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Old 07-04-2004, 05:58 PM   #1
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Question Dell Latitude D400 and Linux

Hi everyone

First of all I am kinda new to Linux ;-). I bought me a Dell Latitude D400 Notebook (1,4 GHz Pentium M, 512 MByte RAM and 30 GB Harddisk, EXTERNAL !! DVD-Drive). I would like to install Linux on it. Anyone can say me which Linux (SuSE, Mandrake, Debian ...) is the most suitable for my notebook ? I have the SuSE 8.2 Professional Version .. would it work well on my notebook ? I also read in several forums there is a problem about the on-board-graphic chip.

Thx a lot for your hints and help.
Greetings from Switzerland

Han J. Theus
Old 07-04-2004, 07:04 PM   #2
Registered: Aug 2003
Location: Portland, Oregon
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The centrino chipset in your laptop will be problematic.

Here is a good link to start with that lists several people's logs of their attempts to install various versions of Linux on the D400 (as well as other Dell laptops):

I have put RH 7.3 on these, but have had to resort to a proprietary Xserver (Xig).
Old 07-05-2004, 05:21 AM   #3
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Thx for the Link

Thx for the link. :-)
Old 07-09-2004, 10:50 AM   #4
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I recently installed Suse 9.1 personal on my Dell D400 (exactly the same specs). I too am a newbie to Linux.

Everything works out of the box except for:
a) the Screen resolution - you need to install something called 855patch, if you want to get more than 480x640.
- to do this, you must first install the following packets: make, gcc, binutils and glibc-devel. You can get these at your local Suse mirror.
- it wasn't hard, just read up on it on google and all the readme's.

b) the Dell TrueMobile 1300 WLAN mini-PCI card. You basically have 3 options: install linuxant, ndiswrapper or madwifi. The first 2 use the win-drivers that came with the laptop, the third one is a driver derived from *bsd, all download links have been removed for the time being for that one on sourceforge, but you can find one if you google hard enough.
- the Linuxant thing is supposed to work very well, but you have to pay for it.
- I've been trying to get the ndiswrapper thing to work for a few days, with not much luck. It is supposed to be one of the hardest things for a newbie to install, as you can tell by all the results that turn up when you search google or the linux forums for 'ndiswrapper'.

If I don't have any luck with the wireless soon, I'll post here on this forum for some help. In the meantime, here's some links regarding the d400:
Jan's D400 site and kekez's,

And this mandrake user has the same kind of wireless card as the TrueMobile 1300: forum post on

Here's Suse's ndiswrapper instructions

- I'm not giving up, that's for sure

PS: One more thing, since you're from Switcherland. I had some trouble getting my native language installed. Icelandic was not an option when I installed. Don't know what language you speak, I gues if you speak german, you won't have any such problems It took me a while to figure out that I had to use a program called SAX2 to find Icelandic, I don't know why it isn't under YAST, which is a pretty good tool.

Last edited by Halli; 07-09-2004 at 11:01 AM.
Old 07-09-2004, 05:45 PM   #5
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Thx for your post. I will post my feedback about my installation. I will download the iso images from suse tonight.


Han J. Theus
Old 07-17-2004, 08:37 PM   #6
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a saturday night well spent :D


I'm posting this using my TrueMobile 1300. I now have everything in my D400 working under Suse Linux 9.1
- Unfortunately it doesn't survive a reboot yet.

To do this I've printed about 30 pages of forum posts and tutorials, mostly from - check out the Wireless networking section for more on that. Here's what helped me (don't know if all of this is neccesary, I put the tutorial I wrote in quotes):

1) First, I “made” (installed) the wrapper, which I had extracted to a folder named ndiswrapper-0.8, in my /etc/ndiswrapper/ folder:

linux:/etc/ndiswrapper/ndiswrapper-0.8 # make install

make -C driver install [... blablahblah ...]

2) Then, I went to the folder where my windows drivers had been extracted (I put them in /etc/ndiswrapper). Some dude said on that he had used “the 'a' version of the driver”, using the same kind of wireless card, so I tried that after a while.

linux:/etc/ndiswrapper # ndiswrapper -i bcmwl5a.inf

bcmwl5a is already installed. Use -e to remove it [Ooops :P Seems I aldready used the a version :]

linux:/etc/ndiswrapper # modprobe ndiswrapper

linux:/etc/ndiswrapper # dmesg

Linux version 2.6.5-7.95-default (geeko@buildhost) (gcc version 3.3.3 (SuSE Linux)) #1 Thu Jul 1 15:23:45 UTC 2004

BIOS-provided physical RAM map:

BIOS-e820: 0000000000000000 - 000000000009f000 (usable)
[blablah ...., let's go to the bottom ...]
diswrapper: unsupported module, tainting kernel.

