Debian etch on Dell Precision M65

Images for Debian etch rc2 were released and I decided it was time to re-install it on my laptop. While doing this, I thought I would take notes. This will help when I re-install it next time, and hopefully others with the same or similar hardware…

The writeup is long, so I decided to put it on a separate page:

15 Replies to “Debian etch on Dell Precision M65”

  1. Yep, I’ve got problems with my swap partition as well.. but guess what: it really doesn’t make any difference whether you click “yes” (to continue) or “no” (to ehm, not continue?) !

  2. You mean the confusing uswusp question? Yeah, I never understood the question. My swap is working fine, and hibernation too. I suppose your only problem, like me, was the question itself?

    Suspend to RAM didn’t work, but that’s because s2ram didn’t know about this laptop.

  3. Hello I am not a professional user as you are but i am using dell precision m-65 for architecture work.
    When i bout the computer i got it with windows vista. I installed xp professional because it didn’t work with AutoCAD and Revit. After installing dell drivers from dell website, everything is working except the Bluetooth. After i saw your page i thought that maybe you can help me solve this problem.
    Thank you Eran Ehacked. Excuse my English i usually write in Hebrew

  4. I don’t use Windows so I’m afraid I can’t help. Try installing Debian instead, bluetooth works just fine for me!

  5. Hi Simon,

    The bogus message about swap is probably not related to hardware – It is rather a bug of the debian installer. I saw it recently when installing Debian 4 on a desktop PC.

    Anyways – I find your blog entry very useful as I get a very good deal on the Dell M65 notebook and would never use Windows. So thanks a lot for sharing your experienece.


  6. Quite impressed by your thorough work! I am considering buying the M65.

  7. Hi Simon,

    One addition I found useful to get the volume buttons working under X is to set the keyboard model to “latitude” in xorg.conf. This maps the audio buttons to the keysyms XF86Adio{LowerVolume,RaiseVolume,Mute}. Thus:

    Section “InputDevice”
    Identifier “Generic Keyboard”
    Driver “kbd”
    Option “CoreKeyboard”
    Option “XkbRules” “xorg”
    Option “XkbModel” “latitude”
    Option “XkbLayout” “us”

  8. Hi Simon,

    I just finished to install linux on my Dell m65.
    Everything went fine except the fact that the keyboard
    is not stable: when I press a key I sometime get the
    characters twice or more (like eeee instead of e) it seems
    it does it randomly. I installed a different distribution
    (mandriva 2007) from debian, I don’t know if it can
    be an issue. Did you notice problem like that one with
    your m65 ? Are they means to fix it ?



  9. Hi Simon,
    Helpful – TVM. Question though: Have you since managed to get s2ram to work, or anything useful from the TPM chip? I’d also be interested in knowing how you managed to get the external monitor working, as I get nothing from mine…

  10. Thanks for the hint, Maarten. Since I wrote the article, I have upgraded the machine and I’m now using Debian ‘testing’. Now the audio buttons work fine without any configuration. For reference, I have a standard xorg.conf keyboard stanza:

    Section “InputDevice”
    Identifier “Generic Keyboard”
    Driver “kbd”
    Option “CoreKeyboard”
    Option “XkbRules” “xorg”
    Option “XkbModel” “pc105”
    Option “XkbLayout” “se”

  11. Hi Erwan,

    I haven’t seen that problem on this machine. However, I have seen it on other laptops. When googling for it, I found some Ubuntu bug reports about it. It seems to be a known problem. I think some kernel parameter solved it, but I don’t recall the details — sorry!

  12. Hi Phil! No, I haven’t spend much time on s2ram. I’ve tried it a few times, with various kernels, but there were always some instability problem. Hibernate works fine for me, and I typically prefer it.

    I have wanted to play with the TPM chip, but haven’t had time. 🙁

    The external screen has worked without problem for me (except for the bugs I wrote about), both with the free nv driver and the non-free nvidia driver. I’m using the free driver now. Fn-CRT/LCD works. If the external monitor is connected and the lid is closed when I start the machine, it only uses the external monitor.

    Good luck,

  13. I’m having the same problem with my keyboard that Erwan mentioned: some keys repeating, some keypresses vanishing. It only seems to happen when my system is working hard (e.g., a big compile job).

    I’m running Gentoo with kernel 2.6.22.

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