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Old 01-12-2007, 05:03 PM   #1
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which linux distro will work on my dell xps 400?

hey all,

i have a factory-built dell xps 400. ubuntu doesn't work becuase of video card issues, so i need to find a distro that does work right out of the box!

anyone got any ideas? please know that it works before telling me to give it a shot.

Old 01-12-2007, 06:45 PM   #2
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You are asking a question similiar to "I want to install windows XP from this CDRom, and I want every driver for the video, network, wireless network card all to be on the install CD."

Most likely, it probably won't happen.

First off, it may be different if you are in a foreign counrty, but in the US I can only find the model XPS 410. You claim to have an XPS 400.

There are 4 video card options with the XPS 400, and none of them will work well out of the box with linux.

This is the list I see:
    * 256MB PCI ExpressTM  NVIDIAŽ  GeForceTM  7300LE TurboCache13
    * 256MB ATI Radeon X1300 Pro
    * 256MB nVidia GeForce 7900 GS
    * 1GB NVIDIA GeForce 7950 GX2 Dual-GPU Graphics Card
Nvidia and ATI both release linux drivers for their cards. NVidia I have found to be slightly more common, and there is good documentation to getting it to work on linux.

The tech sheet also says that this machine only comes with Sata drives. That is ok, but you have to be certain that the distro you choose can install to sata out of the box.

Now, you could have built yourself a much more linux compatible machine for less money, but that is your choice. You need to tell us specifically what hardware you have in your machine. I bet very much you could have finished the install in Ubuntu in server mode with no graphics, then installed the NVidia or ATI drivers, and been fine.

Old 01-12-2007, 11:28 PM   #3
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here is some more information on my problem then.

my graphics card is a radeon x300 se, and it is a "dell 400" (i guess not many were sold - but it says "dell 400" all over the physical machine)

so i wanted to install ubuntu and i gave it a go. xserver wouldnt start because i didnt have drivers to set up the video card, and i couldnt get the drivers without internet access on the box. my internet connection is a wifi network so i looked into setting it up at the ubuntu console. it said i would need to download a package to get my wireless adaptor to communicate with ubuntu. in short, i needed internet to download something so i could get internet.

what a catch 22.

so i spent 5 days asking on forums for help and on irc, and all i got was a bunch of people telling me it would be near impossible for me to set it up seeing as though i am not a guru and i have a bit of a problem.

so there is my problem. please help. thanks. i just want a good linux distro. i would love ubuntu, but unless you have a great workaround i havent thought of or u can provide instructions for downloading the packages in windows and loading them off a thumbdrive in ubuntu etc, well, i think il just get a distro that comes prepackaged with my drivers, if one exists. otherwise, il stick with xp.

Old 01-12-2007, 11:43 PM   #4
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I'm not distro-thumping here, but Mandriva's pretty darn good at picking up and providing drivers for hardware. The only downside, the monstrous ISO - it's up to 4GB for Mandriva 2007.

EDIT: Do you have an RJ45 (ethernet) cable you could use in the meantime to get yourself some internet access? It's no big deal if you don't have an X session started (IMHO, not enough newbies get well acquainted with the CLI - Command Line Interface - unless something catastrophic happens to their system, ie. a non functioning X client).

If you get an ethernet cable that you can use to connect to your modem/router, the command to use is /sbin/ifup eth0.

Last edited by indienick; 01-12-2007 at 11:48 PM.
Old 01-12-2007, 11:54 PM   #5
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Your machine (if it is similiar to the 410) comes with a built in network card, not a wifi card. You could simply plug the network card into your router directly and have internet for the box. Wifi is not so easy. You often need a program called ndiswrapper to hijack the windows driver and use it under linux. That isn't extremely easy, the way a graphics install is. There can be a lot of dependency issues. Trying to get that to install without internet would be tough bordering on impossible, unless you knew every single package you need.

The graphics is super easy. You need the ATI drivers for that one. Just download the ATI driver and make sure you have full kernel sources installed.

You can download the drivers from wherever makes you happy, but far and away the easiest way would be to wire the computer into the router. Then you can get the kernel source for the ATI driver install. Then you could go about using ndiswrapper to get the wireless working. Its a baby steps process. It would take a ton of effort on my part to put together a CDRom with all the things you need, and I have no interest in doing so. If you want to do it, fine, we'll help you, but there is not, nor is there likely to ever be a distro that includes all the things you want. The graphics and wireless alone violate the kernel/GPL terms, so no distro is going to build that in. That will always have to be an individual add on.

Old 06-26-2016, 08:22 PM   #6
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2016 support for XPS400 video cards?

Fast forward to 2016 and Ubuntu 16.04 is installed on a Dell XPS 400. How can one determine if the four video cards are now supported: is there documentation somewhere?

It is painfully slow and the pointer lags the mouse. Is this a symptom of the video support?
Old 06-26-2016, 09:45 PM   #7
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gatorback, given that almost 10 years has elapsed since the previous post in this thread and your post and that the Linux landscape has changed dramatically, I suggest that you use the "Report" button to ask a mod to move your question to be the beginning of a new thread.

You might also want to read this, if you have not already done so:

There is much more information you could include, such as what are the chipsets on those four video cards to which you refer.


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