Ubuntu on my Dell XPS M1330 – Booted with the MediaDirect button

So when my motherboard was replaced, MediaDirect stopped starting up, so there was no Media to be had from the button, Direct or otherwise and the button itself booted Vista and then started the MediaDirect application. Thinking I had a brilliant idea, I set out to see if I could boot Ubuntu using the MediaDirect button and Vista using the Power button, only to find that hundreds of other people have done that before to.

However none of those guides worked because I simply couldn’t manage to install GRUB to the extended partition due to many many errors. Finally, I deleted MediaDirect, installed Ubuntu in a couple of logical partitions and went back to using Windows. Then today, I decided to finish the job, and with LiveCD in hand proceeded to fight the demons of distro installation under esoteric conditions. GRUB kept failing trying to find stage1 and stage2 files, and no matter how many tricks I tried, none of them worked. Until I discovered this lovely parameter to grub-install.

So with GRUB already installed on the logical partition (as part of the Ubuntu installation process), I just had to point grub-install to the right place to get all the files from:
sudo grub-install --root-directory=/media/disk-1/ /dev/sda4
and boom! I had a bootloader on the extended partition.

The best part is that I’d already installed the Dell bootloader (the one that handles the difference between MediaDirect and Power) configured to look at the third and fourth partitions and so I shut down and hit the MediaDirect button and then much happiness ensued. At least until I saw how fonts looked in Firefox :)

The command to run from the Dell MediaDirect disc is:
rmbr.exe dell 3 4
Remember to start cmd.exe with Administrator permissions (right click, Run as Administrator). The only problem is that ‘Restart’ always means ‘Restart into Windows’.

To get proper instructions on how to do this instead of this garbled mess, here are the links I found most useful:
Using the Media Direct button to boot Ubuntu
Another thread for that
The thread where I found out about --root-directory

Airtel much faster than usual?

I once complained about Airtel, and what a bad experience getting a connection was, but once you’ve got the connection it’s perfectly alright and pretty reliable. I’d signed up for a 256kbps unlimited plan, and today when I was downloading java and tomcat off the ubuntu servers, I got the following readout:
Fetched 51.6MB in 12m5s (71.1kB/s)
Watching the stuff download and timing it, it was correct. I was getting 11 MB every 4 minutes. That’s more than twice the rated speed. I hope this isn’t some glitch in the system, maybe they’re just giving us a look at how faster connections are so that we’ll be tempted to upgrade. I must say that I am. The worst, of course, would be if they’ve accidentally switched us onto another plan with a bandwidth limit. I hate those, you have to keep track of how much bandwidth you use, the Internet shouldn’t be like that. Always on, ready to do what you want at a reasonable pace.

Marc claims that they must be stress-testing their connections, or perhaps letting people have extra bandwidth. That’s an interesting idea and he came up with an even better one — They’re showing off, ‘putting scene’ :D If so I hope they keep having excess space in their tubes :)

It’s still going on, I downloaded the Java SDK at 200 kB/s and now my upgrades are going at anything between 70-100kB/s.

UPDATE: As of now (8:40 IST), the connection is back to rated speed. It was fun to play with some high capacity though. My router mysteriously restarted just before I noticed that speed was back to normal. I hope the two things aren’t related.