In Association with

Linux on a Dell Inspiron 3700/7000/7500

Table of Contents

Computers This Page Applies To

Frequently Asked Questions

Setting Up Linux To Coexist With Windows98/NT

Base Installation

PCMCIA Configuration


X Windows


Accessing the Linux filesystem from Windows98/NT

Other Links

Laptop Cases and Travel Bags

Other Flavors Of UNIX

My Configuration


Register your own domain name for only $13.95/year! Includes FREE URL redirection, email forwarding, and DNS. Works with existing email and web sites.

Reserve your name now before someone else takes it forever.

Method 2: VESA Framebuffer -- Mach64

If you have the 1400x1050 LCD and are not able to get the little penguin on your screen and you are not comfortable in building your own kernel, then this method is for you. Or if you want the latest 2.2.14 kernel for sound support and are afraid to build your own kernel, you may also follow the instructions in this method.

Since this method involves installing a new linux kernel, it is possible that you will end up with an unbootable system if you mess up the /etc/lilo.conf file. It's a good idea to have a rescue disk/CD handy before you proceed...

Here are the steps:

  1. If you are following this method so that X windows will work, go follow the isntructions for method #1 first. After you are done with that, come back here. If you are following this method so that you can get sound to work, then continue on to the next step.
  2. Download my version of the 2.2.14 kernel w/pcmcia 3.1.8 modules from here. It contains the 2.2.14 kernel compiled with vesafb support (in boot/), the modules, plus pcmcia 3.1.8 modules. For those who want to build their own kernel but want to see which kernel options I used, you can take a look at my config file. Save this as /usr/src/linux/.config and run "make menuconfig" (and save setup) to duplicate my kenel configuration. Do not enable ATI Mach64 console support in the kernel configuration menus, or you will end up with a black screen during bootup.
  3. Before you install this kernel you will want the pcmcia-cs 3.1.8 binary programs installed as well. To check what version of pcmcia-cs you currently have, use the command "cardctl -V". If you aren't using pcmcia 3.1.8, you must first compile it before continuing (see the PCMCIA section for details). Or if you are afraid or lazy to compile pcmcia-cs-3.1.8, you may simply download my libc6 pre-compiled pcmcia-cs-3.1.8 binary instead.
  4. If you are here, that means that you have downloaded both the kernel and pcmcia-cs binary packages above (or built the pcmcia-cs-3.1.8 package yourself). If so, then the next step is to install everything. I'm going to assume that you stored the downloaded files in /root. If you stored them somewhere else, simply modify the lines below for the appropriate path.. First, install the pcmcia-cs binary package (or if you built your own, install that). You do this by cd'ing to / and extracting the files there. In other words, type the commands:
    cd /; tar -xzvf /root/pcmcia-cs-3.1.8-binaries.tar.gz.

    Next, extract the kernel tar file as such:
    cd /; tar -xzfvf /root/vmlinuz-2.2.14.tar.gz

  5. Check that /dev/fb0 and /dev/fb0current exist. If you type ls /dev/fb0 /dev/fb0current and you get the error "No such file or directory", then create them with the commands
    mknod /dev/fb0 c 29 0
    ln -s /dev/fb0 /dev/fb0current

  6. Edit your /etc/lilo.conf file to add a new section to the end (do you need instructions on how to modify the file? See Using Vi To Edit lilo.conf):
    The vga=791 line above is mandatory if you have the 1400x1050 LCD screen. If you have a 12.1" 800x600 LCD screen and want framebuffers, you will want to use vga=788 instead of 791. Note: these settings are for 16bpp. If you want [slower] 24bpp color instead, add 1 to the values above (i.e. vga=792 or 789, respectively).

  7. NOTE to some Redhat, SuSe, or Slackware users: You may have to add a root= line to the above (after the image= line) if you don't have a global root= line in your config file. To find the right value to add, find another root= line in your lilo.conf and add that line to the above. It will look something like root=/dev/hda3 or root=/dev/hda2.
  8. Run /sbin/lilo. "Linux-2.2.14" should show up as one of the lines that LILO outputs. If so and there are no errors, reboot. If you see the error "Presetting VGA not supported" and you are using Mandrake, this is a bug in the lilo that comes with the distribution. Download a newer version of lilo from
  9. At the LILO prompt, hit the left Shift key to get the prompt and type Linux-2.2.14. If all goes well, the new 2.2.14 kernel will boot. You should get a 1x1 inch penguin logo on the top left of the screen, and then a smaller, nice looking console screen should appear. If Linux doesn't boot, then something went wrong with the installation of your new kernel. You should be able get your original setup by rebooting and loading linux the way you used to load it.
  10. If everything looks good, then log in as root and run startx or xinit. If X works, then congratulations, you did it! You can now go about configuring your system to start xdm automatically, if you wish.
  11. Once everything is working the way you like, you can make LILO boot the new kernel by default by adding another line at the beginning of your /etc/lilo.conf file:
    Of course, if you already have a default= line in your lilo.conf file, just change its value to Linux-2.2.14. On older versions of LILO, it is possible that the default option does not work. In that case, whichever image= section appears first in your config file is the default, so move the entire 2.2.14 section to becomethe first image= section.
  12. If this method worked for you, please support this page by registering with Ebates. It costs you nothing and by signing up they will donate 10 meals to the World Food Program. And even better, you will get up to 25% cash back off purchases from well-known online stores including Barnes&Noble, Dell, Disney Store, eToys,, Toys R Us, and many others. If you would just take a few minutes to register in exchange for the help provided by this page, I would really appreciate it.

[Home] [KiyoshiCam] [Linux on Inspiron] [Finance] [Shopping] [Free Stuff] [Earn Money]

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

©1998-1999 Stephen Hsieh, all rights reserved. All web pages in are the property of Stephen Hsieh and protected under copyright. None of the material may be reproduced without permission. No Warranties:This information on this site is provided "as is" without any warranty of any kind.