Thursday, December 24, 2009

Ubuntu 9.10 on Dell Studio 1555

I recently got a new laptop, a Dell Studio 15(55). Of course the first thing I did when I got it was wipe it (remove Windows 7) and install Ubuntu 9.10.

To make a long story short, I had some problems with the laptop display (though plugging in an external monitor worked fine). The issues had to do with Intel's GMA and integrated graphics support.

The first problem was during installation. After the initial live boot/installation menu (pic below) I would get a blank (lit black) screen.

First I used Ubuntu's alternate installer. Then on the installation menu:
  1. Select the Install Ubuntu item (don't press Enter yet)
  2. Press F6 and select (X) the apic=off option
  3. Press F4 and type nomodeset as input
  4. Press Enter to install
After installation or a restart though you'll still get a blank screen until you permanently set the nomodeset option.
These resources helped me solve the problems:

To get things working I had to set the "nomodeset" option in the Grub2 (boot loader) configuration.
When using the default kernel-mode-setting (KMS) option in Ubuntu 9.10, users with Intel 82852/855GM cards will find that they are unable to use the Xv extension for playing videos. This may show up as high CPU usage or stuttering during video playback, or a failure to play videos at all with some applications. As a workaround, users can add the option nomodeset to the kernel boot options in the grub config (for GRUB 2: edit /etc/default/grub and add nomodeset to GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX, then run sudo update-grub; for GRUB 1: edit /boot/grub/menu.lst and add nomodeset to the line beginning with # kopt=, then run sudo update-grub), to disable the use of KMS
From the above excerpt:
  1. For Grub2 (the default for Ubuntu 9.10), edit /etc/default/grub
  2. Add nomodeset to GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX
  3. run sudo update-grub
Then you should be good to go.


  1. Thanks Ben, helped a lot. I tried using the nomodeset option directly while booting from the install CD, it worked. However I had problems in shutting down. I'll post an update once I get everything set up...

  2. I'm getting my Dell Studio 15 with default Intel GMA tomorrow morning. Thanks for this post.

    Any other issues with installing 9.10? I know about the brightness controls and the fix for that.


  3. Hi, I am trying to install Ubuntu inside Windows 7 and getting the same issue. Can someone suggest some fix for it?

  4. hey any fix for the ubuntu 10.04 ? similar problem!

  5. @Naren, I did the above and seemed to have fixed the problem in ubuntu 10.04

  6. Hey, I had the same problems on a Dell Studio 1749, and used the nomodeset option to get past the blank screen, but unfortunately the installer is now hanging forever on a blinking cursor instead. Any idea of what to do next?