Installing SuSE Linux 7.2 on a Dell Inspiron 8000 with NVidia GeForce 2 Go
- Mobile Pentium III 850 MHz
- 256 MB Ram
- 15" Display (1400x1050)
- NVidia GeForce 2 Go (32MB)
- 20GB harddisk
- Modem/Network Combo
- Lucent Microelectronics WinModem 56k (rev 01)
- Intel Corporation 82557 [Ethernet Pro 100] (rev 08)
- ESS Maestro 3i Sound
- Windows ME preinstalled
Steps to install Linux:
Windows: defrag to move all data to the front of the Windows partition (entire
disk except suspend to disk partition)
Windows: Create a Windows boot floppy, copy mks2d.exe (from DELL website) tool
to a second floppy
Boot from floppy, create a Linux suspend to disk partition with mks2d.exe
Use fips (from SuSE 7.2 DVD, copied to floppy) to decrease the size of the
windows partition (5036.0 MB for Windows, 13743.1 MB for Linux)
Windows: After reboot check the harddrive with scandisc (ok)
Reboot: Enter Setup with Fn+F1, change boot sequence to "Floppy, CD, HDD"
(change page with Alt+p)
Boot from SuSE DVD, start Yast2
Manual partitioning of disk
Save selection of packages to a floppy
Install the packages (take a coffee break here *g*)
Don't configure X!!! First some RPMs from the NVidia website have to be
installed for the GeForce 2 Go, we do that after the SuSE installation
Configure Hardware (still in Yast2)
- Network: Intel Corporation 82557 [Ethernet Pro 100] detected
- Sound: ESS Technology ES 1983S Maestro-3i PCI Audio Accelerator detected
- End of Yast2
Install the NVidia RPMs:
rpm -Uhv --force --nodeps NVIDIA_kernel-1.0-2313.suse72.i386.rpm
rpm -Uhv --force --nodeps NVIDIA_GLX-1.0-2313.suse72.i386.rpm
Without "--force --nodeps" rpm complains that seemingly newer files are
already installed, but SuSE just has a different versioning scheme and
those RPMs didn't work for me.
If you install a new kernel (i.e. different version) you might have to
recompile the NVidia kernel module. This is documented in the README.
The web address to download the packages is
(if they've changed the URL again, try
Download Drivers -> Linux).
I have merged my XF86Config file from a standard SuSE file and several
others I have downloaded from other descriptions. You might want to
copy it: XF86Config (1400x1050
resolution only worked when giving a modeline in the monitor section
Two mice are configured simultaneously: USB and PS/2.
The latter is needed for the track point/touch pad.
To get maximum 3D performance be sure that the NVidia GL library is
used instead of the mesasoft implementation.
A nice script is provided with the RPMs, you just have to do (as root):
The difference is slideshow (mesa) vs. 100fps+ (NVidia) ;-0
The machine has a so-called winmodem inside that needs additional
drivers you get from http://www.heby.de/ltmodem.
When I installed them, version 6.00b8 was the most recent.
Simply save the ltmodem-6.00b8.tar.gz archive to disk, change to that
directory and do
tar xfz ltmodem-6.00b8.tar.gz
The module building process will prompt you a few times to hit enter if
all is running well.
If it doesn't run that smooth in your case, you can for example check
Nice gadgets are available in the i8kutils, downloadable from
They contain a kernel module plus frontends to monitor - among others -
the cpu temperature and the fan status.
After unpacking do
su -c 'make install'
Unfortunately you have to copy the man pages and the module itself by hand
to the correct locations (/usr/man/man1 and
In case you compile a new kernel later, be sure to also copy the i8k module
to the new modules directory.
After loading the module with 'insmod i8k' you can start the monitoring
tool i8kmon that shows the cpu temperature and lets you change the
status of both fans individually.
It is a known "bug" that this TCL script i8kmon doesn't work properly,
in my case it was sufficient to replace the line
exec tclsh $0 -- "$@"
exec wish $0 -- "$@"
Yast2 insisted on installing Lilo to a floppy, now it's time to install
it to the harddrive.
A correct config file already existed, I just changed the setting so that
Lilo is installed to /dev/hda3 (extended partition). I somewhere read in
one of the descriptions at linux-on-laptops that Lilo in the MBR leads to
trouble with suspend to disk, so hda3 is the only choice.
In fdisk, change hda1 to non-bootable and hda3 to bootable (fdisk will
issue a warning here but for me it works perfectly; and one anyway has the
Here we are finished with the setup
- The mks2d.exe tools seems to have vanished from the DELL website,
I don't know why
- Suspend to disk doesn't work from within X
- DPMS modes 'standby' and 'suspend' only blank the screen but do no power saving (known; see the README)
- So far I didn't get SAX2 to work properly (I never get _any_ SAX to work...)
Problems solved between NVidia driver 1.0-1251 and 1.0-1512:
- Now starting X twice (startx, exit, startx) doesn't freeze the machine
DVD playback with xine now also supports the hardware accelerated Xv
extension that allows fullscreen mode (wasn't possible before with
the X shared memory extension).
New problems after upgrade to 1.0-1512:
- Switching between X and console leaves console as small "window". Use
Fn+F7 to get it to "fullscreen".
All later versions improved things I didn't notice in practice ;-0
Tested features (working):
- Additional keys for CD playing
They send keycodes (129 to 132) and thus can be used within X. I
configured them in the /etc/X11/Xmodmap file:
keycode 129 = F13
keycode 130 = F14
keycode 131 = F15
keycode 132 = F16
Now I can use them as normal function keys (e.g. in KDE via kcontrol:
'Look & Feel' - 'Key bindings').
- Suspend to disk works from the console
- External Mouse (on USB and PS/2)
- External Monitor (though with a beamer I didn't get the same resolution
as on the LCD when activating both)
- Modem (connect e.g. with kppp)
Features not yet tested:
- IEEE 1394 (Fire Wire/iLink)
I hope this description helps to get Linux running on your Inspiron. If anybody has
additional information concerning the problems mentioned above, please contact me.
If you happen to be a high energy physicist, especially if you work
on the H1 experiment at HERA, you might want to have a look at the
Computing Resources and Information
section of my physics page.