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Old 07-18-2004, 07:22 PM   #1
Registered: Mar 2004
Location: Boston
Distribution: Fedora 2
Posts: 39

Rep: Reputation: 15
Installing Linux on a Dell Laptop

I had been planning on installing Linux onto my desktop. I notice that if I dual boot, I get lazy if I cannot figure something out and end up doing it in windows so it was going to be JUST linux on the box

HOWEVER, with Doom3 coming out in 2 weeks.. This can no longer be so. I need my desktop, right now its just a gaming rig anyway.. All my work and email etc is done on my laptop...

SO... I want to install linux onto my laptop (probably Mandrake 10.0)
I want to do it right, and be prepared for what might happen.

For example, I am concerned about the following hardware.
My CD Burner/DVD combo
Wireless Card (Linksys)

Does anyone have an opinion as to whether I will be able to get this stuff going? I NEVER burn CD's from my laptop so that portion of it isnt a big deal, but the ability to surf wirelessly and to watch DVD movies might be nice..

Has anyone done a total conversion with a Dell Inspiron 8200 before?

Just looking for advice in general....
Old 07-18-2004, 07:26 PM   #2
LQ Newbie
Registered: Jul 2003
Location: Lawton, OK
Distribution: Gentoo
Posts: 25

Rep: Reputation: 15
I run Gentoo stage1 on a Dell Inspiron 600m and it runs great. I have DVD playback, can burn cds and listen to music. Everything runs great cept my Centrino 2200bg wireless card. I even have duel batteries and they are both picked up by gkrellm. You might try Suse 9.1 instead of Mandrake though because it works real clean out of the box. I just needed something alittle more involved for myself but Suse was great.
Old 07-18-2004, 07:42 PM   #3
Registered: Mar 2004
Location: Boston
Distribution: Fedora 2
Posts: 39

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 15
well that makes me feel a little better about it..

i will be looking into that for sure..

thank you!
Old 07-18-2004, 08:34 PM   #4
Registered: Aug 2003
Location: Illinois
Distribution: Linux Mint XFCE
Posts: 653

Rep: Reputation: 53
you may want to look into Linuxant Driverloader... I use it on my Acer 2502 and it works like a charm. Its free for a month, and the 20 bucks for life after that. It owns
Old 07-18-2004, 08:48 PM   #5
Registered: May 2003
Location: Netherlands
Distribution: Ubuntu, Puppy
Posts: 386

Rep: Reputation: 30
Look on the site Linux on Laptops

I don't know what type of Dell you have but it should be possible. I run YDL [red hat clone]( I tried mandrake PPC , didn't work and Debian - you have to setup x by hand) on an apple iBook , runs great, and I use Suse 9.1 on an Acer. Both had no install problems what so ever. With the iBook there is only a question with a (win) modem.

Have a lot of fun.

Old 07-19-2004, 02:47 AM   #6
LQ Newbie
Registered: Jul 2004
Distribution: redhat 9
Posts: 10

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I'm on a dell laptop now...

Hey, i was worried about it also, but i got hacked (runnin xp pro) so it prompted me to try. I have madrake, redhat 9 and an old copy of slackware. I suggest trying redhat 9. It installed easy enough, and all my stuff works fine. The only thing that was iffy was the monitor settings. It won't have exact settings, but has generic laptop monitor settings. You should try it out if possible. Good luck from one newb to another.
Old 07-19-2004, 08:55 AM   #7
LQ Veteran
Registered: Feb 2003
Location: Maryland
Distribution: Slackware
Posts: 7,803
Blog Entries: 1

Rep: Reputation: 418Reputation: 418Reputation: 418Reputation: 418Reputation: 418
I run Slackware on my Inspiron 5100 (dual boot with XP) with no troubles. Do some serious digging into how to set up your wireless card however. It seems that wireless either works fairly quickly or it is a complete pain in the posterior to get running.
Old 07-19-2004, 01:34 PM   #8
Kyral Retsam
Registered: Jul 2004
Distribution: Slackware 10
Posts: 38

Rep: Reputation: 15
Which model of Linksys card is it?

Either way, NDiswrapper is free and works great. I think the addy is

I'll just include general instructions here.

After you download (or do what I did, burn it to a CD or floppy and use it that way) and have the .inf and .sys for the driver on the HD

Extract (I used the KDE Interface for that)

As root:

cd /ndiswrapper-0.8
make install
ndiswrapper -i <path to .inf>
At this point type "ndiswrapper -l" to check to see if the device is present

modprobe ndiswrapper
iwconfig wlan0 essid <your network name>
iwconfig wlan0 ap any
iwconfig wlan0 key <your WEP key>
dhcpcd wlan0
ndiswrapper -r
That should get it working, you may need a reboot in there if it doesn't show up. And once you get it working, put the commands in your rc.local so it goes off when you boot Linux.
Old 07-19-2004, 04:45 PM   #9
Registered: Aug 2003
Location: Akron, OH
Distribution: Slackware 14.2-stable, Ubuntu 16.04 LTS
Posts: 401

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I've run SuSE 8.2 and Slack 9.1 on my Inspiron 8200. I also have a Linksys wireless card (802.11b) and it was a complete PITA to get it working under SuSE 8.2. Oddly when I installed Slack 9.1, it worked the very first time without any problems. But I'm guessing that most of the latest distros would pick it up.

