Installing Fedora Core 3
on the Dell Inspiron 700m notebook

This is the second Dell Inspiron 700m I've configured with RedHat Fedora Core 3. You might want to follow these notes, because I went through a few false starts (such as burning useless CD's with Sonic RecordNow) Features of this installation:

  • Dual-Boot Windows XP and Linux
  • Windows XP NTFS drive available read-only
  • Windows XP VFAT drive available read-write
  • 1280x800 built-in display
  • 1280x1024 external Dell UltraSharp 19 display

Let's get started...


Begin with stock Dell Inspiron 700m, as shipped, with Windoes XP installed on the disk.

  Optional: You can recover about 3 GB extra disk space by removing the Dell Inspiron system restore partition. It's hidden and you wouldn't normally see it. This doesn't seem to have anything useful to Linux-heads, since it's mainly intended for PC dummies who might accidently delete system files. First, create the "system restore CD" by running the Dell system restore image burner.

Install PartitionMagic, then run it. Assuming a disk size of 80 GB, dial the largest space down to leave 20 GB for Linux. At this time, delete the Dell Inspiron system restore partition to free up another 3 GB.

Reboot, allow PM to do its thing at the PROM level. This is where the drive re-sizing will happen. I kept the WinXP space formatted as NTFS, even though Linux can't really write to it. Later I will make a dedicated (smaller) R/W partition for Linux and WinXP to share stuff, using FAT32 formatting.


Boot the Inspiron into WinXP and completely remove Sonic RecordNow CD burning software. It is a pile of junk. It made 4 useless CD's (call them "hot drink coasters") by pretending to support ISO burning. It doesn't work. Delete it.

Completely remove McAffee anti-virus. It is constantly in the way - For me, it opened its warning dialogs one-after-the-next-after-the-next, in an endless stream, and there was no way to disable it. I just deleted the whole thing.

4 While in Windows XP, download the Fedora 3 ISO images, using Internet Exploiter. You will get 4 separate ".iso" files.

Download and install "cdburn.exe" from Microsoft's web site. This is how we make CD's.

Burn the installation CD's with cdburn.exe by running this command in DOS window: 'cdburn.exe d: <TheIsoFileName>.iso'


Reboot the 700m, this time with the first Fedora install CD in the drive. If it doesn't boot from the drive, you may need to hit F2 after power-up to run PROM setup and alter the boot device order (put the CD drive first).

Install Fedora Core 3 from the CD's, as prompted. In the dialogs related to drive partitioning, just allow the setup program to use up whatever space it wants. You don't have to manually tell it where to install - It will preserve the space for XP.

7 After the install, boot into Linux.

Set the display resolution to maximum 1280 x 800 by doing this: Edit the file /etc/X11/xorg.conf. You will need to add these lines in the file:

Modes "1280x800" "1024x768" "800x600" "640x480" 

Also, add this mode line (all one line):

ModeLine "1280x800" 98.9 1280 1352 1488 1696 800 801 
                 804 833 -hsync +vsync 

You will also need a patch for the Intel graphics controller, from here:

Download the "855 resolution" patch. Run this as root user (su): '855resolution 38 1280 800'

To make this patch work with every power-on, edit /etc/rc.local:

# Note: Using 3c allows 1024x768 as optional mode
if [ `runlevel | cut -f2 -d' '` -eq 3 ]; then 
/whatever/path/855resolution 3c 1280 800 
if [ `runlevel | cut -f2 -d' '` -eq 5 ]; then 
/whatever/path/855resolution 3c 1280 800 

To read the NTFS XP drive, we'll use Linux-ntfs. On my Fedora 3 install, this is 2.6.9-1.667. This makes a read-only device, which is just as well anyway, since the XP drive has gobs of windows-only stuff like DVD ripping space. Edit the file /etc/fstab to have this space mounted automatically:

/dev/hda2  /winXP  ntfs  ro,umask=0222  0 0

I made a small partition dedicated to sharing data between Linux and XP, by using the 3 GB space freed after removing the Dell Inspiron system restore CD space (optional, above). This is mounted at boot time if you have this line in the file /etc/fstab:

/dev/hda7  /winExchange  vfat  rw,user,noauto  0 0

Starting in Fedora 3, you need to do some special things to use the 700m as a remote X terminal. This is only for cases where you're ssh'ing into another machine and want to display that machine's programs on your Inspiron...

Change the file /etc/X11/gdm/gdm.conf, uncomment and switch "DisallowTCP=false". That will allow incoming TCP traffic access to the X server.

Further, you will need to ssh with the -Y option when logging in remotely, like this: 'ssh -Y -X <RemoteHostName> -l <LoginName>'


You have to make some tweaks for audio CD's to play as non-root user. First, change permission on the device like this: 'chmod ugo+r /dev/hdc'

Next, change this line in the file /etc/security/console.perms:

<console> 0660 <sound> 0600

Then add yourself to a new group called "audio", using the Users and Groups dialog in the popup system settings menu.

  There's also a page on fixing the Inspiron 700m noisy microphone input...