November 2008.

I took a Fedora Core 9 Live CD to Future Shop and tried booting it on four laptops. The Inspiron 1525 seemed to work (display, network) so I bought it, with the intention of running dual boot FC9 64-bit and Vista (or maybe downgrading to XP Pro).

Dell Inspiron 1525 (Centrino T5750)

The machine boots from the CD and recognizes the hard drive. X11 starts OK. The Ethernet and WiFi start up OK. I was able to put the WiFi into monitor mode and run tcpdump (this is something I need to work for analyzing wireless problems.
I bought this one. It comes with Vista, and has a diagnostic partition and a Dell MediaDirect partition. I shrank the Vista filesystem with ntfsresize and intend to install FC9 x64.

I shrank the Vista fs as above, then used fdisk as per the ntfsresize manpage to resize the partition and create swap and Linux partitions. I rebooted Vista, Windows ran a disk check then worked successfully. However, the 1525 comes with Dell MediaDirect, which hooks to an alternate power-on button and lives in a VFAT partition on sda5. This no longer worked. I had had warnings from fdisk about partition ordering, and had removed sda2-5, re-creating sda2 to the new size and creating an extended partition with identical start sectors. Clearly this was an issue.

I then tried to reinstall MediaDirect using the Dell disk. It gave an error and refused to run. I then went through the Dell reinstall procedure, booting the MediaDirect disk which lets one create a "data drive" D: before recreating its own VFAT partition. I tried at this point to create a Linux partition and swap, but MediaDirect failed later.

So, I ran through the entire Windows reinstall procedure:

  • Boot MediaDirect disk.
  • Create D: partition; creates a W95 ext.d partition sda3 plus sda5 with id "dd"
  • Boot Vista install disk
  • Install Windows
  • Auto-run the MediaDirect disk
  • Install MediaDirect. MediaDirect is now happy and boots with the alternate power button.
  • Run fdisk; leave sda3 and sda5 alone but create swap and Linux partitions inside the W95 extended partition.
  • Install Fedora Core 9 from DVD
At this point FC9 runs, and I can mount the Windows partitions. Vista runs, but is missing some drivers. Reinstall the drivers from the utility disk (somewhat painful, they are zipped on the CD so that Windows won't find them directly, and there are drivers for both 32 and 64 bit systems, plus other laptop models, so it's not obvious what you need).
fdisk output:
Disk /dev/sda: 320.0 GB
   Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sda1   *       38522       38913     3148708+   c  W95 FAT32 (LBA)  (Diagnostics)
/dev/sda2               7       12408    99619065    7  HPFS/NTFS        (Vista)
/dev/sda3           12409       38913   212901412+   f  W95 Ext'd (LBA)
/dev/sda5           38522       38913     3148708+  dd  Unknown          (MediaDirect)
/dev/sda6           12409       12895     3911796   82  Linux swap / Solaris
/dev/sda7           12896       38521   205840813+  83  Linux            (/)
Partition table entries are not in disk order
MediaDirect has stopped working again from the alternate power button; I get a blue error screen. I can also boot it from grub as /dev/sda5, but get the same thing. Attempting to reinstall from the distro gives an error. I think I'll abandon this. It seems to work from inside Vista.

Hardware Info - lspci, lsusb etc.

More later, probably.

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Installing Fedora Core 9 on Dell Inspiron 1525

Last updated: 26 Nov 2008

General Hardware Specifications of Dell Inspiron 1525:

Hardware Components
Status under Linux
Intel Core2 Duo CPU T5750 @ 2.00GHz Works No special procedure required during installation.
15.4" WXGA TFT display Works No special procedure required
Intel GM965/GL960 Integrated Graphics Works (1280x800, i915.ko) No special procedure required
3Gb RAM Works No special procedure required during installation
320 GB SATA Hard Drive Works No special procedure required (ahci.ko)
Marvell 88E8040 PCI-E Fast Ethernet Works No special procedure (sky2.ko)
Internal softmodem unknown -
CD/DVD/Blu-Ray Drive Works No special procedure required (ata_piix.ko)
Intel Wireless 4965 Works No special procedure (iwl4965.ko)
6 cell Lithium-Ion Battery Works No special procedure required during installation
Intel 82801H HD Audio Works (snd-hda-intel.ko)

unmute "surround". Maybe add options snd_hda_intel model=3stack to /etc/modprobe.d/modprobe.conf

Ricoh R5C832 IEEE 1394 unknown (firewire-ohci.ko)
Broadcom BCM2045 Bluetooth Works tested send/receive files, browse other device
Laptop Integrated Webcam Works tested with ekiga
HDMI output unknown -
S-Video TV out unknown -
Expresscard unknown (this is not cardbus/PCMCIA)
USB 2.0 Works external mouse works
ALPS GlidePoint touchpad Works Buttons 1,2 (physical) + 4,5+6,7 (soft)

This laptop is operating under Kernel version 2.6.25-14.fc9.x86_64

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