Friday, April 29, 2011

Dell E6410 Fedora 13 32-bit Linux install and mini review

This is a catch up article. More of a documentation piece of (past) success than a current Fedora 13 review.

This Fedora install is a stock 32-bit DVD install (PXE install failed issue with flashing video problem). The target system is a nice Dell E6410 with 4GB RAM, Broadcom BCM4313 802.11b/g, nVidia GT218 [NVS 3100M] rev 162 dedicated video card and Intel I7 CPU. Let me just add the note here and state, for the record, that the Intel I7 ROCKS! The E6410 is a physically solid chassis with precise feel. No cheap feeling plastic on this bad boy. The LCD hinge is firm and smooth with no lateral wiggle or bounce issues. The 14.1 inch screen is bright with no dead pixels. Screen glare is fairly minimal and the function brightness control is handy. I have been a big fan of the Dell Latitude laptops for a long time. The product line continues to excel in many ways. However, please don't mistake this unit for any ultra-portable! Especially with the longer runtime extended battery.

Install with Fedora DVD is best accomplished with the "Basic Video Driver" install selection. Otherwise the screen flashing techni-color screen makes it impossible to install. I choose to install with whole disk encryption as a general rule for any laptop. Let me just say that it is easier to type in a pass-phrase every once in a while than it is to explain why all of the confidential emails or data from a boss is floating around the internet. I will file whole drive encryption under the "CYA" category. Basically, install is click-button-simple. Besides my video issue and encryption desire, there was no real need to not click "next" button when presented. All of the Linux distributions have made HUGE progress in ease of installation over the years. And Fedora is no exception!

Reboot after install leads to a rather disappointing 800x600 resolution login screen. At least there is a login screen at all. First a quick key sequence to dump me to console in order to log in as root in order to do a full update and reboot just to see if that will help my screen resolution issue with the *default* install. I do need to note, I have a standard practice that on any NVIDIA installation, I get the kmod-nvidia drivers or the official NVIDIA driver installed as quickly as possible. I want to see about "stock" install at this point ... but no luck... Sadly, in order to get the 1280x800 capable on this 14.1 WXGA (not WXGA+!) LCD panel I install the kmod-nvidia-PAE drivers (I'm running PAE kernel). However, I still end up with the long dreaded invalid pointer problem and need to remove the "InputDevice" lines in the /etc/X11/xorg.conf file. A reboot an all is better now with video.

The Broadcom BCM4313 is not working out of the box. A quick bit of google'n and an install from the rpmfusion-nonfree-updates repository used for the kmod-nvidia above:
yum -y install broadcom-wl kmod-wl-`uname -r`
modprobe wl
makes the wifi issue go away without the need to reboot. Cutting the ethernet cord an goin' mobile now.

The bluetooth functions without issue. I could pair with my Droidx in seconds. Nice.

Helpful links:
E-Family Reimage “How-To” Guide
E6410 Manuals

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