Archive for March, 2009

Ubuntu 9.04, beta, on Dell XPS M1530

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

I just installed Ubuntu 9.04, beta, on a Dell M1530. The install program asked if I wanted a dual boot configuration with the older 8.10 version, and I said yes. That resulted in a longer install, but it worked fine. Then I was asked if I wanted to migrate my data settings from the older partition. This was a nice option, but since I didn’t have much on the older partition, I couldn’t evaluate how well it works.

I did notice right away the cursor worked fine, without having to tweak the grub loading commands, as was necessary for the m1530 for Ubuntu 8.10. Open Office 3.0 is also supported, which is a good reason to consider upgrading when the final version is ready.

I turned on the “partner” repositories, and installed the “Ubuntu restricted-extras” packages, which I highly recommend.

I next went to, and followed the directions for adding the medibuntu repositories.

I installed Cheese to see if the webcam worked, and it did, without any problems. More important for me, I used the Synaptic Package Manager, to install Skype, which I tested with a USB Logitech headset and also a USB VOIP phone. Skype recognized and used both devices without any problems. The voice quality from the USB Logitech headset was particularly good, which show shows the value of a good microphone. It also found and worked well with the m1530 webcam. The built-in webcam seems to work quite a bit better with skype than with cheese.

So far, the beta version looks pretty polished, and it works better on this machine than did final 8.04 or 8.10 releases.

The Dell XPS m1530 is in some ways a nicely designed machine. Mine has a very high resolution screen 15.4 inch screen, 1920 x 1200 (16:10), and a fast NVIDIA video card. It has a fingerprint reader you can configure for log-in, an SD/MMC (8 in 1 they claim) memory card reader, built in web cam and microphone, bluetooth and lots of I/O, including HMDI and S-Video for video. It is also pretty light, and has a decent keyboard.

Despite all of this, right now I am using my older Dell 1420n, which is heavier, and has a smaller, but still pretty decent screen. The reason I switched back was that when using Ubuntu 8.10, the m1530 was not as dependable as the 1420n when I used suspend. And even more important, the battery life for the m1530 has been terrible for me, and this is a big deal when I travel.

If I can resolve the battery issue, I would probably switch back to the XPS m1530. But for now, I am more comfortable using the older laptop.

Kindle 2 and synthetic speech

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

I was asked by several disability groups to make a statement on the Kindle 2 dispute (see here, here, here, here, and here) regarding synthetic speech. (more…)


Saturday, March 28th, 2009

I can’t say much for the name, and the appearance isn’t great, but Twitux seems like a serviceable Twitter client for Gnome based Linux distribution. I have found Twibble for Blackberry to work fine.

Skype with Ubuntu and Dell 1420n

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

Like many others, I have had considerable difficulty getting the internal microphone to work, or even one that uses the front microphone jack, on a Dell Inspiron 1420n, currently using Ubuntu 8.10. I found, however, that USB microphones seem to work quite well. A Logitech USB Headset worked fine, as did an older USB VOIP phone I had laying around, both with quite good sound quality.

Test of two twitter html widgets

Friday, March 20th, 2009

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