Tuesday, 3 August 2010

OpenSuse 11.0 Installation guide, on Dell XPS 1530 notebook

1. Installing OpenSuse 11.0

Yesterday morning started of great: with a phonecall from UPS asking if I was home so they could deliver my brand new Dell XPS M1530 laptop. Great! Well, it took some time and effort (around 6 phone calls) to explain to the courrier (in french) how he could find my house in the mountains... But how nice to see the UPS truck in the narrow road, with the driver smiling (did I detect a sigh of relief there...). He handed me a small box... whaaw, could there be a computer in that box...
I had to wait until the evening to start the OpenSuse 11.0 install. Everything went smooth (as usual with the OpenSuse intaller) until the point where it gave me "Unable to resize partition. Corrupted fs, check in windows"... Oh my... Check in Windows, that's not exactly my speciality. I spend the whole night trying to fix the filesystem in Vista. Well, no luck there. I ran checkdisk (twice, cause my battery died at 95% and it had to start again *grmbl*), deleted the rollback files, the virtual memory, ran all kinds of checks and Windows just always said everything was ok. Well, Linux has higher requirements...
Not to worry... I was finally able to shrink the partition to half (vista wasn't content with less than 160 Gs). I took it. I went back to the Linux installer, but no luck. The unallocated 130 Gs seemed to small and the filesystem of the other three partitions (dells media and recovery) stayed corrupted.

The next morning... was dominated by a "honey do you really need windows for your games" and "if I get a tv card, we can buy a playstation". No seriously, the most dominant argument was the need for a good video editor... Well we'll try wine or vmware (XP please, no more Vista).
You now, me girlfriend is amazing... She let me delete the entire windows partition, which left me with a sweet 280 GB home partition. How great is that. A computer with only Linux, that's my first.

Ok, finally I could press the install button. And we're off. I was plastering the living room when the installer was running, so I didn't really pay attention. At a certain point I looked up and saw a screensaver all of a sudden. Well, at lease X Server is working!

2. Fixing the touchpad

As soon as I touch the mouse, weird things start to happen. It seems to click everywhere. Oh, that's right... I read about that issue before. So I:

- changed /boot/grub/menu.lst to include i8042.nomux=1 (I put it before splash) at the boot options. I should probably go back and add it for the failsafe install as well
=> ok, it works, but it clicks irregularly

- I changed /etc/X11/xorg.conf: Option "MaxTapTime""0", this disables the tab clicking

It works perfectly now... Sweet

3. Setting up 3G wireless internet

Luckily, I've written another article about this, and it still works... You can find it at: http://dorax.naturalp.org/?q=node/16

4. Setting up my Lamp webserver

Since I checked the webserver option at the install, all the necessary packages for lamp are already installed.

1. Just enable Apache 2 at Yast -> System -> System Services
That's it. Since the php module is enabled, apache should normally handle php files correctly.

I just typed "MySql" in a terminal and got:
ERROR 2002 (HY000): Can't connect to local MySQL server through socket '/var/lib/mysql/mysql.sock' (2)

Well, well, that's right, I got that last time as well... Mmmmh, what was that again.
- The folder /var/lib/mysql/ is empty, so where is mysql.sock?
- ok, mysql.sock is created by mysql on startup. That means: mysql is not running!

Same procedure as above, enable the system service mysql in Yast. Great!

5. Getting sound

Hey, I don't have any sound. The mixer volume is open... and even the cool touchkeys for controlling and muting the volume work. Exept.... I don't hear anything...
I went to Yast-> Hardware -> Sound. Selected the soundcard and pressed Options -> set volume. Apparently, you need to open the front - surround -etc mixer channels and I get a lovely sound. Great!

6. Nvidia drivers and 3D Graphics

The standard mode is Vesa, so I want to install the proprietary Nvidia drivers and also configure the laptop screen. You can use one-click install for Yast at NVidia.

7. Hacking OpenSuse 11.0

I use this subtitle to refer to a crazily popular article about an earlier version of OpenSuse. Things have gotten a lot easier nowadays...
I understand and respect OPENSuse's policy about licensed software... and I must say, they really offer solutions to install it afterwards if you want to. On the site http://opensuse-community.org/Multimedia, there is a one click install for a few useful licensed software such as mp3, divx, java, flash etc.

8. Wireless LAN

Honestly, I didn't have a chance to test wireless right away. A few weeks after I got the laptop, I went away abroad and it turns out that, although the card is recognized, it can't detect the networks.

Here is the solution:
First, install the firmware firmware of BCM43xx, you can use the package of packman with yast installer. You just need to type:


at /lib/firmware

Next, I installed kndiswrapper and ndiswrapper. This is a kernel module that allows a Windows driver to be loaded in the kernel. The better solution would be to recompile the kernel with the drivers broadcom offers on their website, but since I am on slow internet, I can't afford to download my big kernel sources at this time.

Download the .exe driver from Dell, you can find it here: http://ftp.us.dell.com/network/R151517.EXE

Go to the directory where you want to keep the driver and:
unzip -a R151517.EXE

Now you can load the driver with kndiswrapper (graphical frontend to ndiswrapper). Right click on the driver and select properties to see if all is in order. In my case the ssb module was interfering with ndiswrapper, so kndiswrapper disabled it and blacklisted it for me. For the first time now. I see my WIFI light burning! You still need to configure you wlan0 to use DHCP and... on the configure button!

Next, configure your wireless network device via yast, and fill in "ndiswrapper" in the "kernel module" box. Let's check:

iwlist scanning
It is scanning! That's a good sign!

Now we can right-click on the KNetworkManager icon to connect over wireless. Yoehoe!

9. Ethernet

Works out of the box.

Well, I honestly was expecting a more out of the box functioning for the XPS 1530, and I am a bit disapointed. It has been a real challenge of putting stuff together. From Dell, who actually sells laptops with Ubuntu, I would have expected a bit more support. What about a cd with Linux drivers... whooow...

It's been great figuring everything out finally. I hope to have helped you.

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