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Notes on Installing Linux on Dell C810

Installing Red Hat 7.1 or 7.2 on a Dell Latitude C810 with nVidia GeForce 2MX Go and 15" Ultra Wicked Bad Boy display.

As of 10/15/2001 this system is only shipped from Dell with Windows ME or Windows 2000. This installation of Linux was to replace the factory installed Windows 2000.

Before Win2k boots press F12 to get to Dell's single use boot device menu and Choose "CD/DVD/CDRW"

Boot and begin install of Red Hat as usual

When you come to the section to configure X, choose to skip it.

Complete your custom installation.

When booted and logged on as root, run Xconfigurator.
Where appropriate, choose:

"Generic Monitor that can do 1600x1200 @ 76Hz" (Note: while there are Dell laptop monitor types, none of them are correct in RH 7.1, as this screen can do 1600x1200 from 60Hz to 85Hz)

"nVidia GeForce 2 MX"

"16 bit 1600x1200"

"Do Not Probe"

Do NOT test the settings. These setting do not work. If you are tempted to try it, the screen will look like it was put through a paper shredder, but will not come back. You will have to take the system down to regain control of the system.

You need to download and install two RPMs from the nVidia web site. They are currently located at http://www.nvidia.com/view.asp?PAGE=linux I chose the following files under the heading: RedHat 7.1, one CPU, uniprocessor kernel However, there are RPMs for the Enterprise kernel, SMP Kernel and SMP systems (an SMP laptop !!!), if you require these for some reason. There are also RPMs for earlier version of RedHat and several versions of Mandrake Linux as well.

Once the RPMs are installed, you need to hand edit the /etc/X11/XF86Config-4 file. Exact instructions are on the nVidia web site at http://www.nvidia.com/docs/lo/1021/SUPP/README.txt

... but here are abbreviated instructions for the anxious....

1) Delete or comment out the lines in Section "Module" that say

Load "GLcore" Load "dri"

2) Change the driver used, by changing Section "Device"...


Driver "nv"


Driver "nvidia"

You can change the description of you want to as well.

3) I did an lsmod and discovered that the driver was not loading. So I had to do an insmod of NVdriver.

# insmod NVdriver

4) startx

Smile, you've got X !

Sound works, network works, floppy works, CD-ROM works (I didn't spend for the DVD/CDRW so no report on that). The system will power off on init 0. However, the X Server crashes when the system suspends. I have traced it to apmd, but have not had a chance to find a real fix, I just disabled apmd as a work around. No ill effects.

I have tested a Linksys 10/100 PCMCIA network card in addition to the built in network card, and can say that the PCMCIA works, although kudzu thinks the card has been uninstalled if you unplug the network cable from the PCMCIA card and reboot. I have not attempted to use the modem portion of the 3Com mini-PCI modem/network card, and I have had many an e-mail from visitors to this page attempting to locate a driver for the modem. So, this may be an issue. Is it a "Win Modem ????"

I have also installed a Linksys WPC11 802.11b PCMCIA Wireless LAN card (and other PrismII cards, like the SMC). It works great. To make it work, I used the linux-wlan driver from www.linux-wlan.org

A note for VMWare users: If you remove the floppy drive from the laptop (to put in a second battery for instance) you will need to remove the floppy drive from the VMware configuration (Settings -> Configuration Editor), otherwise, none of your virtual hosts will boot beyond the BIOS screen. This had me running in circles for a while.


Comments on this page ? Feel free to e-mail me. I read all my mail, but I am building a business so please forgive if I can't help solve all your problems. Thanks for your understanding. :o)

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