Ubuntu 10.10 on a Dell Inspiron E1505

I’ve had plenty of bad experiences upgrading the Ubuntu machine mentioned in the title of this post to the latest version.  9.10 to 10.04 screwed up my ability to boot (I think it had something to do with upgrading GRUB).  9.04 to 9.10 messed some graphics component up (all I could see was purple).  I don’t recall any specifics of previous upgrades, but I know plenty went awry.  Having said that, I was less than optimistic about upgrading to the latest release (Meerkat).  I had just spent a number of hours over the past couple weeks customizing the system just to my liking and was really hoping I wouldn’t have to re-do this, yet again.

I prepped by downloading the Alternative Installer cd, which contains all files needed for upgrading in an ISO, since usually the Canonical servers are pretty useless on release day.  However, I attempted to upgrade using this method and my system hung at some point having to do with configuring software repositories.  I was not happy.  I rebooted (and thankfully) the system came back on normally.  I then tried to update the system via the internet.  I was alerted that a previous upgrade attempt had been incomplete so it needed to do something to correct this.  After that, I attempted to upgrade again, and (a number of hours later) the system was running Ubuntu 10.10.  I was happy to see that my wifi WAS working, which I’ve had issues with in the past.  Read more about that here.

The bottom line is, if you’re looking to upgrade an E1505 to Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat, go for it (but I recommend using the internet upgrade method rather than the alternative installer cd).

Ubuntu 10.10 – T minus 5 hours

Ubuntu 10.10 (which is being released on 10-10-10) is set to release in less than 5 hours.  I’ve just gotten the final kinks worked out of my 10.04 machine, so here’s to hoping the upgrade doesn’t wreck my system!

Dell E1505 Ubuntu – no wifi

I own a Dell E1505 laptop from about 4 years back that contains a 1390 Wireless Mini-Card.  This card uses the Broadcom 4311 chipset.  As this laptop is a secondary machine, it is subject to frequent OS installs and all kinds of testing.  The biggest issue I’ve had with it has been Ubuntu 9.10.  I was running Ubuntu 9.04 prior to 9.10 being released (and 8.10 before that) and the wifi worked fine, right out of the box.  Ubuntu 9.10 aka Karmic Koala breaks this out-of-the-box wifi functionality, however.

I ran into this issue when 9.10 was released back in October of 2009.  I reinstalled 9.10 today to do some Android development work, only to re-discover the same issue I had nearly 9 months ago.  The ISO I used to install was downloaded today, so I was surprised when the wifi issue was still there.  Wanting to get my wifi back, I scoured the intrawebz for a while until I re-found my solution from last Fall.

The main problem I have is that I cannot get the wifi switch to turn on.  This is achieved by holding the FN key and pressing F2.  However, before installing this fix, that key combination has no effect.  It seems that the driver is valid, as lspci lists the device (Broadcom 4311), yet something isn’t right, obviously, as it doesn’t work.  The most odd part about the whole situation is if you run the Live CD, wifi works miraculously.  It would appear that something is not getting copied from the Live CD at installation time.

The answer is this:

1. Boot into Ubuntu and pop your Live CD into the tray.
2. Install the following files from the disk, in order, by double-clicking them:

/pool/main/p/patch/patch_2.5.9-5_i386.deb
/pool/main/d/dkms/dkms_2.1.0.1-0ubuntu1_all.deb
/pool/restricted/b/bcmwl/bcmwl-kernel-source_5.10.91.9+bdcom-0ubuntu4_i386.deb

3. Reboot.

That should do it!  Your machine should boot back into Ubuntu 9.10, this time with the wifi light illuminated.