Dell is STILL anti-Linux, update 5/30/2009

Forum: LinuxTotal Replies: 35
Author Content
cyber_rigger

May 30, 2009
4:02 PM EST
Dell's latest trick is a little more crafty.

They are shipping Ubuntu notebooks with the dreaded Broadcom wireless. The wireless capability soon breaks and is difficult to impossible to repair. Dell then refuses a refund.

Avoid Dell like the plague.

The rumor is that the Broadcom WiFi has a hidden suspend mode (in firmware) that gets stuck. There was also a similar Broadcom problem with Windows 7.

Avoid Broadcom like the plague, even if they provide drivers.

caitlyn

May 30, 2009
4:08 PM EST
Somehow I don't believe that this is a Dell plot to destroy Linux. Dell has been using Broadcom chips for years as have other manufacturers. I do believe Dell's support for Linux lately is sincere -- so long as they can make money on Linux they will do all they can to support it. It's all about the bottom line.

FWIW, my housemate had a Gateway laptop that finally died. It had the Broadcom wifi you dread. It worked perfectly under both Ubuntu and OpenSUSE. It's not necessary to avoid like the plague. In fact, I would't avoid it at all. It works.

I don't know what your problem is with Dell or Broadcom. I do know that something like this, failing any links or evidence, really looks like some sort of personal vendetta.
cyber_rigger

May 30, 2009
4:10 PM EST
This is for one of newer Broadcom chips. I'll have to get back later with the model numbers.

gus3

May 30, 2009
4:11 PM EST
Got a link?

Besides, that sounds like a production defect. Is there any state in the USA where Dell could get away with dishonoring the warranty over that?

...or maybe someone just has an axe to grind...
cyber_rigger

May 30, 2009
4:19 PM EST
>axe to grind...

Not at all.

When I created the list http://lxer.com/module/forums/t/23168/

my goal was to make it easier to get into Linux. Selling a machine that breaks violates that purpose.

caitlyn

May 30, 2009
4:57 PM EST
Some of us have had very good experiences with Dell, not breakage. Unless you provide substantiating evidence it really does seem that you have a personal issue here. You say no and I'd certainly like to believe you. However, to believe something that is contrary to my personal experience I really do need evidence.
azerthoth

May 30, 2009
7:03 PM EST
I'm with caitlyn, I have had nothing but good experiences with dell. Laptops, monitors, etc, etc, all working fine OOB. Looking at buying 2 of there mini's for my kids here soon.
gus3

May 30, 2009
7:08 PM EST
The only bad experience I had on a Dell system was due to a 3rd-party NIC and its Win98 driver.

You know it's bad when the first thing you do is reboot your brand new shiny, and it promptly blue-screens during boot-up. The IT guys were p----d that I made them look bad. I told them it wasn't me, it was the unstable environment in RedmondOS.

I haven't used other Dell systems enough to rate them.
caitlyn

May 30, 2009
7:14 PM EST
I'll also point out that I've supported a ton of Dell servers running Linux. There was problems with Dell service years ago but in this decade they've been as good as any other company out there.
herzeleid

May 30, 2009
9:14 PM EST
@caitlyn -

My experience with dell servers has been spotty - while the hp netservers and hp compaq servers have been all but bulletproof, our dell servers have had odd problems. Admittedly that was mostly with earlier models like the 2450 - perhaps theyve gotten better.
caitlyn

May 30, 2009
9:28 PM EST
@herzeleid: I will also say that I've generally had excellent experience with HP servers. Dell has definitely improved over the years.
jdixon

May 30, 2009
9:53 PM EST
My Dell Mini 9 has worked fine so far, but I haven't checked what wireless chipset it uses. Ok, let's boot it up and find out...

OK, according to dmesg, my Mini 9 has a Broadcom BCM4315 802.11 Wireless Controller.

A lsmod doesn't show anything obviously identified with the wireless, but since there is an unidentified wl module and a line in dmesg indicating that wl taints the kernel, that's undoubtedly it.

I've had the Mini 9 for almost 2 months now and taken it on three road trips. So far it's worked flawlessly with one exception. It shutdown unexpectedly in the middle of an update on the last trip and came back up in an semi-operational state. I had to manually run apt-get check, which told me to run dpkg with a specific set of options to fix the problem. Once that was done everything was back to normal. So far I've had no problems with the wireless.
Steven_Rosenber

May 30, 2009
10:36 PM EST
My Dell box is great, except for the OS it shipped with.
cyber_rigger

Jun 01, 2009
4:18 PM EST
The Broadcom "Sudden-death" chip is BCM4312 rev 01

http://locoteam.ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=781701

This is the same chip as the report I got.

