Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Laptop Upgrade!

I just made the switch to a new laptop in the last week... pretty easy process. I went with a Dell Latitude E6400 since I've had such good luck with Latitudes.

2.80 Ghz Core2Duo
4 GB ram
Nvidia Quadro NVS 160M

It came with Windows 7, which I didn't even boot into... Didn't take long to have Fedora 12 installed and configured. I think it took longer to do all the updates then the actual install =) It's been a while since a did a Fedora install from scratch, but everything in the installer, partition choices, etc all worked well. I backup my home directory from the old laptop using rsync to an external drive (works great!), but I didn't want to bring all old settings over. So I brought over all the directories then went through the dotted files/directories to figure out which ones I wanted and pulled them over as needed. I was relieved to see bringing over Nautilus bookmarks was as easy as copying over a couple dotted files! When connecting to the remote directories for the first time on the new laptop, it re-prompts for password, but that's not a huge deal.

Here's the list of customizations/installations:
- Installed Nvidia driver 190.53 (nouveau works pretty well, but 3D support isn't quite good enough yet) using kmod package. I got in the habit of installing the drivers my self using Nvidia's installer but I figured I would give the kmod packages a try again. I saw 195.x is marked as stable now, but haven't seen the update for that... Update: Installed the kmod for Nvidia 195.36.15 and haven't had any hibernate/suspend problems since then
- Trying out Adobe Flash 10.1 beta 3... works well with all the videos I have tried, but there have been one or two flash sites it didn't like.
- Compiz/Emerald with settings/themes tweaked to my liking
- gnome-do - If you use gnome and aren't using this, you are missing out!
- Added boot param to get plymouth to work correctly and switched plymouth theme to solar. Is it just me or have there not been any plymouth themes that are nearly as impressive as solar?
- Removed default open window gnome panel and installed awn. I think gnome-do made some changes to docky so I will have to try that again too to see if it's better than awn.

- Wireless, webcam, mousepad all worked great
- Video/Audio call in empathy not quite working. Video worked, audio didn't but I haven't played with it much yet.
- Suspend/hibernate - I've tried them once or twice.. It has acted a little flaky resuming sometimes... not sure if that's nvidia, compiz, or what, but it does end up working. Nvidia driver 195.36.15 seems to fix these issues
- I messed up something with Eclipse - was lazy and just pulled over the workspace and eclipse install dirs, but the CVS integration is only partly there. Local changes aren't getting marked in the project explorer as being changed, even though I can do updates, commits, etc.

- Get the WinXP vm off the old laptop. Vmware server has gotten to be a pain, and kvm seems to have progressed enough for me to make the switch. I wish I could get rid of the vm all together, but I have to be able to use ActiveSync for updating one of our Mobile Apps on WM2003 devices. When I tried converting the vmdk to qemu a month or two ago I got no where. I will give that one more try before just doing a new XP install on kvm.

Has anyone else done a Fedora install on any of the new Latitude E series?


  1. Hey
    Did you try to install kmod-nvidia on your e6400? I tried on mine and it doesn't work at all.
    I can't get the 3d....
    How did you install the nvidia driver?

  2. Yea, that's what I have installed... well sort of. Since I'm running the PAE kernel, I installed the package kmod-nvidia-PAE from rpm fusion. This is just a meta package, but it should install the correct specific module, kmod-nvidia- in my case. Make sure you install the correct meta package for your kernel and it will download the correct package whenever a new kernel gets installed... Assuming the updated kmod is available =) You could also check out the akmod approach, which will compile the module for whatever kernel version you have - it's been a while since I played with that though.

  3. Thanks for posting your experiences. I am setting up the same laptop with Fedora 13 + 4GB RAM and would like to know is there is any tangible benefit in using the PAE kernel?

    Also, nVidia has released 256.35 allegedly stable driver blob, would you like to test drive that and see how it affects system stability and Displayport functionality?

    Cheers. Stoklait_Charfish

  4. Around 4GB of RAM is when the non-PAE 32 bit kernel loses it's ability to address all the memory. At 4, I suppose you could go either way, but there's no reason to not run the PAE. You might as well run it and know you can actually use all the memory.

    I hadn't seen that they released 256.35... I actually switched to Nouveau when Fedora 13 came out since they made quite a few improvements. Frame rate isn't nearly as high, but I'm able to have as many windows open with all my compiz/emerald goodness so I'm happy. My biggest issue right now is DisplayPort support... nouveau just added it in F13, but the time or two I tried it I haven't gotten it to work.

  5. Thanks Josh, I have gone with x64 kernel meantime. Yeah, I know DP did not work for me with Nouveau, and with nVidia 195 driver resolution is 640x480 max. I will guinea-pig 235 and let you know tomorrow.

    Cheers, Stocklait_Charfish

  6. I tried DP with the nvidia driver on F12 with this laptop, I think it was the 195.x version, hooked to a Samsung 50" tv through DP -> hdmi cable and it worked great. The resolution was pretty good... I don't remember what it was exactly, but it was definitely higher than 640x480.