Update: 3rd Time Lucky… I hope

Hey folks, sorry it’s been a bit quiet around here lately, things are hectic at the moment and I’m still far from 100% fit. Anyway, just thought you’d like to know I got my new Ubuntu powered Dell XPS m1330 and it’s a lovely machine. I would highly recommend it as a powerful ultra-mobile Linux solution.

However, there is a problem with the one I’m currently typing this post on. It arrived with a faulty DVD/CD drive, arrggh!!! The motor on the slot-loading drive doesn’t work. Looks like I’ll be waiting a bit longer to move onto this system full-time then. I’ve emailed Dell but customer services are not open on the weekend, it will be a while before I get a reply. I’m really hoping they’ll ship me a replacement or send someone to fix this drive ASAP. It seems my luck is pretty bad at the moment with this and a few other things stacking up but I’m hanging in there and things can only improve right? 😉

IMPORTANT EDIT: As of today 18/02/08 it appears that my dvd drive is working yippee!!! I managed to clear the blockage stopping the motor from working and I’ve been using it all day to test it out. It seems pretty stable and I think I fixed it. Eat your heart out MacGuyver 😀 Something got stuck in the drive before it arrived, maybe during transport it was knocked I dunno. As long as it doesn’t die again in the near future I will be keeping this machine and I’m very pleased about that 🙂

I was intending to do a full review of this system but there isn’t much point at the moment since this machine is faulty. I can report that it was installed with a custom Dell image of Ubuntu 7.10 which includes the dvd-css decoders and LinDVD for DVD playback. I was attempting to tryout this functionality when I realised the drive was broken, good job I did. Using this for a day so has confirmed what a nice machine it is though and I can’t wait to get the fully working one. In truth I don’t use the optical drive much at all but since I paid for it I’d like one that works. Worth checking out if you want a new Linux laptop though, your luck can’t be as bad as mine.

In other news: I’m currently running Foresight Linux on the desktop and I hope to have a review of that out before I have to travel for a few days next week. I’ll probably talk about it on Linux Outlaws as well, the weekly podcast I do with my friend Fab. We’re getting quite a few listeners now and it’s really nice to hear people’s feedback.

Check out my Fab’s review of his XPS m1330 here

So for now I await a response from Dell and possibly a new laptop or a new dvd drive at least. I’ll let you know how it goes. I’m hoping it will be 3rd time lucky…


  1. Good luck trying to get a DVD to play in Gutsy on the M1330 – I’ve had no luck whatsoever, as it seems the drive is completely locked down and won’t decrypt. DeCSS won’t work on it at all, nor libdvdread 🙁

    The only reports of DVD reading I’ve found have been on Windows systems.

  2. Wow that’s interesting. I remember lots of news about Dell adding DVD decoding to their Ubuntu images before Christmas. Here’s a post from Mark Shuttleworths blog, the founder of Cannonical and Ubuntu.

    If you’ve tried all this stuff then maybe it doesn’t work, it just seems a little strange that Shuttleworth would so openly say that it does. Strange. Unfortunately I couldn’t get past loading a disc into the machine so it definitely won’t work for me at the moment.

  3. Aha! I fixed it!

    Turns out the drive that ships with M1330 has the wrong region mask setting which leads to read errors on Linux. I re-set it using regionset and now it all works perfectly.

    The read errors were along the lines of: buffer i/o error end_request, and the drive model is Matshita UJ-857G with firmware Z111 (hopefully this’ll now be indexed for other people to find.)

  4. Oh cool you got it working, nicely done 🙂 As you say hopefully this will be indexed so people can find the solution. I’ll let you know if I have to do the same when they get me a working drive 😉

  5. I have not personally worked on the m1330 before, but from what I’m seeing in the service manual the drive is not considered Customer Removable (it is almost as much work as replacing the motherboard) and will require either sending a tech out to work on the system, or the system to our repair depot (depending on the service option on your warranty).

    If you haven’t already gotten in touch with tech support to get the drive replaced feel free to let me know and I’ll be happy to have someone from our UK support group get with you about it. Unfortunately, since I am in the US (at Dell headquarters) I don’t have access to the tools required to set things up for UK systems myself.

    If you have any questions for me I will be happy to answer them.

    Dell Customer Advocate

  6. Thank you very much Larry I really appreciate that. It seems I have managed to fix the drive. I worked out that the motor was locked for some reason and I found a way to release it using a screwdriver. Not an advised practice I know but I didn’t put anything into the drive itself or force/damage the machine in any way, I just pressed a release catch and now it reads and writes discs again.

