Mandrake Linux 9.0, 9.2, & 10.1 on my Dell Inspiron 8200

Other page: Kubuntu on a Sony Vaio [Link]

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February 16, 2008

Maybe it's Time to Upgrade

I had been using GNOME since pretty much the beginning on this thing but, for some reason, GNOME stopped loading. I typed 'startx' at the prompt and got the GNOME splash screen but it just stopped there. I even tried the Windows method of rebooting and no change. So I just switched to KDE for now. I really didn't feel like removing GNOME and deleting all the hidden gnome and gtk files to see if that would work. It's about time to ditch 9.2 on this and go with something newer. I may try Kubuntu or maybe just go with ol' reliable Slackware.

July 19, 2007

Sony Vaio

I will be installing some flavor of Linux on Sony Vaio Pentium 4/Centrino as soon as I get a new hard drive for it. Right now I am favoring Slackware. I may try Kubuntu though. I haven't had any luck with Ubuntu on Pentium II or Pentium III desktops. They either hang on the install or do silly things like telling me there's not CD drive. Of course, those same systems took Slackware 10 and 12 without a problem. I should be working on the Vaio by the end of summer. As the for Dell, it's still running Mandrake 9.2.

January 12, 2006

Thunderbird 1.5

Thunderbird 1.5 was released today. I downloaded the *.tar.gz file and installed it. It wrote over the current directory and kept all the messages and addresses, no problem.

May 5, 2005


Since the stock install of 9.2 comes with OpenOffice 1.1.0, I decided to update it. First, I removed it. Then I did an "urpmi openoffice" and tried to select 1.1.3. But, when I did, I got an error about chkfontpath-something not being installed. I didn't have the patience to mess with it becuase I was also getting errors about libstdc++ too. So, I simply downloaded 1.1.4 from itself and ran the setup. It works fine.

April 14, 2005

Back to 9.2

I gave up on 10.1 Community and switched back to 9.2. One thing to note is that installing Flash on Firefox 1.0.2 is easy as can be. Just go to a page with flash, you'll get a prompt to install the missing plugin and gives you the end-user agreement and then you install it.

April 10, 2005

A Few Problems

A few weeks ago I decided to add or update a package or two using urpmi <pkg name> as usual from the command-line. I got a nasty message. The main parts of this message said:

Can't locate in @INC ... usr/lib/perl5/vendor_perl/5.8.5/ ... compilation aborted at usr/sbin/urpmi line 22

I looked at it and thought maybe I should edit this file and match the case. When I went to open vi I got this:

error while loading shared libraries: cannot open shared object file: no such file or directory.

In fact, I get that same message when I try to open any file with vi.

I thought maybe I can clean this up by removing a few packages then adding them again. Urpmi from command-line wasn't working so I tried rpmdrake from the menu. Nothing. In fact, none of the “drake” tools do anything – harddrake2, menudrake, any I tried. I tried booting to the CD and trying an upgrade and repair – no change. I'm considering reinstalling 10.1 Community or maybe going with 10.1 Official. Heck, I might even go back to 9.2 and urpmi everything I need.

On the positive side, the “lines of nines” problem seems to be fixed. I haven't seen that screen for a while.

January 8, 2005

Java and Flash for Firefox

Java and Flash are a little trickier than they are on Arch Linux. In Arch, just do pacman -S and, wa-la, it's installed. For Flash under Mandrake, I just downloaded the plugin from Macromedia's website and installed it. That was it. For Java, I downloaded JRE 1.5 from Sun's website. Once I installed it, I did a cd to the Firefox plugins directory.

Then, for the symlink, I typed: ln -s /usr/java/jre1.5.0_1/plugin/i386/ns7/ (your path may vary)
Java applets and the Flash-plugin work fine.

RealPlayer 10

Tip: don't download RealPlayer 10 for Linux. Search the web for RealPlayer 8 and use that instead. With 10, I got no video. With 8 I did and I didn't have to tweak anything. Tweaking is what I do on my desktop PC - that' s why I play with Arch Linux. I need out-of-the download performance on my laptop as I use it for work.

January 7, 2005

Reinstall the Bootloader - Lines of Nines Problem

Another suggestion I found was to boot to the Mandrake CD, hit F1, then type 'linux rescue' at the prompt. I did that and then selected the option to reinstall the bootloader. After I did that I exited and rebooted. So far so good. I didn't try fdisk /mbr on the Windows side yet. Update: It didn't fix the problem. The second or third startup gave me the screen of nines again.

