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  1. #1
    Joined
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    Dell Inspiron 1100 and video memory

    My little sister just bought a laptop and gave it to me to rebuild since it was chalked full of crap and ran like crap outta box. Needless to say, I'm not very impressed with dells tactics on designing this thing.

    I talked her into wanting linux as a dual boot with XP. Rebuilt XP and tried throwing on intel's 845G drivers for the integrated video. First clue that dell did something wrong was here. Half way through the install of these drivers when it was trying to do something with the bios, it hard rebooted. Tried a few things and decided I'd have to use some hacked drivers from dell if I wanted video on this thing. That fixed the problem there.

    Then came linux, I went for RH9 for her and same prob in linux. (but I get actual messages when the hood isn't welded shut like windows) It says it cannot allocate video memory when initializing the i810 drivers or vesa drivers. (both should work by intel spec) So it's allocating 832 kB of video memory wich gives me 640x480 at 16 bit max or 1024x768 at 8 bit and nothing at 24/32 bit.

    I found where somebody hacked something for an identical problem on a inspiron m500 with a 855 chipset. Apperantly Dell believes ignoring specs made by the chipmakers is a preferred practice.

    http://www.chzsoft.com.ar/855patch.tar.gz

    Does anybody have any idea's of what I could do here? There are 2 dell 1100 models (ingenious idea hu) One is a plain ol 1100 that has this problem, and another is a 1100/5100 or something like that and doesn't have this problem. It makes a great console which is almost ok for many of us, but I know it would never be used by her if that's all she had.

    If not, I say "don't buy a Dell 1100 or m500."
    http://dustsmoke.com/images/dustsmoke_logo.gif

  2. #2
    Joined
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    Location
    Austin, TX
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    I've got a D400 on its way to me for my new work machine so I've been reading up a bit on putting Linux on it. I've seen the same comments made on the D400 page linked from linux-on-laptops.com.

    I had zero problems getting my Sony Centrino to work with Linux, so I'm not liking what I hear about Dell. Come on guys, I *know* you can make a good product... the 1100?? unf.

    There are several pages on linux-on-laptops.com about the 1100 so it should be doable. I'd start there and see what you can dig up.

    Good luck and let me know how it goes. Once I get my D400 I'll let you know my experiences as well. Its going to be massive fun with an external cd-rom!
    - JP Money -
    alyson (Hannigan) [XP/Gentoo]
    Athlon 64 3200+ | Shuttle SN85G4 | 1GB PC3200 | BFG 6800 OC | Dell FP1800 18" LCD
    milla (Jovovich) [Gentoo Linux]
    Sony PCG-Z1A
    liz (Phair) [FreeBSD 5.3-RELEASE web/mail server]
    Athlon t-bird 1.4 Ghz | Gigabyte 7DXR | 2 GB PC2100 | Adaptec 29160 | 36 GB Seagate Cheetah 10K

  3. #3
    Joined
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    AZ
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    yeah, i'm thinking the 1100 that works is the 1100/5100, not the 1100.... Don't put it past dell to name 2 laptops the exact same thing even thou they are different. One with an A02-05 bios and mine with an A22 Bios. The 1100/5100 has a built in HSF conexant modem. (like all those "it's working" pages)

    This one is a HSF Lucent modem that doesn't work with the linuxant drivers made for conexant/rockwell modems.

    I was really hoping this thing would work out ok when she told me what she got. I looked it up and saw all those howto's too. Knew all the hardware was doable by looking at it's spec. But didn't expect a mal designed video bios that requires hacked intel drivers to work.

    Maybe I can send it to you so you can chuck it at the dell building for me.
    Last edited by DustSmoke; 08-28-2003 at 03:12 PM.
    http://dustsmoke.com/images/dustsmoke_logo.gif

  4. #4
    Joined
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    561
    Sure, I'll drop it off... Those stupid Dell guys make my commute to work worse since their compound is right off of a highway exit and they have around 30 yards to cross 3 lanes of traffic while I'm trying to go the other way... unf.

