Fedora Core 6 - Dell Inspiron 6400by Paul Wayper
This is a blatant copy of my previous page on installing Fedora Core 4 on a Dell Inspiron 9300.
That installation was for a work laptop that is mostly used by
other people, so its requirements were different. For this laptop
I wanted to spend most of my time in Fedora Core as it is to be my main
Note: All of the commands in monospaced font are supposed to be typed as root.
PLUS NOTE: I've now found out (only two weeks late!) that the Core 2
Duo processor that the Inspiron 6400 uses is a 64-bit processor.
Therefore, you should be able to install the x86_64 version of
Fedora Core 6 in order to get full functionality from the machine.
However, I've successfully proved that it will at least run in
i386 mode just fine.
To install Fedora Core 6:
- Get Inspiron pre-installed with XP Home from Dell. I
kept XP Home - I use XP for a few situations and want to play some
Windows network games. Besides, I've got a license for the thing;
not going to throw that away easily.
- Run the System Rescue CD
and use qtparted to resize the partition table. For some reason
my initial attempt to use the latest version of SysRescCD (0.2.19)
wouldn't recognise the intel framebuffer using any of the settings; I
used the 0.2.17 version and it worked fine. At the boot prompt
type 'intelfb800' to get the frame buffer working so you can use
- Leave partitions sda1 and sda4 alone.
- Resize hda2 (the NTFS partition) down to 15GB (as I'm not going to be using this for much. (I chose to
give FC about 33GB of space.
- Wonder why there was a spare 7MB of space at the end of the drive and
use qtparted to move the sda4 partition 'later' in the disk to merge
the free space together.
- Don't forget to commit all your changes and leave it time to write them!
- Reboot and insert the Fedora Core Network Boot CD (only about 6MB of CD). This
was the same procedure as on the 9300 but I thought I'd spell it out
here. You need to have another machine on your local network that
can be an NFS server. The procedure is:
- On your NFS server, put the path to '/path/to/fedora/core/6' in /etc/export:
echo /path/to/fedora/core/6 192.168.1.0/24(ro) >> /etc/exports
(if it isn't there already).
also need to start NFS and make sure that outside clients can reach the
NFS server (open up sunrpc, nfs and ports 600-1023 for TCP and UDP,
because NFS seems to use both in my experience).
- Mount the first disk of FC6 using loopback:
mount -o loop /path/to/fedora/core/6/FC-6-i386-disc1.iso /mnt/image
- Burn the network boot image from this image onto a rewritable CD (no point in making another coaster):
cdrecord dev=/dev/hda -driveropts=burnfree -v -eject -dao /mnt/image/images/boot.iso
- Boot the laptop off this CD.
- When asked for the installation method, use NFS.
be asked to configure your basic network options. I usually turn
off IPv6 here because I have no IPv6 services anyway.
- Enter your server's IP or domain name and the /path/to/fedora/core/6 in the boxes and hit OK.
after a couple of seconds, you see a message from anaconda, you're up
and running; if not, you probably aren't talking to the NFS server.
Check your situation with wireshark or ethereal.
- I configured the disk space this way:
- Don't let the installer configure your disks automatically - do it manually.
- Create an extended partition in the free space space.
- Create a /boot partition (ext2) of about 100MB.
an LVM in the rest and set up the swap and root partitions inside LVM.
I did this to allow me to install other Linux distros in the
future. I also rename the volume group 'mainvg' instead of
'VolGroup00' and the logical volumes 'swaplv' and 'rootlv' instead of
'LogVol00' and 'LogVol01'. Easier to find next time!
- Choose your packages. Install repositories if you want to, but I chose to do mine later.
- Go through the install and first boot processes and you're up and running!
What worked out of the box:
- Suspend and resume. Very very nice!
