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February 27, 2008

6

Debian 4.0 on Dell Latitude D505

So tried my hand at getting Linux up and running on a hand me down laptop that I’ll be doing a lot of work on. It is a Dell Latitude D505 with 1.2 Gigs of DDR ram, 1024×768 15in LCD, Pentium-M 1.5Ghz, Intel based wireless (802.11b), 120Gig Drive, and Intel based video card.

Started off wired to the Internet, Debian 3.1 install CD, linux26 install and everything was smooth sailing during install process. I selected http for getting my apt sources, wrapped up the install, rebooted. Once logged in, I immediately added testing and performed a aptitude dist-upgrade. This bumped me up to Debian 4.0. I installed the latest kernel 2.6.22 as it comes with the ipw2100 driver automatically. The earlier kernels do not and require you to compile yet more source code.

The first hurdle (and reason why Debian still isn’t ready for your mum): Even though the ipw2100 module loads, it can’t bring the wireless card online without a firmware. Well, you’re in luck because someone out there is providing it for us but Debian won’t do any of the work for you.

http://ipw2100.sourceforge.net/firmware.php

Go there, agree to their EULA, and download the latest firmware. Unpack the contents into your /usr/lib/hotplug/firmware and you should be good to go.

By this time you may be wondering else you will need, so I suggest (because it works) to do a aptitude install wireless-tools which will make life a lot easier for you when setting up your wireless connection. Up to you have you want to do it, I installed gnome and had it’s network tool handle everything.

Now if you are a road-warrior and gnome and iwconfig takes to long, there is another tool that you can use called Wicd.

http://wicd.sourceforge.net/

It is simple stupid to install and use, works great and remembers your keys when you are hopping around. I only wish gnome’s network tool was that smart. (Hint Gnome Devs)

Now, basically everything on the laptop works marvelously well, except the Lid issue. While in X (Xorg), if you close the lid the system will hang. I have the A11 bios update, which is known to cause all sorts of crap. I haven’t yet had the chance to downgrade to A09 yet, but I may. A stupid hack around this is to dump to console (ctrl-alt-f1) and close the lid. When you want to go back, open lid and press (ctrl-alt-f7) to get back into X. If anyone else has suggestions to get past this, please let me know. I just want the LCD to go off and on when button is depressed.

So all in all, a success with a few minor flaws. I’ll add more details as they creep into my mind.

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. miksuh
    Feb 28 2008

    “This bumped me up to Debian 4.0. I installed the latest kernel 2.6.22 as it comes with the ipw2100 driver automatically. The earlier kernels do not and require you to compile yet more source code.”

    That’s not true. ipw2100 driver modules are available in the Debian Etch repository’s contrib section. You need to activate contrib first. make sure there is something like this in your /etc/apt/sources.list

    deb http://ftp.fi.debian.org/debian/ etch main non-free contrib
    deb-src http://ftp.fi.debian.org/debian/ etch main non-free contrib
    deb http://security.debian.org/ etch/updates main non-free contrib
    deb-src http://security.debian.org/ etch/updates main non-free contrib

    What matters is that keyword ‘contrib’ at the end of lines. If you want to activate non-free repository too, add that keyword ‘non-free’ too.

    Next you need to update package database:

    # apt-get update

    Next you need to check what kernel version and CPu-type you have, eg:

    # uname -r
    2.6.18-6-k7

    So CPU-type is k7 in this example. Now you can install driver module:

    # apt-get install ipw2100-modules-k7

    Replace k7 with CPU-type you got using uname -r

    Reply
  2. miksuh
    Feb 28 2008

    By the way. I don’t understand why you installed Debian 3.1 ‘Sarge’ first and then upgraded to Etch. Why didn’t you just install Etch? Etch is the current stable release.

    Reply
  3. miksuh
    Feb 28 2008

    “I immediately added testing and performed a aptitude dist-upgrade. This bumped me up to Debian 4.0. I installed the latest kernel 2.6.22 as it comes with the ipw2100 driver automatically.”

    No. Current testing is Lenny, not Etch. Etch is the current stable. Etch was released almost a year ago. Here are the current Debian versions:

    old stable = Debian 3.1 ‘Sarge’
    stable = Debian 4.0 ‘Etch’
    testing = Debian Lenny
    unstable = Debian Sid

    Reply
  4. miksuh
    Feb 28 2008

    “It is simple stupid to install and use, works great and remembers your keys when you are hopping around. I only wish gnome’s network tool was that smart. (Hint Gnome Devs)”

    Networkmanager can do that. It can remember those wifi hot spots you have used, and it remembers youir keys too. It seems you are actually using Debian Lenny (testing). I’m not sure if networkmanager is installed by default in Lenny, it is in Etch. Here is how you can install NetworkManager if it’s not installed yet:

    # apt-get install network-manager-gnome

    Reply
  5. jon benge
    Feb 28 2008

    Ubuntu 7.10 on my D505 had the wirless working out-of-the-box, no configuration required. I got full compiz straight away too!

    Reply
  6. Mar 5 2008

    Hope you enjoy compiz out of the box, frankly I’m not interested in bling but more in development. 😉

    The only CD I had at the time was 3.1, then once wired I updated to 4.0… and yes there was contrib package for 2.6.18, but I wanted what was also in testing which included 2.6.22 that came with the module anyway. Regardless which path you choose, you still need a firmware blob that you can only get via wired connection.

    I’m surprised that it works out of the box in Ubuntu unless they danced around the firmware issue and included it with their distrbution. Whatever works as far as I’m concerned, so long as it is legal.

    I find it amusing to get called out on naming, whatever. 🙂 Yes, I went to testing so it went right from 3.1 (Sarge) past 4.0 (Etch) and to Lenny which doesn’t have a number.

    Thanks for the advice on network-manager-gnome, ‘aptitude install gnome’ doesn’t bring it in by default. I hope they fix that soon.
    I’m actually quite satified with Debian (Lenny) on the laptop. Still, my only problem is still the Lid Swich. Anyone have any working solutions to this problem?

    Reply

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