Installing Ubuntu Gutsy 7.10 on a Dell Vostro 1700 is straightforward. There are still a few issues which will cause some work for Linux novices, but in my opinion these are not showstoppers. I want to share the details of my installation in order to help others with the same issues. Be sure to read the Final Notes section of this tutorial as well. This procedure has been tested on a system with the following configuration:

  • 17" WXGA+ (1440x900)
  • 2GB DDR2 667Mhz SDRAM
  • DVD+/-RW Hitachi drive
  • ST9160821AS 160GB SATA SEAGATE Hard Drive
  • Intel Corporation Mobile GM965/GL960 Integrated Graphics
  • Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG (802.11a/b/g)
  • Broadcom Corp BCM2045 Dell Computer Corp Bluetooth (ID 413c:8126)
  • OmniVision Technologies Laptop Integrated Webcam ( ID 05a9:2640)

  • Ricoh Co Ltd R5C822 SD/SDIO/MMC/MS/MSPro Host Adapter (03:01.1)

  • Intel Corporation 82801H (ICH8 Family) HD Audio Controller


Please check in order to solve the issues presented after upgrade (mainly no sound after upgrade)

List of bugs affecting this system

WARNING: By accident i've pushed the Dell Media Direct Button with the laptop turned off (the one with a house in it) and it damaged the partition table from my system. Luckily enough i've managed to solve it removing the partition created by the MD and putting the original partition in my system. Also in some tests with a Vostro 1500 i've found that if i started the system again with the same button after the damage, it was repaired again by itself. I'm testing somethings in order to solve this issue. Please check this link for more info about the problem.

Wireless subsystem

With the ipw3945 driver: [Wireless connection drops]

With the iwl3945 driver: [throughput diminished] [suspend, hibernate issues]

Audio subsystem [No sound after suspend]

Hard Disk Drive [NCQ spurious completions]

Details of Installation

Make sure to start with the Ubuntu Default Start Option, the first in the menu after you popup the CD. This would let the system to correctly detect your video settings and the right resolution. If you started with the safe mode installation option you'll have to manually adjust your xorg.conf in order to get the right resolution.

The major issue at install time is the repartitioning of the Dell System. Mine had Vista Home Basic and Dell Media Center (Xp embebed). Sadly the partitioning scheme was really awful, there was 3 primary partitions (Dell Utility, OS for Vista, Recovery for the Factory Image) and a tiny extended partition for Media Center. Besides all my effort to repartitioning the drive with a sane scheme without losing the system i was forced at the end to wipe out the system and install Ubuntu alone. On a side note i was pretty amazed with the capabilities of Gparted it really worked really well.

For Internet access during install you can use the Wireless or the Wired card, you only have to make sure with the wireless that you're connected to the access point.

You'll notice that the system has no audio at all, but don't worry that this would get solved after install

Solving the issues


Before solving the audio issue, please make a full update. In my testings if i didn't update the system i wasn't able to solve the audio issue.

Now with the missing sound. There are several bug reports about this, and there are multiple problems also.

There are two possible workarounds for this problem, one is to install the Ubuntu's linux-backports-module but this seems to give low volume and needs some hacks to solve the volume issue that i didn't test, the other one is to install the Conexant HSF Driver and the modified Linux Backport Module kindly provided by Dell. With this two drivers the volume is perfect (at least for me).

In order to install it go to Dell's wiki

And install the l-b-m and hsfmodem deb packages from there.

It seems that this packages solve the external mic not working (i haven't tested it yet). However there's another problem with no sound after standby mode.

I've solved this issue with:

sudo echo options snd-hda-intel model=dell-m42 >> /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf

and installing the l-b-m provided by Dell. However there's another solution (not tested by me) provided by Dell at this wiki


The problem: After enabling the restricted nvidia drivers, the resolution is stuck at 1920x1200. There are no options to lower the screen resolution. Manually editing xorg.conf, or selecting a generic LCD, results in a black screen. Solution:


It seems to be some issues with the NCQ (some hard drive sata new technology) implementation in Linux Kernel. The problems seem to be solved for upstream and probably for Hardy but Gutsy would not have (at this time) a solution but a workaround.

Also it seems to no affect all hard drivers. You'll know that you have this issue if you hear clicks in your hard drive from time to time. The fix is this:

sudo gedit /etc/rc.local

Add just BEFORE the exit 0 line

sh -c "echo 1 > /sys/block/sda/device/queue_depth"

Also there's another bug that is lying around but seems to not affect this laptop. Is the infamous hard drive killer (that should be noted is not Ubuntu's fault at all). Please check the bug report #5695 to find out if your system is affected.

If you experience ATA bus errors in /var/log/messages a solution might be to set the jumpers on the hard discs to limit the bus speed to 1.5 Gbps. This is described on the Seagate support pages (Support > Installation > Jumper Setting Illustrations > SATA > Serial ATA Jumpers and Cabling).