January 5, 2005

Lines of Nines

I booted the system and got a black screen with four or five rows of nines; no LILO menu or anything. I booted to the floppy I made, got the LILO menu, and then booted to my kernel of choice. Then I ran lilo -v and then I was able to boot normally again. However, it happened again after a few reboots. Searching around tells me it's LILO problem and that doing lilo -v would fix it but it hasn't. I have seen that doing a fdisk /mbr under Windows might fix it but I haven't tried that yet. ALWAYS MAKE A BOOT FLOPPY!

December 28, 2004

Mandrake 10.1 Community

I had downloaded Mandrake 10.1 Community a few months ago with intent on using it on my desktop PC. However, I had some problems (display/video card and NIC, mostly) and eventually switched my desktop PC to Arch Linux. Anyway, time had come to ditch Mandrake 9.2 on my laptop so I installed Community 10.1. Early in the install process I was prompted for a driver floppy. I was able to bypass that and do an install. However, the default 2.6.8 Kernel did not like my wireless card, I even urpmi'd the Prism2-utils package. As a quick fix I urpmi'd Kernel 2.4.28 and it works.

October 14, 2004

SanDisk Cruzer Mini

I bought a USB flash drive - a 256 MB SanDisk Cruzer Mini. I ran the config tool and mounted it under mnt/flash. When mounted, it shows this: /dev/scsi/host1/bus0/target0/lun0/part1 on /mnt/flash type vfat (rw). I formatted it FAT32. I copied a directory into it, unmounted it, then plugged it into Windows and it worked. I then erased the folder I originally put on there and tried it again Windows. Empty. Then, I added some files from the Windows side, mounted it under Linux, at the files were there.

July 28, 2004

Prism2 and the 2.6 Kernel

I finally got my wireless working (Orinoco Gold which is identified as an Intersil Prism2) under the 2.6 Kernel. I found a file on Cooker called prism2-utils and urpmi'd it. I rebooted to the 2.6 Kernel and configured the wireless and it worked.

June 24, 2004

Firefox 0.9

I visited the Mozilla website and downloaded Firefox 0.9 today. Real easy to do. It's a little nicer and more polished that 0.8.

May 9, 2004

Kernel 2.4.26

I downloaded the 2.4.26 Kernel from I simply followed the instructions in the README and the build and compile process went smoothly with no major problems. I tried Kernels 2.6.3 and 2.6.6.rc2 about two weeks ago. The build and compile went fine but I was unable to get my wireless card working. I thought I had everything covered in the wireless networking support section. I must have missed something related to pcmcia or something. My wireless card doesn't work with the pre-compiled RPM's from Mandrake for the 2.6.x Kernel either.

May 2, 2004

Gnome 2.6

Once again, I used urpmi to install Gnome 2.6. I had a few problems so I ended up removing Gnome 2.4 and then set urpmi to get the RPMs from Cooker. Urpmi gnome installed 39 packages but it still wouldn't start Gnome. I needed to urpmi GTK+2.0 package and its dependencies in order to get Gnome going. It was more challenging than KDE 3.2.2, for sure. After the first attempt to install Gnome 2.6 I gave up and tried Garnome. That didn't work so I tried Gnome 2.6 again through the Cooker RPMS and after finally figuring what packages were needed I got it going.

Warning: compiled against libxml 206 using older 205

When installing the packages for KDE and Gnome I frequently came across that message. I'm not quite sure what this refers to. I did an 'urpmi libxml' and it installed something but that warning still appeared on some package installs. Everything seems to run ok, though. There is a package named libxml2 that I just installed; maybe that's what the message is referring to.

April 28, 2004

KDE 3.2.2

I used urpmi to update KDE to version 3.2.2; urpmi --update --allow-force kdebase. I had to do a forced install because of some errors but it installed ok and seems to work fine. To set urpmi to get the Cooker RPMS do this:

urpmi.addmedia --update updates with ../base/

A good site to help you with urpmi is

April 27, 2004

LILO - Timestamp Mismatch

I turned on my laptop this morning and, whoa, got that message and that's were it stuck. However, I had a boot disk so I booted to that. It booted into XP (for those unfamiliar with a dual boot system you need to boot to Windows from the LILO menu so if you can't get that far you can't boot to anything) for some reason but that enabled me to research that error. What I did was go into the BIOS and move the clock ahead five hours (to GMT time). I then ran /sbin/lilo again, rebooted, and got the regular LILO screen again. Picked my kernel of choice and then reset the clock. Did another reboot and that seemed to work.

