Born to run UNIX!

Installing SuSE Linux 7.2 on a Dell Inspiron 8000 with NVidia GeForce 2 Go

My hardware:

Steps to install Linux:

  1. Windows: defrag to move all data to the front of the Windows partition (entire disk except suspend to disk partition)
  2. Windows: Create a Windows boot floppy, copy mks2d.exe (from DELL website) tool to a second floppy
  3. Boot from floppy, create a Linux suspend to disk partition with mks2d.exe
  4. 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)
  5. Windows: After reboot check the harddrive with scandisc (ok)
  6. Reboot: Enter Setup with Fn+F1, change boot sequence to "Floppy, CD, HDD" (change page with Alt+p)
  7. Boot from SuSE DVD, start Yast2
  8. Manual partitioning of disk
  9. Select packages
  10. Save selection of packages to a floppy
  11. Install the packages (take a coffee break here *g*)
  12. 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 precedure
  13. Configure Hardware (still in Yast2)
  14. End of Yast2
  15. 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).
  16. 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 explicitly!).
    Two mice are configured simultaneously: USB and PS/2. The latter is needed for the track point/touch pad.
  17. 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
  18. The machine has a so-called winmodem inside that needs additional drivers you get from 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
      cd ltmodem-6.00b8
    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 or
  19. 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 /lib/modules/<kernelversion>/misc respectively).
    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 $0 -- "$@"
  20. 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 boot floppy...)
  21. Here we are finished with the setup


Problems solved between NVidia driver 1.0-1251 and 1.0-1512:

New problems after upgrade to 1.0-1512:

All later versions improved things I didn't notice in practice ;-0

Tested features (working):

Features not yet tested:

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.

© 2001 Back to my linux on laptops page Last modified: Fri Dec 9 18:19:34 CET 2005