School of Computer Science THE UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM tuxmobil

Contents List

LATITUDE E6410 (Since 2010)
Also Desktop PC
4 Apr 2018: Now also Stonebook Mini
(Re-badged Clevo W515LU) stone-mini.html HERE
Running Fedora 27 (XFCE version)
with CTWM window manager, now flourishing at

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Added 5 May 2017:
Review of Stonebook Mini 11.6" laptop
running Fedora 25 and Windows 10 Home edition.

4 Apr 2018: Getting Firefox text search box to top of page

With information gratefully obtained here:
Which links to this:
Copy this directory chrome, including the file it contains userChrome.css with contents
     /* Move Find Bar above the page*/
     .browserContainer > findbar {
     -moz-box-ordinal-group: 0;
into the directory of your current Firefox installation, i.e. something like this location, with lots of other files and subdirectories, used by firefox.
    ~/.mozilla/firefox/xyzxyzxyz/ (or whatever)
To test it quit and restart firefox.
Then, in some window type CTRL-F.
The search box should be top left in the current tab, instead of bottom left.
See also

5 Apr 2017
Instructions for installing gparted-live on USB stick here.

23 Mar 2017
Fixed horrible flickering with skype and

I had been using a couple of logitech webcams (B500 [1.3mp] and C270 [3mp]) for skype or recording (using "cheese"). Both worked well with cheese, but flickered badly with skype.

Eventually I found the solution here:


    cd /tmp
That file has the following contents:
   Section "Extensions"
           Option "XVideo" "Disable"

   Section "Device"
      Identifier  "Intel Graphics"
      Driver      "intel"
      Option      "AccelMethod" "sna"
      Option      "TearFree" "true"
      Option      "DRI" "true"
Copy the file (as superuser) to this directory: /usr/share/X11/xorg.conf.d
    cp 20-intel.conf /usr/share/X11/xorg.conf.d/20-intel.conf
Then re-start the X window system, if you have set things up to make that easy without rebooting. Otherwise reboot.

On the few tests I have tried both skype and now both work fine.

Oct 2016:
Fixed text corruption on gnome panels and menus

The solution that worked for me was to create a file
Containing this text
Section "Device"
   Identifier  "Intel Graphics"
   Driver      "intel"
   Option "AccelMethod" "blt"
as described in this bug report

Some people use "uxa" instead of "blt", but in my tests "blt" produced much faster screen handling. See

1 Oct 2016:
Found out how to make non-graphical Linux start with altered key-map.

Like many others I always work with functionality of CapsLock and CTRL keys (on left of keyboard) swapped. That's because I use CTRL far more often and it's less of a strain to use higher up the keyboard. For similar reasons I prefer to swap the functions of the ESC and Grave keys at top left of the keyboard: bringing the ESC key lower because I use it far more often, in editing commands.

Performing those two swaps after linux has started up graphical mode can usually be done on linux using "xmodmap" or a keyboard configuration tool. But I also sometimes work in plain text mode, e.g. for software maintenance, or when configuring a new version of linux. So I like to have the same keyswaps before graphical mode starts. For many years that was easily achieved by editing a file that is now located here (i.e. unzip it, edit it, then zip it):

But that file is now ignored when the linux systems I have been using (Fedora-based) start up. After searching in vain for an alternative I eventually discovered that this file can be edited instead:

All I had to do was unzip the file, then swap the definitions for keycode 1 and keycode 41 (to swap ESC and Grave keys) and swap the definitions for keycodes 29 and 58 (to swap CTRL and CapsLock). I then found that on booting into text mode the keys functioned exactly as I wanted, and that was also preserved in graphical mode, making the use of xmodmap unnecessary.

I also had to inform the linux boot mechanism that I wanted a UK keyboard. That was done by inserting the language label on the kernel specification line in the file
I.e. in the line starting 'linux16 /vmlinuz', I included 'LANG=en_GB.UTF-8' as well as the '3' to indicate that I want the system to boot into mode 3 (text mode) normally, though when resuming from hibernate, it will go back to the previous mode, which is usually graphical mode.

Anyone using a different language keyboard will have to use a different boot setting, and will have to edit a different file in the directory
There are over 300 to choose from! Anyone using the standard UK/GB keyboard layout who wishes to use my key swaps can download a copy of my file here:
Then use it to replace the file

Of course most linux users would want to unzip both of them and compare their contents. Even if you follow my instructions exactly I cannot guarantee that this will work on your machine. If you end up with an unusable keyboard layout you may have to restore the original file, so keep a copy of it before installing my version.

