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Fedora Core 4 on Dell Inspiron 5150

My Configuration

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What is this? These are some of my notes on installing and configuring Linux Fedora Core 4 on my Dell Inspiron 5150.  It is here because it might be helpful to someone else doing something similar, but I dont guarantee anything.  Good luck!
How to use this. This is not a step by step guide, although I tried to make it linear.  Scan over the document and use whatever is helpful.  I will try to provide tips for newbies, but this is not really a linux tutorial.
Disclaimer: This is just my experience, and it's work in progress.  I make no promises
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INDEX - (Configuration)
Configuration
-Booting
-Dual OS handling
-Processor
 +Speedstep 
 +HyperThreading
-BIOS 
 +i8k Fan/Keyboard <- Important!
 +ACPI
 +Suspend/Hybernate
-Harddrive
-Sound
-CDRom
 +CD usage
 +DVD usage
-Video                 
-Network                         
-Modem       
-USB
-Printer  
-Flash Memory Key
-External Floppy
-Desktop and Apps
-Miscellaneous Issues
-Links!

Configuration

Booting
 
Booting Up - You will want to configure your bootloader GRUB. You will want to ensure the menu is visable, visable for long enough, give your OS titles suitable descriptions, and choose your default OS. As superuser, edit /etc/grub.conf. Warning!: A typo here could mean the computer wont boot! I've included my grub.conf here. Note I have enabled ACPI (acpi=on).  I have also edited out the non-smp core because it isn't neccessary, and I think it is just an alternate link to the smp core anyhow.  The Dell partition can be accessed but I probably wont do this until I find a good reason to.

# grub.conf generated by anaconda
#
# Note that you do not have to rerun grub after making changes to this file
# NOTICE: You have a /boot partition. This means that
# all kernel and initrd paths are relative to /boot/, eg.
# root (hd0,2)
# kernel /vmlinuz-version ro root=/dev/VolGroup00/LogVol00
# initrd /initrd-version.img
#boot=/dev/hdc
default=1
timeout=15
splashimage=(hd0,2)/grub/splash.xpm.gz
#hiddenmenu
# Operating System 0
title Linux - Fedora Core 4 - Dual/HyperThread - (2.6.11 - 1.1369_FC4smp)
   root (hd0,2)
  kernel /vmlinuz-2.6.11-1.1369_FC4smp ro root=/dev/VolGroup00/LogVol00 rhgb quiet acpi=on
   initrd /initrd-2.6.11-1.1369_FC4smp.img
#
# Operating System 1
#
#title Linux - Fedora Core 4 - Standard - (2.6.11 - 1.1369_FC4)
#    root (hd0,2)
#    kernel /vmlinuz-2.6.11-1.1369_FC4 ro root=/dev/VolGroup00/LogVol00 rhgb quiet acpi=on
#    initrd /initrd-2.6.11-1.1369_FC4.img
#
# Operating System 1
title Microsoft Windows XP - Service Pack 2 - (Please Resist)
   rootnoverify (hd0,1)
   chainloader +1
#

 
 
Booting Down
 
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Dual OS handling -
Linux FD4 Core 2.6.11-1.1369_FC4smp +
Windows XP Service Pack 2 )
Status: Daul Linux/XP booting good. Parition access from Linux good.

Installing NTFS - I downloaded the ntfs kernel module from sourceforge.  I used and installed the file:

kernel-module-ntfs-2.6.11-1.1369_FC4smp-2.1.22-0.rr.6.0.i686.rpm

I created /windowsXP.  I then mounted the partition thus:

...

Then for booting I added the following entry to /etc/fstab

/dev/hdc2 /windowsXP ntfs ro 0 0

There are Linux and Windows apps that might help me.  I have yet to test. 

 

Speedstep
Status – Enabled - More control wanted.
 
