Linux on Dell Inspiron 2100


Linux Version:

RedHat 7.1 install from CD.

The 2100 boots nicely off of the external CD and the RedHat installer understands the screen, mouse and keyboard, so starting up was easy.


This turned out to be the most difficult part of the process. The machine arrived with 1 large FAT32 partition for Windows ME taking up most of the hard drive. There was also a small unallocated portion of the drive (35 cyl) before the Windows partition.

As I suspected that this unallocated space was used for the BIOS suspend function I did not want to eliminate it and I certainly had space to spare. However, PartitionMagic 6.0 would not create new partitions without reclaiming this space. I used PartitionMagic only to re-size the Windows partition down to 7G, which it did without difficulty.

I booted from the RedHat CD and selected Custom Installation. I then used fdisk (from the RedHat install) to create Linux /boot, swap, / (root), and /home partitions. I created a separate partition for /home so I could potentially re-install without losing data. I considered a separate partition for /usr/local as well, but ultimately decided against. In retrospect, I probably should have split the Windows partition for the same reason, but didn't. After writing the new partition table with fdisk, I went back and used Disk Druid (also from the install CD) to assign mount points to the Linux partitions. The final disk setup was as follows:

   Device Boot    Start       End    Blocks   Id  System
/dev/hda1   *        35       926   7164990    b  Win95 FAT32
/dev/hda2   *       927       929     24097+  83  Linux
/dev/hda3           930       995    530145   82  Linux swap
/dev/hda4           996      2432  11542702+   f  Win95 Ext'd (LBA)
/dev/hda5           996      1505   4096543+  83  Linux
/dev/hda6          1506      2432   7446096   83  Linux


The rest of the installation was uneventful. I kept the defaults on all hardware menus expect mouse, where I selected the ALPS GlidePoint as suggested in some of the Inspiron 4000 accounts. As I was performing a Custom install, it presented a menu of packages to install. I selected all non-server packages (which when installed consumed a total of 2.3G). The actual package installation went off without a hitch.

The system installed and booted perfectly: X windows and audio worked without further configuration.


LILO was setup for Linux and DOS boot and both work as expected. I added the line: append="mem=256m" to the Linux section of lilo.conf and re-installed LILO. This may be superstition, but earlier versions of RH only recognized 64M by default.


I also disabled the daily updatedb cron job, which seemed to start up, exercise the disk, and run down the battery at inopportune times.

I tend to get about 2.5 hours of development type work from the 34wh battery, which is acceptable.

The fn-suspend function works very nicely for both Linux and Windows and saves many reboots (which are fast enough but tend to drain battery).

All and all, I am very pleased with this machine and with RH7.1.

Disclaimer: This is intended as a narrative of my experience loading Linux on an Inspiron 2100 laptop. It is not intended as advice or recommendations. Your results may vary.