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Installing Linux on a Dell L400.

To continue my previous piece (sorry for the delay) about the installation of Ubuntu 7.04 on a Dell L400. To quickly restate the machine's statistics: P3-700MHz processor, 256MB of RAM and a 20GB HDD.

The installation of Ubuntu from the normal disk is a non-happening event. It simply requires too much RAM to boot the graphical interface. So instead, I downloaded the alternate install CD and performed the installation in text mode. Here is a big thing to remember: Boot the kernel with acpi=no. Otherwise you might find the machine getting a lot of "Sleep" messages during the boot and also during the installation. Very *very* frustrating to say the least. It wasn't the fastest installation in the world, but I didn't expect to be the fastest either. It went smoothly and everything was happily detected. Great I thought. It booted OK, it ran the Gnome desktop quite well - although somewhat slowly. I started going through and tidying up the boot stuff and working to minimise RAM usage where possible. (Note to self: next time use Fluxbuntu or something lighter on the desktop!).

The trouble all started during the software update. I have never had a problem with the Ubuntu updates before and I have 2 PCs running Ubuntu all the time. With this one though, various chunks of the install seemed to get hosed as it ran. OpenOffice caused all sorts of hassles, other things simply failed to work. It was very annoying. At the end of it and following a restart, the Gnome desktop wouldn't get going properly. The sound controller software failed to start properly, killing the desktop. I worked at trying to fix it but gave up because of time constraints. I attempted to restore my MBR and just single boot to windows but wouldn't you know it - it didn't work. I ended up re-installing *everything*.

I'm not discouraged though. When I have more time I'll have another crack at it. I'm even considering putting the new OpenSuSE 10.3 on this laptop. Previously I was running 10.2 on it and although the Radeon driver didn't play nicely with this machine, the rest of it was very impressive. I was especially pleased with the speed of OpenSuSE - not something I would not associate with it. So stay tuned for further updates.

Oh and I never did get my WGA111v2 to work with Ubuntu either :(

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