Normally, instead of shutting down at night I hibernate the machine and when it is next switched on it returns to the previous state with all my editor windows, browser windows, etc. still in place (on up to 12 different virtual desktops). If a new kernel becomes available and I have reason to believe I need to install it, then a complete shutdown is needed and a reboot, but I avoid that by postponing kernel upgrades that I don't need. Fortunately I don't often need to use my machine(s) in non-graphical mode, but it is useful to be able to do so.

The great advantage of the current system is that the same keyboard layout configuration file is used both during the text only mode after booting (mode 3) and the graphical mode (mode 5). It may not work if something goes wrong early in a boot process and the system then defaults to a "maintenance" mode.

15 Oct 2013: Upgraded my desktop PC (Viglen Genie with 4-core Intel i5 CPU)
from 32-bit Fedora 16 to 64-bit Fedora 19,
using the XFCE lightweight 'spin' CD (Fedora-Live-XFCE-x86_64-19-1.iso).
This mostly went very smoothly.

Summary of issues installing F19 and setting up my environment So far all the issues described below have been solved and I now find that both
pm-hibernate (which allows me to go for months without rebooting) and pm-suspend
(which I rarely use) work without any special manipulation of grub.cfg previously
needed. __________________________________________________________________________________________

17 Jul 2013: Upgraded the Dell E6410 laptop from Fedora 17 to Fedora 18, mid June 2013.
pm-hibernate now seems to work perfectly without requiring me to edit grub.cfg to
temporarily disable three cpus, previously required for resume from hibernate.
Demo of hibernate and resume on E6410

At first I was very annoyed that NetworkManager would not save passwords for
Enterprise (MSCHAPv2) wifi connections, requiring me to type in the password whenever
I wanted to connect or re-connect, even though passwords for home and other wifi
connections using WPA worked fine with a stored password.

The solution was to edit these two files where XXXX is the name (ESSID) of the access point.


For more details see my WPA web page.

12 Jun 2013: Erroneously changed to using .der certificate instead of .pem, for
UobWifi and Eduroam, on Fedora 17, with NetworkManager,
using WPA & WPAEnterprise, with PEAP and MSCHAPv2 options.
At first this seemed to solve a problem connecting to Enterprise wifi, e.g. eduroam,
but that proved to be illusory. It did not make a difference.

12 Jun 2013: Logitech B500 1.3MP Webcam with built in microphone works perfectly
on Fedora 16. (E.g. for Skype, or recording tutorials.)

5 Aug 2012: Getting Logitech QuickCam Orbit/Sphere USB webcam to work with USB Microphone
As my laptop has an integrated webcam, this is relevant only to linux on my Desktop machine (then running Fedora 16).
I had been having trouble using a USB Webcam with a USB microphone, e.g. when using Skype, both plugged into USB sockets on the front panel of the PC. Audio worked but not video.

Thanks to a tip found on the internet I tried instead plugging the Webcam into a USB extender connected to one of the back USB sockets, and that fixed the problem. It seems that the two front USB sockets share some hardware that cannot be used simultaneously for two Audio or video devices -- or something like that!
See also above note about Logitech B500 webcam: this has an integrated microphone which seems to be just as good as or possibly better than, the stand-alone microphone, so the need to use front and back usb sockets no longer exists.
See NEWS 12 Jan 2012: Logitech desktop USB microphone works on F15 and F16

31 May 2012: Workaround for resume/thaw failing to complete after pm-hibernate
This problem particularly afflicts users of Intel Integrated Graphics hardware and the i915 kernel module required for intel graphics.
An imperfect but liveable-with fix is described in this file.

23 Jul 2012 Warning about dual-boot installations:
if you switch between linux and windows, don't use 're-start' or 're-boot' in windows to return to linux as that stops hibernate working.
Instead shut down completely from windows, then power up, then select linux.

USEFUL TIP: 30 Apr 2012 Flash failed to detect USB webcam (Solved)

Found the solution here: Before starting browser do
in bash
in tcsh
    setenv LD_PRELOAD /usr/lib/libv4l/

NEWS 12 Apr 2012: Installed Solwise PL-500AV-PIGGY Homeplug adapters
to replace 30 metre internet cable from router to my wife's PC.

