Dell Inspiron + Co.

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Table of Contents

1 Dell Inspiron 8000
[1.1 My Hardware Configuration] [1.2 My Partition Scheme] [1.3 Installing Win2KPro] [1.4 Boot Manager] [1.5 Installing SuSE Linux 7.1 Professional] [1.6 Links]
2 Dell Inspiron 4100
3 Compaq Armada 3500
4 Compaq Armada 1500

1 Dell Inspiron 8000

This document's structure is partially based on the document "Installing Linux and Windows 2000 on the Dell Inspiron 8000" by Joël Wijngaarde.

1.1 My Hardware Configuration

model Dell Inspiron 8000
CPU Intel Mobile Pentium III 700 MHz
memory 256 MB 100 MHz SDRAM (2 x 128 MB)
hard drive 30 GB EIDE
screen 15" UXGA active matrix TFT, max. 1 600 x 1 200 @ 2^24 colours
incredible resolution (possibly the highest you can currently get in a laptop panel) though very limited viewing angle — contrast + colours decrease drastically when viewed from a small angle, e. g. several people watching a DVD movie
graphics card ATI Rage Mobility M4, 4 x AGP, 2D/3D, 32 MB SGRAM, OpenGL, multi monitor
multi-desktop software available?
fixed drive DVD
module bay floppy drive, CD-burner, second LiIon battery
second battery allows for 6 – 8 hours of continuous operation (approx. 2 – 3 hours with DVD playback)
network 3COM Ethernet/56K V.90 modem combo
ports 2 x USB, 1 x parallel, 1 x serial, 1 x fast IrDA infrared, 1 x PS/2, 3 x audio (+ built-in microphone and speakers), 1 x S-VHS TV output, 1 x digital audio output (S/PDIF), 1 x port replicator, 1 x IEEE 1394 firewire
misc. 1 x PCMCIA type III or 2 x type II, touchpad and trackstick, 5 x coloured handrests, 1 x integrated antenna for wireless LAN
accessories external keyboard (PS/2), external Logitech optical mouse (USB), 4 port USB hub, Handspring Visor Deluxe Ice/black PDAs (USB), CompactFlash PCMCIA adapter, Nikon Coolpix digital camera, Altec Lansing ATP-3 subwoofer system, ...

1.2 My Partition Scheme

four primary partitions:
  1. 7.9 GB ext2fs (SuSE 7.1 Linux root, /dev/hda1) (< 1 024 cylinders — a limitation of previous Linux fdisk routines)
  2. 10 GB NTFS (Win2KPro, c:)
  3. 10 GB FAT-32 (shared Linux + Win, /dev/hda3 + d:)
  4. 2 GB swap (/dev/hda4)
No hybernation partiton. It would have to be primary, and I think there is a limit of 4 primary partitions in the partition table anyway?! Should consider to make the third partition (FAT-32) an extended one + hope to mount it as /dev/hda5 from the Linux side?! (feedback welcome)

There seems to be a restriction of some Linux fdisks (e. g. in RedHat 6.2) who refuse to create partitions exceeding 1 024 cylinders. Win2KPro does not have problems booting from higher cylinder addresses.

For selecting a partition, see the section on Boot Managers.

1.3 Installing Win2KPro

Had problems booting from CD. Created four 3.5" boot disks instead.

PCMCIA CompactFlash card was detected as drive c: (and suggested for installation target), hard disk as drive d:. Had to shut down, remove card, reboot, otherwise drive would afterwards have been known as d: and could not be renamed.

Drivers from shipped CDs installed without problems (though first I was not sure about the brand of my ethernet/modem combo — it's a 3COM, and the Intel Mini-PCI driver has to be installed first). Ethernet + internet connection/modem sharing works, though one might have to reboot to get the proper network configuration.

When I hot-plugged my ZIP USB CD-Writer during installation of Adaptec's burner software, it triggered a new hardware found event + caused instant blue screen + machine reboot.
Machine hung. Tried rebooting in save mode. Save mode no longer worked — machine hung.
Removed all unnecessary devices (including the burner). No way.
Fell back to last known good configuration. Could then boot again. Uninstalled and reinstalled burner software. Am able to use both (internal + external) burners with Easy CD Creator, DirectCD, etc. Together with the DVD + the CompactFlash PCMCIA adapter this is a total of four mass storage devices!

Have slight problems with detection of DVD disks. Might require a machine reboot before DVDs are playable. Inserting a DVD and closing the door can cause a blue screen + machine reboot.

1.4 Boot Manager

DiskManager + fdisk on Win2KPro + Linux can be used to toggle the active/boot partition.

I tried several Linux distributions + LILOs:

I now use ... (to come soon)

... WinNT boot loader: bootpart??? ... (to come soon)

The following section explains how to install SuSE Linux 7.1 Professional.

1.5 Installing SuSE Linux 7.1 Professional

This text explains how I installed this distribution with the help of the resources stated in the links section. I especially want to thank Erik Berglund for providing valuable feedback.

1.5.1 Dont's

  • Don't use linear mode for LILO for large hard disks.
    Make sure /etc/lilo.conf contains an lba32 entry.
  • Don't activate the PCMCIA driver.
    Make sure it is deactivated in /etc/rc.d (START_PCMCIA="no").

1.5.2 Details

... (more info to appear soon)

linux reads NTFS + FAT-32 filesystems

cd /pub/pcmcia-cs
get pcmcia-cs-3.1.25.tar.gz

- /etc/init.rd patch; PCMCIA download/install
- /etc/lilo.conf: adding "lba32" (not necessary) + other boot prompts

configuring Logitech optical USB mouse wheel

press Fn-F1 any time! (as told by ...)

1.6 Links

2 Dell Inspiron 4100


3 Compaq Armada 3500

3.1 Links

[quick specs] [product info] [reference library] [reflibraryshort] [more specs] [] []

4 Compaq Armada 1500