Debian GNU/Linux on Dell Inspiron 510m

My friend, P. Madhavan (completing Bachelor of Dental Surgery, Raagas Dental College), owns a Dell Inspiron 510m that was running windoze. One of his friends was using the laptop while it was connected to the Internet. When he clicked a link while browsing, a virus attack occurred and renderred his laptop useless. Windoze is highly secure and stable? What else can you expect from the Gates of Hell? Huh!

He brought the laptop to me and I installed Debian GNU/Linux Sarge 3.1r0a on it. This is the installation howto for the laptop.

Dell 510m     With Tux     Screenshot     small screenshot     

Configuration files/outputs



Installation was pretty straight-forward. Used the first CD to boot into the system, did the basic install. The partitioning scheme:
/dev/hda1 is /
/dev/hda2 is swap

The first CD simply does the base installation and it reboots. It will then proceed with user account setup, software packages where in you need to insert all 3 CDs, one by one, to update the database list of software packages available. After completion of software installation, the system didn't boot into X. You need to use the 855wrap (see Desktop below) with i810 driver to get X up and running. Used the other CDs for installing required software with Synaptic Packet Manager. The environment is Gnome with the kernel.


X does not load because of a BIOS bug. This has been updated in recent Dell laptops though. So, to get X working you need to download the 855wrap.tar.gz from, compile it (just ran make inside the source directory), and run the 855wrap executable file. It will install the patch. You will then be able to boot into X. Using "dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xfree86" I reconfigured Xserver.


Debian Sarge 3.1r0a comes with 2.6.8-2. But, I installed the kernel.


Works by default.

CD/RW DVD Combo Drive

Works by default. I am able to play DVDs using mplayer. I have tested CD writing with K3B, it works by default.


By default, the 2.6.8 kernel sources have ALSA support compiled in and I am able to play music using xmms and mplayer. Works on as well.


I have ACPI enabled in the kernel. Battery status is shown in Battery Charge Monitor 2.8.2.


Works by default.


Works by default. I am able to use my Sandisk 256 MB USB stick.