Install Gentoo Linux on a Dell Inspiron E1705

Also known as Inspiron 9400 

Last Updated: 2006-06-11

Current Component Status:

Component Model Status
Video Card ATI Radeon Mobility x1400
(PCI Express)
Monitor 17" Ultra Sharp TrueLife Wide-Screen
WUXGA (1920 x 1200)
Processor Intel Duo Core 1.66GHz T2300 Working
CPU Frequency Intel SpeedStep Unstable
Media Card
Ricoh Co Ltd R5C822
SD/SDIO/MMC/MS/MSPro Host Adapter
Not Working
Intel Corporation PRO/Wireless
3945ABG Network
Audio Intel 82801G (ICH7 Family)
High Definition Audio Controller
Intel 82801GBM/GHM (ICH7 Family)
Serial ATA Storage Controller IDE (rev 01)
PCI Express Intel Mobile 945GM/PM/GMS/940GML and
945GT Express PCI Express Root Port
Intel Mobile 945GM/PM/GMS/940GML and
945GT Express Memory Controller Hub
DVD Drive Read – Working
Write – Working
Broadcom Corp BCM4401-BO 100Base-TX Working


Current Software Status:

Software Version Status Extra
Kernel 2.6.16-gentoo-r7 (gentoo-sources ~x86) Working .config
Xorg 6.8.2 (xorg-x11 6.8.2-r6) Working xorg.conf
DRI ATI Drivers 8.24.8 Working
ATI Drivers 8.24.8 Working
IPW3945 latest (~x86) Working
IPW3945d latest (~x86) Working
IPW3945-ucode latest (~x86) Working
Inspiron Bios A00 Working



Kernel 2.6.16-gentoo-r1 .config
Xorg 6.8.2 xorg.conf

Installation Notes:

This is the general guide that I used for installing Gentoo Linux on my Inspiron E1705 (9400).  You should follow the basic Gentoo Handbook for installation, and use the information on this page as additional information for the laptop.

2. Choosing the Right Installation Medium
The installation assumes that you are using the minimal install cd (install-x86-minimal-2006.0.iso).  With this kind of install, a network connection is required.

3. Configuring your Network
The installation cd brought my wired connection up automatically.  At this time you will need to use a wired connection because you will not be able to get your wireless connection to work at this time.

4. Preparing the Disks
The hard drives are now using SATA interfaces in the laptop (Intel 82801GBM/GHM (ICH7 Family) Serial ATA Storage Controller IDE).  The difference is that the hard drive will now show up as /dev/sda instead of /dev/hda.  With my laptop, I needed to remove the 2nd Dell partition because I was not able to repartition the hard drive with it there (Partition Magic).  If you set grub up manually, the drive is still hd0 though.  The DVD drive will show up as /dev/sr0.  There are also aliases for it under /dev/cdrom, /dev/cdrw, /dev/dvd, /dev/dvdrw.

5. Installing the Gentoo Installation Files
I used a stage 3 tarball for the i686 (stage3-i686-2006.0.tar.bz2).  For my make.conf, I used the following flags (look at the file to see the additional ones I have not listed):
CFLAGS="-02 -march=pentium-m -pipe -fomit-frame-pointer -funroll-loops"

6. Installing the Gentoo Base System
For the base system, you do not need to add anything from the ~x86 branch.  However, if you have the ati video card and the intel IPW3945 chipset, then you will need to look under those columns below for the ~x86 packages that are needed.  I have also included the portage.keywords from my system above in the files section.

7. Configuring the Kernel (2.6.16-gentoo-r1):
The latestest kernel config that I’m using is listed above in the table.  This kernel config reflects using the ATI drivers for the ATI Radeon Mobillity x1400 and the Intel 3945ABG Wireless Card.  This is pretty standard and doesn’t need any patches be applied (besides what gentoo-sources patches).  It’s best to just look through my .config above to identify what I’ve used (everybody likes to use different things here and there).  Mine is working though.

8. Configuring your System
When configuring the fstab, just remember that the hard drive is /dev/sda.  For my dvd burner, I created the directory /mnt/dvdrw and then had the dvd burner mount as /dev/dvdrw -> /mnt/dvdrw.

Video Card (ATI Radeon Mobility x1400 with Linux):
In order to get the required driver versions of the ati-drivers, you need to add the following to your package.keywords:

# echo "app-admin/eselect-opengl ~x86" >> /etc/portage/package.keywords
# echo "x11-drivers/ati-drivers ~x86" >> /etc/portage/package.keywords
# echo "x11-apps/ati-drivers-extra ~x86" >> /etc/portage/package.keywords

Then emerge the ati drivers:

# emerge ati-drivers ati-drivers-extra

Now make a backup of your xorg configuration (assuming you’ve made one already) and update the xorg.conf with aticonfig:

# cd /etc/X11/
# /opt/ati/bin/aticonfig –initial –force –input=/etc/X11/xorg.conf

Then to make sure that all users can use DRI, make sure that these lines are in the xorg.conf (I had to add it myself):

Section "dri"
     Mode 0666

Load the module and instruct the system to use the ati opengl libraries:

# modprobe fglrx
# eselect opengl set ati

Wireless (Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG):
The drivers for this card have officially been included into portage.  Since it’s pretty new, you should use the ~x86 branch at this time.  I have listed right now that you will need all of the following packages as ~x86 (this might have changed, but is how I’m currently using the drivers) for my wireless in /etc/portage/package.keywords:

net-wireless/ieee80211 ~x86
sys-apps/baselayout ~x86
app-shells/bash ~x86
net-wireless/wireless-tools ~x86
net-wireless/ipw3945 ~x86
net-wireless/ipw3945d ~x86
net-wireless/ipw3945-ucode ~x86

I do not have time right now to fully remove and redocument how I got these to work though.  It was a lot of tweaking at the beginning and then when they were added to portage.  Everything was already setup.  I do know that you should not use the kernel ieee80211 version and that if you try to emerge net-wireless/ieee80211 it will fail the first time and give you instructions on changes that need to be made before you emerge it again.  There is a forum (listed in references) that you can go to for additional information. I have now been using this configuration with no problems for a while now.


References: – Gentoo Forum on getting the ATI Mobility x1400 to work.  Dirty Hack. – The webpage of the person who did the ATI Drivers Hack – Gentoo Forum on Dell Inspiron 9400 (E1705). – Gentoo Forum on getting the ipw3945 wireless card working. – Gentoo HOWTO ATI Drivers – This webpage describes how to get the audio working correctly with linux 2.6.16-r1 and alsa


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