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Linux - Laptop and Netbook Having a problem installing or configuring Linux on your laptop? Need help running Linux on your netbook? This forum is for you. This forum is for any topics relating to Linux and either traditional laptops or netbooks (such as the Asus EEE PC, Everex CloudBook or MSI Wind).

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Old 08-12-2007, 11:49 AM   #1
Setlew
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Smile Best distro for Inspiron 1420?


Hello,
Newcomer to this forum, used Linux since early 2003. I have just ordered a Dell Inspiron 1420 laptop, with an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, G965 chipset, X3100 integrated graphics, Intel 3945 802.11a/g wireless, 2 GB RAM, 160 GB SATA hard drive, and a DVD +/- RW drive. It comes with Vista Home Premium by default.
I plan to set up a dual-boot on this laptop when it arrives, either with Vista or with a copy of XP Pro. I have used PCLinuxOS for the past year and a half or so on my desktop, and have been quite satisfied; but before putting it on, I wanted to look for more opinions. Does anyone have any ideas on what would be the best desktop-oriented distribution for my laptop, given the hardware parameters above? I would like one that does not take too much time or trouble to set up, comes with most multimedia codecs (or can be set up with said codecs without too much hassle), and can be configured with mostly GUI tools. The laptop will be used for college engineering work, from office-style reports to a few engineering programs that I will have to run on Windows.
Thanks very much for any advice.
 
Old 08-12-2007, 12:13 PM   #2
Matir
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I can tell you that Ubuntu will run, as it's available from Dell with Ubuntu as the "1420N".
 
Old 08-12-2007, 01:28 PM   #3
reverse
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Nice specs. Might have a bit of problems with video/wireless regardless the distribution you pick (i.e. non-out of the box functionality), I can't be sure.
 
Old 08-12-2007, 05:21 PM   #4
Setlew
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Since it has standard Intel chipset, wireless and graphics, as opposed to some of the other configurations available (a Dell wireless card was a cheaper option, for example), I hope that I won't have too much trouble getting something going.

Yeah, I know, famous last words....
 
Old 08-13-2007, 04:42 PM   #5
Setlew
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Any other ideas?
 
Old 08-13-2007, 08:02 PM   #6
gluis
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problems w/ ubuntu installing on same machine you've ordered

hi,

wanted to mention my experience in case it helps you.

my story: when i ordered my laptop, the ubuntu machine was ~50 dollars > vista home. so i ordered the vista machine to install ubuntu later.

the new laptop arrived today and i quickly proceeded to install 7.04--the version the dell machine ships w/--and it didn't work out of the box. in fact, i've been playing w/ it all day and i still have bupkis.

specifically, my problems are:

1. on initial boot from cd, machine pops into shell and fails to start. (fix below)
2. after fix, go through screen, but Xserver fails to start b/c it can't find settings for the screen (no fix that i've found)
3. i chose to try the alternate, text-based installer, that worked (w/ fix). but on reboot, xserver fails. (supposed fix below)
4. i followed the fix below and the last command (the one that installs fresh packages for xserver) produces dependency errors. errors b/c the downloaded packages require newer packages and libraries than came w/ the distro! i tried ignoring depends and that installed, but still didn't work.
5. now i'm downloading another version of 7.04 (though, i doubt they have packages updated if it's version 7.04, right?--ignorant about ubuntu's process--so i doubt this will work)

i'm now re-installing vista home to make sure the hardware works (i.e. network; under ubuntu, all network connectivity was failing) before proceeding. that way i can update w/ apt-get should i need to (the network wasn't working w/ all my previous installs).

here are the fixes i mentioned:

http://ubuntuforums.org/archive/index.php/t-520189.html

and

http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=509408

if i get it all working, i'll post again to let you know.

i've used fedora mostly for the last few years, and only used ubuntu on servers. but it's supposed to be a gui-friendly distro, for what it's worth. the install cd (F7) won't see the internal drive. i couldn't see what the controller's chipset/make were from the supplied manual. more investigation needed.

good luck!

louis

p.s. dell must be doing something special to their installs since i doubt they have this many issues in production!
 
Old 08-13-2007, 08:58 PM   #7
Setlew
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I believe all of the Inspiron 1420 laptops had Intel G965/P965 chipsets in them, but I could be wrong.

I think I'm going to try a couple of live CDs first, to see if they even boot up. If they do, well and good, and I'll consider installing them on to the laptop. If not, well...

I'll have to check around the web for more info regarding Linux on these laptops. Thanks for the info, gluis!
 
Old 08-14-2007, 10:08 AM   #8
thebouv
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gluis View Post
p.s. dell must be doing something special to their installs since i doubt they have this many issues in production!
Namely, they're not going to waste man-hours running through a straight install every laptop they want to sell. They've got a working image that they place on the hard drives. An image they've already worked all the kinks out of.

I bought the Ubuntu laptop (1420N) from Dell, but that's after they fixed their pricing issue and it was no longer more expensive than the Vista (but only saved around $20). Was going to wipe it for Fedora, but ran into the boot issue (not recognizing the DVD player by default) and decided not to fight it.

So, Ubuntu will run on it. Good luck getting it on there in the first place though.
 
