I decided to purchase a Dell Vostro 3300 recently. I took the decision based on the cost, spec and the fact that it is Ubuntu certified (list of certified hardware for each release). I was interested on checking out 10.4 so I looked at what was available with Dell.
The whole process was simple enough, I place my order with Dell and the laptop showed up shortly after. Unfortunately (at least in the UK), Dell won’t pre-install Ubuntu for this model- so I had to pay for a Windows 7 Home edition.
Anyhow, this weekend I boot it up and hooked it to my router. I went to Ubuntu site and downloaded the Windows installer. This downloaded the amd64.iso image of Ubuntu 10.4 and took me through the basic installation steps. Less than 30 min later, Ubuntu was running on my laptop.
Then I moved to the WiFi setup , where I was expecting some issues as it requires specific drivers… and I found them 🙂 Googling around I found that the wireless card on the Vostro 3300 is a broadcom module, and it is supported by Broadcom STA Wireless Driver. To install the driver, you just need to choose System → Administration → Hardware Drivers (while connected via LAN) and then enable the listed Broadcom wireless driver.
After rebooting the laptop, presto! Wireless was working. However, my joy didn’t last. The next time I rebooted my laptop (running from batteries) WiFi didn’t connect. In fact, the network manager show it to be disabled. Hence, my Googling quest re-started. Thankfully, I found this great article on how to trouble shoot Wireless issues.
To cut a long story short, I thought I had a problem with my driver but after “uping” my wireless interface (sudo ifconfig eth1 up – use your own interface name here) and running a scan on the port (iwlist eth1 scan ) , I confirmed that the driver was working fine.
It was when I run rfkill list that I found that something was intentionally blocking the hardware and after a big of digging this thread seemed relevant: http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1377829
Sure enough, after running sudo rmmod -f dell_laptop , WiFi came to life. So, I followed the instructions to make it permanent (To fix add ‘blacklist dell_lapto’ to /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf) and I haven’t had a problem since.
So far, everything else is working well – I’ll keep you up to date if I hit any issues or even if I manage to work around them 🙂