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Fedora 14 on Dell Latitude E6410

I got a new job, and I am fortunate that I can run Linux on my laptop at work. The laptop they purchased for me is the Dell Latitude E6410. It has these specs:

  • Intel Core i5 CPU
  • 4GB memory
  • 160GB hard drive
  • nVidia graphics card GT218 [NVS 3100M]
  • Intel 82577LM Gigabit ethernet
  • Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6200 wireless

I would have actually preferred an ultra-mobile laptop. If I'm going to carry a laptop around (to meetings, to home and back, etc.) it needs to be light. This laptop is fairly large and noticeably heavy. At 13.2"x9.4" and over 4.26 lbs, you know when it's in your laptop bag.

Still, it was the standard laptop for this organization, very powerful, so that's good.

Dell's Support site reports that my system has this configuration:

1T8K98Bezel,Liquid Crystal Display,Plastic,W/MIC,E6410
1HJ590Battery,Primary,90WHR,9C,Lithium,SIMPLO
2H299FDual In-Line Memory Module,2GB1067MHZ,256X64,8K,200
1K42JRASSY,BASE,NBK,D,TPM,E,E6410
1Y42JKAssembly,Palmrest,W/O-CSC,UP,E6410
16WRK5KIT,SW,VHB32SP2,DVD,MULTI,19
18HRNKAssembly,Microphone,ARRAY,Liteon,M10
1C158JKIT,DOC,SERI/WSI,ENG,DAO/BCC
12GGYMCard,Wireless,PUMAPEAK22
1875VKLiquid Crystal Display,14.1WXGA+,Light Emitting Diode,Embedded Display Port,AG,Lg Philips Lcd
1MT664Bracket,Support,Right,Metal Light Emitting Diode Roush/Heelys
1UK717Keyboard,83,United States English,Black,EMD
32864DScrew,M3X3,KSH,MS,BLO
1J251NKit,Software,Roxio,10.3,Dell Edition,Business
1FX429CORD,Power,125V,2.5A,1M,C5 E,United States
162MJGProcessor,I5-520M,2.4,3MB,Arrandale,35W,C2
1TWC31Cover,Light Emitting Diode,Plastic,RMA
14TNHYHard Drive,160GB,P11,7.2K,2.5,WD-MX320
1WT212Bracket,Support,Left,Metal Light Emitting Diode Roush/Heelys
1CM889Adapter,Alternating Current 90W,Flexible,3P,World Wide M09
1V42F8Assembly,Dvd+/-Rw,8,Serial Ata,EMOD,Toshiba Samsung Storage Technology
1P34RVKit,Software,Powerdvd,8.3,True Theatre High Definition
13791JASSY,CVR,LCD,SLVR,WLAN,E6410
1KTPRCAssembly,Heatsink,Central Processor Unit,Notebook,Discrete Video,E6410

Install

This laptop previously had Fedora 13 installed on it, so I needed to do an upgrade to Fedora 14.

When I do an upgrade, no matter the operating system, I prefer to blow everything away and install the new version from scratch. I've done straight upgrades, and they run fine, but I find every upgrade leaves some "cruft" from the old system. So I always reformat and reinstall.

Backing up my data was pretty straightforward, just saved it to a USB hard drive. I had burned a Fedora 14 install LiveCD, but also created a LiveUSB version of the CD using LiveUSB Creator onto a spare USB flash drive. I installed from the LiveUSB, the default (GNOME) version. Your timings may vary if you use the LiveCD, or a different "spin" (for example, KDE).

Installation took 15 minutes, including reformatting my Linux partitions and answering the pre-install questions. Encrypting my hard drive was as simple as ticking a checkbox and typing in a password. Once you answer the pre-install questions, then click the button, the rest of it is entirely automated.

When the install is done, I rebooted, copied back my data, and I was back to work. From the moment I booted into the LiveUSB installer, to when I finished restoring my data, was probably 30-40 minutes.

From there, it was a simple matter to let the system install a few updates that came out in the days following the Fedora 14 release. But with Linux, you can continue to use your system even while it installs updates.

Here's the partition table:

Disk /dev/sda: 160.0 GB, 160041885696 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 19457 cylinders, total 312581808 sectors
Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disk identifier: 0x48e2f468

   Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sda1              63       80324       40131   de  Dell Utility
/dev/sda2           81920     4276223     2097152    7  HPFS/NTFS
/dev/sda3   *     4276224   137396223    66560000    7  HPFS/NTFS
/dev/sda4       137396224   312576704    87590240+   f  W95 Ext'd (LBA)
/dev/sda5       137396287   141596909     2100311+   c  W95 FAT32 (LBA)
/dev/sda6       141600768   142624767      512000   83  Linux
/dev/sda7       142626816   148733951     3053568   82  Linux swap / Solaris
/dev/sda8       148736000   312575999    81920000   83  Linux

Note that sda1 is the Dell utility software, which I never use, and haven't booted into. sda3 is actually the Windows 7 operating system. sda4 is the extended partition, which contains the Dell instant-on boot environment (sda5) and my Linux filesystems (sda6 /boot, sda7 swap, and sda8 /[root]).

It's a little complicated because I wanted to preserve everything that was already on the drive, including the ability to dual-boot into Windows 7, and continue to experiment with the instant-on environment. If I'd intended just to have Linux on this laptop, I'd blow it away entirely and let the installer repartition for me. Or if I'd wanted to just keep the Windows 7 and not the instant-on, I would have started over in sda4 (extended partition).

But, that's my environment. Yours is probably different. YMMV.