Boot Disk for Mandrake 9.2

For Mandrake 9.2 there is a problem with making a boot disk. One suggestion from Mandrake is to do this, from command line, of course, and make sure you have a blank floppy in the drive: lilo -v -b /dev/fd0. It works because I was able to boot up and it got me out of a jam this morning for sure.

February 25, 2004

Kernel 2.4.25

I checked in with my favorite FTP mirror and downloaded a recent version of the 2.4 Kernel; namely 2.4.25-1.tmb.2mdk in rpm form. Installed the rpm, did a sbin/lilo and rebooted to this kernel ok. So far, everything works fine. I know that the rpm way is the easy way. I tried to build and compile Kernel 2.4.24 last weekend but a got I few errors and didn't write them down in order to research them. "make mrproper" and "make config" both appeared to work ok but I got errors during the "make dep" phase so I'm guessing I made a mistake during the "make config" step. Kernel 2.6.x is next up on the "to do" list and I'll be taking note of the error messages.

February 11, 2004

By the Way...

Other than the ACPI/APM problem, Mandrake 9.2 worked fine from the stock install. PLUS, MPlayer plays DVD's; something I couldn't do from a stock install of Mandrake 9.0. Since the install worked so well from the start the next task will be to try Kernel 2.4.24 or maybe even 2.6.2.

February 10, 2004

Mandrake 9.2

I did install Fedora but, it seemed to run a little slow but I was going to stick with it until I opened XMMS and tried to catch the latest episode of The Linux Link Tech Show and got a warning about MP3 support or something not being included with Fedora because of legal or copyright issues. Is there a secret contract between the RIAA and Fedora? Who knows. That got me mad so I promptly, and I do mean promptly, wiped out Fedora and installed Mandrake 9.2. I saw in a newsgroup that if you uninstall the XMMS that comes with Fedora and download the latest from that that solves the problem. I didn't try it, though.

The Mandrake 9.2 install went well and the only problem I had was that the laptop: 1) would not shut down 2) froze when I used any Fn + Fx key and 3) froze when the power cord was either removed or inserted. This a known problem and Mandrake had a solution posted on their web site. Basically, if using LILO, use this combination: acpi=ht nolapic. See the errata for more information. The fix suggested by Mandrake worked for my laptop.

February 3, 2004

Fedora Core 1

I took the plunge and decided to retire Mandrake 9.0 from the machine and give Fedora a run. I have used Fedora before on my desktop but I am currently using Mandrake 9.2 on that machine. I had already backed up some important files, address books, and bookmarks.

What about the Existing Partitions?

Since Partition Magic divided up the disk for me I simply booted to the CD and had Fedora's Disk Druid automatically partition the drive by selecting "remove all Linux partitions." Windows XP still resides in its little, seldom-used world.

January 22, 2004

Fedora Core 1            Fedora

I'm thinking about installing Fedora Core 1 on this laptop and wiping out Mandrake 9.0. I'll post my notes here if I do. That's something to try after LinuxWorld. I am currently using Mandrake 9.2 on my desktop and it works great so I figure I'll try Fedora on this laptop because I like the variety.

November 9, 2003

Mozilla Upgrade

I've been having problems with Mozilla closing when I click on certain things like sending mail or editing preferences; I just click something like an "ok" or "send" box and Mozilla closes. Mandrake 9.0 comes with Mozilla 1.1. I uninstalled Mozilla 1.1 and downloaded Mozilla 1.3. Problem solved. Additionally, I was finally able to get Java working in Mozilla. I used Netscape's Plug-in finder and clicked on the "Java 2 Plug-in for Linux" and it downloaded. I am now able to view Java applets in pages. However, this did not work on my desktop (Mozilla 1.4/Mandrake 9.2). For the desktop, I followed the instructions on Mozilla's web site and referenced a few posts on Google groups to find the right way to download the plug-in from Sun and then make a symlink.

May 24, 2003


Even though I have a broadband connection, I decided to try to get the modem to work just in case I need it when travelling. In the hardware profile the modem is listed as a PCTel 2304 V.92 MDC blah blah blah. Anyway, the important thing is that it's using the Conexant chipset. I stumbled upon this site:

They have drivers for the Conexant chipsets. It couldn't have been any easier. I downloaded the driver, used the rpm -i to install it. After the install the it said the modem was listed at dev/ttySHSF0; which is the same as dev/modem. I pointed the kppp dialer to dev/modem and, bingo, I connected to my ISP.

