information. I was almost on the way to the PC shop to replace the original wireless card. Cheers.

  4. Ubuntu Dude says:

    Do you ever get funky BIOS screen stuff going on? I don’t know if my hardware is shot or what, I get vertical lines on the Dell screen, then some exclamation points all across the screen !!!!! everywhere, then Ubutnu boots (most of the time) then I get x freezes or x won’t load…when it’s not working. It’s so irritating! I think it’s a hardware issue but thought I’d ask if anyone else wad experiencing similar issues. I’m on BIOS A10, latest release. Sometimes I get an update from Ubuntu update and I’m scared to do an update if it’s been performing well, the update will come down and I’ll experience problems :-(

    • mafr says:

      Nope, I haven’t had this particular problem. I’ve seen some weird graphics artifacts after waking up from suspend, but that has been fixed a while ago.

    • Vlada says:

      Exactly two months ago happened to me. Your graphic card is dead and it is glued to the motherboard, therefore an easy substitution is not possible. I like my M65 a lot however I think I cannot do anything to fix it up within a reasonable budget. Take a look at this

      If you think you can fix it up let me know how. I was running ubuntu on mine and was also thinking that some kernel updates did something with the graphics however that was not an issue.

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