Seems to work very well (including supporting full 30Mb/s broadband downloads from Virgin media on my linux machines, though for some reason my wife's PC running Windows PC gets a slightly lower speed).
Bought from Faculty-X Brightlingsea Essex
Ordering process and delivery excellent.
More detailed report here.

12 Apr 2012: UPDATE: WARNING ABOUT GRUB2: Problem is use of 'Grubby'
31 May 2012: UPDATE: This problem seems to have been fixed

The Fedora command 'yum install kernel' uses the 'grubby' program to update /boot/grub2/grub.cfg.
This had a serious bug that has caused problems for me and at least one other user. The problem has now been diagnosed and fixed (May 2012). Grubby previously used the contents of /etc/fstab to identify the root partition to go into the grub.cfg file. An error in the root partition entry in the fstab file will not affect booting, since it cannot be read until the root partition has been mounted. But that error in grub.cfg can make booting impossible.

It turns out that at least two people reporting the bug had somehow inadvertently got an error in the fstab file, which was propagated to grub.cfg every time the kernel was updated, requiring grub.cfg to be edited to enable booting to occur.
I have inserted a bug report here -- comment 9 (typo fixed in comment 10)
See also
Why is such a buggy package used for a task as important as kernel update?
(Now fixed.)

NEWS 12 Apr 2012: pm-hibernate freezing and resume rebooting both seem to have been fixed for Fedora 16 users in kernel 3.3.1-3.fc16.i686 (NB: THIS TURNED OUT TO BE FALSE)
Hibernation and resume are now very fast (compression uses 3 threads on my 4-core machine).

The following is now out of date:

Update 1 Apr 2012
I wrote earlier. Using the right boot flag seems to have fixed the problem of resume after pm-hibernate sometimes not complete the "thaw", and then rebooting.
On the Dell E6410 laptop, running Fedora 16 with this special patched kernel
    3.3.0-7.1.fc16.i686 #1 SMP Wed Mar 28 19:04:51 UTC 2012
I seem to be able to suppress the rebooting by using acpi=noirq in the grub.cfg boot menu file. See below.
But the success did not continue. Likewise with kernel 3.3.0-8.fc16.i686 -- using acpi=noirq did not ensure that resume works. It gets near the end of the resume process, then screen goes blank and it reboots.
My liveable-with solution to the resume failing problem is described in this file.
I tried using 'acpi_sleep=nonvs' as recommended on a web site, but it did not enable resume to work.

Good news about Alps touchpad on E6410: Scrolling now works on Alps touchpad.

Using kernel 3.1.7-1 and 3.2 or later, and, xorg-x11-drv-intel-2.17.0-8: the Alps touchpad can now be used for scrolling, which is very convenient.
See this message from Sergio M Basto
As advised there, to set up gestures I use these commands in a shell script:
    synclient -l | grep -i scroll
    synclient VertTwoFingerScroll=1
    synclient HorizTwoFingerScroll=1
    synclient VertEdgeScroll=1
    synclient HorizEdgeScroll=1
    synclient -l | grep -i scroll

    synclient -l | grep -i tap
    synclient TapButton1=1
    synclient TapButton2=1
    synclient TapButton3=1
    synclient -l | grep -i tap
NOTE (added 17 Nov 2012):
I have had terrible trouble with input focus location changing while I type, mainly
when entering text in a browser, e.g. filling in forms.

Eventually internet searches revealed that the 'syndaemon' program
(see MAN syndaemon) overcomes this problem. There are various options, but I have
just used the default by adding to the end of the above script:

    syndaemon -d

Changes in /proc/acpi since kernel 3.2

Since kernel 3.2, /proc/acpi no longer contains the wakeup file and battery and ac_adapter directories. Instead it now contains only /proc/wakeup and the directory
which has a file 'state' showing whether lid is open or closed. This means that my home-grown utility for checking battery levels no longer works. It turns out that the information is now in a different format under /sys. E.g. to find out whether a charger is plugged in, this produces '1' or '0':
    cat /sys/class/power_supply/AC/online
Some of the information that was previously in
can now be found in
E.g. useful information can can be extracted from the output of
    cat /sys/class/power_supply/BAT0/uevent | grep -v NAME | grep -v PRESENT \
        | grep -v TECH |grep -v CYCLE |grep -v MODEL |grep -v MANU |grep -v SER