March 27, 2003


Yes! I managed to get the wireless working! I chose to go with 802.11b. I bought a Linksys WAP11 and an Orinoco Gold card. I selected this card specifically because of its Linux support. It appears that the Orinoco drivers came with this distro. Additionally, Orinoco's website mentions that this card is supported in kernels 2.2 and above. I did so much tweaking I can't remember everything I changed. Some files I looked at frequently were etc/pcmcia/wireless.opts,etc/pcmcia/network.opts. As root I did a lot of netconf and drakconnect. However, the main point is that I didn't have to download and install any drivers. One thing I did add, though, was a file named hermes.conf which I put into the /etc/pcmcia directory. That file can be found here:

A heavily consulted resource I used was this excellent website:

March 8, 2003


I Hooked up the printer today. We have an HP 895c hooked up to the desktop computer. So, I bought a 10' USB cable and plugged it in. I typed in printerdrake as root and, bingo, it detected the printer. It printed a test page and all was well. However, it seems like we need to reset the printer if we want to print from the other machine. I guess the printer sets itself to wait for a command from the most recent machine that sent it a command. Oh well, it's no big deal; we can print from both computers.

January 25-27, 2003


Hardware: Dell Inspiron 8200, 1.6 GHz Intel P4 processor, 256 MB RAM, 30 GB hard drive, DVD-CDRW combo drive, 10/100 3Com 3C905C-TX NIC, NVidia GeoForce2 32 MB graphics card, 15.1" SGVA+ display, pre-loaded with Windows XP Professional.

The Call: I decided to install Linux onto my laptop. Being that Windows is so prevalent I decided to keep XP. So, what I needed to do was partition my hard drive and make the Inspiron a dual boot machine. So, after doing some research, I decided to go with Mandrake 9.0 and partition the drive using Powerquest's Partition Magic 8.0. I ordered the appropriate disks and within a few days I was ready to go.


First, I needed to partition the drive. In order to do this properly, instructions for Partition Magic suggested that after I install it (just putting the program in the XP side) I do a scan disk and then defragment the drive. I did so: time elapsed - over an hour.

Next, the instructions suggested that I back up all my data from XP. Well, when I followed the "back up my data" thing on XP and began it the prompt said it would take about a day; and, I only have 7.3 GB on the XP side. So, I said the heck with that and just backed up some key programs, installers, and folders onto CD - about 1.5 GB of stuff.


Yes, I was. Now I began the actual utility part of Partition Magic. Remember, the first time was just to install the program and not actually do anything with partitioning the hard drive. PM8 guided me along nicely to the partition part. It even made all the suggestions as far as mounting and suggested disk space for me so all I did was ok them. It recommended 9.2 GB for Linux and 18.7 for Windows. When PM finished its thing it advised me to install the Linux immediately so I proceeded to do just that.

Mandrake 9.0

Inserted CD1 and, away we go! As advertised, installation was a breeze. Little input was required. I had to select a password for root, add the users, select the type of internet connection, set the display, and select to a few other options I wanted. All in all, the install was smooth and simple. After about 15 minutes or so, presto, I was running Linux!

To start X I typed startx and selected KDE as my desktop. I switched to Gnome a few weeks later and have used Gnome almost exclusively since.


Upon getting to the desktop, I saw that I had no mouse pointer. The mouse was there because when I clicked the buttons I got the menus. So I some research and found the culprit. In the XF86Config-4 (I'm using XFree86 4.2.1) file the cursor selection under device options read DPMS or something like that. I changed that to sw_cursor and now I could see the pointer. Another problem I have is displaying Java applets in Mozilla and Galeon. Java works fine, though, in Konquerer - all you need to do is type the path in the settings. Nonetheless, I use Mozilla. Actiontech 56K modem; installed at /dev/ttys1 but I can't get it to work. It's rare that I dial up but I would still like it to work and be able to use as a backup. Update: It works! See May 24.


Everything is running well. Mandrake seems to run faster than XP and I love having the control over my laptop that Linux gives me. I rarely use XP now.

Preferred/Commonly used Applications:
(Not all are standard issue with Mandrake 9.0; non-included items are marked with an *)
- Gnome desktop
- Mozilla for browsing and email Firefox and Thunderbird
- Gaim for IM but AOL's* Linux version works fine
- OpenOffice for word processing
- XMMS for streaming audio
- X-CD-Roast for burning CD's
- Xpdf for pdf
- Quantra HTML editor Bluefish
- Sun One Studio 4* for Java/JSP development; with J2SDK 1.4.1*
- DVD - MPlayer or Totem

Check back for updates. If you can offer any help for the problems I mentioned I'd be appreciative if you contact me. Likewise, if you would like to ask me a question I'd be glad to offer assistance.

brian -at- brianwsnyder -dot- com                          tux

Last updated February 16, 2008

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