Saturday, November 04, 2006


My new Dell 640m and Linux

Few days back I treated myself with purchase of a Dell Inspiron 640m. Its a Core 2 Duo (T5500/2MB Cache/1.66GHz/667MHz FSB) machine with Intel chipset and Intel 3945 internal wireless. I installed openSUSE 10.1, and removed designed for windows sticker to stick it on my trash can. Everything worked fine with out-of-the-box install. Here is a detailed account:

Wireless: works fine in out-of-the-box install. Keyboard key to enable/disable wireless also works. The only way however to find out if the wireless is disabled by checking dmesg, which contains the following message when wireless is disabled.

ipw3945: Radio Frequency Kill Switch is On:
Kill switch must be turned off for wireless networking to work.

Onboard Video Card: Works fine. Intel's open source driver for 945GM support 3D accelration. I was able to play supertux without any problems. Even Xgl worked flawlessly. But, I was not able to play Warcraft III using Cedega as the framerate was too bad. Native version of UT2004 also didn't work. Probably this card is not meant for gaming.

Dual head mode was not very smooth as resolution sometimes messed up after switching the output device. But it seems like a problem with SuSE and YaST, and not with the drivers.

Sound: Works fine most of the time. But sometimes I need to delete and re-add the sound card using yast for audio to work. This is some bug in the driver as my dmesg is full of error messages.

ALSA sound/core/control.c:635: BUG? (info->access == 0)
[] snd_ctl_ioctl+0x463/0x9ea [snd]
[] snd_ctl_ioctl+0x0/0x9ea [snd]
[] do_ioctl+0x1c/0x5e
[] vfs_ioctl+0x24c/0x25e
[] do_fcntl+0x1c9/0x249
[] sys_ioctl+0x51/0x68
[] sysenter_past_esp+0x54/0x79

SD card reader: Doesn't work! But I can use my digital camera to transfer using usb. It seems that Gentoo wiki has instructions to enable this support.

Additional keyboard keys: All useful keys like changing LCD brightness, switching video output etc.., work fine. Other additional keys work after setup in GNOME (but not in KDE).

TV out and Express card: not tested

Overall, I am happy with my choice and its Linux compatibility.

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