    But yeah, send it on down and I'll throw it at them while shaking my fist at them.
    - JP Money -
    alyson (Hannigan) [XP/Gentoo]
    Athlon 64 3200+ | Shuttle SN85G4 | 1GB PC3200 | BFG 6800 OC | Dell FP1800 18" LCD
    milla (Jovovich) [Gentoo Linux]
    Sony PCG-Z1A
    liz (Phair) [FreeBSD 5.3-RELEASE web/mail server]
    Athlon t-bird 1.4 Ghz | Gigabyte 7DXR | 2 GB PC2100 | Adaptec 29160 | 36 GB Seagate Cheetah 10K

  5. #5
    Joined
    Sep 2001
    Posts
    776
    This thing chokes under Linux eh? Well there goes my next Linux project. I was looking at buying a el-cheapo 1100 from Dell to play with Linux on a laptop (don't want to take a chance on rendering my trusty 510 pentablet dead in the water).

  6. #6
    Joined
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Sweden
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    1,618
    Can you set the amount of main mem used by the gfx chip in the BIOS? If you can do that it atleast something to try.

    Dont have the faintest if it will work as Ive never used linux on a laptop or even a dell laptop.

  7. #7
    Joined
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    AZ
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    No, it's got the 'save you from yourself' feature installed on it. Basically you can turn the onboard nic on and off, modem on and off, change the time.... and change the boot order.

    But you can see that it says it has a 845G graphics controller with 8 megs of memory. Just for informative purposes, or to taunt you I guess.
    http://dustsmoke.com/images/dustsmoke_logo.gif

  8. #8
    Joined
    Sep 2001
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    776
    DustSmoke,

    I'm sure you have come across this but I thought I would post it just in case.

    http://geocities.com/randomnumbergenerator2001/

    I think I might be purchasing the 5100. Then again, I can probably talk myself out of it..
    Closed Source, Closed Minds ---> Open Source, Open Minds

    MAIN RIG
    Booting: Fedora Core 3, WinXP Pro
    Motherboard - MSI KT6 LSR
    AMD 2500+ Barton @ 2800+ (Thermalright AX-7 HS)
    1 GB Crucial PC3200 DDR
    Radeon 9700Pro (Gigabyte Maya II) with Zalman ZM80A-HP

    Linux Servers: Alexandria, Cairo, Zanzibar, Madagascar

    Microsoft Test Servers: Bishop, Rook, Knight, Pawn
    (running atop virtual pc on xp machines)

  9. #9
    Joined
    Jun 2001
    Location
    AZ
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    Talk yourself outta it.... Unless they can assure you the A06 bios for your 5100.

    Here's the deal, the 5100 and the 1100 are both the same machines packaged with different components. The manufacturers BIOS is A06 for the motherboard. They did everything right and everything works with standard intel drivers. Since then and just lately, Dell seperated the BIOS's for these 2 machines by making their own from scratch. They however didn't do it right. (and make it so you can't flash back to the manufacturers bios that was written to spec)

    So basically your gonna get a 5100 with A21 or maybe A22... Neither of them will work without hacking the i810 drivers to allocate the shared memory incorrectly. You can't even use MS certified drivers for this device from intel in windows. You have to use Dells un-certified old windows drivers to work with their broken bios's.

    And they don't care, this is a new trend for them, they are doing it to all their integrated intel video chipsets. I've found hacks to get the 855G working on the m500's and junk, but the 845G is no go. I don't even want to start with my and the rest of the people on the support forums experiance trying to get help with it. Lets just say they are skirting the issue however they can. (and we're talking about intel drivers for windows here, not asking for linux support)

    My suggestion, go get a thinkpad or something not Dell. Or atleast not the 1100 or 5100.

    Or unless you like using X in a 4"x4" window, or 1024x768 at the amazing depth of 8 bit you can use with 832k.

    as you can tell, I'm not very happy with dell at all...
    Last edited by DustSmoke; 09-05-2003 at 03:48 AM.

  10. #10
    Joined
    Sep 2001
    Posts
    776
    The one I was pricing out had the ATI 7500 chip (16mb memory). Having read this thread made me want a laptop without the shared memory scenario. I'm assuming with the ATI chipset I shouldn't have any problems. Only other big issues were ACPI and DELL's wireless addon. The power save issues won't affect the proposed Linux install since when in Linux I'll either be close to a wall outlet or it will be plugged into a power inverter in my car on wireless adventures with my Orinoco Gold card (hence no need for Dell wireless) and 16db YAGI antenna.

    AirSnort and some other interesting utils only run under Linux ya know.

