Install Gentoo Linux on a Dell Inspiron 6000

Last Update: 2006-11-30 

This is the general guide that I used for install Gentoo Linux on my Inspiron 6000.  At the present time, this guide is pretty outdated and some things have probably changed.  I no longer have an Inspiron 6000 (for about a year now), so I haven’t had to go through anything new anymore.  At this point in time, I believe installation on it is easier and you probably don’t need to have any more experimental packages installed or need to patch kernel sources.

I’ve followed the basic Gentoo Handbook for installation. Here is some additional information and thoughts about it though.

Since there are many different versions available for Inspiron 6000, it is really hard to create a complete guide to get everything working with all different types of configurations.  For the most part, this should work fine for most with a few differences such as video card, monitor, and wireless card.  This is the configuration of my laptop (which this guide is used to install on this hardware):

  • Inspiron Bios Version: A08
  • Wireless Card: Intel Corporation PRO/Wireless 2915 A/B/G
  • Video Card: Intel Corporation Mobile 915GM Express Graphics Controller
  • Monitor: 15.4 inch UltraSharp WSXGA+ LCD

For the most part, I followed the handbook very closely.   I have noted parts where I deviated from the guide below:

4. Preparing the Disks
The hard drives are now using SATA interfaces in the laptop.  The biggest notible difference is that the hard drive device is now at /dev/sda instead of what most people are used to as /dev/hda.  The cdrom is at /dev/hdc (or /dev/cdrom or /dev/cdroms/cdrom0).  The location of the cdrom will change locations after we reboot the system (stop running the livecd) and will become /dev/sdc.

5. Installing the Gentoo Installation Files
I used a stage 3 tarball for a pentium 3.  The pentium-m is derived from the pentium 3 and is closer to that chipset than it is to the Pentium 4.  After a couple weeks, it really will not make much of a difference as software is updated and compiled specifically for the pentium-m.  You could use a stage 1 or stage 2, but I would recommend doing the changes I made in the next section (Section 6) before you start compiling the system.

6. Installing the Gentoo Base System
Right after entering the new environment (chrooting to /mnt/gentoo), I added the following lines to /etc/portage/package.keywords so that I would be using the gcc-3.4 branch which has better support for pentium-m.  At the time I wrote this, the gcc-3.4 branch was still masked, but if it becomes the default branch in the future, these do not need to be added anymore.
sys-devel/gcc ~x86
sys-libs/libstdc++-v3 ~x86
sys-libs/glibc ~x86
sys-devel/gcc-config ~x86

Here is my make.conf file that I use on my system.

7. Configuring the Kernel
I use the gentoo-sources ebuild as my kernel.  If you want to use some other kind of kernel, you need to make sure that the version you use is at least 2.6.11, as it is when support was added for the 915 GM chipset and PCI Express.

Here is my kernel .config (linux-2.6.12-gentoo-r10).  I’m planning on documenting additional options that I am using in the future, but for now just look at how mine is set up to get the general idea.

I also change the source code of the linux code before I compiled it so that my cdrom uses the SATA drivers.  This is needed if you plan to basically use the cdrom because without it you will not be able to use DMA with the drive.  In /usr/src/linux/include/linux/libata.h change:
#undef ATA_ENABLE_ATAPI /* define to enable ATAPI support */
#define ATA_ENABLE_ATAPI /* define to enable ATAPI support */

8. Configuring your System
When configuring the fstab, just remember that the hard drive is /dev/sda and not /dev/hda.


Using the Gentoo Handbook and the additional instructions, you should be able to get your Inspiron 6000 to reboot and start running linux off your laptop without a boot cd.  I have added the additional information for getting the different parts of your laptop running as seperate pages below.

If you find any changes that need to be made or things that should be added, feel free to send me an email at "james at whitt dot name".  I’m planning on setting this page up so that users can add comments in the near future, so when I have that set up you can also use that to add additional information.

lspci Output for the Inspiron 6000 

My make.conf file 

My kernel configuration (.config)

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