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Installation of SuSE-Linux 9.0 on a Dell Inspiron 1100 Laptop

General

This description refers to SuSE-Linux 9.0. It could be assumed that similar things would work with other recent versions and distributions, but some details might be different. I have not tried this. On Running Linux on Dell Laptop and Notebook Computers or Linux Laptop and Notebook Survey: DELL you can find other descriptions.

For my own protection I have to make certain that there is no warranty for the technical and legal applicability of what I am suggesting here. In short, find out yourself if this is how you want to get your box running and if this page is of any help, than use it. But don't blame me for anything.

Booting from DVD

During boot I had to press F2 and change the BIOS-settings to start booting with the DVD-drive.

The installation started without problems.

Partitioning

Partitioning caused some trouble:

The preinstalled Windows-XP-Home could not be resized by the SuSE-Linux-installation process, only about 5 GB could be taken off, which was less than I wanted. Since I do not have the intention to use this MS-Windows-installation at all, I simply deleted the partition containing it. Please be careful to keep the Dell-Bios-Extension which resides in a partition by itself. I don't know what this is needed for and I don't want to try it out.

If you intend to use the Laptop for both Windows and Linux, I understand that the recommended way is to partition the drive first, then install windows and finally install Linux. As I said, I have not tried it on this machine, but it has worked like that some time ago with Windows 2000 and Linux.

Mouse and Keyboard

The installation went out of the box for a long way. External and internal mouse and keyboard all worked immediately without problems.

Network

The network device was recognized and it works properly in my network.

X11

Configuring X11 was the only real challenge. This Laptop has a special (low end) graphics device that does not have its own memory, but needs to use part of the mainboard RAM. By default it uses only one MB and the SuSE tools do not change this. This means that I could run X11 only with 8bit color depth or with a small area of the screen in the center, neither of which is acceptable at all.

The solution come with a small tool written by Christian Zietz. I downloaded it: 845patch.tar.gz. Installation works somehow like this:

tar xfzvv 845patch.tar.gz
cd 845patch
make
su
cp 845patch /sbin
/sbin/845patch 16384
exit

After having done that it is possible to configure X11. But it is necessary that this tool is run each time when I boot the machine, because the memory-settings are lost on shutdown. I just created a file

/etc/rc.d/patch845
containing teh following two lines
#!/bin/sh
/sbin/845patch 16384
and did
cd /etc/rc.d
chmod +x patch845
cd /etc/rc.d/rc5.d
ln -s ../patch845 S14patch845
to enter it into the startup of X11.

A remark of a reader of my pages could be of interest, if you are using a newer BIOS with revision up to A32 and a newer SuSE-Linux 9.1 or 9.2: In this case it should be appropriate to use Revision 0.2 (or possibly newer) of 845patch and to call it like this, both from the command line and from the startup script:

/sbin/845patch 16384 nocheck

Remaining installation steps

The remaing installation steps were trivial. Everything worked out of the box using the standard installation procedures.

DVD-player

The DVD-player coming with SuSE-Linux (kaffeine) does not work, at least it does not allow viewing DVD-movies. This is not a problem of kaffeine, but of the way it is installed by SuSE. I recommend not installing (or uninstalling) the version of kaffeine that comes with SuSE. Also make sure during the installation that you have the development variant of XFree86, KDE, Qt and zlib in addition to what they suggest to install by default.

After having done this for things have to be installed. Each step is easy. It may take some time to compile, but this should not bother you, because you can just leave your computer alone for a while and come back when it's done. This is true for the "make"-steps of xine-lib-1-rc3a and of kaffeine.

libdvdcss coming as libdvdcss-1.2.8-1.i386.rpm and libdvdcss-1.2.8-1.src.rpm and libdvdcss-devel-1.2.8-1.i386.rpm could be installed as PRM. They contain DVD-CSS-decoding. This is the part that certain lobbyists do not like, but it works and there is nothing wrong with viewing the DVDs that you have paid for. Please find details in the interview with Jon Johansen...

xine-lib-1-rc3a.tar.gz of the xine-project could be downloaded and installed by something like this:

tar xfzvv xine-lib-1-rc3a.tar.gz
cd xine-lib-1-rc3a
less INSTALL
./configure
make
make check
su
make install
exit
Some problems had to be resolved by installing some of the devel-packages of the SuSE-Linux-distribution. They occured during the configure-step and configure had to be run again after that.

regionset.tar.gz could be downloaded from the dvd-tools-project or now from LinVDR and compiled and run (once) with something like this:

tar xfzvv regionset.tar.gz
cd regionset
make
su
./regionset /dev/dvd
exit

I have set my DVD-drive to region code 2. The hardware allows a limited number of changes. regionset tells me which is the current region and how many changes are left.

The final part is the DVD-player itself. I came back to what SuSE suggested and installed kaffeine, but not from the SuSE-DVD. On the xine page you can find some suggestions what to use instead.

kaffeine-0.4.tar.gz from the kaffeine project could be installed with something like this:

tar xfzvv kaffeine-0.4.tar.gz
cd kaffeine-0.4
less INSTALL
./configure
make
su
make install
exit
Again some of the devel-packages might be missing here, so install them if configure complains and rerun configure after that.

The final part is setting the DVD-drive to a faster DMA-mode:

hdparm -d 1 /dev/dvd
works well. Like 845patch I make sure that this is run during boot time by creating a file
/etc/rc.d/fast-dvd
containing the following two lines:
#!/bin/sh
hdparm -d 1 /dev/dvd
With
cd /etc/rc.d
chmod +x fast-dvd
cd /etc/rc.d/rc5.d
ln -s ../fast-dvd S14fast-dvd
I make sure it is used when booting the machine. Without these setting viewing DVDs does not really work.

Now it is possible to view DVDs. But please only view legally acquired DVDs...

Links

  1. Running Linux on Dell Laptop and Notebook Computers
  2. Linux on Laptops
  3. Linux Laptop and Notebook Survey: DELL
  4. tuxmobil: Running Linux on Mobile Computers
  5. SuSE contains no working DVD-player
  6. libdvdcss (decoding of DVDs)
  7. Interview wiith Jon Johansen
  8. LinVDR -> regionset
  9. kaffeine project
  10. xine howto
  11. Linux on the Dell Inspiron 1100 [Chris Phillips]
  12. Linux on Dell Inspiron 1100 [Thomas Pfau]