ndiswrapper version 0.8 loaded

ndiswrapper adding bcmwl5.sys

wlan0: ndiswrapper ethernet device 00:90:4a:24:3c:0d using driver bcmwl5.sys

Bluetooth: L2CAP ver 2.1

Bluetooth: L2CAP socket layer initialized

Bluetooth: RFCOMM ver 1.2

Bluetooth: RFCOMM socket layer initialized

Bluetooth: RFCOMM TTY layer initialized

3) then, finally:

linux:/etc/ndiswrapper # ndiswrapper -m

5) Now, with everything installed, I did:

linux:/etc/ndiswrapper # iwconfig

lo no wireless extensions.

eth0 no wireless extensions.

sit0 no wireless extensions.

wlan0 IEEE 802.11b ESSID:""

 Mode:Managed Frequency:2.462GHz Access Point: FF:FF:FF:FF:FF:FF

 Bit Rate:54Mb/s Tx-Power:14 dBm

 RTS thr:2347 B Fragment thr:2346 B

 Encryption key:off

 Power Management:off

 Link Quality:100/100 Signal level:-10 dBm Noise level:-256 dBm

 Rx invalid nwid:0 Rx invalid crypt:0 Rx invalid frag:0

 Tx excessive retries:0 Invalid misc:40 Missed beacon:0
cool, now lets see what ndiswrapper tells me:
linux:/etc/ndiswrapper # ndiswrapper

Usage: ndiswrapper OPTION

Manage ndis drivers for ndiswrapper.

-i inffile Install driver described by inffile

-e driver Remove driver

-l List installed drivers

-m Write configuration for modprobe
let it list the drivers that are installed:
linux:/etc/ndiswrapper # ndiswrapper -l

Installed ndis drivers:

bcmwl5 present



alright, it seems that it is using the bcmwl5, not bcmwl5a (I'm not really sure)
Now I'll configure the wlan card:
linux:/etc/ndiswrapper # iwconfig wlan0 mode Managed

linux:/etc/ndiswrapper # iwconfig wlan0 essid T4NET

linux:/etc/ndiswrapper # iwconfig wlan0 key off

linux:/etc/ndiswrapper # dhcpcd wlan0


Anyways, it's not surviving a reboot. I've created a file in /etc/sysconfig/network/ called ifcfg-wlan0, it goes like this:



But I only get errors when I start the computer. These errors mention only eth0, not wlan0, so I guess I'm fuckin' something up :P

What I do everytime I want wireless working is this:
linux:~ # iwconfig
lo        no wireless extensions.

eth0      no wireless extensions.

sit0      no wireless extensions.

linux:~ # modprobe ndiswrapper
linux:~ # iwconfig
lo        no wireless extensions.

eth0      no wireless extensions.

sit0      no wireless extensions.

wlan0     IEEE 802.11b  ESSID:"T4NET"  Nickname:"linux"
          Mode:Managed  Frequency:2.412GHz  Access Point: 00:A0:C5:32:11:FC
          Bit Rate=11Mb/s   Tx-Power:16 dBm
          RTS thr=2347 B   Fragment thr=2346 B
          Encryption key:off
          Power Management:off
          Link Quality:100/100  Signal level:-45 dBm  Noise level:-256 dBm
          Rx invalid nwid:0  Rx invalid crypt:0  Rx invalid frag:0
          Tx excessive retries:2  Invalid misc:34   Missed beacon:0

........ I'm gonna try and fix this. If anybody sees what I'm doing wrong, please tell.
Old 07-18-2004, 01:39 PM   #7
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One more thing

For those of you who want to install Suse 9.1 on a laptop, this might be useful to you (stolen from this OSNews review ):

Laptop users will probably appreciate SuSE 9.1. With a simple edit of a file, SuSE 9.1 supports suspend and suspend-to-disk functionality out of the box. To enable these features, (SuSE disabled them by default, as they're somewhat experimental), edit /etc/powersave.conf. Change the values of "POWERSAVED_DISABLE_USER_SUSPEND" and "POWERSAVED_DISABLE_USER_STANDBY" to "no". For the record, standby, (suspend to memory), didn't work on either of my laptop systems, but suspend to disk worked on my Inspiron. You can test to see if they work by typing "powersave --standby" and/or "powersave --suspend" at a command line. Most people will have better luck with suspend to disk, as apparently it is better developed.
Old 07-25-2004, 11:33 AM   #8
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Suse 9.1 Dell WLAN 1300 card

Awesome guide. Thank you so very much, it helped me a lot.

Now I'm in the same position as you, the config does not hold the reboot and i must type modprobe ndiswrapper to load the driver.

If you or anyone else knows how to automate the "modprobe ndiswrapper" into "startup" please share.

Thank you again Halli!


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