Set-up of Fedora Core 5 on Dell Latitude D820

Alex Barnett, 8/25/06

I vowed not to buy a new laptop until the CPU was at least 3x faster than the old one (Inspiron 8100, PIII 1.13GHz). So finally, after a 4.5 year wait, here it is. Each core of the CPU is 3x faster ...and there are two of them...

Hardware & status summary

Basic installation and dual-boot

Partition Magic 7.01 to resize XP to 10GB. Preserve the first (Dell Utility) partition.

Install FC5 from ISO DVD failed with unable to read package metedata... [errno 256] which I verified was a media error with anaconda's linux mediacheck. However, linux askmethod gives option for HTTP install which I did; a list of mirrors is on Fedora site. This took 3 hrs (mirror was slow), worked fine. Be sure not to install grub on the MBR; rather put it on the linux /boot partition.

Partitioning in anaconda: be prepared since the anaconda graphical installer is very annoying if you want to customize the partitions. You cannot reliably choose the order of partitions and have to keep deleting and re-adding partitions until they appear in your desired order, which they may never do. Here's edited fdisk output:

Disk /dev/sda: 80.0 GB, 80026361856 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 9729 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes

   Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System               Comments
/dev/sda1               1           7       56196   de  Dell Utility         Dell's rescue partition
/dev/sda2   *           8        1282    10241437+   7  HPFS/NTFS            resized Windows XP
/dev/sda3            1283        1295      104422+  83  Linux                100 MB  /boot
/dev/sda4            1296        9729    67746105    5  Extended             
/dev/sda5            1296        2187     7164958+  83  Linux                7GB     /
/dev/sda6            2188        2697     4096543+  82  Linux swap / Solaris 4GB     /swap
/dev/sda7            2698        3207     4096543+  83  Linux                4GB     /usr/local
/dev/sda8            3208        9729    52387933+  83  Linux                52GB    /home

Once FC5 installed, boot from DVD/CD into read-only rescue mode, grab the boot partition start via,

dd if=/dev/sda3 of=linux_bootsec.bin bs=512 count=1
and scp linux_bootsec.bin somewhere. Boot up windows and scp it back to C:\, then edit the XP bootloader (after taking a backup of the file), boot.ini (which need to make visible via attrib -R -S -H C:\boot.ini from a command window) according to this guide. I changed the timeout to 3 sec, and made linux the default. There seems to be no problem with the BIOS 1024 cylinder limit (8.5GB) since my linux boot is over 10GB into the drive.

nVidia drivers

You need to yum install kernel-smp-devel xorg-x11-server-sdk pkgconfig. See this. Get the latest nvidia driver, currently 8774. Then run the nvidia installer as root once you've done init 3. Edited /etc/X11/xorg.conf to this. glxgears of 2180 fps then results. Not bad for a `business application' GPU!


From installed ipw3945, which seems to use the ieee80211 module from the kernel. The module loading options need to be added to /etc/modprobe.conf:
install ipw3945 /sbin/modprobe --ignore-install ipw3945 ; sleep 0.5 ; /sbin/ipw3945d --quiet
remove ipw3945  /sbin/ipw3945d --kill ; /sbin/modprobe -r --ignore-remove ipw3945
The remaining problem is that the ipw3945 module is not loaded according to these instructions on boot, so I added /sbin/modprobe -r ipw3945; sleep 0.5; /sbin/modprobe ipw3945 to /etc/rc.local to get wireless working. Of course eth0 needs to be shut down too, but I'm not used to how NetworkManager it taking over these operations. The file ifcfg-eth1 was generated by system-config-network and then hand edited.

Thanks to Sarunas Burdulis for help with this.

Other software

Other configuration

Other questions / To do list (email me if can help!)

Power comsumption

By checking /proc/acpi/battery/BAT0/state (takes 5 sec to update) you can compute power consumption in various states:
CPU0,1 idle (both 1Ghz)    wireless on      LCD max brightness            22W
CPU0,1 idle (both 1Ghz)    wireless on      LCD min brightness            17W
CPU0 100%, CPU1 idle       wireless on      LCD max brightness            26.5W
CPU0,1 both 100%           wireless on      LCD max brightness            33W
CPU0,1 idle (both 1Ghz)    wireless off     LCD max brightness            21W
So wireless consumes about 1+-0.2W (regardless of transmitting or receiving). LCD brightness range accounts for 3W, and both CPUs maxing out increases consumption by about 50%. Power consumptions are similar to the i8100 which only has one CPU.

Links and resources

Contact me at ahb at math dot dartmouth dot edu Linux On Laptops TuxMobil - Linux on Laptops, Notebooks, PDAs and Mobile Phones