Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex) on a Dell Latitude D610
Updated 16 December 2008

The purpose of this document is to provide information about running Ubuntu 8.10 on a Dell Latitude D610 with a specific focus on hardware support. The information contained on this web page is also intended to be useful for other computer models which contain the same or similar components as the Dell Latitude D610.

CPU Pentium M
Graphics Card ATI Mobility Radeon x300
Hard Drive 80 GB SATA
Wireless Network Card Intel ProWireless 2915 ABG
Pointing Devices Alps GlidePoint/StickPointer
Laptop Specific Function Keys
Wired Ethernet Network Broadcom 57XX Gigabit Integrated Controller
Audio / Sound Card Sigmatel STAC 975X AC97
Power Management
Modem Conexant D110,MDC,1.5,v.92

Intel Pentium M Processor
Ubuntu 8.10 supports the Dell Latitude D610's Pentium M processor out of the box and does not require any additional configuration. Ubuntu 8.10 does support dynamic CPU scaling out of the box which helps to conserve power and lengthen battery life. CPU scaling is enabled by default but can be easily disabled by accessing the service configuration. To access the service configuration panel click "System" on the upper tool bar, point to "Administration", and click "Services."
System Service Configuration Dialog Showing CPU frequency manager

Graphics Card
ATI Radeon Mobility x300
Ubuntu 8.10 has basic support for the ATI Radeon Mobility x300 graphics card out of the box. The default support for the ATI Radeon x300 is provided by an open source driver which is not able to fully take advantage of the x300's capabilities. In order to fully utilize the capabilities (such as 3d acceleration) of the ATI Radeon x300, the best option is to install ATI's proprietary Linux driver. In contrast to many other Linux distributions, Ubuntu makes it easy to install the proprietary ATI Linux driver. To install the proprietary ATI graphics driver for Linux, click "System", point to "Administration", and click "Hardware Drivers." From this dialog box, users only need to check a box to install and use the proprietary ATI Linux graphics driver. This dialog box presumably also includes the option to use any other proprietary Linux drivers that are available with Ubuntu for use with a computer's hardware such as for NVidia graphics cards. Note: after installing a proprietary driver, it may be necessary to restart the computer before the driver can be used.
Integrated Intel Graphics
Many Dell Latitude D610's and similar computers have shipped with integrated Intel graphics rather than dedicated ATI graphics cards. The full capabilities of Intel graphics should be available upon installing Ubuntu 8.10. This is because Intel makes an open source driver available. More information about Intel graphics on Linux can be found on Intel's support page. Dell Latitude D610s which use Intel graphics include the Mobile Intel 915GM Express Chipset; Dell Latitude D610s with dedicated ATI graphics solutions (ATI Radeon Mobility x300) use the Mobile Intel 915PM Express Chipset.
Dialog for Proprietary Linux Drivers on Ubuntu

Installing the proprietary ATI graphics driver will also install ATI's Catalyst Control Center software. The Catalyst Control Center allows users to make detailed settings adjustments and adds options for settings which generally cannot be modified using the built in tools included with Ubuntu 8.10. Among other things, the ATI Catalyst Control Center can be used to configure external display settings which may otherwise be impossible or problematic on many Linux distributions.
ATI Catalyst Control Center software

Hard Drive
The Dell Latitude D610 uses a Serial ATA (SATA) hard drive. As as result of the way Linux handles the SATA bus, the partitions will be labeled in the fashion sda1 as opposed to hda1 (example: a partition might be mounted as /dev/sda1 instead of /dev/hda1). SATA is now much more common than older parallel ATA implementations, but when the Dell Latitude D610 was introduced in 2005, some operating systems still had problems with SATA. No special configuration as a result of the hard drive is necessary for Ubuntu 8.10 or any other modern Linux operating system.

802.11abg Wi-Fi Card
Intel Pro/Wireless 2915ABG
(Also applies to: Intel Pro/Wireless 2200BG)

The drivers for common Intel wi-fi cards (Intel Pro/Wireless 2915ABG/2200BG/3915ABG etc.) are included with Ubuntu 8.10. The necessary firmware to run an Intel wireless card on Ubuntu is also included meaning that an Intel wireless card will work out of the box. The Dell Latitude D610's Wi-Fi indicator light does not illuminate but this does not have any impact on the function of the Dell Latitude D610's wireless network card. The key combination Fn+F2 is still used (the same as in Windows XP or Vista) to enable and disable wireless adapters. It might be worth trying Fn+F2 if the wireless card doesn't seem to be working since the Wi-Fi indicator light won't be providing any useful information.