The only thing you may have some troubles with are ACPI/APM issues. For me personally, I don't really use the Sleep/Hibernation stuff, so I've never bothered to resolve it. However, I know that the proprietary nVIDIA driver (if that is the video card you have) does not play very well with APM. Whenever my screen would turn blank (after the time I set in my options), sometimes I could recover to the original screen, sometimes not. In the end, I simply disabled APM and went with ACPI.

Also, if you do decide to use the nVIDIA drivers (which I recommend if you want the best display), you will need to hack your X config file with settings specific to the Inspiron 8200. I had to cobble together bits and pieces from various "install stories" I found on the the Internet (mostly on

Eventually I worked out all the issues and I've never been happier.
Old 07-19-2004, 06:11 PM   #10
LQ Newbie
Registered: Jul 2004
Posts: 9

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I'm running Mandrake 9.1 on My Dell Lattitude Cpi Laptop right now. It runs better than windows 2000 by a clear mile. I don't think you'll have any problems at all.
Sam B
Old 07-19-2004, 06:54 PM   #11
Registered: Mar 2003
Location: Winnipeg
Distribution: Suse 9.3 Pro
Posts: 404

Rep: Reputation: 30
I'm running Fedora Core 2 on my Dell Inspiron 2650, working no problem at all, battery monitor works, sleep/hiberantion are tricky, I never bothered doing anything with it, like mentioned above I never used it even when XP was on the laptop. I'm running a Linksys Ver4 card under ndiswrapper, working fine, plus with Gnome I was able to create the shortcut for the Fn+PgUp, Fn+PgDn, and Fn+End for mute, the contrast worked right out of the box. Plus I installed the synaptics driver and have scroll working on the touchpad.

The only thing not working is my modem but there are drivers for it from Linuxant for $15, I just don't use a modem anymore.
Old 07-19-2004, 07:20 PM   #12
Senior Member
Registered: May 2003
Location: Columbus, OH
Distribution: DIYSlackware
Posts: 1,914

Rep: Reputation: 52
Well hell, might as well throw in a 4100 as well... No probs..... Everything will work on that laptop. Either the ndiswrapper or the linuxant wireless drivers will both work with Lynksys......
Old 08-25-2004, 03:26 PM   #13
LQ Newbie
Registered: Aug 2004
Location: Worcestershire
Distribution: Fedora Core 1 / WinXP
Posts: 1

Rep: Reputation: 0
I now have a WinXPPro/Fedora Core 1 dual-boot Dell Inspiron 2650. The WinXPPro had to be installed first (leaving half the 20GB hdd in a free partition). I used FAT32 rather than ntfs partitions. Then Fedora was installed. Initially I had problems with greyed-out WinXP sleep buttons but I think changing the GRUB loader to default to WinXP and FAT32 has solved that.
My version of WinXPPro required an update to the NVIDIA GEForce 2 GO (Dell) driver and an update to the Actiontec MD56ORD V92 MDC Modem driver to work as expected. Incidentally I also use WinDVD Gold 4 to play DVDs under WinXP without any problems.

Under FC1 my Logitech cordless mouse was picked up even before the FC1 installation had started! Incidentally the lengthof time required to install FC1 is far shorter than XP. My Sony USB memory stick was be mounted effortlessly as /mnt/diskonkey too. I have just downloaded a Free generic HSF modem driver from "" which should give me 14kbps download speed into my modem and Gnome has a CD Writer utility which I need to test.

However, I am having a little difficulty getting a DVD player working. So far I have tried Ogle but it cannot find /dev/dvd. There is no problem finding /dev/cdrom but this is DVDs I want to view.

Obviously I need a dvd driver of some sort. Any ideas anybody?
Old 08-25-2004, 05:15 PM   #14
Registered: Jul 2004
Location: Palo Alto, CA
Distribution: #! Korora
Posts: 472

Rep: Reputation: 30
My hardware compatibility list.

Hardware Compatibility
Red Hat
Tech Linux
BearOps Linux
tem%20Requirements << (with support / propganda, looks easy distro)
Devil Linux
Linux Hardware (general)
Linux (general)
intel (general)
NetBSD-Ports (beginner)
Old 08-25-2004, 07:42 PM   #15
Registered: Nov 2003
Posts: 117

Rep: Reputation: 16

There is a page in Yahoo for Dell laptops and linux. Since I am on a borrowed machine, I can't give you the URl. It is interesting because you can read all items on the Web, and/or receive them via e-mail. Also, you can post answers via email or via the Web and they go the same place. This is the first time I have encountered this...


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