Dell Laptop (B120) Details



Got a new laptop from Dell, they had a wacky special where you can get a Dell B120 for $499 after $100 mail in rebate. 1280x800 widescreen, 40GB HDD, CD Burner/DVD Reader, 512MB. Decent for a budget laptop. Naturally it had to be reinstalled to offload all of the crap manufacturers put on there, so I put on XP Media Center for fun, and dual boot to Debian Unstable. Here's some details on getting things to work in Debian (documenting for me as much as anything!)

Xorg to work in a widescreen resolution

I found A thread that works great explaining this. Details:

Here's the details I used in xorg.conf using i810 driver (Yes, this is weird to have Modes commented, but it works!):

Section "Device"
   Identifier "Intel i915GM"
   Driver "i810"
   VideoRam 131070
   BusID "PCI:0:2:0"

# 1280x800 @ 60.00 Hz (GTF) hsync: 49.68 kHz; pclk: 83.46 MHz
Modeline "1280x800_60.00" 83.46 1280 1344 1480 1680 800 801 804 828 -HSync +Vsync

Subsection "Display"
   Depth 24
   #Modes "1024x768"
   Virtual 1280 800

Initially I had this working a different way using a utility called 915resolution. This worked using the vesa driver, but when switching to i810, which is faster, it would only show 1024x stretched. The above will work regardless of if you're using 915resolution.

Changing runlevels so KDE/KDM won't load by default

Debian uses runlevels 2 and 3 the same, while other distros designates one of these as X11, the other as a standard terminal. If you install KDM, you'll boot into X natively, which you may not want. I made a few simple changes to designate 3 as standard, 2 as X:

In /etc/inittab, change 2 to 3 (for text):


And then change it so that kdm doesn't load in runlevel 3:

cd /etc/rc3.d
mv S99kdm k01kdm

That's it! if you wish to change back, edit /etc/inittab back to 2.

WLAN setup using ndiswrapper

Someone already wrote a wiki about this:

Here's the quick steps i did:

apt-get install ndiswrapper-source 
apt-get install module-assistant
module-assistant auto-install ndiswrapper

Assuming all of that went well, now tell ndiswrapper about your driver, and make it know about it at boot time:

ndiswrapper -i /pathto/your/drivers/file.inf
ndiswrapper -l
modprobe ndiswrapper
ndiswrapper -m

The ndiswrapper -m portion installs it into /etc/modprobe.d. I also had to add a single line to /etc/modules:

echo "ndiswrapper" >> /etc/modules

Lastly, if you want this interface to come up on boot, add something like this to /etc/network/interfaces:

auto wlan0
iface wlan0 inet dhcp
   wireless-essid somename
   wireless-key s:badpassword
   wireless-channel 11

Just man iwconfig to find out other options you can send to wlan0. Note that it's debian specific to prefix "wireless-" to each one.

Stupid Preinstalled Software

This thing came with a CD with a huge red WARNING on it because It doesn't come with Virus protection. Yet, they installed some placeholder app to pop up the first time Winders runs to give you the same warning. Thanks, dell.