Ubuntu tales #1: Taming a Dell Precision M4500

Its been over a month since I acquired a high performance mobile workstation: The Dell Precision M4500 which came with a Quad-Core Intel i7-940XM (with 8GB RAM) processor and a NVIDIA Quadro FX 880M (1GB dedicated memory) graphics card.

As a whimsical believer of, “Opportunities don’t knock twice, .a.k.a. Now or never”, I resolved to switch over to an open source working environment by installing the Ubuntu 10.10 distro (Maverick Meerkat). Now this ran into some serious difficulties given the non-standard graphics card and the initial set of proprietary drivers supplied by Ubuntu, but a Google search soon provided a non-elegant but effective solution. Initially, the internal microphone and touchpad (detected as a PS2 mouse) were not working as they should be but a recent update (Ubuntu 11.04) seems to have solved these problems. I still have to check if the large screen monitor plugged on my docking station works seamlessly as the 10.10 distro seemed buggy (one needs to define the Xorg.conf…).


7 Responses to “Ubuntu tales #1: Taming a Dell Precision M4500”

  1. Spencer Says:

    Do you have the integrated smart card reader on that machine? Can you confirm that it is detected and can be used?


    • champost Says:

      Hi, my machine came with a standard smart card reader but can’t say if it was really detected as nothing happened when I plugged a card in. Also tried running “lspci” in the terminal which didn’t show up anything specific saying, “xxx smartcard xxx”.

      • Spencer Says:

        Could you try :
        lspcmcia -v

        Looking at the windows drivers from dell.com, it looks like the reader is possibly an O2Micro PCMCIA reader.

        I’ve also seen some hints that Dell may have used the USB interface to link to the smartcard reader. Could you look at lsusb?

        Thanks for looking at this…

      • champost Says:

        “lsusb” didn’t show up any reader, here’s what it detected: Logitech, Inc. Optical Wheel Mouse; Broadcom Corp. BCM5880 Secure Applications Processor; Dell Computer Corp. DW375 Bluetooth Module; Intel Corp. Integrated Rate Matching Hub; Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub; Ricoh Co., Ltd HD Webcam; Intel Corp. Integrated Rate Matching Hub; Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub

        while “lspcmia -v” gave the following output:
        Socket 0 Bridge: [yenta_cardbus] (bus ID: 0000:04:00.0)
        Configuration: state: on ready: unknown

        Btw, have you tried configuring a dual screen via a docking station or a multi-touch scrolling (like a Mac touchpad) on Ubuntu 10.04 or higher ?

      • Spencer Says:

        Strange. I would have expected at least something indicating the smartcard reader.

        Not yet. Mine hasn’t been delivered yet.

        I do remember someone configuring the scrolling though (albeit manually via xorg.conf).

  2. Brandon Says:

    Do you have the docking station? If so, does the sound work when external speakers are connected through the docking station?

    • champost Says:

      Yes I regularly use the docking station. While I haven’t tried any external speakers, my headphones (connected on a USB port) work fine. I could also try hooking some speakers/headphones on the normal audio jack and let you know…

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