Tag Archives: dell

Dell Laptops & Ubuntu

I’d heard that Dell were offering Ubuntu Linux on some of their laptops and I hadn’t really looked into it. But I came across this page the other day and it’s pretty neat to get Ubuntu (or any Linux) preloaded on a laptop from a major vendor:


It’s good to support coming from a major vendor, and Dell even offer’s a repo so you can get BIOS updates for support hardware:


However, I’m still partial to getting Lenovo’s T400 over a Dell.

Dell BIOS updates using Linux

Dell provides Ubuntu support for updating the BIOS of Dell systems:


… be sure the Universe section is enabled in /etc/apt/sources.list, then run as root:

wget -q -O – http://linux.dell.com/repo/firmware/bootstrap.cgi | bash
aptitude install firmware-addon-dell
aptitude install $(bootstrap_firmware -a)

Thanks Dell!

Ubuntu Linux, T-Mobile, & Nokia N73 as a Bluetooth Modem.

If bluetooth works on your computer, then getting your system to talk to your N73 isn’t hard and I’m not going to cover it here. See this posting for what packages I needed to install to get bluetooth working in my Dell 700M laptop running Ubuntu Linux:


If you have T-Mobile T-Zones Internet service for your phone in the US you should be able to use the following procedure to surf the web on your computer using your N73.

First find your Phone’s bluetooth device address (or ID), by typing


into your phone.

You should see a sequence of numbers and letters that look something like this on the screen:


Write it down in this format, (with a colon after every 2nd character):


Next make a backup copy of this file


For example:

sudo cp  /etc/bluetooth/rfcomm.conf /etc/bluetooth/rfcomm.conf.org

I’m going to presume you’ve never edited this file before, and you can change it to look like this (using the bluetooth device number you discovered):

# RFCOMM configuration file.
rfcomm0 {
 #      # Automatically bind the device at startup
 	bind yes;
 #      # Bluetooth address of the device
 	device 00:0A:BC:22:BC:33;
 #      # RFCOMM channel for the connection
	channel 2;
 #      # Description of the connection
	comment "Nokia N73";

If you have edited this file before and are already using rfcomm0, then create a new entry named rcomm1 and replace rcomm1 with any other references I make to rcomm0. Also, make sure you get all the semi-colons after each entry in the file.

Next copy the gprs-connect-chat and the gprs-disconnect-chat files from:


In the gprs-connect-chat replace line 47:

OK              'AT+CGDCONT=1,"IP","internet2.voicestream.com","",0,0'

With this:

OK              'AT+CGDCONT=1,"IP","wap.voicestream.com","",0,0'

Move the 2 files to /etc/ppp/peers:

sudo mv  gprs-connect-chat /etc/ppp/peers
sudo mv  gprs-disconnect-chat  /etc/ppp/peers

Next create a new file in /etc/peers named gprs and copy’n’paste the following (the gprs script that davesource.com uses didn’t work for me):

# GPRS for T-Mobile USA
/dev/rfcomm0 # device bound to T610 phone
230400 # speed
defaultroute # use the network for the default route
usepeerdns # use the DNS servers from the remote network
nodetach # keep pppd in the foreground
crtscts # hardware flow control
lock # lock the serial port
noauth # don’t expect modem to authenticate itself
local # don’t use Carrier Detect or Data Terminal Ready
connect /etc/ppp/peers/gprs-connect-chat
disconnect /etc/ppp/peers/gprs-disconnect-chat

Now your ready to test the connection. First stop networking:

sudo /etc/init.d/networking stop

Next, turn on bluetooth on your phone and connect to it. Once your connect issue the following commands:

rfcomm bind all
 pppd call gprs

When your done, control-c will stop the ppp connection, then run this command:

 rfcomm release all

If you’ve more than one entry defined in your rfcomm.conf file, try using:

frcomm bind rfcomm0

And replace rfcomm0 with rfcomm1 or rfcomm2 …

To web-surf you will need to set your browser to use the following proxy:

But, ssh & VPN won’t work, just web-browsing at dial-up speed! However, it might be possible to tunnel ssh and other services.

The following links were a lot of help in aiding me in getting this to work:



I used the scripts from here to get the laptop to connect (with minor changes):


I need to clean-up/rewrite this posting, and put in proper references to sites that helped me get this working.

Copies of the configuration files are here:


gprs, gprs-connect-chat, gprs-disconnect-chat

Gnome Fonts too big in Ubuntu Gutsy?

I upgraded my Dell 700m laptop from Ubuntu Feisty to Ubuntu Gutsy. Gutsy is the current developemnt (beta) release of Ubuntu Linux and is planned to be released in October of 2007. After upgrading to Gutsy and restarting my laptop many of the fonts were too big.

To correct this you may need to set the DPI to 96. To see why read this:


And this:


To change the DPI go to the Font settings applet; click on System, then Preferences, then Appearance:


On the Window that opens click on the Fonts tab, and then click on the Details button on the lower right:

Gnome Font Selector

Note: Your fonts may be different than what I have set.

On the Details window the dots per inch in the upper left may be set to something other than 96. Change this to 96 and you should see your fonts change:

Gnome Details Settings

You may need to logout and back in again for fonts to change for all of your running applications.

Also, if you don’t have a LCD display you will not want to have “Subpixel (LCDs)” enabled like I do.

If you want to change what fonts you use read this for tips for which fonts are better for legibility: