Monday, 1 August 2011

Installing Linux on Dell E5420

As is customary, to help others following along the path, here's some instructions for installing Linux (Kubuntu 11.04 but I'd guess any modern distro would be a similar experience) on a 2011 Dell E5420. In case the particular specification has an impact on the steps needed I've appended it to the bottom of this post.

These steps assume you have a prepared bootable install medium. I use a USB key, but CD/DVD would be similar.

Step 1 (optional): Ensure laptop is connected to mains and network (best to use wired).

Step 2: Press F12 during BIOS spash screen to reach boot menu, and select your boot media.

Step 3: When install option comes up, select it. Accept all defaults and complete user information as requested/desired.

Step 4: When instructed, reboot laptop. If using USB and an SSD this is in less than 5 minutes.

Step 5: Everything works. Enjoy :)

Sadly this traditional post is basically pointless, because it was that easy. All but one of my nieces could have done it (the youngest is only a month old, give her a chance...). In less time than it takes to install a Windows service pack you can take a blank laptop and transform it into complete working environment with all the core applications (office suite, etc.) already installed. No technical expertise required.

PS Rather nice, solidly built, nice to use laptop, in case you're interested. 3 mouse buttons on the Trackstick too. Battery lasted 7 hours out of the box, including all the install work :)

Spec (yes, no Microsoft Windows was supplied nor paid for):

Latitude E5420
Processor : One Intel Core i3-2310M (2.10GHz, 3MB cache, Dual Core)
Display : 14.0in UltraSharp HD+ (1600X900) AntiGlare LED-backlit with Premium Panel Guarantee
Palmrest : Dual Point Touchpad and Trackstick
Camera : Integrated Full HD Camera with Microphone
Memory : 2GB (1x2GB) 1333MHz DDR3 Dual Channel
Hard Drive : 128GB Mobility Solid State Drive
Optical Drive : DVD +/-RW Drive
Battery : Primary 9-cell 87W/HR, 3 Year Warranty
Wireless : Dell 375 Bluetooth Card
Wireless Card : EMEA Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6205 (802.11 a/b/g/n) Half Mini Card
Keyboard : Internal UK/Irish Qwerty Backlit Dual Pointing Keyboard (antimicrobial)
OS Media : Not Included


Stephen said...

Could you elaborate on how you managed to obtain the dell laptop without an operating system! Seems to be one of the most challenging aspects!

putt1ck said...

Almost missed this one! After taking advice from Dell people on Twitter I called them on their sales number. UK: 0844 444 3225. I went through the business user channel but if buying any custom built machine I think the home user line would be equally amenable.

Looking at it from Dell's perspective I guess being willing but not advertising the fact that you will sell without Windows deals with a number of issues: (i) the person who just bought the cheapest option without understanding one of the savings was having a different (better ;) ) operating system, (ii) the MS marketing dollar for plastering "Windows is like needed for people to even stay alive, init" all over your website.

The saving from not having Windows was £45. I made sure of this by not asking for "not Windows" until everything else was costed ;)

Stephen said...

thanks for the reply :)