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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

Modem

X Windows

Sound

Accessing the Linux filesystem from Windows98/NT

Other Links

Laptop Cases and Travel Bags

Other Flavors Of UNIX

My Configuration

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X Windows

Free X Server

Setting up X is usually the hardest part of linux configuration -- especially if your card is not supported directly by the X server. Currently, the stock free Xserver developed by the XFree86 Project partially supports the ATI Rage LT Pro/Mobility-P 3D found in the I3.7k, I7k and I7.5k. Depending on which LCD you have (800x600, 1024x768, 1280x1024, or 1400x1050), some of the methods described in this section will work for you, while others will not. The good news is that I have received success stories for all of the above resolutions using one of the methods outlined below.

There are a number of workarounds that will allow one to run X on an ATI portable chipset. Please read this entire section before you try any of the methods. Please reread this section and all its steps before you email me!

Disclaimer: Before we continue, please understand that I will NOT be held responsible for any damage that you do to your own system in case something goes wrong! It is possible to damage your display and/or video card by using a bad mode and/or a modified X server, so keep that in mind when you use other people's values and software, even if it works for them. The same goes true for any hardware modifications that you make. I have never heard of anything bad happening to anyone with an I7k, but I suppose there could always be a first.

Having said that, here are a number of ways to get X working on your system. You might want to take a look at all of them before deciding what to do, but I recommend method #1 or #2 for most people.

Commercial X Server

If you don't want to mess with XF86 or are afraid to take any chances, the other alternative is to purchase a commercial laptop X server from Xi Graphics. Both the ATI Rage LT Pro and ATI Rage Mobility are officially supported in the XiG server. However, the 1400x1050 resolution of the I7.5K is not yet supported as far as I know. At the time of writing this, the package retails for $199 (students can get a 25% discount off retail price = $150). Non-students might be better off purchasing it from a reseller such as Linux Mall for $189. If anyone knows of a better price, please let me know...

From experience, I can say for sure that the Xig server is easy to install and does not require any special configuration (however, you must use vga=normal in /etc/lilo.conf!). Performance-wise, the Xig server is also noticably faster than the free X server. However, Xig does not support the DGA protocol used by VMware. Thus, if you use X only, I highly recommend the Xig X server over the free X server. But if you use VMware at all, you would be much better of with the free X server modified with DGA extensions.

Dave Teter <teter@virginia.edu> reports, "I'm running it on my I7k. Runs great. The demo should install and run fine. The non-demo which you get on the CDROM needs the updates that you can download off their website in order to run the ATI chip. Email me if you have problems."


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