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Old 03-16-2007, 03:28 PM   #1
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Need feedback on a good distro for a Dell XPS M1710 laptop

Could I get some feedback on a good distro to use with this hardware?

It has 1gig ram,
Nvidia GeForce GO 7900 GTX video card (512mb vram)
Broadcom ethernet ( NETXtream 57xx Gigabit controller)
Intelpro wireless 3945BG, USB smart card reader,
Sigmatel high def audio

I have used fedora core 4 before, ubuntu,(I really did like the way ubuntu loaded)and earlier redhat versions before they split it into redhat enterprise and fedora

thanks in advance =)
Old 03-16-2007, 07:16 PM   #2
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According to this report from here, Fedora Core 6 works well:

Model: Dell XPS M1710
Videocard: NVIDIA GO7900GTX
Network: Broadcom NetXtreme BCM5752 Gigabit Ethernet PCI Express
WiFi: Intel Corporation PRO/Wireless 3945ABG
Bluetooth: n/a
Webcam: n/a
Touchpad: SynPS/2 Synaptics TouchPad
Display: 1920x1200
OS: Fedora Core 6
Kernel: 2.6.18-1.2849.fc6
Suspend on Disk: works
Suspend on RAM: works

kernel smp instructions implemented nicely for intel core duo.
cpu frequncy changing (cpuspeed works nicely)
gpu: glx works like a dream - nvidia driver: v1.0-9629, compiz, beryl - everything is sweet on the 17" WUXGA LCD True Life monitor
gpu: runs at around 46C when idle - working it pushes it to between 50C - 62C... truly dreamy.
dell i8kutils reports chipset and cpu temps at idle 25C and 22C - at work 35C 32C. controls fans in
gkrellm sweetly.
WiFi: Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG brought to you by (use dkms-ipw3945, ipw3945d, ipw3945-firmware)
Mouse: USB-PS/2 Optical Mouse (Logitech MX518)
Tablet: Wacom Intuos-3 PTZ-430
Media keys: brought to you by lineakd
Ricoh Co. Ltd R5C822 SD/SDIO/MMC/MS/MSPRO Host Adapter: OK!
O2 O2 Micro CCID SC Reader: OK!
Old 03-16-2007, 08:22 PM   #3
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I recently put Slackware on an older NEC VersaPro 12H. The installation was pretty smooth and Linux found all of my hardware without difficulty.
Old 03-18-2007, 01:13 PM   #4
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Smile Thanks =)

thanks guys
yes I was leaning towards fedora core 6 ... I am going to order a linux kit that gives you live cds for like 3 different distro's and see which one the laptop is happiest with

I am definatly not, and have not been happy with windows of any flavor but it is difficult to find ways to run the stuff I am used to having under linux

world of warcraft
ultima online
Secondlife (they now have a native linux client tho)

quickbooks pro ...

etc ...

however I do think vmware will solve that problem if I cannot find a less expensive way to deal with it

I think moving to linux for me is a more cost effective way to get away from vista then buying a mac altho the new macs are definatly sweet...

as a friend of mine puts in his signature:

"They said install windows 98 or better ... so I installed Linux...."
Old 03-18-2007, 01:32 PM   #5
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I suggest the Fedora 6 respin, instead of the original installation media. A number of installation related problems have been corrected, and half the available maintenance has already been applied. It will save you time and grief.

While all of the software you listed runs either natively on Linux or under WINE (made simpler by using Cedega or CrossOver), you might want to look at native alternatives. There are many great Linux games, but because they are free they have no advertising budget, so you never hear of them. Likewise, applications like gnucash are as good as Quickbooks (only different).

Instead of trying to run Windows software on Linux (like a Mac user trying to figure out how to run iLife on Windows), take a look at the native applications first. They will be different, and will behave differently. But if you can't acclimate to Linux applications, you might want to consider staying with Windows. There's nothing wrong with that - not everyone wants to put in the effort to relearn what they need to, to change platforms.

Last edited by macemoneta; 03-18-2007 at 01:34 PM.
Old 03-21-2007, 07:41 AM   #6
Registered: Jan 2007
Location: Washington DC
Distribution: RedHat & spins ... Fedora, CentOS, Mandriva
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Running FC6 ---> 2.6.19-1.2911.fc6

I have an XPS-M1710 here, I have a tarball for the ipw3945 driver if you would like it, that took me the longest amount of time to get working, had to comment out a few library references, find a patch, etc

I would recommend a few packages as well, once you get the wireless card up and running
If you have any questions or need help feel free to email me or private message me

I love FC6 -- I was running RHEL4 before (got it from work) and wasn't a fan, my last before that was RH7.2 so this was like a BMW for me -- highly recom. fc6

it was difficult getting acpi and dpms to accept the lid closing as an event -- I still can't get it to
sleep to ram, only hibernate (write-to-cpu) works on lid open...that is, if I sleep to ram, when I open the lid
the screen stays black, been sifting through the tons of threads and google on this, seems like sleep stat 4 (S4)
only works for me on the XPS

I woudl reccomend changing some of the BIOS setting, turning off the LEDs and boot options (for some reason usb is defaulted first, then floppy [which these don't even have as a built in option] -- then get wine to run the Dell Setup Utility that can change them if you so need that frill ...