NEWS 12 Jan 2012: Logitech desktop USB microphone works on F15 and F16
See also: Getting Logitech QuickCam Orbit/Sphere USB webcam to work with USB Microphone

I bought the version of the microphone offered on Amazon. When plugged in it is recognized as
    Product: AK5370
    Manufacturer: AKM
I used 'pavucontrol' to select the AK5370 in the 'Configuration' tab, setting 'Analog mono input'. (It's not a stereo mic.)
In the 'Input devices' tab, I use the 'Show' menu bar to select 'All input devices'. On my machine that shows four input devices.
I set the volume slider for 'AJ5379 I/F A/D Converter Analog Mono' to somewhere between 50% and maximum. (Experimentation is needed.)

On all the other volume sliders (all stereo with two sliders):

    'Monitor source of simultaneous output to internal Audio Analog Stereo'
    'Monitor of internal Audio Analog Stereo'
    'Internal Audio Analog Stereo' (on Microphone 1)
I select Silence (0%), with slider button on left.

On the 'Output Devices' tab I set the 'Show' menu bar at bottom to 'All Output Devices'. The set the slider for 'Simultaneous output to internal Audio Analog Stereo' sliders (two) to zero or muted (using the 'mute' button with the 'x'.
The other pair of sliders, labelled 'Internal Audio Analog Stereo' must not be muted. The appropriate level will depend on whether you are using headphones or speakers, with or without amplification. (I have twin black logitek speakers with a 'Bass' box containing on off switch.

On the 'Recording' tab, I select Show: Virtual streams. That reveals the level of input from the mike, but there's nothing to control.

On the 'Playback' tab I select Show: All streams.
The Sound recorder playback stream is not shown until you actually play something from the sound recorder.
I set the 'System' sounds (mono) volume control to about 15% (e.g. for Skype warnings and others.)
There is also a pair of sliders for 'Simultaneous output on internal Audio Analog Stereo', and a volume level display. I set that 'Muted'.

To test those settings I launch gnome-sound-recorder (which had to be installed using 'yum install').
Set the 'Record from input:' menu bar to 'Capture'. There is no other option for it on my machine.
Set the 'Record as:' menu bar to whatever you want.
I've tried 'CD Quality, Lossy (.ogg type)' and 'voice, Lossless (.wav type)'.
I can't hear any difference, but if you save a recording the .ogg version is smaller.
If your machine has a different sound card you will probably get different options.
Mine is integrated intel sound, on the motherboard. It's slightly different between my desktop machine and laptop, but the above explanation should work for both contexts.

NEWS 4 Jan 2012: Tried out 'live' CD for Fedora 16 LXDE 'spin'.

Found that it worked very well, including booting up quickly, and handling the screen at full resolution.
For the first time NetworkManager let me connect to my wireless router during initial boot off the CD.
However, it became a nuisance after install to hard drive and initial upgrade, so I disabled it and installed wicd instead. But having it on the live CD proved very useful. I don't know why it stopped working after 'Install to hard drive'.
Wicd is very much better and should replace NetworkManager as the default on Linux. Unfortunately various linux packages (e.g. Anaconda) assume that NetworkManager is the one and only true network connector. So I have had to remove Anaconda on my machine. It seems not to matter. Likewise I have removed Selinux, which just causes problems.
My general impression is that this is the first version of linux (fedora?) that is completely usable on Dell Latitude E6410, from the start, including the Intel Graphics and SD card reader.

More on Fedora 16

The following item is defunct. I think the problem was a router setting. 5 Jan 2012: For some strange reason, if I run sshd using
    service sshd start
    (or 'restart')
Then I cannot use shared keys to log in from another machine without a password.
But if I simply run 'sshd' then it works as before. Looks like a temporary bug that needs to be fixed.

More details will be reported later.

Dell E6410 previously running Fedora 15 (FC15, F15), since March 2011 -- mostly working very well,
except for problems with resume after pm-hibernate, as described below. In F16 I still have to resume after pm-hibernate by using acpi=off in grub menu.
NEWS: 30 Mar 2012 I have now replaced "acpi=off" with "acpi=noirq". That seems to be a much better solution, currently apparently working well in F16 with kernel 3.3.0-7.1.fc16.i686
Switched to F16 January 2012.