Software

Fedora 14 has everything by default that I need. We use Google Docs for work stuff, so I just use that in a web browser. But you can go to "Add/Remove Programs" to install OpenOffice. It's very simple.

One other neat feature I noticed was when I started OpenOffice (now at version 3.3) it added a "Quickstarter" into my top system tray. So when I quit OpenOffice, the next time I need to open an office document, things start up almost immediately. If you don't want the Quickstarter there, you can disable it, or right-click and select "Exit".

Also, the GNOME file browser reverted from a spatial interface back to a browser navigational model by default. So when you open a folder, you don't get a new window, it just opens in the current file browser. This reduces desktop clutter, which I very much appreciate. You can always open up another file browser if you want to click & drag files to copy or move them.

GNOME can integrate with GMail using Gnome GMail. It allows GMail to be selected as the default mail application for the desktop. Unlike other solutions on the net, Gnome GMail supports "To:", "Subject:", "body", "CC:", and "BCC: fields. You have to install it (not provided as part of the default install?) but once there, it's easy to select GMail as my default mail handler under "System - Preferences - Preferred Applications". Click on an email address (say, in a web page, or in GNOME) and it brings up my web browser with a GMail "compose" window. There's a process to configure it for a Google Apps account, but I prefer to use my default GMail account for this.

Sound

Sound worked fine "out of the box". My system has the snd_hda_intel driver loaded. Here's the lspci -vv output for this device:

01:00.1 Audio device: nVidia Corporation High Definition Audio Controller (rev a1)
        Subsystem: Dell Device 040a
        Control: I/O- Mem+ BusMaster+ SpecCycle- MemWINV- VGASnoop- ParErr- Stepping- SERR- FastB2B- DisINTx-
        Status: Cap+ 66MHz- UDF- FastB2B- ParErr- DEVSEL=fast >TAbort- <TAbort-<MAbort- >SERR- <PERR- INTx-
        Latency: 0, Cache Line Size: 64 bytes
        Interrupt: pin A routed to IRQ 16
        Region 0: Memory at e3080000 (32-bit, non-prefetchable) [size=16K]
        Capabilities: <access denied>
        Kernel driver in use: HDA Intel
        Kernel modules: snd-hda-intel

Graphics

Nouveau now supports my nVidia GT218 / NVS 3100M graphics card. I get full features, too, including dual-monitor support. All without having to install the nVidia proprietary driver.

I'm still in love with this upgrade. I used to run the nVidia proprietary driver, when I ran Fedora 13 - and that got the job done. But since nVidia didn't install itself into the pre-boot environment, my laptop never booted with the graphical screen. Instead, I always watched Fedora boot using a text-mode interface, blue progress bar at the bottom of the screen before the nVidia driver could take effect and the screen would flip into full graphics mode.

But now that Nouveau has better support for my Nvidia card, I get the graphical "F" logo during the boot. It's very nice. By itself, that was enough reason for me to upgrade.

Here's the lspci -vv output for the card:

01:00.0 VGA compatible controller: nVidia Corporation GT218 [NVS 3100M] (rev a2) (prog-if 00 [VGA controller])
        Subsystem: Dell Device 040a
        Control: I/O+ Mem+ BusMaster+ SpecCycle- MemWINV- VGASnoop- ParErr- Stepping- SERR- FastB2B- DisINTx-
        Status: Cap+ 66MHz- UDF- FastB2B- ParErr- DEVSEL=fast >TAbort- <TAbort- <MAbort- >SERR- <PERR- INTx-
        Latency: 0, Cache Line Size: 64 bytes
        Interrupt: pin A routed to IRQ 16
        Region 0: Memory at e2000000 (32-bit, non-prefetchable) [size=16M]
        Region 1: Memory at d0000000 (64-bit, prefetchable) [size=256M]
        Region 3: Memory at e0000000 (64-bit, prefetchable) [size=32M]
        Region 5: I/O ports at 7000 [size=128]
        Expansion ROM at e3000000 [disabled] [size=512K]
        Capabilities: <access denied>
        Kernel driver in use: nouveau
        Kernel modules: nouveau, nvidiafb

Webcam

This laptop doesn't have a webcam built into it. You may think that's a webcam on the lid for the display, but that's just the light sensor.

Bluetooth

This laptop does not have a Bluetooth adapter in it. I could use an adapter to do this, but I don't have any Bluetooth devices anyway. But I do own a Belkin #F8T016 USB adapter, which I ordered elsewhere for about $15. Works great on Linux, and very unobtrusive.

Network

Network connection seems to be fine. I've used both the wired connection, and the wireless connection. No problems here.

Other stuff

I have an iPod Touch (32GB) and wanted to use Rhythmbox to play music that's already loaded on my iPod. (I have a Mac Mini at home that I use to load music onto the iPod, so I haven't tested Rhythmbox with updating my iPod ... yet.) But that music is all encoded as AAC or MP3, neither of which is supported using the default libraries provided in Fedora 14.

You'll have to make your own decision here, because MP3 is patent encumbered, therefore "Non-free". But here's what I did:

I added a few RPM packages from RPM Fusion to support this. Their Configuration page has the instructions to add their RPM repository to your system list.

Now, run this command:

sudo yum install gstreamer-plugins-ugly gstreamer-ffmpeg

Or, if you're already root, omit the sudo part.

Summary:

My grade: "B"

  • Wireless network is fine.
  • Nouveau now supports nVidia graphics card, doesn't seem to have any issues, but without hardware 3D support.


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