Feedback on certified Dell systems

Asked by pirast on 2012-12-15

I bought a Latitude E5430 certified Dell System, which ships with Ubuntu 11.10.

Sorry, but it is worth nothing:
- it only runs for 3 1/2 hours in battery mode (windows 8: 6 1/2 hours)
- the touchpad is recognized as a mouse and not as a touchpad. thus: no tapping, no scolling, no configuration of acceleration , ....
- the fan runs all the time

plus some bugs in the installer:
- as soon as you select "connect to wifi" in the installer, and choose "do not connect" afterwards (because you changed your decision), the next button is not clickable
- even tough setting it in the installer, the right keyboard layout is not set up

I am really disappointed. What is the point of having a certification that lets such as system get certified? Also, shipping laptops with such a bad configuration and a Ubuntu sticker destroys the Ubuntu brand.

Granted that upgrading to Ubuntu 12.10 may fix some of the issues, but why not directly ship with it? If I buy a Windows system, it runs almost perfect out of the box. The latitude with the pre-installed Ubuntu 11.10 is rubbish (even though its certified (!)). At least there is a shiny video shown when setting up the laptop.

If I have to reinstall my laptop after buying it with Ubuntu (to get 12.10), I can directly install Windows (or buy it with Windows, which is not much more expensive) (runs really well on the model) and can be sure not have any more problems.

Question information

Hi pirast,

The Ubuntu Certification program tests the compatibility of the system with Ubuntu up to a particular level. The problem with battery life was a general issue with the Linux kernel used in 11.10. I believe it has been resolved in 12.04. As for the touchpad issue, we will certify the system as long as the touchpad works as a mouse. Fan operation we don't test.

The other issues in the installer are quite likely to be general issues, and nothing to do with this system in particular.

It will be worth trying 12.04 LTS to see how that works - it should at least take care of the battery life issue.

If there are any more problems with the system apart from these, please let us know

Martin Wildam (mwildam) said : #2

I remember that fan operation or battery life issues came up only in the last years. Not sure if such problems didn't exist before or maybe just nobody investigated. However, I think due to experience such tests should be included in the certification.

I think at the first place it helps working closely together with the kernel folks and ask them beforehand which hardware (e.g. touchpad, w-lan device etc) to prefer over another because the kernel people know best which vendors do cooperate best with the Linux community.

pirast (pirast) said : #3

Hi, thanks for your reply.

Regarding the touchpad issue: It neither works as a touchpad with Ubuntu 12.04 nor with Ubuntu 12.10, see bug #1090833.

Generally speaking, you should consider changing your certification requirements (to include things like fan control and touchpad recognition). Then "Ubuntu Certified" would certainly mean something for laptops.

I thought that I would have the same experience with a Ubuntu certified system as I normally had when using a Windows certified systems (that was because I bought it with Ubuntu pre-installed). That is certainly not the case, touchpad functions not working is a no-go for me (if this would have worked, I would have thought differently about Ubuntu certified systems).
This is sad, especially because it did not work with Ubuntu 11.10 and still does not work with Ubuntu 12.10. I would have thought that you have such a system laying around and someone having a proper (!) look at it (and patching a few lines (from what I saw its a 3 line patch) in the kernel), before putting the certified stamp onto it.

I can have the same experience with almost any other laptop running Ubuntu that I have had with a Ubuntu certified system, still, if it has a Synaptics touchpad it could be even better - without having a Ubuntu stamp on it.

Regarding the other issues, they are quite general, but still I am wondering if no one is having a look at the pre-installed images before they are shipped. Especially because on the other side, there is quite a lot of polish, for example a video being shown. The investment into it could have been better gone into some quality assurance.

Launchpad Janitor (janitor) said : #4

This question was expired because it remained in the 'Open' state without activity for the last 15 days.

pirast (pirast) said : #5

no one really cares (is interested in changing this for further models it seems), this is sad.

Jeff Lane (bladernr) said : #6

What would you suggest changing at this point? The pre-install 11.10 image is vastly different than stock 11.10, and 11.10 is nearly End of Life at this time.

Unfortunately, because hardware constantly changes, the special pre-install images sometimes have to be created to get Ubuntu working on a given system. There are a lot of moving parts to this process, and it's not perfect, by any means, but that's not specific to Ubuntu, it's an issue in general with Linux support.

Have you tried Ubuntu 12.04 or 12.10, or now 13.04? They may provide better support as a lot of the changes from older pre-install images have been pushed into stock Ubuntu and the Linux kernel. In any case, as I said, 11.10 will be End of Life soon, and will receive no further updates.

pirast (pirast) said : #7

Hi, thanks for your reply.

> What would you suggest changing at this point?
I would suggest to change the certification process so that includes a test of the touchpad functions on notebooks (touchpad being recognized as a touchpad, working tapping and scolling).

> Have you tried Ubuntu 12.04 or 12.10, or now 13.04?
Yes, and that is what frustrates me most - on my Ubuntu certified Dell system, the touchpad still does not work with the latest version - so neither has someone cared nor has someone commited a fix upstream. Chances are that my experience would even have been better with Ubuntu on a Windows certified system - as long as it had a Synaptics touchpad.

Regarding the issues with the installer:
> What would you suggest changing at this point?
A more streamlined process to create OEM images / qa process on OEM images, as the installer issues do not exist with a stock 11.10 install (might be already fixed with newer versions (fan/battery issues might also have been fixed).

Just to make my point clear: I think that if you buy a Ubuntu certified system, it should work reasonably well (considering that Canonical probably gets some money from Dell if I choose the Ubuntu option). And in my opinion, this is not the case if the touchpad is not recognized correctly. This has an impact on your everyday work with the system.

pirast (pirast) said : #8

Also, you might want to make users of OEM installs more aware of the fact that a newer version might improve battery life / hardware support / etc and offer an upgrade at a really visible place. Just think about it, when I bought the notebook, it was shipped with a 1-year old version of Ubuntu. That's ages (especially because hardware support is dependent on the kernel, which does not get a major update in a stable Ubuntu version)

I suppose that every computer user not familar with Ubuntu/Linux has wiped Ubuntu off his hard disk on his Latitude E5430 (and will probably never again choose a Ubuntu based device). By having a bad certification process / bad hardware support on certified systems you are devaluating the Ubuntu brand, which should not be in the interest of Canonical (especially because there are more and more Ubuntu branded products upcoming (phones).

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