Create a suspend to disk floppy
rh7s2d.exe from Dell's support
site (just search for "rh7s2d.exe"). Unzip it (by executing it) and
follow the directions to create the floppy.
Create a Windows ME boot disk
In Windows ME, go to ControlPanel, Add/Remove Programs, Startup Disk.
Create a Partition Magic floppy
I used Partition Magic 4.0. Don't install Partition Magic. Run it from
CD and choose the "make rescue disk" option. Ignore errors about not
working properly on Windows ME. While making the rescue floppy,
Partition Magic will mess up when trying to write system files to the
disk. Ignore this. The disk will not be bootable, but you can boot
from the Windows ME boot disk and then run Partition Magic from this
Partition the Disk
The laptop came with a small (290MB) "free" partition at the front
of the disk and the rest of the disk allocated to Windows ME. The small
partition is for suspend to disk use.
Create the suspend to disk partition
Boot with the Windows ME boot disk, at the menu select
Boot (option 4). At the DOS prompt
A:> insert the
suspend to disk floppy and run
mks2d. (Note that there
is another program called
phdisk that should be used for
other Inspiron models. The
Dell knowledge base states that
mks2d should be used
for the Inspiron 8000.) (Note also that you should use
rms2d to remove a previous suspend to disk partition if
you've already created one and want to redo it.)
Make room for linux
While still at the
A:> prompt, insert the Partition Magic
floppy and run
pqmagic. Now you'll see that the small free
partition has been mostly taken up by a
Type 84 partition
(275MB). The remaining space is still free. I later installed Windows
2000 into the Windows ME partition, and it gobbled up the free space.
You could use Partition Magic to add it to Windows now. In any case,
shrink the Windows partition from its current 17GB to about 4GB, leaving
the freed space unallocated.
Allow booting from CD
Enter the BIOS configuration by pressing
Fn+F1 during boot.
Make the CD boot before the hard drive.
Install linux from CD
Boot from the first Red Hat 7.1 CD. Do the default graphical install
enter at the first menu). I did a "Laptop"
install with manual partitioning. Leave the suspend to disk partition
and the Windows partition alone. Give the free space to linux. I made
a 4GB partition for
/ and a ~10GB (the rest of the disk)
/home. I told it to mount the Windows partition
/win, which worked fine.
Do not have it boot to X, it won't work until the NVIDIA driver is
installed. Contrary to earlier versions of Red Hat, PCMCIA works fine.
Lilo is put on the master boot record and has an entry to boot Windows.
We'll have to move lilo in the next step.
Fix lilo and suspend to disk
In order for suspend
to disk to work, the suspend to disk partition must be a primary
partition, and the master boot record must not contain any boot
loaders. So, boot with the WinME boot disk and run
/mbr to clear lilo out of the master boot record (N.B.: do not
use the fdisk on the suspend to disk floppy for this, use the fdisk on
your Windows boot floppy). Edit
/etc/lilo.conf to put
/dev/hda2 (see my
/etc/lilo.conf), rerun lilo. Use fdisk to make the
linux partition that contains
/boot (the 4GB
/ partition for me) active. Now test suspend to disk
(from the console, X isn't working yet, and suspend to disk from X
does not work with the current NVIDIA driver) using
After suspending if you boot from a floppy you'll see that the suspend
to disk partition is now active. If you boot from the hard drive it
should restore from disk and then restore the linux partition's
Set hard drive to use DMA
I followed instructions from Joel Wijngaarde.
Test your hard drive speed using
hdparm -T -t /dev/hda
It will take a few seconds. If you get a low speed (I got 4 MB/s), the
drive is not using DMA. To enable DMA add this line to
/sbin/hdparm -d 1 /dev/hda
With this fix I now get 17 MB/s.
