Red Hat 8.0 on a Dell Inspiron 2650C

  • CPU: Celeron 1.5GHz
  • Hard Disk: IBM 20 GB
  • Ram: 256 Mb DDR PC2100
  • Video: nVidia GeForce 2 Go 16 MB
  • DVD Rom: Toshiba 8X SD-C22612
  • Ethernet: integrated 3C59x
  • Sound: integrated i810_audio (AC97)
  • Modem: Megahertz XJ1560 PCMCIA
    Integrated AC97 Conexant Softmodem
  • Wireless Ethernet: SMC 2632W V2 PCMCIA
  • Display: 14.1" XGA 1024x768
  • Touchpad: Synaptics

Installation Problem:
At first I thought I had received a defective DVD drive. During the install I was unable to mount the second installation CD. I later determined that this drive has trouble reading home-burned CDRs. I accomplished the installation via NFS from another computer on my network.

The NVidia GeForce 2 chip seems to be too new and is not supported by the nv driver in XFree86. I could not get a working setup using the NV Driver and had to resort to the generic VESA driver at 16-bit depth. You can see my XF86Config file (modified for the touchpad driver).

The touchpad works fine as a standard PS2 mouse device but it's a bit touchy. By installing Stephan Gmeiner's Synaptics Driver you gain much more control over it. Installation is rather simple as it comes with a precompiled driver as well as source. Instructions are included for editing your XF86Config (see my edited file above).

The built-in 3Com Ethernet controller was detected and configured by the install with no problems. I had a bit more trouble with the wireless card. At first I purchased a D-Link DWL-650 after reading numerous reviews indicating it was well supported by the wvlan driver. However, it turns out that newer DWL-650 cards use a TI chip rather than the PrismII chip used in earlier cards and there is no current driver support. Instead I got an SMC 2632W V2 card which works well with the Amtel wlan driver. This driver is not included by Red Hat in 8.0 so I had to download and build the driver and modify the pcmcia configuration file manually.

DVD Playback
I first attempted Xine as a DVD player but it was very unstable for some reason, just freezing up and requiring it to be killed from a terminal window. After that I tried Ogle which works just fine. I had to build everything listed on the download page except libjpeg and libxml2 which were already present. You will want to './configure --prefix=/usr' for all of the packages as the default is /usr/local and /usr integrates with Red Hat much nicer.

The Megahertz X-Jack modem is a real controller based modem and should not require any configuration under normal circumstances. However, in this case there was some conflict with the I/O address for ttyS0 (COM1) even though this laptop has no built-in serial ports. I had to exclude the port range in /etc/pcmcia/config.opts by adding the line
  "exclude port 0x3f8-0x3ff"
before the modem would configure when inserted.

Update: After finding drivers that work for the built-in HSF Conexant software modem and this excellent documentation page, I now have the built-in modem working.

Power Management
The A05 bios in this machine does not support APM. The interface is ACPI which does not have good linux support yet. APM tools will simply report that there is no system battery.

This page is listed on TuxMobil and Linux-On-Laptops.

Copyright © 2003-2006 D. Scott Barninger (barninger at