Any Linux that "Just Works" for a Dell Inspiron E1405?
December 4, 2006 8:34 AM   Subscribe

Is there a KDE based Linux Distro out there that will "Just Work" with my Intel 945 graphics card on my Dell Inspiron E1405? Or is there an EASY way to get, say, Kubuntu working with it? I can figure out everything else if I can JUST GET GRAPHICAL.

I bought this stupid Dell Inspiron E1405, thinking Dells had GREAT hardware support in Linux (that's what I had always heard, anyway). At any rate, long story short, I didn't even think to check Linux on Laptops till AFTER I'd bought the darn thing. I've tried the Ubuntu forums, and found a post on installing the 945resolution thingie, but I can't seem to access the net to do that from console. So I d/l'd it in windows, and went through a rugamarol with dpkg, and installed it. It worked, sorta, for a few days (boot into console, run it, then startx, but no KDM), but I'm linux stupid. I NEED a more "out of the box" solution. I can fiddle with sound, with wifi, bluetooth, whatever. But I need X. I've tried Kubuntu (that's the one that sorta worked for a little while), I've tried SLED 10, I've tried FC6, nothing (GRUB gave me problems with both of them). I'm willing to learn Gentoo, but I just don't know where to start. I found a writeup in the Gentoo Wiki ( but for one thing it's 64 bit (which might cause problems if I can't find 64 bit software, right?) but mostly it requires the ASCI video be disabled in order to shut the laptop lid! Oh, and I also don't understand what the writeup means. That's the biggest roadblock. I have NO idea what all the configurations do. So, any help? PLEASE? I HATE WINDOWS!!!

Thanks in advance, I appreciate any guru's putting up with my noobery.
posted by TrueVox to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My recommendation is to try several from the wealth of LiveCDs, which allow you to boot the laptop from CD without installing anything, see which works best, and then install it. I've tried Slax, Knoppix, and Ubuntu. Knoppix is renowned for hardware support, but Ubuntu did better on mine. YMMV. In my case, I liked Ubuntu so much that I went ahead an overwrote my installed Fedora system. WOW, was that a good choice.

I use Gentoo on my desktop, and I'm reasonably satisfied with it. It's quite possible you could get everything working with Gentoo on this laptop, but it's not a noob's distro. I think you're better off starting with the LiveCD options and avoiding a ton of frustration.
posted by mcstayinskool at 8:43 AM on December 4, 2006

Response by poster: Yeah... I'll give Knoppix a shot. Sadly, Ubuntu didn't work either (I didn't put a lot of effort into it, thinking it was similar to Kubuntu, and I'd rather have KDE then Gnome). Knoppix is a good idea though... I'm just trying to avoid the download shuffle, if possible.

Thanks, McStayinSkool!
posted by TrueVox at 8:51 AM on December 4, 2006

FYI, most of those liveCDs are available via bittorrent (gasp! legal bittorents! no WAY!), and they download very quickly as a result.
posted by mcstayinskool at 9:35 AM on December 4, 2006

I'm not sure I understand. You had kubuntu up and running, but it wouldn't start KDM by default so you had to startx. That's just a KDM configuration problem. If you don't want to use the command line to fix it, you can just uninstall and reinstall it using apt:

apt-get remove --purge kdm
apt-get install kdm

And it will configure it all for you when it installs.
posted by chrisroberts at 10:11 AM on December 4, 2006

Response by poster: Really? KDM will figure out that it needs to make sure that 945resolution start is run before it starts up?

As for the BT, it's still slow enough to make it a few hours time for a few ISO's, also I only have a bit of space on the Windows partition I'm currently using. And it's FAT32 (which I think means no files over 2 gigs, right?) so d/ling a DVD ISO requires a workaround (which I can handle, but it's a pain).

And for some unknown reason, the whole startx thing just up and stopped working for me. I don't know why. It was somthing like:

sudo /etc/*somthing*/945resolution start

and that brought me right into KDE. So that's just a KDM config thing? If so, that's freakin' great!
posted by TrueVox at 10:34 AM on December 4, 2006

Best answer: Okay, I didn't see that you had to run a command before you started X. I haven't had any experience with a laptop like this, but someone else has and posted a guide to getting everything configured so startups work as expected.
posted by chrisroberts at 10:50 AM on December 4, 2006

If you are still looking for an easy graphical Linux, (they are not mutually exclusive), I would suggest you have a very hard look at

They fully supported my Emachines laptop, and I could even run some windows apps. on it. Cost would be about 65 bux US or so, but worth every penny. The install procedure just goes.

Also, do a web search for the Linux Bible. It is a great repository of the faq's, and introduction to the OS.

Good luck!
posted by fox_terrier_guy at 12:44 PM on December 4, 2006

I had a dell with the exact same video card you have. It would boot into Knoppix (the live CD) with no problems.
posted by damn dirty ape at 2:10 PM on December 4, 2006

Best answer: Figured it out. It's a (seemingly) new Distro called Sabayon Linux. Detected everything I needed it to just fine. Now I just have to screw with the wireless, but that shouldn't be such a problem.

Thanks for your input, everyone!
posted by TrueVox at 7:52 PM on December 5, 2006

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