Enabled by ACPI. (See ACPI).
Once enabled, GNOME showed an icon on the main toolbar which showing the CPU speed. The icon can be manipulated to switch the speed, but dynamic switching then shortly takes over again.  This little app gives you two speed states - full and half.  This CPU has 8 states so I'll have to look into this.
HyperThreading
Status - Already enabled by the choice of Linux smp core.  It is already a fully functioning fully operational HyperThreaded OS, reaping all the glorious wonders of a Pseudo-Dual CPU.
BIOS: Version A35(09/29/2004) + I8000 Thermal Control Temp and Fan
... 

*i8k Fan/Keyboard - Important!

Status - Thermals Good. Some keyboard work to do.

You can download the i8k files from the source web site (esp. driver +i8kmon, http://people.debian.org/~dz//i8k/), but they'll need some configuration.  Fedora Core 4 comes with the drivers and documentation but the drivers don't load properly.

See also Deifers i8k website, also famous for its Fangui for Windows, and speedSwitch.  (My registration has been pending approval for forever.) - http://www.diefer.de/indexe.html , http://www.diefer.de/i8kfan. Also here's a site for BSD Linux: http://www.geocities.com/fanonbsd/

I found a Wonderful application called Gkrellm - a very extendable system monitoring tool with a brilliant GUI, which has an i8k plug-in available.  A search on rmpfind.net should locate the packages. 

The i8k module needs to be loaded to work (dmesg shows problems).  Remember to use the force=1 option:

 
/sbin/modprobe i8k force=1
 
It is also a good idea to ensure the module is always loaded from boot and I built a script based on an i8kbuttons script I found in the instructions. I added the script into the boot scripts under /etc/init.d so that it loaded ASAP, well before login.
 
After login, I use gkrellm.  The command to execute this I placed in /etc/profile.
 
When gkrellm is running with i8kmon there appears to be some competition for fan control.  When gkrellm crashes, i8kmon takes over which is good.  Temporarily, to reduce the conflict though I had make to sure i8kmon and gkrellm have close temperature settings. I will have to emprove this situation in future.
 
Incidently the keyboard is now screwy under KDE.  This is because of a laptop app called Kmilo which came with Fedora.  It detects the signals for the volume-down key.  This laptop doesn't actually have that key but the signal is constantly triggered anyhow.  Kmilo is under-developed and lacks documentation and I don't know how to configure it, so I deactivate it:
 
Start Menu / Control Center / KDE Components / Service Manager and in the Startup Services box uncheck Kmilo.

You could possibly remove KMilo using KPackage.
 
Note that the Brightness keys work independently of the driver.
 
ACPI - Advanced Configuration and Power Interface - Compliant.
STATUS: Enabled but questionable.
 
ACPI can be enabled in the Grub boot menu (See Booting).  Once ACPI is enabled, SpeedStep becomes enabled.
 
Eclipse will no longer trigger a total freeze (but because of java conflicts, the app will only freeze.)
 
The computer will intermittently freeze up big time and I wonder if it's related to ACPI.  It suspect it also could be indirectly related to the Video drivers.
Suspension/Hybernation – Not yet tested. Assumed dis-functional.

Harddrive: 60GB IDE Intel 82801DBM (ICH4) Ultra ATA Storage Controller

Status: Good.

Note that the harddrive is installed with the name 'hdc' on this machine, not 'hda' as many instructions would have you expect.  The CD is 'hda'.

Sound: Intel Corp. 82801DBM ICH4-M AC'97 Audio Controller.
STATUS: OK, but some apps seems buggy.
 
Initially the sound was auto-detected but couldn't be heard. It was muted by default in the ALSA Mixer application (Applications -> Sound & Video -> Volume). On my second install, it wasn't muted and worked fine. I've had no luck yet getting sound working in the KDE invironment.
CDRom: QSI CD-RW/DVD SBW-242U - 82801DBM ATA Storage Controller.
STATUS: CD Good. DVD needs codecs. Burning not tested.
 
Detects well and file browsing works fine. Note that the CD mounts as ‘hda’ instead of the harddrive which is 'hdc'.
CD usage 
STATUS - OK, a little buggy.
 
CD Player (Applications -> Sound and Video -> SoundPlayer) generally works OK, however when using the ALSA mixer (Applications -> Sound and Video ->Volume), the CD music would faulter badly, needing to be paused and re-played.
DVD usage
STATUS: No Codecs.

