Laptop Woes, Customer Service Headaches and a New Laptop



It seems that things happen in clusters, sometimes it’s more of a chain reaction. My longtime working laptop lost the ability to backlight the display. Yes, the backlight is replacable with a couple hours tear down and rebuild. Of course, they’re fragile parts and although I’ve replaced them in the past. I’ve got to a point that I didn’t feel it was worth it. The laptop was a ~1Ghz single core PIII or PIV with 2GB of memory. It has had flakey wireless lately, sometimes the machine will wake up and the wireless isn’t working. It’s clone had died with a power switch issue that could have only been solved with a motherboard replacement. So, I switched to an older spare while I ordered a replacement from Dell.


On looking at the dell site I still had my dell financial services account and a credit line there. We decided that monthly payments would work out better right now, went through the order process and their 30 second credit reauthorization and the order looked good. It was an inspiron 15R I think customized. Not exactly what I wanted (really wanted linux preinstalled – but their options for that at dell are fairly limited – the place I had looked at was a good 400-600 more expensive,etc…)

So, I watched and waited for a week. The day before the laptop was supposed to arrive I had logged in to see if there was any change in the order status and…. It showed up as canceled. ?!?!? It was after hours so I dropped an email to customer support. They “must have called or emailed first”. was essentially what I was told. No voice mail messages, no emails from dell. It escalated through several customer representatives over a few days, but the bottom line was they canceled my order without an attempt to call me.

I have bought 3-4 computers from Dell for myself and others in the last 15 years or so. I can’t remember how many dozens I’ve walked through the process of buying through dells online store. Then there are the 50-100+ that I have suggested just go look at dell when they wanted to talk to me about buying a new computer.

I told them about it.

As I thought… I went to hp and found a better machine for about 200 more and ordered it. (Billmelater – gives a no interest 6 months and then payment like dell financing does.) I’m using that right now. I have officially bid farewall to Dell. I don’t plan to buy from them again.

So, I got a pavilion dv6z se (special edition). It has an aluminum case which I think makes it feel like the most solid and well built laptop I have ever had. (4 core – amd processor – 6GB memory.)

While the laptop ships with windows 7, my first task was to make a backup image of the original drive state (clonezilla). Then I installed ubuntu lucid 10.04 and haven’t looked back. To say that this flies in comparison to the old laptop is an understatement.

I hope the increased productivity that I’m going to find here will help me get back into a routine of posting here and other places so keep an eye out for more upcoming posts. In fact I would like to give coverage to a cloud backup service I’ve started using.

I can’t tell you how slow the old machine was in comparison. I have looked at my cpu usage and typically am keeping two cores busy with my work flow which says to me I was severely overtaxing the old machine.

When the laptop first arrived with the HP preinstalled Windows 7….. This was a 500GB drive and 50GB was already in use. There was the rescue partition weighing in around 20GB and then there was the windows partition with windows 7 at 30GB. I suspect there was also a metric ton of other junky software that I wouldn’t have wanted anyway. HP advisor or HP hoosit or whatever other “utilities” are sent along from hp these days. Trial antivirus from whoever, and other programs that I would have probably never used.

After my ubuntu install do you want to guess how much disk space was used?

Go ahead try….

5GB (and that was with some of my data already copied over and most of my preferred extra software installed over the base install.)

So in many ways it’s just as well they don’t do ubuntu preinstalled on these – they’d probably hulk it up with a lot of useless junk….

On the plus side – HP has been very communicative along the way with email updates when the laptop shipped. (Shipped from Shanghai on a Friday and was on my doorstep Monday at 10:55….. with free shipping…. ) I’ve had a followup survey through which I expressed an interest in ubuntu preinstalled models.

So, how does ubuntu 10.4 work on the hp pavilion dv6z se? Very well. Let’s see… I installed and have wireless working, 3d working pretty much out of the box…. There was the hardware advisor to get the wireless and 3d working.

My biggest annoyance was the special function keys (volume, media player controls) took precendence over the f1-f12 keys. A change in bios solved that. It’s not a linux issue – it’s a design decision on this laptop – they decided wouldn’t mind pressing fn+ the key to get a f12.

Right now the only thing that I can think of that isn’t working is the fingerprint reader. It looks like it’s a slightly newer model hardware than those that are currently supported. I suspect in a short time it will be supported. (By the time I upgrade to the next Long Term Support release it probably will.) Although…. I don’t really care that it works or not.

Camera and audio all work well too. No tinkering required.

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