(My desktop PC - upgraded Aug 2011 to a new Viglen Genie with 4-core intel CPU now runs F16.)

(Before March 2011 the E6410 was previously mostly usable with Fedora 13 (F13))

I use OpenBox or Ctwm as window manager. I can't stand either Gnome or KDE:
I find Gnome and Kde huge, clunky, and tedious to configure. (More details here.)

Dell Latitude D610 still running on Fedora 12 (F12).

Aaron Sloman
School of Computer Science, University of Birmingham, UK


Dell Latitude E6410 with Intel Graphics Using 32bit Fedora 15

I started using RedHat linux around 1999, then used various versions of Fedora. Fedora has improved enormously over the years (partly to meet the challenge of Ubuntu?)

When I first got the laptop in June 2010 I could not get graphics working properly in linux, with the Intel graphic card, though I did eventually find a configuration based on a particular fedora 13 kernel, which I went on using for several months, as described here.

In March 2011, I started using the "Alpha" version of Fedora 15, and have been updating from time to time since then, starting with kernel 2.6.38, the first one to handle the intel graphics properly on the E6410. On F15 Alpha then Beta the intel graphic card worked perfectly and still does, both with and without an external monitor or display.

On 24th May 2011, I started using the "final" Fedora 15 release. This introduced some new problems.

    I chose the FXCE version of Fedora 15, which I set up to boot in text mode
    (multi-user, run-level 3). Previously this was done by editing the file
    but now that Fedora uses 'systemd', a more complex and flexible mechanism is provided.

    I have the impression that not all the software available to Fedora users has
    been updated properly to deal with systemd. In particular 'system-config-services'
    no longer gives all the options it used to (e.g. specifying which services should
    be available in different modes). I hope that will catch up later.
After logging in to a textual interface, which allows me occasionally to do maintenance work, I then use the 'startx' command, which reads ~/.xinitrc, to start up the graphical interface.

I now sometimes launch Openbox as window manager, though occasionally experiment with others. The window manager I like best is ctwm,, though it is not regularly maintained.
NOTE: 5 Jan 2012: Ctwm was updated to version 3.8.1 in January 2012. That works very well on both my laptop and my desktop machines, so I have given up Openbox, except for occasional comparisons or tests.

An example ctwm window on a 1920x1080 screen is shown here.

I intensely dislike Gnome and KDE as they make it very difficult for me to set up all my preferred features, or to copy them from one machine to another, because preferences are scattered all over the place in different files.)

Update 31 Aug 2011: Entry for cdrom in /etc/fstab

For several years I have been copying an old entry in /etc/fstab for /dev/cdrom which no longer seems to work. I've read that no entry in fstab is required any more for cdrom as the insertion of a CD is automatically detected. However, when I removed the entry the insertion of a CD was not automatically detected.

As root I was able to mount the CD by creating /mnt/cdrom and giving the command

    mount /dev/cdrom /mnt/cdrom
But I wanted to be able to do it without using sudo or 'su'. Putting myself in the 'cdrom' file access group made no difference. After experimenting I found I could mount and unmount a CD using this line in /etc/fstab
    ## device    mount point  mount type    mount mode
    /dev/cdrom   /mnt/cdrom   auto          exec,users,noauto  0  0
(Some people may prefer /media/cdrecorder to /mnt/cdrom)

Update 19 Aug 2011 Converted old Desk-top PC to use Edimax USB dongle

When I got a new desktop PC for my study (working perfectly with roughly the same linux configuration as my laptop, as described below -- currently Fedora 15), I decided to try setting up my 6 year old PC as a spare connected by wireless in another room. I found that the amazingly cheap (and tiny) Edimax EW7711UTN USB dongle, with Ralink RT2870 wireless chip, worked fine for the purpose, though the wireless speed is somewhat slower than my E6410 with intel wireless card, possibly because that has an internal antenna in the laptop lid. (In fact both wireless speeds increased significantly after I re-set my Dlink DIR-615 router to use security mode "AUTO(TKIP/AES) rather than simply "TKIP".

At first I thought I was going to have to fetch source code and compile Ralink drivers, but it turned out that fedora had a pre-built rpm.

