I must admit, that they first did not want to give me the full featured thing (the optional Ubuntu version comes without webcam), but I insisted and got the thing with webcam and Ubuntu preinstalled. In reality they could have shipped without OS, the first thing anyway was putting the latest Ubuntu 10.04.1 LTS Lucid Lynx on it (because it came with 9.10 which worked out-of-the-box on delivery).
Installation of 10.04.1 needed a few quirks: After I installed from an USB stick, I had to add the following additional repositories to get the WLAN to work:
- deb file:///media/
yourusbsticksname lucid main
- deb file:///media/yourusbsticksname
Webcam worked out-of-the-box (I was assuming to get problems with that because missing in the Ubuntu variant by default, but as working, I think there are just political reasons that they omit the web cam for the Ubuntu variant by default).
Anyway, what did not work out-of-the-box was the built-in microphone: Again, I had to add another repository and install a single patch from there (see Bug #563215 and below):
Then install this package:
sudo apt-get install linux-alsa-driver-In addition to that I had to go into terminal window and run "alsamixer" - it shows more volume nobs that you might have known or guessed. I had to push up two from the input section. I guess Skype did that after installation as by default it sets the option allowing the program to manipulate audio settings (I already had this several times on other Ubuntu installations that Skype modified the mixer settings messing them up).
modules- $(uname -r)
Finally I had to plug in a headset just for a few seconds - then also the external microphone worked. Strangely it did not work until I plugged in the headset's mic in once. Since then it works. But I have to say that speakers and microphone are not top-level. The speakers could be louder and mic could be better also - so in noise environments (I have two little children around ;-) ) you should use a headset.
My two mobile internet sticks work too - just not with autoconnect (it seems both try to connect - same happens on my main Lucid notebook also so guess it is a general issue introduced a short while ago - having configured just one works fine).
The netbook feels very well made. The keyboard is big enough to be used without hassle and it feels robust (as usually for Dell Latitude keyboards). I have ordered the bigger battery which adds a little to weight and size of course. The bigger battery extends versus bottom so it makes the keyboard getting a slightly more diagonal position so now the netbook does not lie flat on the table. This way it is more ergonomic IMHO. Time estimated with fully charged battery pack is more than 6 hours. The only thing: It was harder to find a matching case with the extended battery. The normal small bags for 10,1" notebooks were fitting only very tight which was a hassle. Finally I bought a larger bag where now also fit more other things.
Related posts: Ubuntu compatible hardware, About Dell, The hardware, The mobile device, Going Linux, The sad thing about Linux..., Use cases for netbooks.