    I guess I cleared the blockage and I’m not totally sure what I did but it works now so I’m happy and I will be keeping the machine 😀

    I did email Dell Customer Support UK on Friday but I haven’t had a reply yet. There is something I would like to ask, I didn’t receive the remote control with the machine that normally comes with the Windows m1330. Do you know if this has been removed from the Ubuntu model on purpose? If so, why? It works 100% under Ubuntu and even works with plain Debian. I realise you may not have answers to this as you don’t work on the m1330 and it’s not your department. I just thought I would ask.

    Thank you very much for your kind offer of help, I do appreciate it 🙂


  7. I’m glad to hear you got things working again. I’m also very curious to know what exactly you did, because it could help me help other customers (I’m always looking for fixes that don’t require the customer to wait for someone else).

    I would have to check the order details to know for sure, but my understanding is that the remote needs to be specifically selected when the order is placed. If you don’t opt-in for it then it isn’t part of the order.

    I’ll have to check to see whether it is an option for the Ubuntu system, but at this point I don’t see any reason why it would not be. It is possible that it is not an option because not all of the software on the Windows side is available (or have an equivalent) for linux. Lack of full hardware support is one of the reasons Dell only has a limited number of linux systems available, as we don’t want to sell a system that isn’t “fully functional” running the OS it ships with.

    Its not that I don’t work on the 1330, its just that I haven’t worked on it yet. 😉 My department is kind of an odd-ball “if it’s Dell we work on it” group, since we are tasked with contacting customers on the internet, and either helping them directly or getting them in contact with the people that can best help, depending on the situation.

    I’ll do some checking and get back to you about the remote. If you have other questions, just let me know.

    Dell Customer Advocate

  8. From what I could find, the remote on the m1330 is part of the TV Tuner package. It appears the TV Tuner is not an option for the linux version of the m1330, most likely due to driver and/or software availability, which means the remote is also not included.

    For similar reasons the Intel wireless card is the only option for the linux m1330, even though it is possible to get the Dell (Broadcom) wireless card to work with a bit of effort.

    Dell Customer Advocate

  9. Hi Dan! Glad to see that you’re having fun with your new “play toy” there! 😉 I’m kind of curious to see the review that you’ll do on it now that you’ve got it. Too bad though about the rough luck you’ve had. I do hope that it won’t figure in too negatively in your review? (Oh, and no, I don’t work for Dell. LOL!)

    I do have to say though that actually seeing a Dell Customer Advocate come into a blog like this and try to assist you in any way possible sure has raised my respect for the company. It shot up when they offered Linux, now even moreso with personal help like this.

    Again Dan, have fun with the “toy”, and enjoy your upcoming trip, eh? Just don’t get too over-tired. You know what I mean? 😉


  10. @eyes-only – Thank you for the concern, I made it back last night and I will probably need a few days to recover but I didn’t go crazy thankfully 🙂 I also have to agree that it’s great to see a Dell employee replying directly on the blog here, that’s very cool, a credit to the company and of course the individual.

    @Larry – Thank you for all the information. I’m still not sure exactly how I fixed the problem or how to repeat the operation but I’ll have a proper think and let you know if I come up with anything you could use.

    As for the remote, I can see why it may not be included without the TV tuner pack but I still think the option of the remote would be nice for Ubuntu customers, it works with all the in-built media functions of Ubuntu. My friend from Germany (and fellow podcaster) ordered an m1330 with no OS and got the remote included along with some nice Creative headphones. generally as nice little package. He uses it fine to watch DVDs and play all kinds of media under Ubuntu. It might be nice if the policy of excluding it from Ubuntu machines could be reviewed, the remote works out of the box and doesn’t require any hacks or tricks. Anyone could use it without any specialist knowledge.

    Thanks again, it’s been really great to get some feedback from you, keep up the good work 🙂

  11. I have passed on your feedback about adding the remote for Ubuntu systems. I can’t promise anything, obviously, but I know for sure that customer feedback has made changes before (linux computers from Dell are a very good example).

    Dell Customer Advocate

  12. i have an m1210 running fedora and everything works. so i purchased a vista m1330. i replaced the drive with a larger drive and installed ubuntu gutsy gibbon. i was able to find a lindvd package and convert it to a debian package so i can play dvd’s, i just can’t back them up to my laptop so i don’t have to travel with dvd’s in my luggage. now i either have to use my m1210, bring my dvd’s with me, or find a solution. the broadcom (i wanted a 3945 but got a really good deal on this one and i can get an intel mini-card easily) was nothing to write home about unless you’re into depressing letters. always with the disconnecting or not working. i called dell support and they sent me a 3945 the next day and i shipped back the 1490. wireless works perfectly now. dell advocate, what’s the best way to get the Matshita replaced with a different drive?

  13. ah ok, disregard my previous post about not being able to back up encrypted dvd’s. it appears i forgot to press enter after selecting ‘y’ when i was installing the dvd libraries. i’m am now able to play dvd’s as well as back them up on the UJ-857G. this is on the m1330 running gutsy gibbon.

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