[conspire] Black Friday Deal

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Thu Nov 15 14:47:08 PST 2012

Quoting Paul Zander (paulz at ieee.org):

> I was given a flyer with Black Friday offer from Dell:
>   Inspiron 15 laptop for a Member-Exclusive price of $299.99
> Is this a deal "not to be missed"?  or should I just check the Fry's ads?
> Given that Dell uses an assortment of parts, how likely is this to be
> Linux compatible?  

Short answer: very likely, especially if you avoid the 'Dell' (Broadcom)
wireless option.

Point 1, Problem:  'Dell Inspiron 15' is a marketing term.  It fails to
specify even the exact Dell model.  There may be multiple actual models
that bear that marketing name.  One is the Dell Inspiron 15 model N5040,
which use a motherboard based on the Intel HM57 chipset.  Another is
model I15-156B.  Another is I15N-2728BK.  Another is model 1564.
Another is model 1545.  Which is the one you're being offered by the
Dell flyer?  God only knows.

Point 2, Acknowledgement:  You are correct that one of the big problems
with people's queries about Dell units is that they, _even_ more than
the other big hardware OEMs, practices component-du-jour parts

Part of that is Dell's continual scrounging for cheap supply lines, and
part of it is user psychology:  Dell customers are conditioned to think
'Oh, it has the Dell logo' and not worry about what the box actually
contains.  This syndrome goes right down to the component level even
when they _do_ bother to specify the part names.  For example:

The laptop's wifi is going to be one of various choices.  One online
source (*COUGH* dell.com *COUGH*) says it's going to be one of these:

  Dell Wireless 1397 802.11g Mini-Card 
  Dell Wireless 1515 Wireless-N Mini-Card
  Intel Next-Gen Wireless-N Mini-card

That (alleged) information is, as a one-time boss of mine used to say,
'almost useful'.  The third line says basically 'some Intel
miniPCI-format wireless card supporting IEEE 802.11n protocols, but
we're not going to bother your pretty little head by telling you which
one.'  The other two lines are even worse:  Dell actually doesn't make
miniPCI wireless cards; they just rebrand other people's card.  So,
which are these ones they're talking about?  God only knows.

So, you're in a doubtful situation because Dell has not bothered to
truly inform you about what product is being offered.  This page claims
to cover multiple Inspiron 15 models (but _not_ Inspiron 15R ones):

Basically, it claims that everything will Just Work[tm] on modern Linux
distributions as long as you get the Intel miniPCI wifi card.   If you
get one of the so-called 'Dell' miniPCI wifi cards, which are claimed to
be some (unspecified) Broadcom chip that requires the dodgy out-of-tree
and proprietary 'linux_sta' (aka 'broadcom_sta') driver, and thus
requiring a whole lot of thankless work if you're too stupid to just
yank the cruddy Broadcom miniPCI card out, repurpose it as landfill, and
replace it with one that doesn't suck as badly.

I hope that helps (better than solicitations for Christian's personal
501(c)(3) nonprofit, anyway).

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