Ubuntu Feisty and the Dell Latitude C600

Ubuntu works amazingly well with this trusty old Dell model. There are, however, two pains in the ass – one for each cheek.

  • The mouse freezes briefly all the time
  • The display resolution is incorrect by default

Firstly – the mouse freezes. Linux has a component called “powernowd” which throttles up and down the CPU depending on the requirement – you can see it working by adding the “CPU frequency scaling monitor” to the Gnome taskbar. You’ll notice the the mouse freezes occur when the CPU changes speed – how annoying! (I suspect the whole system freezes for a moment rather than just the mouse, but the mouse is what you’ll notice.) As far as I can tell, there’s no way to fix this functionality so it works and doesn’t freeze, so you’ll need to uninstall powernowd to get the computer working smoothly.

  • Open up the terminal
  • Type “sudo aptitude remove powernowd”
  • Say goodbye to some of your battery life and some very cool functionality.

Secondly, if you have one of the wonderful high resolution displays (1400×1080), it won’t work correctly. It’s pretty easy to fix.

  • Boot into the horrible looking wrong resolution
  • Crack open a terminal
  • Type “sudo gedit /etc/X11/xorg.conf”

Add the Sync / Refresh lines into the Monitor section so it looks like this:

Section "Monitor"
Identifier "Generic Monitor"
Option "DPMS"
HorizSync 28-70
VertRefresh 43-60
EndSection

Then add the full resolution into each of the modes, so they all look like this:

SubSection "Display"
Depth 24
Modes "1400x1050" "1280x1024" "1024x768" "800x600" "640x480"
EndSubSection

That’s it – now save and reboot, and you should be working in full resolution. Hurrah!

Ubuntu Feisty and the Dell 2005FPW

Ubuntu Feisty, despite being wonderful in almost every way, doesn’t automatically detect and deal with the Dell 2005FPW 20″ widescreen monitor that a few of you may have. The solution is fairly simple.

  • Boot into the horrible looking wrong resolution
  • Crack open a terminal
  • Type “sudo gedit /etc/X11/xorg.conf”

This will get you into the configuration file which controls the display. We need to add a few lines which tell Ubuntu exactly how to handle this monitor.

Replace the Monitor section with this:

Section "Monitor"
Identifier "DELL 2005FPW"
UseModes "16:10"
HorizSync 30.0 - 83.0
VertRefresh 56.0 - 75.0
Option "DPMS"
EndSection

Change each of the “modes” sections to include the default resolution, which is 1680×1050.

Modes "1680x1050" "1280x1024" "1152x864" "1024x768" "800x600" "720x400" "640x480"
EndSubSection
SubSection "Display"
Depth 4

Finally, add the modeline itself to tell Ubuntu how to handle the monitor. This goes right at the end.

Section "Modes"
Identifier "16:10"
ModeLine "1680x1050" 146.2 1680 1784 1968 2256 1050 1051 1054 1087 -hsync -vsync
EndSection

That’s it – now save and reboot, and you should be working in full resolution. Hurrah!