Sunday, August 03, 2008

Notes from the Field: Installing Fedora 9 on a Dell Latitude D630

My employer has given me a Dell Latitude D630 notebook. It comes with a 2.4GHz T7700 processor, 2GB memory, wireless, and an nVidia Quadro NVS 135M video card. The system initially came with Windows XP SP2 installed (since upgraded to SP3). As delivered and configured it worked like a charm.

Part of my job is developing and supporting applications running on RHEL 4. I decided to install Fedora 9 on this machine, and here are some of the reasons:
  • Support out-of-the-box for whole-drive encryption (remember this is a laptop)
  • VPN support out-of-the-box
  • Contemporary UI (Gnome 2.22) compared to that found on RHEL 4
  • It's the only Linux distribution outside of RHEL that is officially sanctioned by my employer
Rather than monkeying with the initial XP install, I ordered a blank drive for the Dell and swapped it in for the XP drive. That gave me a clean system with which to install Fedora 9 on and a fallback to get back to work. Here's what worked immediately after the Fedora 9 installation on the blank drive:
  • Drive encryption/decryption (I could log in)
  • Wired networking
  • Full screen resolution (1440 by 900) with 'free and open' driver but no 3D support
  • Local mouse
  • Every USB device I currently have
Here's what worked after installing Livna as a repository:
  • nVidia native driver with 3D support
  • Flash version 9
Here's what is broken after initial install and some simple googling for possible answers:
  • Wireless (Broadcom 4328 802.11n draft)
  • Audio
Since I have a wired connection I can perform what I need to do with regards to networking. Audio isn't a show stopper (yet). It's odd to see Flash video without the sound, and before you ask, if the sound system is broken then nothing else that depends on it will work, so 'fixing' Flash isn't the answer. I haven't tried VPN yet, as I haven't had a need. And since everything I'm concerned with is written in Java (Java 6) I'm not concerned with other issues such as gcc version clash.

Fundamentally the system is functional and will probably allow me to get my core job done. But it falls a bit short as a shining light for Linux adoption.

So I wonder what excuses/flames I'll get for these problems.


Mis-identified the wireless chip set. ndiswrapper failed to solve the problem.


  1. You said that your employer only officially sanctions Fedora (outside of redhat).
    Why don't they sanction CentOS?

  2. I don't know, but considering that I've only been there for exactly eight weeks so far, I have to live with the sanction.

    I booted the Live CD versions of openSUSE 11.0 and Ubuntu 8.04.1 just as an experiment, and those distributions failed to detect the wireless and audio on that notebook as well.

  3. Bill, did you get your wireless working yet? I am having trouble with Fed9 on a D620. See my travails on my (new) blog at


  4. No, I did not. It was also still broken as of Fedora 10 alpha 1.


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