overall very eassy

I used knoppix and ran gparted to get the partitioning done just in case but blew away the windblows partition just the other day to make room for some LVM fun ;-)
Old 04-03-2007, 03:26 PM   #7
Tristan Schmelcher
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I happened to be browsing and I saw this page. I have the very same laptop model (Dell XPS M1710) and I run Debian testing (etch) on it. All the hardware works fine (never tested the modem, though). You do have to install the wireless drivers yourself, but it's very easy. Just search with "apt-cache search ipw3945" and you'll see what you need to download. Even the media keys and suspend/hibernate work, but those require more effort. If you choose Debian, email me and I can tell you how to get those extras working.
Old 04-04-2007, 03:26 AM   #8
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Talking Working with Fc6 so far

Hey Tristan
well I installed Fedora Core 6
I actually managed to get the video working ok, the wireless is turning into a real mystery lol
media buttons on the front are a no go so far but sound works nicely, even got it playing mp3's
got cedega installed and world of warcraft to work which surprised me
so I am pluggin away at it...
when I get head-tired and frazzled trying to figure things out, I just slip the linux harddrive out, and slip the windblows harddrive back in for some mindless gaming time... but now I got my games working on linux so uhm yeah, settling in... its not impossible to make the switch, just takes determination lol

Fc6 is a LOT friendlier then Fc4 was... I gave up on Fc4 after a couple months (or it might have been less)

if anyone has any input on how I can get wireless working painlessly, thats my next goal....

"They said install windows 98 or better, so I installed Linux!"
Old 04-04-2007, 11:54 PM   #9
Tristan Schmelcher
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Sorry, I don't have any experience with Fedora Core. It sounds like Brad may be able to help with the wireless, though. As for the media keys and suspend/hibernate, I'll tell you what I did on Debian, and maybe it'll work for you on FC too.

For the media keys, you get them to work by using a simple config file for a utility called Xmodmap. On Debian the config file is at /etc/X11/Xmodmap. You'll have to look-up where it is for FC (might be the same). Wherever it is, just put the following into it:

keycode 160 = XF86AudioMute
keycode 174 = XF86AudioLowerVolume
keycode 176 = XF86AudioRaiseVolume
keycode 162 = XF86AudioPlay
keycode 144 = XF86AudioPrev
keycode 153 = XF86AudioNext
keycode 164 = XF86AudioStop
keycode 237 = XF86AudioMedia
Your desktop environment should run Xmodmap with that file automatically when it launches. The new entries will make your computer recognize the media keys on the XPS M1710. You can then assign them to actions using your desktop environment's normal configuration menu for keyboard shortcuts.

As for suspend and hibernate, the program that I'm using is called "hibernate" (big surprise). On Debian, it's configuration files are in /etc/hibernate/. To make suspend and hibernate work, you need to force it, because it doesn't recognize the XPS M1710 as a supported system. To do that, either run hibernate with --force, or add "AlwaysForce true" to common.conf. You also need to make further changes if you use the nvidia proprietary driver, the ipw3945 module (needed for wireless), or ALSA (typically used for sound).

For wireless, add to common.conf:

# We need to do this in order for the ipw3945 module to be unloadable.
# The reload of it after resume automatically restarts the daemon.
OnSuspend 00 ipw3945d --kill --pid-file=/var/run/ipw3945d/
For ALSA, add to common.conf:

# I also need to stop and start ALSA, or else there's no sound after
# resume.
OnSuspend 01 invoke-rc.d alsa-utils stop
OnResume 01 invoke-rc.d alsa-utils start
For the nvidia driver, comment out the "nvidia" line in blacklisted-modules:

# This does not seem to have any problems, and I can't suspend if its listed.
# nvidia
Note that even with the above, the suspend/hibernate isn't perfect. Sometimes the sound doesn't come back quite right, for example. To be honest, I don't really trust it.
Old 04-06-2007, 02:32 PM   #10
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Talking media keys on xps m1710

Hi again Tristan!

the Xmodmap was right where you said it would possibly be, guess its the same for debian and Fc6

every line in the file has a ! in front of it, I assume this is commenting out these lines so they are not used unless needed

it has this statement also:

! keycode and keysym remapping should generally be used only if the X
! server config file has been configured to disable the XKEYBOARD
! extension

I was not sure what this meant, so thought I would ask before modifying the file

I am not as concerned with hibernate and resume, since I rarely if ever use it, preferring to just turn the computer off when it is not in use

I did get the wireless working, yum is definatly your friend in Fc6 ...
Old 04-07-2007, 12:07 AM   #11
Tristan Schmelcher
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I'm not an expert, but I think those lines are probably only there to tell people to not try and use that file to, say, remap a QWERTY keyboard as a Dvorak keyboard. But that's not what you're doing, so there's probably no problem. I checked and my system does have the XKEYBOARD extension turned on, and the above keycode lines work for me without any trouble, so I'd go ahead and add them. Btw, you'll of course have to restart your X server.
Old 07-20-2007, 03:29 AM   #12
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is anybody out there who got S/PDIF out running? (via dell's composite cable)

snd_hda_intel now supports the internal subwoofer and alsamixer even shows
an IEC958 switch - but thats all - no signal over S/PDIF ...

any help would be appreciated


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