Effects" - i.e. aiglx. Hooray for Intel for opening up their
graphics architecture so that the Open Source community has full OpenGL
2D and 3D acceleration without tainting the kernel! Not
quite as many effects, nor as controllable, as I'd like, but it's early
days. Not having to install anything special in order to get this
working is a real plus. And I get 800 FPS in GLXGears in
1680x1050 resolution. I can't wait to try the Linux versions of
Quake 4 or Unreal Tournament. (Make mental note: bug the
designers of Supreme Commander for a Linux version).
- Bluetooth - although this means that it can see my phone but can't browse it in any meaningful way.
Problems encountered and fixed
- The native resolution of the screen I bought - 1680 x 1050 -
isn't actually in the Video BIOS so it isn't recognised by FC6's setup
program. In order to get this working, you have to:
- Install the 915resolution driver from the Extras repository:
yum install 915resolution
what resolutions you have with '915resolution -l'. This gives the
BIOS modes (e.g. '5c') for each screen resolution (e.g. '1920 x 1440,
32 bits per pixel').
- Then put a line in /etc/rc.d/rc.local that sets one of the modes you aren't likely to use to the resolution you want:
echo "915resolution 5c 1680 1440" >> /etc/rc.d/rc.local
- You also need to edit the screen resolution in the Xorg config:
root, vi /etc/X11/xorg.conf, find the Modes line in Section "Screen"
Subsection "Display" and edit it to include your resolution(s). I
put 'Modes "1680x1050" "1440x900" "1280x800"'
- Log out and log back in and your display should now be at native resolution.
- The Intel Pro Wireless 3945b requires the drivers from the FreshRPMs repository:
- If you haven't already got FreshRPMs installed:
rpm -ivh http://ftp.freshrpms.net/pub/freshrpms/fedora/linux/5/freshrpms-release/freshrpms-release-1.1-1.fc.noarch.rpm
- Then install the drivers for the wireless networking:
yum install ipw3945d ipw3945-firmware dkms-ipw3945
- Start the DBUS message system:
service dhcdbd start
- Start the NetworkManager system:
service NetworkManager start
- Set both of these to start up automatically:
chkconfig --level 345 dhcdbd on
chkconfig --level 345 NetworkManager on
takes over managing your wired and wireless connections. It also
remembers your wireless access points and their WPA passwords and logs
in to whatever network is closest to you. I've found occasional
problems when your laptop is about a foot away from your WiFi router,
where NetworkManager continually sees another connection that it thinks
is stronger (this will happen in real life when you have one wireless
network with multiple access points). If NetworkManager
continually disconnects and reconnects every five to ten seconds, just
move away and it should be fine. If it disconnects and reconnects
every second or so, you probably haven't started DBUS.
also found that the FreshRPMs packages for the firmware seem to be out
of date. You'll know if you've got the out-of-date drivers
because they hard-lock the machine after too much activity, and the
kernel log will list microcode errors usually involving DMA.
Grab the latest ipw3945-ucode archive from http://bughost.org/ipw3945/ucode/ and put the ipw3945.ucode file in the /lib/firmware directory. Then restart the system using:
service ipw3945d stop
modprobe -v ipw3945
service ipw3945d start
loses the settings on the video card (i.e. you have to run
915resolution again). I haven't yet found where to plug this in
to the hibernation-awakening process. Use suspend and resume for the moment.
speed adjusting requires the appropriate kernel drivers.
Unfortunately, a bug in anaconda causes some Pentium-2 and above
systems to be given the i586 kernel rather than the i686 one, and the
former doesn't come with the aforementioned drivers. You need to
make sure you're using the latter kernel in order to get on-demand CPU
speed scaling. After you do your fresh install, do a 'yum install kernel.i686'
to get the latest i686 version before doing a 'yum upgrade' to get all
the latest packages. You may still need to install cpufreqd to
get the scaling working automatically.
Problems I'm still working on
- I haven't yet got
the memory card reader to recognise MMC and xD cards (at least). I can
see the device in lspci, but nothing happens when I plug a card in (and
I've tried all the logical insertion directions). As far as I can see, the driver only recognises SD cards at the moment.
Back to my homepage.
Last updated: Monday 5th February 2007.