Fedora Core 6 - Dell Inspiron 6400

by 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 home machine.

Note: All of the commands in monospaced font are supposed to be typed as root.

DOUBLE 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 qtparted.
    1. Leave partitions sda1 and sda4 alone.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. Don't forget to commit all your changes and leave it time to write them!
  3. 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:
    1. On your NFS server, put the path to '/path/to/fedora/core/6' in /etc/export:
      echo /path/to/fedora/core/6 >> /etc/exports
      (if it isn't there already).
    2. You'll 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).
    3. Mount the first disk of FC6 using loopback:
      mkdir /mnt/image
      mount -o loop /path/to/fedora/core/6/FC-6-i386-disc1.iso /mnt/image

    4. 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
    5. Boot the laptop off this CD.
    6. When asked for the installation method, use NFS.
    7. You'll be asked to configure your basic network options.  I usually turn off IPv6 here because I have no IPv6 services anyway.
    8. Enter your server's IP or domain name and the /path/to/fedora/core/6 in the boxes and hit OK.
    9. If, 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.
  4. I configured the disk space this way:
    1. Don't let the installer configure your disks automatically - do it manually.
    2. Create an extended partition in the free space space.
    3. Create a /boot partition (ext2) of about 100MB.
    4. Create 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!
  5. Choose your packages.  Install repositories if you want to, but I chose to do mine later.
  6. Go through the install and first boot processes and you're up and running!

What worked out of the box:

Problems encountered and fixed

Problems I'm still working on

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Last updated: Monday 5th February 2007.
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