Their is no way I would recommend this to a Linux seeking customer.

caitlyn

Jun 01, 2009
4:25 PM EST
I see you're still grinding that axe. Your "sudden death" chip is nothing of the sort. The fix, if ndiswrapper should stop loading the chip, is in the thread you linked to:

Quoting:Next time this happens type the following: Code:

lsmod|grep -i -e b43 -e bcm43xx -e ssb -e ndiswrapper

lsmod will list all your active modules and the second part only will grab the modules starting with b43, bcm43xx, ssb, and ndiswrapper. I am thinking that ndiswrapper is not loading. If that is the case, you can always load the module by typing: Code:

sudo modprobe ndiswrapper


I also noticed the thread refers to older versions of Ubuntu. I know that some Broadcom chips now have native Linux drivers. Are you sure this chip isn't supported in current distros? I'm not.

Anyway, once again, you have provided no valid reason to avoid Dell. I don't know why you are on this anti-Dell crusade but if you keep posting here I'll keep debunking your posts.

Oh, and no, I don't work for Dell. I don't own any stock in their company. I just like honest reporting, not e-lynchings.
cyber_rigger

Jun 01, 2009
4:40 PM EST
Quote from the article:

http://locoteam.ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=781701

"My problem is that I didn't make any changes to my system whatsoever.....my wireless just disappeared out of the blue! =("

Would you advertise an "Ubuntu notebook" that does this?

hkwint

Jun 01, 2009
5:00 PM EST
Depends, is this an incident meaning you found the only person on the world suffering from the problem, or is structural (everybody who buys Dell is having this problem), is it hardware failure, software failure, if so, could it have been prevented by Dell / Ubuntu, and so on. Those are all problems I try to consider when 'advertising' certain hard/software I guess.
caitlyn

Jun 01, 2009
5:38 PM EST
Hans is right. We also don't know if the problem is hardware, software, or old-fashioned user error. To take one or two anecdotal claims about an old version of an OS (Ubuntu 7.10 is out of support now) and use that as "proof" that a hardware manufacturer is anti-Linux is ridiculous.
Steven_Rosenber

Jun 01, 2009
5:45 PM EST
Ndiswrapper = pain
azerthoth

Jun 01, 2009
5:55 PM EST
I score this as caitlyn 2, cyber_rigger 0, and hkwint with a home run.
jdixon

Jun 01, 2009
7:02 PM EST
> The Broadcom "Sudden-death" chip is BCM4312 rev 01

OK. Dell seems to have upgraded the chipset in current Mini 9's then.

Oh, and my machine does not have the ndiswrapper module loaded, so Dell is using a native (though apparently closed source) driver.
devnet

Jun 01, 2009
7:49 PM EST
I score it oopposite azerthoth

You don't sell an Ubuntu notebook to people and require them to:

Quoting:lsmod|grep -i -e b43 -e bcm43xx -e ssb -e ndiswrapper


when they possibly might be someone who has never run linux in their entire life. Requiring users to do this is what gives Linux a bad rep. So, a "Simple fix" with a command like this isn't so simple afterall.

It's still a problem in Jaunty: http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1056446&highlight=b... http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1167248&highlight=b... http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1150498&highlight=b... http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1134948&highlight=b...

Thus, I'm with cyber_rigger on this one...they shouldn't be selling a laptop with that chipset in Linux if it's going to drop connection out of the blue. They'll do more damage than good with this.

We don't need to win over the guys/gals who know how to use linux or feel comfy on the command line...we need to win over the people who DON'T. We don't need to elevate the knowledge level you must possess in order to use Linux for it to succeed. We need to make it so that power users and regular users alike can use it and are satisfied.

jdixon

Jun 02, 2009
8:23 AM EST
Sigh, and it looks like I bought my Mini 9 just in time: http://www.reghardware.co.uk/2009/06/02/dell_axes_mini_9/
caitlyn

Jun 02, 2009
11:15 AM EST
Dell is making a mistake dropping the Mini 9. A lot of the hardware vendors think people want bigger netbooks which are more like regular notebooks. The Eee PC originally succeeded by bring a product to market that is small, light, and inexpensive. This is why the new ARM and MIPS based systems have a real opportunity. They represent a return to the original Eee PC concept.
jdixon

Jun 02, 2009
11:36 AM EST
> Dell is making a mistake dropping the Mini 9.