Dell Branded Wireless Cards
Some Dell Latitude D610s include a Dell branded wireless card instead of an Intel wireless card. Computers that have an Intel wi-fi card will carry the Centrino branding; those that lack a wi-fi card or have one produced by some other manufacturer will have a Pentium M sticker instead of the Centrino sticker on the right palm rest. Over the past few years, many wireless cards that carry the branding of the computer manufacturer have been Broadcom cards although they could be just about anything. There are currently two solutions for running Broadcom wireless cards on Linux. There is now a project to produce native drivers for some Broadcom wireless cards on Linux (the B43 driver project). I understand that these drivers are included with Ubuntu 8.10 and can be enabled under "Hardware Support." The other alternative is to use NdisWrapper which allows wireless card drivers for Windows to be used on Linux. A GUI for NdisWrapper can easily be installed on Ubuntu 8.10 by clicking "Applications", clicking "Add/Remove...", and searching for "ndiswrapper". The application to install is titled "Windows Wireless Drivers". I don't have any experience using NdisWrapper; however, I would recommend visiting the NdisWrapper project home page for information about the project and using NdisWrapper. Windows drivers for the Dell Latitude D610 can be downloaded from Dell's support page.

If you are buying a new computer and are interested in using any type of Linux on it, it is definately worth paying a little bit more to get an Intel wireless card or one you can verify has well supported Linux drivers available for it. In my experience, selecting a different wireless card for a laptop will only cost ~$15-$35 US more than the default configuration (if you have to pay more at all). Avoid Broadcom wireless cards if you want to use Linux. The Intel wireless cards also have much better support and the drivers are more reliable on Windows in addition to being better for use with Linux. If you wanted to upgrade from Windows XP to Windows Vista (or some other version in the future) it would be a safer bet that the Intel wireless cards will have the drivers you need than some Dell/HP/Gateway/whatever branded Broadcom wireless cards.

Connecting to a Wireless network
To connect to a wireless network, left click the network icon in the system tray which is located in the upper right corner of the screen. Click on the network you want to connect to. If necessary, there is a dialog which automatically detects the appropriate encryption type and prompts users for the network key.
Connecting to a Wireless Network on Ubuntu 8.10

Pointing Devices / Mouse
Alps GlidePoint/StickPointer
Both the pointing stick (the blue thing that looks like an eraser) and the touch pad along with corresponding buttons work normally out of the box. Additionally, a USB mouse can be plugged into the Dell Latitude D610 and will function immediately with no additional configuration necessary. People who use the track pad frequently might want to make some adjustments to the sensitivity and acceleration settings. By default, the acceleration setting on Ubuntu 8.10 is relatively low in comparison to most other operating system/driver configurations. To adjust the acceleration and sensitivity of the touch pad (and other pointing devices), click "System", point to "Preferences", and click "Mouse".
Mouse Preferences in Ubuntu 8.10
Note: The controls for sensitivity and acceleration affect all of the pointing devices on a computer including an external USB mouse. Unfortunately, this may be rather inconvenient because the optimal acceleration setting for the Latitude D610's track pad will generally be higher than the optimal setting for an external mouse.
Thanks to David for alerting me to the acceleration issues with the track pad.

Laptop Specific Function Keys
Almost of all of the laptop specific function keys on the Dell Latitude D610 are supported by Ubuntu 8.10 out of the box with no additional configuration necessary. Among these are the shortcuts to control screen brightness (Fn+up arrow/Fn+down arrow) and the shortcut to enable/disable the wireless adapter (Fn+F2) as well as many others. The volume control keys and mute key located above the keyboard are also supported out of the box with no additional configuration necessary. The support for these specialized keys is notably good in comparison to other popular Linux distributions such as openSUSE 11.0 and similar to the support in Fedora Core 9.

Wired Ethernet Network
Ubuntu 8.10 supports the Dell Latitude D610's wired network card out of the box with no additional configuration necessary.

Sound Card
Sigmatel STAC 975X AC97
The audio system on the Dell Latitude D610 works out of the box with no additional configuration necessary. As with many other Linux distributions, Ubuntu 8.10 can detect when external speakers or headphones are connected. As a result, Ubuntu 8.10 has separate volume controls for headphones and a laptop's internal speakers. The external speakers are controlled by the "Master Volume" settings and headphones (or external speakers) are controlled by the "Headphone" settings.
ALSA Mixer Volume Control on Ubuntu 8.10
Note: To access the Volume Controls on Ubuntu 8.10, double click the picture of a speaker on the system tray in the upper right corner of the screen.

Power Management System
Ubuntu 8.10 supports dynamic frequency scaling on the Intel Pentium M processor out of the box. The keyboard shortcuts used to adjust the screen brightness on the Latitude D610 (Fn+up arrow/Fn+down arrow) also function properly without installing any additional software. Among the notable power saving functions included with Ubuntu 8.10 is the capability to dim the display when idle.
Power Management Preferences on Ubuntu 8.10
Note: To access the power management settings in Ubuntu 8.10, click "System" in the system tray at the top of the screen, point to "Preferences", and click "Power Management."


See also:
Index of Linux related documents
Running Fedora Core 9 on a Dell Latitude D610
Running openSUSE 10.3 on a Dell Latitude D610
Running openSUSE 11.1 on a Dell Latitude D610
Running Ubuntu 8.04 on a Dell Latitude D610

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