There are no DVD codecs for Totem Music Player (Applications -> Sound and Video -> TotemMoviePlayer), so it doesn't really work.

Video:   64MB DDR NVIDIA Corporation GeForce FX Go 5200 (1400 x 1050)
Status: OK, but it needs more testing because I'm concerned about performace.
 
I like to run my graphics at full resolution (1400 x 1050) for general desktop management.
 
I also installed the OpenGL screensavers.  The chemical Model viewer is a fine app to test the Graphics Cards, showing a poor average frame-rate of around 5-10 frames/second on most models.  Even on testing one of my Java2D apps, it was disfuntionally slow.
Network: Broadcom NetXtreme BCM4401-A1 Integrated Fast Ethernet Controller  + Broadcom 440x 10/100 Integrated Controller.
STATUS: Not tested. I'm not networked.
Modem: Broadcom BCM V.92 56K Modem
Modem: Works but connecting is fickle, slow and awkward.  No modem sound.
 
I searched for WinModems, and LinModems, I did my home work and  I downloaded scanModem to find out what kind of modem I was working with.  Once I had my LinModem Driver working I just had to type in something like, as Superuser:
 
slmodemd --ALSA -AUSTRALIA hd:0 &
 
In Network Manager, I need to ensure the modem port is /tty/SL0 (as slmodem recommends at startup) and then activate the modem to connect.
 
I personally don't like the process and would like to refine it,  script it, make it simpler to connect.  I don't like having to log in as Superuser just to go online.
 
Unfortunately it often takes several attempts to activate the modem, whereas in Windows it usually would connect the first time.
 
It is difficult to disconnect the modem often resulting in "Error 8".  I must make sure the driver process is dead, yet deactivating the modem still only results in more error message dialogues.
 
There is no modem sound.  It's not really critical but worth looking into.
USB: 2 USB Controllers: Intel 82801DB/DBM Universal/Enhanced Host Controller 2.0
USB: Goodsince install.
Printer: Dell AIO A940 Printer/Scanner/Fax Capture Fax BVRP
STATUS: Not tested.
Flash Memory Key: LEXAR DIGITAL FILM USB Device.
STATUS: Good since install.  Plugs and plays well.
External Floppy: USB - Pretty standard really.
External Floppy: Not tested yet.

Desktop and Apps

GNOME: OK. Configured well. Usual minor bugs (Nautilus?).

Screensavers: The Screensaver package is part of the Fedora Extras package suite.  I updated the RMP files using yum to download and install.  I also installed the OpenGL screensavers.  The chemical Model viewer is a fine app to test the Graphics Cards, showing a poor 4-5 frames a second on most models.  I don't know if things would be much better under windows.

Nautilus: To default to browsing folder rather than opening folders:GConf:apps -> nautilus -> preferences. Set always_use_browser to checked.

The flickery line that appears to the left when moving folders on the desktop can be removed by adjusting the desktop size settings by a few pixels horizontally.

Eclipse: The total freeze triggered by Eclipse will no longer occur once ACPI is enabled, intead only Eclipse will freeze.  This in turn is apparently due to Java not being configured correctly.

JAVA: Since I installed Java, to get it working properly I will have to uninstall the gnu JPackage.  There are plenty of forums and tutes on the web on how to do this.   I will elaborate more in the future.

Miscellaneous Issues

Total System Freeze - I suspect a lot of things but I'm not really sure.  I suspected screensavers for a while.  Usually it happens after several hours but it can happen at any time.

Sometimes Totem crashes, and everything else crashes soon after.  I suspect there might be a patch somewhere for this.

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LINKS
 
My Installation Review of FC4 on Inspiron 5150 -Fedora Core 4 on Dell Inspiron 5150
 
Very Similar Pages:
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Other Linux/Laptop sites can be found listed at:

 

Recommended FAQs:
The Unofficial Fedora FAQ - http://www.fedorafaq.org
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Useful Linux Links:
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