Dell Laptop

This page covers the steps I had to take to install Ubuntu on my Dell Latitude C640, which is the first computer I ever installed Ubuntu on. (The pictures on this site aren't of my physical unit; I just did a search on Google Images for Dell C640 laptops. Not that it matters…)

Because this was the first computer I installed the operating system on, it's a bit more detailed than the pages I did for my other computers.

The Laptop


This was a work laptop. It was a slightly older model even when I was using it, which made it an interesting test for installing Linux.


Since this was a work laptop, I still needed to keep Windows. So this was to be a dual-boot machine, with Windows XP Pro and Ubuntu.

I won't bother posting the steps I took, because all I did was follow the instructions on this page, step-by-step. The only thing I had to figure out on my own was how to partition the hard drive.


As mentioned, partitioning was a bit of an issue, for a couple of reasons.

First of all, the laptop only had a 30GB hard drive, which was pretty small, by today's standards. This meant that I had to very carefully decide how much space to leave for Windows, and how much to use for Ubuntu. The decision was made even more difficult by the fact that my IT department had already broken the drive into two partitions, for a “system partition” and a “data partition.” So, initially, my drive looked like this:


I wanted to leave the “system partition” as-is, and shrink the “data partition.” I would then add two additional partitions: One for Ubuntu, and one for Ubuntu's swap area. I had about 1GB of RAM, so that meant I needed to make the swap area 1GB, leaving about 14GB of space to split between my XP data drive and Ubuntu's partition.

I decided to use 5GB for Ubuntu, and leave 9GB for my data drive.


I realized, when it was too late, that this wasn't enough space for Ubuntu — it really needs 4GB to run properly, which means I only left myself with 1GB to play with, for installing extra applications, or storing data.


As it turns out, the installation was remarkably easy, on this unit. There were no hardware driver problems, or similar issues; when I got the operating system installed, it recognized all of my hardware — including my PCMCIA 802.11g network card — without me having to hunt for other hardware drivers.

Because of a hardware problem (broken pin), I couldn't use my dock, even under Windows, so I never tested the dock with Ubuntu.

The issue I did have is with trying to get multiple monitor support working. I never properly got them working, and I don't know if it's because I was using older versions of Ubuntu — I never got a chance to try 7.10 or later — or if it was a hardware problem.


After the initial installation, I tried upgrading Ubuntu. I'd originally installed version 6.06, “Dapper Drake,” and wanted to upgrade to version 6.10, “Edgy EFT.” According to the Ubuntu web site, I should have been able to do so with the following command:

$ gksu "update-manager -c"

The upgrade process went very smoothly, up until I rebooted the system. Then the X Server refused to load. I did the best I could, mostly be editing and re-editing the xorg.conf file over and over again, but I never got it to work.

So I had to download and burn the .ISO file, and create a CD to do a proper installation. The good news, though, is that I took this opportunity to re-size one of my NTFS partitions, to give myself a bit more room for Ubuntu. The bad news is that my wireless card stopped working.

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