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Dell C840 Laptop – Another Linux Fail

Dell C840 Laptop – Another Linux Fail

I dug out yet another Old Laptop – this time A Dell Latitude C840. The Tech specs I shall post in one second but for this exercise, I choose to download Ubuntu 10.04 Beta One (been new and all) and went to work installing Ubuntu plus working with Compiz to give me a radical 3D Desktop – this was not to be as you shall soon find out..

The tech specs

Running a Mobile Pentium 4 at 1.8GHz, it has 1GIG Ram, 40GIG IDE Hard drive and a nVidia GeForce4 440 Go graphics chip which runs the screen at 1400×1050. The battery has since died and this only runs off the main power supply but it still is more then capable when running Windows.

Install

Ubuntu 10.04 installed just fine and I was soon up and running but it warned me that the HD is about to fail as it has so many read errors. I enabled compiz and rebooted the machine as instructed – this was the last time I saw anything on the screen as such.

The problem with the Graphics

I almost gave up to be honest at this stage but I went on a *working* windows machine and I soon found out that the nVidia GeForce4 440 Go graphics chip has an issue in Linux – shock and horror !! The problem it seems is that it enables the VGA Connector as the default device instead of the screen actually built into the machine.

I had a few options but I took the one which basically edited the xorg.conf file and added a line to use the default device of DFP (Digital Flat Panel). Once I rebooted I had the desktop up and running once again.

No 3D Graphics?

I went through and enabled all the normal settings such as Cube and so forth but NONE worked, so here we have actually two issues – the Windows Key (use in many settings for 3D) does not even get picked up and also the driver and/or the card is incapable of actually doing 3D Graphics.

Conclusion

I do expect that a *new* device not work as it should on Linux but I expect people to solve the problems of older hardware due to it been out for a long time and I am sure I am not the only person ever to own a nVidia GeForce4 440 Go graphics chip. This is why time and time again – I keep saying that Windows (even though it costs money) beats this Linux hands down time and time again for the desktop – I shall be installing Windows 7 on this machine later.

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  • Bill Pickett

    Correction, first of all it is beta software. Second the failing most likely falls to the video card manufacturer. You are expecting Linux to work out of the box yet you don’t expect Windows 7 to have full drivers for everything out of the box? Double standard. Coming to the manufacturer, they need to support Linux and that is chicken and egg: drivers are for Windows because everyone has Windows, everyone has Windows because all the drivers are there for it… If you actually understood computers you could see this.

  • Bill Pickett

    Correction, first of all it is beta software. Second the failing most likely falls to the video card manufacturer. You are expecting Linux to work out of the box yet you don’t expect Windows 7 to have full drivers for everything out of the box? Double standard. Coming to the manufacturer, they need to support Linux and that is chicken and egg: drivers are for Windows because everyone has Windows, everyone has Windows because all the drivers are there for it… If you actually understood computers you could see this.

  • Mauldor

    Well Bill, I actually do understand computers and worked solid with Linux at work due to using it for servers and some desktops. If you had looked and searched for the graphics cards used on google, the problem goes all the way back since time began and even now at 10.04 the driver is still the same. The nVidia GeForce4 440 Go was used in quite a few laptops back then and the reason why Windows works fine is nVidia are more than happy to write drivers for this as this is there main audience. I just installed Windows 7 and at no point did I go away to download any drivers – it just installed all by itself (actually it went off and found the correct driver to a degree) and it worked fine with Aero – imagine that.

    The point to my post was to show people that Linux is just not ready for the desktop for the “average” person. Bill I can google and get this working 100% fine with a lot of effort on my part but why?

  • Mauldor

    Well Bill, I actually do understand computers and worked solid with Linux at work due to using it for servers and some desktops. If you had looked and searched for the graphics cards used on google, the problem goes all the way back since time began and even now at 10.04 the driver is still the same. The nVidia GeForce4 440 Go was used in quite a few laptops back then and the reason why Windows works fine is nVidia are more than happy to write drivers for this as this is there main audience. I just installed Windows 7 and at no point did I go away to download any drivers – it just installed all by itself (actually it went off and found the correct driver to a degree) and it worked fine with Aero – imagine that.