Wireless has some issues here. Gutsy by default uses the ipw3945 driver. This driver is actually depreciated by intel and is replaced by the iwl3945 (hardy's default). There're some issues with the ipw3945 driver a driver crash when transfering big files and suddenly disconnections. The solution is to replace (in Gutsy) the ipw3945 for the iwl3945.

However there're still some issues with the iwl3945 driver.

1. Replace the ipw345 with the iwl3945 driver.

sudo echo blacklist ipw3945 >> /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist-ipw3945.conf
sudo echo iwl3945 >> /etc/modules

2. Solve the iwl3945 issues

Suspend issue (caused by an incomplete rename of the interface):

sudo mv /etc/udev/rules.d/70-persistent-net.rules /etc/udev/rules.d/70-persistent-net.rules.bak

Hibernate issue

sudo gedit /etc/default/acpi-support

Add iwl3945 to MODULES line.

# Note that network cards and USB controllers will automatically be unloaded 
# unless they're listed in MODULES_WHITELIST

# Add modules to this list to leave them in the kernel over suspend/resume

After this changes reboot your system. Take into account that the Wireless connectivity after suspend or hibernate would take a few moments to start over again.

I haven't confirmed yet the throughput issue nor found a workaround for it.

Also another annoyance is that the iwl3945 driver doesn't light up the wifi led with the gutsy version.


The webcam contrary to what i supossed, works like a charm. You only need to make sure that the system is using V4L2 by default.


Alt + F2


Select the Video Tab

And in the default input select V4L2 and click on test, you'll see your face on the screen.

For ekiga make sure that in Edit - Properties - Video Devices the option V4L2 is selected.


Dell is developing an update firmware system, here are the instructions to use it with Ubuntu. This is taken directly from Dell's Linux Wiki

# set up repos
wget -q -O - | bash
aptitude install firmware-addon-dell
aptitude install $(bootstrap_firmware -a)


The Intel Graphic Card is blacklisted by default by Compiz. The problem is related to Video Playback and Compiz Fusion on Intel 965GM. If you enable Compiz Fusion you won't get Video Playback. This problem is related to the inner works of the intel driver as far as i understand, so it won't get solved pretty soon.

However, there's a workaround for this, open up a terminal and execute this command:

mkdir -p ~/.config/compiz/ && echo SKIP_CHECKS=yes >> ~/.config/compiz/compiz-manager

For the Video Playback the suggestion is to run gstreamer-properties and change the Video output to No XV, this didn't worked for me quite well so whenever i'm gonna play videos i must disable compiz.


I like to monitor my systems for temp, fan, etc. So in order to get this working in the Vostro i had to do this:

1. For Hdd monitoring

apt-get install hddtemp

I choose to let the daemon running. For checking purposes i ran:

hddtemp /dev/sda
/dev/sda: ST9160821AS: 33°C

2. For CPU Temp monitoring

sudo echo coretemp >> /etc/modules

3. For CPU, Fan and Temp monitoring

sudo echo i8k >> /etc/modules
sudo echo options i8k force=1 >> /etc/modprobe.d/i8k.modprobe.conf

The options i8k force=1 is needed because the Vostro is not in the i8k module list for supported systems.

4. For FAN Control

You would need to compile a litle piece of software: dellfand

sudo apt-get install g++
tar xvjf dellfand-0.9.tar.bz2 
cd dellfand-0.9; make 

For testing purposes:

root@vostro:/tmp/dellfand-0.9# ./dellfand 
v0.9: Fan 0 Status 1 Speed 61980 CPU Temp 31C

For installing it and enabling for default

sudo  cp etc.default.dellfand /etc/default/dellfand
sudo  cp etc.init.d.dellfand /etc/init.d/dellfand
sudo  update-rc.d dellfand defaults
sudo /etc/init.d/dellfand start

With dellfand the fan in your system would cool it when the temp is higher.

5. Visually Addons

sudo  apt-get install sensors-applet

Add it to your panel and adjust it according to your needs. There are other monitoring software available that probably could take this info and show it graphically, i choose this one, you're free to check others. (gkrellm, gdesklets, superkaramba for kde, and probably others)


I haven't worked a lot with this, but i know about some problems in gutsy, so you must check this links in order to workaround any issue you could find.

What i know at this point is that you must install gnome-vfs-obexftp in order to transfer files.

sudo apt-get install gnome-vfs-obexftp

Also there's some GUI usability problems with the Bluetooth applet that you must be aware off.

Other Stuff

About Suspend, Standby and Hibernate issues i must say that up to this point everything works like a charm, a big exception is the audio output problem after standby in fact i didn't noticed it until i made this wiki page.

I hope this helps some people out there, i 'd be adding more relevant info into this wiki for further reference.


CategoryLaptop CategoryHardware

InstallingUbuntuOnADellVostro1700 (last edited 2009-12-23 01:29:50 by duanedesign)