Old 08-14-2007, 07:11 PM   #9
gluis
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first follow up

downloaded kubuntu, xubuntu and another ubuntu 7.04 (xubuntu is the latest 8/07). got farther w/ alt-cd of kubuntu. xubuntu installed but posted garbage, even on the tty screens 1-n.

tried an old suse 10.1 cd set, which installed w/o a hitch and booted into 800x600 graphics. i couldn't change the resolution, but this might be b/c the hack in this distro used to fix the native wide screen resolutions for intel chips is older than suse 10.2's hack. i'm downloading opensuse 10.2 as i write.

the network wireless card was recognized, but since i'm in a location sans wifi, i couldn't test it. supposedly 10.1 & 10.2 have support for the intel chipset.

so far: ubuntu failed, fedora 7 failed, suse succeeded, but w/o wired network. also, no distro i've tried so far has gotten the eth0 to work.

for yucks, booted from puppy linux 2.01 and that worked fine. gui & all. but no network...

i'll post more when success happens.

one more thing. on one of the 'fixes' i posted above, someone who purchased the ubuntu cd got it to install (but apparently w/ no network--at least s/he hasn't written more about it since complaining about that). it makes me wonder whether ubuntu sells 7.04 w/ updates bundled as standard and mirrors only host the original image. anyone know? (is anyone reading this?)
;-)
 
Old 08-15-2007, 09:51 AM   #10
Setlew
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Don't know about Ubuntu posting updates. I'm surprised that a laptop from a major vendor like Dell would cause so much havoc running a couple of major-league distros like Fedora, Ubuntu and Suse. Does your laptop have any "weird" hardware options that could potentially cause problems? Mine is mostly Intel hardware, so if that runs crappy I'm in for quite a ride...
 
Old 08-15-2007, 11:17 AM   #11
gluis
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yeah, i was surprised too. i also found a commenter on the net who thought the same thing i did: if i'm buying the same hardware they sell w/ their ubuntu machines, i should be safe. i was wrong.

no weird configs. everything is the same as the ubuntu machines, except for the camera. (i figured it to be a matter of time before someone develops drivers for it.)

1.8 cpu, 2GB ram, 160 7200rpm drive, standard video (intel), standard eth0 (broadcom), standard wifi (intel), etc. i made sure it was the same machine save the camera. i'm burning the download of opensuse 10.2 right now and will post results.

another thing: i saw a post in launchpad that gutsy (ubuntu's next release) doesn't run on the chipsets in our laptops (supposedly the same ones in the macbooks--but i haven't confirmed that).

---
one more thing. i think the havoc is b/c of the novelty of the hardware. older hardware is much better supported in linux across the board. i was just foolish to assume vanilla ubuntu would work out of the box on this machine.

Last edited by gluis; 08-15-2007 at 11:20 AM.
 
Old 08-15-2007, 03:50 PM   #12
gluis
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follow up II:
open suse 10.2 installs fine. restricts one to 800x600. networks don't work.

i downloaded the source for the broadcom my machine uses, from: http://www.broadcom.com/support/ethe...oaddrivers.php

it's the netlink 57xx (at least that's what i find from the vista side in device manager).

compiled fine, loaded fine, didn't work. the OS sees the proper card, but no dhcp and no static ips are working.
the OS also found the wifi but it doesn't find any networks.

another wall.

if i find any more useful tidbits, i'll post here.

btw, broadcom says that the most recent kernels should have built-in support for their controllers b/c they've contributed to it. open suse 10.2 that i downloaded last night was 2.6.18-xxx. i know it's not the latest kernel. i could try compiling a new kernel but that would still mean i'd have a 800x600 limit on the beautiful display.
 
Old 08-15-2007, 06:57 PM   #13
gluis
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good news:

it took 2 days of work (started monday afternoon), but i've got a working machine. the only thing not working is the sound card, for some reason. i'll cut to the chase w/ two links you'll want to refer to when setting up ubuntu 7.04 on the 1420:

http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=509408&page=5 (see post #49)

http://linux.dell.com/wiki/index.php...dd-on_Packages (note what packages are dependent on others and install accordingly)

the first link will take you to where a kindly soul posted online the packages that come on dell's 1420n restore partition. (read: all the packages found to make it work). the second link is from dell's site, listing those packages and giving reasons why they are needed.

here's what i did:
1. i downloaded all the packages, put them on a USB stick.
2. installed 7.04 using the alternate cd (text)
3. logged into the machine post-install, mounted the stick, copied the files onto the local drive
4. installed in order of importance per dell's site (see above)
5. rebooted the machine and while i was looking elsewhere, the logon screen popped up.

in the end, it's not perfect b/c the video leaves trails (as if the drivers aren't appropriate for the hardware--as if they're generic) and the sound isn't working. but the most important parts: the resolution and both wireless and wired networks are working.

big thanks to the other people's 'fixes' posted above in my first link. i hope this helps you out so you won't have to spend days doing this.
 
Old 08-15-2007, 07:20 PM   #14
Setlew
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Smile

Thanks, gluis. I'll probably try PCLinuxOS first, as it is the distro I am accustomed to using and it has something of a reputation for working on weird hardware. If it doesn't work, I'll give your Ubuntu solution a try. Thanks very much for posting all the info.
 
Old 08-16-2007, 01:04 AM   #15
gluis
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last notes

as a final solution for the sound, i found there was another issue: the cd-rom wasn't being recognized.

here are the solutions:

in /etc/modules, add 'piix' to the list of modules loaded at boot time. this takes care of the cd-rom.

as for sound, it turns out, another line needs to be added to the modprobe.d file alsa-base:

at the end of /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base add:

options snd-hda-intel position_fix=1 model=3stack

--
i'm now listening to an ogg i ripped from a cd while surfing on my 802.11g network at home.

as for PCLinuxOS, i read some great things about it too. i was going to do that next!

good luck and have fun w/ the new machine when you get it!
 
  


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