Inspiron 3200 Walkthrough

From DSL Wiki

This is a guide for installing DSL 1.4 on a Dell Inspiron 3200.


Getting the CD

First you'll need to get hold of a DSL CD. See Getting DSL From the Mirrors for infomation on how to download a CD image. Once you've downloaded the correct version of DSL you'll need to burn it to some writable media. Infomation on this is available in the guide: Burning a Bootable CD. Alternatively you can buy a DSL CD.


Fkey or Shift your way into your BIOS and make sure it's set to boot from your CD drive. When you reach the DSL splash/boot screen, enter:

dsl vga=788

..otherwise youll end up with 1024x768, which scrolls off screen (not good).

The next thing you'll be presented with is, which will ask a number of questions concerning your keyboard, mouse, default time zone, etc.

Choose Xfbdev as your X Server, Xvesa does not work properly with this machine. Choose no to both USB and IMPS/2 mouse. For the touchpad, choose ps2 from the list, and two mouse buttons, obviously. Pick the US keyboard and all should be well! DSL will now boot into X....

Installing to the hard drive

Open a terminal window and type:

sudo cfdisk

to see a listing of your partitions. Determine the partition you want to install to, and then choose quit.

Choose Install to Hard Drive from the fluxbox menu and proceed through the steps. As long as you choose the correct partition, there are not many ways to mess this part up. Whether you want multi-user logins or a journalling filesystem, neither will flub the install.

X Server

Xfbdev, the X Server that 'works' on this laptop, is really slow and choppy. Scrolling is nearly impossible. Using the XF86_SVGA X Server, as suggested in this post on the DSL forums, should improve this.

The steps required to get the XF86_SVGA X Server running are summarized below. From a terminal window enter the following:

# Download the knoppix_svga.tgz file

# Extract the contents (3 files) into the current directory
tar zxvf knoppix_svga.tgz

# Copy files to the correct locations
cp XF86_SVGA /usr/bin/X11/
cp XF86Config /etc/X11/

# Set the correct permissions/ownership for the xserver
cd /usr/bin/X11/
sudo chown root XF86_SVGA
sudo chgrp root XF86_SVGA
sudo chmod +s XF86_SVGA

Now, edit your /home/dsl/.xserverrc file. Comment out the line added by (and anything else) and add:

exec /usr/bin/X11/XF86_SVGA -bpp 16 -nolisten tcp &> /dev/null

Open up /home/dsl/.xinitrc as well and put these two lines at the very beginning of file. They will make the backspace and delete keys act normal again.

xmodmap -e "keycode 22 = BackSpace"
xmodmap -e "keycode 107 = Delete"

If you install anything that modifies your .xinitrc you'll need to remember to come back and add these lines in again.


To get the soundcard working run these four golden commands from a terminal or console:

modprobe sound
modprobe ad1848 
insmod uart401
insmod cs4232 io=0x530 irq=5 dma=1 dma2=0 mpuio=0x330 mpuirq=5

..consider making a nice bash script out of them and calling it from /etc/rc*.d/

Adding more applications

At this point, you have an insanely small version of Debian/Knoppix humming along perfectly on your laptop. More than likely there are some other things you'll want to install before you're through, and you have two options: apt-get or the DSL repository. Both have pluses and minuses. apt-get will bloat your system quickly, but .dsl packages cannot be uninstalled. DSL packages are stripped and tiny and guaranteed to work, but apt-get has a wider array. The choice is yours :)

You may wish to consider installing:

  • gnu-utils.dsl - updates the slimmed down busybox stuff, like sed and ps and updatedb/locate.
  • gtk2.dsl - gtk2 libraries, which a lot of both dsl and debian packages will need.