    The point to my post was to show people that Linux is just not ready for the desktop for the “average” person. Bill I can google and get this working 100% fine with a lot of effort on my part but why?

  • Bill Pickett

    The Linux desktop works fine for the “average” person. Usually *I* set it up for them. Once it’s set up I rarely have to go back. The “average” person can’t even install Windows – or Linux. So Windows 7 goes and gets a few drivers for some big manufacturers? What about the drivers for everything else? I’ve converted 5 computers myself (3 desktops and 2 laptops) and I did the setup so wireless drivers for the laptops, an iPod connected to one, and of course video drivers. Audio drivers were just found and correctly set up for all of them. An “average” user would be hard pressed to get the system setup done. Once it is done “average” people tend to have few issues using Linux, probably about the same as Windows. I know my niece loves Linux and she’s 12 so your mileage may vary. Besides, it’s software Freedom that counts even if it isn’t the shiniest solution.

    • Mauldor

      I agree with you Bill – I think I just must have a bad few “Old” Laptops – I need to add my other Laptops and Desktops work without a single hitch.

  • Bill Pickett

    The Linux desktop works fine for the “average” person. Usually *I* set it up for them. Once it’s set up I rarely have to go back. The “average” person can’t even install Windows – or Linux. So Windows 7 goes and gets a few drivers for some big manufacturers? What about the drivers for everything else? I’ve converted 5 computers myself (3 desktops and 2 laptops) and I did the setup so wireless drivers for the laptops, an iPod connected to one, and of course video drivers. Audio drivers were just found and correctly set up for all of them. An “average” user would be hard pressed to get the system setup done. Once it is done “average” people tend to have few issues using Linux, probably about the same as Windows. I know my niece loves Linux and she’s 12 so your mileage may vary. Besides, it’s software Freedom that counts even if it isn’t the shiniest solution.

    • Mauldor

      I agree with you Bill – I think I just must have a bad few “Old” Laptops – I need to add my other Laptops and Desktops work without a single hitch.

  • Bill Pickett

    Coming back to that GeForce4 440 Go, Nouveau for the driver will be the way to go for that. The issue is that it won’t be mainline until the 2.6.33 kernel or so and that’s even in the future for Ubuntu 10.04. Ubuntu 10.04 will be backporting the DRM (in Linux meaning rendering, not copy-protection) for a lot of that so your chances are good with the open source driver when 10.04 is final and they are excellent when 10.10 comes out in +6 months. As it goes with Linux, with so much hardware to write drivers for – usually without manufacturers help – it just takes time some times before they get around to what you happen to have exactly. Sorry to rag on you a bit there, I really believe that the future is open to paraphrase IBM. Here’s a link that will hopefully get that particular laptop started down the road to fully working under Linux:

    http://www.google.ca/search?hl=en&q=nouveau+driver+GeForce4+440+Go&meta=&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=

    At the very worst it means just waiting for Ubuntu 10.10 and installing that then with fingers-crossed.

  • Bill Pickett

    Coming back to that GeForce4 440 Go, Nouveau for the driver will be the way to go for that. The issue is that it won’t be mainline until the 2.6.33 kernel or so and that’s even in the future for Ubuntu 10.04. Ubuntu 10.04 will be backporting the DRM (in Linux meaning rendering, not copy-protection) for a lot of that so your chances are good with the open source driver when 10.04 is final and they are excellent when 10.10 comes out in +6 months. As it goes with Linux, with so much hardware to write drivers for – usually without manufacturers help – it just takes time some times before they get around to what you happen to have exactly. Sorry to rag on you a bit there, I really believe that the future is open to paraphrase IBM. Here’s a link that will hopefully get that particular laptop started down the road to fully working under Linux:

    http://www.google.ca/search?hl=en&q=nouveau+driver+GeForce4+440+Go&meta=&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=

    At the very worst it means just waiting for Ubuntu 10.10 and installing that then with fingers-crossed.

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