Apparently there's an easier way to enable DMA: uncomment the
USE_DMA=1 line in
Set up X
Install NVIDIA driver
First you must install
kernel-source-2.4.2-2.i386.rpm from the second Red Hat
CD. Then go to the
NVIDIA linux driver web site and download the latest
NVIDIA_GLX-x.x-xxx.i386.rpm. I originally installed
0.9-769, then upgraded to 1.0-1251, which was not yet on the web page
but was on the
NVIDIA linux driver ftp site. The new driver fixed several
problems but not all of them (and it added an NVIDIA splash
screen...I've seen instructions elsewhere on how to get rid of it but
it's not that annoying). Install the packages like this:
rpm --rebuild NVIDIA_kernel-1.0-1251.src.rpm
rpm -ivh /usr/src/redhat/RPMS/i386/NVIDIA_kernel-1.0-1251.i386.rpm
rpm -ivh NVIDIA_GLX-1.0-1251.i386.rpm
I got an
XF86Config-4 file for a 1600x1200 screen from
Dell's web site by searching for "XF86Config" at Dell's support
site. (I downloaded
atimp316.rpm, which wants to
/dell and directly to
/etc/X11/XF86Config-4. You can use something like:
rpm -i --relocate /dell=/tmp/dell --relocate /etc=/tmp/etc --badreloc
to redirect the installation if you just want to inspect the files.)
I modified the
XF86Config-4 file as follows. In the
Device section, make sure you have:
(I copied the Device section from the XF86Config file that came with the
NVIDIA driver). In the Module section, make sure you have:
And remove these lines:
In order to use other resolutions than 1600x1200, I had to add this to
the Screen section (this tells the driver to ignore what the screen says
its limitations are):
Option "ignoreEDID" "1"
That's all I had to do to set up the 0.9-769 driver. For the
1.0-1251 driver you should take a look at
/usr/share/doc/NVIDIA*/LAPTOP_README, which instructs you
to add the line:
options NVdriver NVreg_Mobile=1
to the end of your
/etc/modules.conf file. Without this
line the driver will fail to initialize.
Problems with X
NVIDIA is supposedly working on these problems, we have to wait for new
With the 0.9-769 driver I could only get 16BPP to work, and only at
resolutions 1600x1200, 1280x1024, and smaller resolutions. With the
1.0-1251 driver I can run 24BPP or 32BPP but can only get 1600x1200
and 800x600 to work.
With the 0.9-679 driver, when switching to a virtual console from X
the screen is blank. Usually bringing up a BIOS screen, for example
Fn+F3, will show the BIOS screen and then escaping from
it will reveal the virtual console (it may be dim though). The
1.0-1251 driver fixes this problem.
With the 0.9-769 driver, shutting down X produces the same problem as
with the virtual console. The 1.0-1251 driver allows shutting down X
just fine. However, the documentation explicitly says that restarting
X will cause the machine to hang.
Don't suspend to disk while running X. After resuming from disk the
machine will hang (it's not just blank like the virtual console
problem). I couldn't suspend to RAM or to disk and resume properly
with the 0.9-769 driver. With the 1.0-1251 driver I can sometimes
switch to a virtual console while running X, suspend to RAM or disk,
and resume properly, but not always and I haven't figured out exactly
when it works. After successfully resuming the hard drive light is
Using an external monitor does not work when in X, even when in
800x600 resolution. It works fine from a virtual console though.
When in X the external monitor just shows colored bars.
Using fvwm2 instead of Gnome or KDE
If you don't like Gnome or KDE and want to use fvwm2, you need to
wmconfig-0.9.10-3.i386.rpm from the second Red Hat CD.
~/.fvwm2rc.m4, then edit it as you wish. Change
/etc/sysconfig/desktop to have the single line
If you've installed KDE, you can add all the KDE menus to your fvwm
menu with this Perl script.
Sound, ethernet, modem
sndconfig identified the
ESS Maestro 3i card
and sound works fine. I also had no problems with the ethernet card.
The modem is a WinModem for which there is no Linux driver (according
The CD writer replaces the floppy drive. You must reboot after
switching between them. You can read from the CD writer by mounting
/mnt/cdrom1. To be able to record with the CD, add this
line to the linux boot entry in
Now reboot (the
ide-scsi module is automatically loaded by
/etc/rc.d/rc.sysinit). I've been using xcdroast (as root,
I had problems making it user-runnable), and it works great.
Toshiba PDR-M5 digital camera
To use the usb connection with this camera, use the
usb-storage driver (run
Now create an entry in
/etc/fstab so you can mount the
/dev/sda1 /mnt/usbcam vfat users,noauto,ro 0 0
Now you can simply mount and umount it (of course you have to create the
/mnt/usbcam directory first). It is read-only, so you
can't delete images from linux (the camera manual recommends only
deleting with the camera anyway).