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Debian Linux on a Dell E1705 Laptop

Installing Debian on a Dell E1705

Last updated: April 20, 2006

General Hardware Specifications of my E1705:

Hardware Components
Status under Linux
Intel Core Duo 1.6 GHz Works No special procedure required during installation.
17" WUXGA 1920x1200 TFT Display Works Special tweaks needed in order to run at 1920x1200 — see below.
Intel GMA950 Using the 945GM Chipset Works At this time, ATI Cards will NOT work. nVidia cards should work fine — see below.
1024MB 667MHz Memory, 2DIMMs Works No special procedure required during installation
60 GB SATA Hard Drive 7200RPM Works When you install Debian, it will install using IDE emulation automatically — see below.
Broadcom 4400 10/100 Network Card Works No special procedure required during installation
Internal 56k Modem Not Tested Don't plan on testing this.
24X DVD Writer Combo Drive Works After SATA is enabled, the device changes to /dev/sr0 — see below.
Intel IPW3945 Wireless Networking Card Works Please follow instructions at I don't think the Dell Wireless card will work!
59 WHr Lithium-Ion Battery Works No special procedures required for both battery types.
Intel HD Audio Works There is a post at by shoemael with an attachment. You must apply this patch to the kernel for sound to work.
Internal Memory Card Reader Doesn't work I didn't try very hard. If anyone knows how to make this work, please contact me.

This laptop is operating under Kernel version 2.6.16.

Basic Installation of Debian:
  • Debian can be downloaded at
  • I use Debian because it lets you do your own thing - no baby steps. I'm sure you can apply a lot of these procedures to your distrobution of choice.
  • Installation on this laptop is not for newbies. A lot of stuff does not work out of the box! However, I would estimate that in 6 months to a year it will because this laptop has mostly Intel related hardware in it.
  • When you install Debian, it does not have support for SATA right away. Your devices will be /dev/hda, etc. After you get it installed, you must download the 2.6.16 kernel (or newer). When you boot off of it, your hard drive will change to /dev/sda. Here is a copy of my 2.6.16 config file. Please have a boot cd-rom ready! You will need to edit /etc/fstab and change the old devices to the new. You will also need to change the root/boot devices in lilo or grub.
  • When you boot up for the first time, your cd-rom will not work. Use libata.atapi_enabled=1 in your append section of the /etc/lilo.conf to get IDE emulation working. The cd-rom device will be /dev/sr0.
  • In order to get video working, please download the 915resolution utility. Every bootup, you need to run these commands at every bootup. I placed this file in my /etc/rc.boot directory. If the directory does not exist, make it. Make sure to chmod +x the file. Lastly, you must download the i810 and i915 drivers. Here is my xorg.conf.

Upon arrival of Xorg 7.0, a major slowdown was noticed in video. I went to and got the following message from Lukas Hejtmanek in regards to /proc/mtrr:

it must be like this:

cat /proc/mtrr
reg00: base=0x00000000 ( 0MB), size= 512MB: write-back, count=1
reg01: base=0x20000000 ( 512MB), size= 256MB: write-back, count=1
reg02: base=0x2f000000 ( 752MB), size= 16MB: uncachable, count=1
reg03: base=0xd0000000 (3328MB), size= 256MB: write-combining, count=1

the reg03 is important one.

You can add it by hand:
lspci -v
find VGA compatible controller record ther whould be Memory at (location)
(32-bit, prefetchable) [size=256M]

(instead of location there will be particular address (in my case d0000000)).

Once you have the location, you can do:
echo "base=0xlocation size=0x10000000 type=write-combining" >| /proc/mtrr

in my particular case it is:
echo "base=0xd0000000 size=0x10000000 type=write-combining" >| /proc/mtrr

Another Update!

I just recently installed Ubuntu Dapper - which has support for this video card! You must still use 915resolution in /etc/rc.local and the mtrr stuff mentioned above, but you do not need the freedesktop drivers!

In closing

I understand that this document is very primative. It is not meant to be a complete HOWTO, but a reference point for people who are stuck at certain points. If you have any questions, please contact me.

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