I agree completely, but you know what our opinion means to Dell.

As I posted to Ken's blog one time: If a large corporation has a product you want at a price you want, buy it. If they don't, take your business elsewhere. Don't waste your time trying to convince them; it won't do any good. Just take your money somewhere else.

Now if someone likes my Dell, I'll just have to point them to Asus and Acer.

> This is why the new ARM and MIPS based systems have a real opportunity.

Agreed, but I worry they'll be underpowered. We'll have to wait and see.
caitlyn

Jun 02, 2009
12:21 PM EST
Well... I'd rather support Dell than Asus or MSI, both of whom now say they are dropping Linux entirely. Dell and HP are expanding their Linux lines.
azerthoth

Jun 02, 2009
3:41 PM EST
nag dab it, I had 2 of those on the christmas list for my kids.
jdixon

Jun 02, 2009
9:19 PM EST
>nag dab it, I had 2 of those on the christmas list for my kids.

Dell's outlet store still has them, though you have to take what they have and not necessarily what you want. They had 4 Ubuntu based Mini 9's earlier today when I checked and a large number of XP based ones. They're all refurbished, of course, and most don't seem to have the camera.

Here's a direct link to the Mini 9's at Dell's outlet store: [url=http://outlet.us.dell.com/ARBOnlineSales/topics/global.aspx/arb/online/en/InventorySearch?c=us&cs=22&l=en&lob=INSP&MODEL_DESC=Inspiron Mini 9 - 910&s=dfh]http://outlet.us.dell.com/ARBOnlineSales/topics/global.aspx/...[/url]
gus3

Jun 02, 2009
9:21 PM EST
Lack of camera is good, especially on Windows systems.
azerthoth

Jun 02, 2009
10:27 PM EST
thanks jd
jacog

Jun 03, 2009
2:18 AM EST
>> Asus or MSI, both of whom now say they are dropping Linux entirely

A pity really. But in the case of Asus I totally blame their choice of distro for the Eee... I really can't blame customers for being unhappy with it, and the end result is that "Linux" is what gets labelled as the black sheep.
tuxtom

Jun 03, 2009
4:39 AM EST
Quoting:The Broadcom "Sudden-death" chip is BCM4312 rev 01
These can usually be replaced with an Intel card. If you really like the rest of the stock specs it's probably worth worth doing the swap after you buy it.

I have one of the original Dell Ubuntu 1420n notebooks and it has performed flawlessly from 7.04 through 9.04. (Broadcom LAN, Intel Wireless)
caitlyn

Jun 03, 2009
11:40 AM EST
Some good news on the Asus front: ZDNet has pulled the story claiming they have ditched Linux. Nobody else reported it. It may be that the author, Dana Blankenhorn, was engaging in wishful thinking. Anyway, I can find no evidence anywhere now to show that Asus has actually ditched Linux.
tuxchick

Jun 03, 2009
12:47 PM EST
I'd say, speculating of course, that ASUS have found themselves where so many hardware vendors have found themselves: perched on a pointy pinnacle between what Microsoft wants and what their own customers want.
jdixon

Jun 04, 2009
1:04 PM EST
OK, while Dell has dropped the Mini 9 from their home and home office page, they still offer the Vostro A90 on their small business page, and it's essentially the same model: http://www.dell.com/content/products/productdetails.aspx/lap...

I have no idea how long this will last, so if you want one, you should probably jump on it.
caitlyn

Jun 04, 2009
1:22 PM EST
@tuxchick: Yep, you're probably right. While the article claiming Asus has dropped Windows has been pulled I've seen some of the usual FUDmeisters claiming Asus is "preparing to" or "likely to" drop Linux. It may very well be that MS has exerted enough pressure or spent enough money to make it happen.

There were at least eight companies that did announce netbooks with Qualcomm Snapdragon (ARM) chips at Computex. If Asus drops the ball someone else will run with it if they see an opportunity to make money. There was also an article posted to LXer yesterday stating that Google had completed their MIPS port of Android. I think it's safe to say that MIPS based netbooks and nettops are still moving forward and I expect it won't just be SkyTone and Lemote offering them.

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