  11. #11
    Joined
    Jun 2001
    Location
    AZ
    Posts
    2,034
    yeah, probably the best way to go. I'm just mad. Mostly because I get canned responses where they didn't even read the specs that are detected when you open support tickets telling me to do something thats already in the spec and I stated in the message. Or just flat out stearing clear of the support forums where members like me are asking about it.

    I'm still waiting on my last canned response. I thought it would be fun to open a ticket with the words "French Fries" as the problem. I'm curios what their fix is for that. I figure it's gotta be something since they didn't read any of my other support tickets before responding. Every one says to update to A22...... (like I said, everything including me said I was already at A22 on every ticket)

    So it's already too late for me to do anything with the laptop because it goes back to russia with my sister in a few days. And it's pretty hard for me to work on her computers in Russia since she lives in a town with 1 ISP, 28.8 paid by the min.

    So tell me about this yagi antenna you have. I was thinking about getting a card and building one out of a pringles can to test it out. I live about a half mile from my work with only trees in the way. We have 802.11b all over the place there and I can take as many IP's as I want if I can reach it. Would be nice if I could cancel my DSL and rape our bandwidth there. Airsnort.... haha, I hate apples whole approach at an industry standard trying to make it propietary. So what do you think, think i'm close enough a yagi directional antenna will get me on the work network?

  12. #12
    Joined
    Sep 2001
    Posts
    776
    DustSmoke,

    I remember the days when tech support actually meant something. Of course, if you wish to elevate the masses things get dumbed down a bit do they not? I have composed very detailed descriptions of problems/issues only to receive something that made you wonder what crack pipe the support people (said laughingly) were on that day. I think it will only get worse as everybody and their brother seek to push down costs and sacrafice quality for the lemming run.

    I always use FAB Corp for my antennas. You can find cheap antennas with good db levels there and their staff knows their stuff. Very easy company to work with. Some access points such as this one airBridge TOTAL are meant for mounting outdoors to reduce length of you wirless cable (related to signal strength/quality) and it does POE so you can put it at the CAT5E spec of about 100 meters/328 feet from your router/switch/pc. So you can get the antenna up high if you need to without sacraficing signal quality to a very long patch cable to your antenna. Myself, I use a simple yagi that cost me around $40 and I have hit (with minor obstructions) access points about a mile away. I you use a 19dbi or 24 dbi parabolic and something like the airBridge TOTAL you should be able to reach much much further.....
    Closed Source, Closed Minds ---> Open Source, Open Minds

    MAIN RIG
    Booting: Fedora Core 3, WinXP Pro
    Motherboard - MSI KT6 LSR
    AMD 2500+ Barton @ 2800+ (Thermalright AX-7 HS)
    1 GB Crucial PC3200 DDR
    Radeon 9700Pro (Gigabyte Maya II) with Zalman ZM80A-HP

    Linux Servers: Alexandria, Cairo, Zanzibar, Madagascar

    Microsoft Test Servers: Bishop, Rook, Knight, Pawn
    (running atop virtual pc on xp machines)

  13. #13
    Joined
    Jun 2001
    Location
    AZ
    Posts
    2,034
    I thought you would think this is funny, from what I hear on the street, it works pretty good too. (this is just one example)
    http://www.3nw.com/pda/wireless/wi_f...gi_antenna.htm

    It's so stupid it's funny to me, and that makes me have to try it.
    Last edited by DustSmoke; 09-05-2003 at 02:53 PM.
    http://dustsmoke.com/images/dustsmoke_logo.gif

  14. #14
    Joined
    Sep 2001
    Posts
    776
    A friend of mine built an antenna and I say go for it. Me, I'm too lazy...

    If you can get good clearance between two unidirectional antennas you can have a really good signal. Usually I find I'm shooting through a few blocks of houses to an access point in a residential neighborhood or up into large buildings when wardriving. It's amazing to find that 75% of the access points are wide open with no ACL's or WEP enabled! Of course to use some opensource packages to crack the WEP I need a Linux platform....

  15. #15
    Joined
    Sep 2001
    Posts
    776
    DustSmoke,

    I just ordered a 5100 with a ATI 7500 32 meg video card. They had just upped the included video memory from 16 meg to 32 meg so that is a plus. I'm going to need it for a contract job coming up anyways. Dammm DELL, if you look up the same laptop in the refurbished bin the things cost more than ordering it new

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