- NOTE* These instructions are for the older Ubuntu Hoary. If you are using Ubuntu Breezy you need at least Breezy RC1 (released Oct. 6th, 2005) to be able to install. In Ubuntu Breezy you should NOT need to do any of the BIOS changes or kernel changes, but you WILL still need to edit xorg.conf (see below) so you can use screen resolutions other than 640x480.
For the Dell 8400 and other new computers with SATA drives, you cannot even install Ubuntu Hoary without making some changes. Here are instructions for installing Ubuntu and then fixing a couple of issues.
Disable SATA to Install Ubuntu
You need to edit the BIOS settings to temporarily disable SATA mode for your drives. The below instructions are copied from this page. With the Ubuntu CD in your drive, reboot and hold down F2 during the Dell logo to edit the settings. Hit the down arrow key to the Drives section. Then right arrow to expand, and down arrow to the SATA Operation section, and press enter. Change from AHCI to ATA, hit escape, then save changes on exit and reboot. (If you need to boot back into Windows, change it back, but we'll change it back permanently after fixing this issue below). When you reboot, hit F10 and select boot from USB/CD drive. Then proceed to install Ubuntu.
Fixing Monitor Resolution
When you login to your system, you may notice the screen resolution is only 640x480 (assuming you have the default Dell monitor that came with the system). Go to the menu System -> Preferences -> Screen Resolution and you'll notice it won't let you change it. This issue is discussed on the FixVideoResolutionHowto page. In the terminal, type "gksudo gedit /etc/X11/xorg.conf" (enter your password for permission to edit it). Go to the Monitor section and add the HorizSync and VertRefresh lines below:
Section "Monitor" Identifier "DELL E173FP" Option "DPMS" HorizSync 31.5-79.0 VertRefresh 40-75 EndSection
Then hit ctrl-alt-backspace to restart the X server (or else reboot). You now should be able to change the resolution using the System -> Preferences -> Screen Resolution tool.
Upgrading Kernel for SATA Support
To get support for your SATA drives, you can upgrade the kernel. It's not as hard as it sounds. Open System -> Administration -> Synaptics Package Manager. Do a search for "kernel", and select and install the 2.6.11 kernel (I installed the 686 version). BEFORE YOU REBOOT. There is a serious bug with this kernel that involves inotify (monitors changes to files on your drive). If you reboot, your system will hang. If this has already happened, boot into recovery mode instead of normal mode and go to the login prompt, otherwise before rebooting, open the Terminal application. Type "gksudo gedit /boot/grub/menu.lst". Scroll down to the line where your new kernel is listed. Add a "noinotify" flag to the end of the kernel line, so that it looks like this:
kernel /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.11-1-686 root=/dev/sda5 ro quiet splash noinotify
Also make the other small change to menu.lst noted in the next section. Then reboot, hold down F2 again to change the BIOS back from ATA to AHCI, and all should be well.
Make GRUB remember where you booted last
Also while you are editing /boo/grub/menu.lst, you can make a small change so that your computer boots by default into whatever system it booted last (i.e., not always linux). Near the top of the file, change the line "default 0" to "default saved".
With the Sound Blaster Audigy 2 that comes with some Dells, you may not have any sound in Ubuntu. Type in the Terminal "sudo apt-get install alsamixergui", enter your password and install. Then type alsamixergui. Scroll to the right where you see Audigy Analog/Digital Output Jack. Click on the speaker icon to enable this output. Quit and test that you can hear sounds on the computer now. Type "sudo alsactl store" in the Terminal to store these settings.