So installing it was just 'yum install rt3070', and then after rebooting the device was recognized. The output of 'lsmod' includes:
    rt2800usb              10809  0
    rt2800lib              33638  1 rt2800usb
    crc_ccitt               1245  1 rt2800lib
    rt2x00usb               8700  1 rt2800usb
    rt2x00lib              38876  3 rt2800usb,rt2800lib,rt2x00usb
    mac80211              211975  3 rt2800lib,rt2x00usb,rt2x00lib
I edited /etc/sysconfig/wpa_supplicant to use -Dwext for Driver, and put The usual information about my wireless router in
After I restarted wpa_supplicant it associated with the router but for some reason 'wicd' could not detect it and it did not connect fully until I ran
    dhclient -v wlan0

Shrinking Windows Partition -- using Partition Wizard

When the new Viglen PC arrived the windows 7 system had been installed with one C: partition taking up the whole 500GB drive, instead of only 40GB as requested when I placed the order. (I can't imagine why Viglen have that default: it's asking for trouble -- corrupt one partition and you've lost everything).
I tried using the 'shrink partition' facility that came with Win7 but all it could do was shrink the partition to half its size: useless to me because I hardly ever use windows and I wanted most of the drive for linux.

After failing to find any way to make progress I found this review of the free Partition Wizard software:
and decided to try it. It worked very well except that the user interface needs a lot of improving. I asked it to shrink the C: partition, then create a new smaller windows partition and call it the E: partition.

After shrinking the C: partition it appeared to reboot, then displayed a message on the screen that gave me the impression that it was still doing the rest of the task. A long time later I guessed that it need to be manually rebooted and tried. To my relief the partition had been reduced as requested and I could give my remaining two instructions and finish off the job. It should have warned me that I should not chain additional instructions after shrinking a partition containing the file downloaded to do the partition management. This may have been obvious to windows users, but I am not a windows user. After that I installed Fedora 15 and recreated my previous environment, on another machine that I hope will last many years. (Viglen provide a 5 year maintenance contract.)

The fact that microsoft cannot provide such a service in their partition shrinking utility in Win7 is yet another piece of evidence that they are incompetent. Several of my reasons for disliking MS Windows are here:

I later found that my complaint posted to MiniTools, the developers of Partition Wizard when I was waiting for a response had been answered in a couple of hours, instructing me to reboot and continue. But I did not get the message until much later thanks to the dreadful VirginMedia cable broadband service breakdown between about 1am Saturday 13th August and midday on Wednesday 17th August. I have no apology and no refund from them. I shall look out for a better internet service provider, after 10 years of steadily increasing speed and deteriorating service, with a call centre full of untrained staff. I no longer advise anyone to use VirginMedia.

Update 3 Aug 2011 pm-hibernate improved for kernel 2.6.40-4

Update 2 Sep 2011: I now think this claim I made earlier is mistaken:
    I mistakenly wrote originally:
    I am pleased to report that since installing the new kernel I have found that
    the pm-hibernate command no longer by-passes the grub menu, complained about in
    older parts of this file. So I no longer need the hibernate-tuxonice package. I
    have not yet tried the tuxonice version of this kernel.
pm-hibernate only seems to present the menu if the hibernate-tuxonice package has been installed.
But then pm-hibernate works fine. I don't know why.

2 Sep 2011 (problem still exists March 2012) Resume after pm-hibernate: problem and temporary solution

I've been finding with kernel 2.6.40-4 (and later, including 3.3.0-4.fc16.i686, March
2012) that if I hibernate and resume more than once, resume intermittently fails to
complete and instead reboots.

For some time I used TWO menu options in my grub.conf or grub.cfg file, one, labelled
'BOOT, for use when doing a full boot, and one labelled 'RESUME, the default option,
for use when booting from a hibernated state. The latter included acpi=off as a
kernel option.

However, I've discovered (30 Mar 2012) that acpi=noirq is better: it seems to prevent
resume failing in test kernel 3.3.0-7.1.fc16.i686, and does not require separate BOOT
and RESUME entries in the grub boot menu. I'll go on testing it and report details in
this bug report

I have no idea what that extra command does nor why it should suddenly become
necessary in recent kernels. Suggestions welcome.

Update 18 Jun 2011: Hibernate and Tuxonice problems using Fedora 15 on Dell E6410

I normally hardly ever reboot, making use of hibernate/resume instead, so that my
working context (including up to 10 virtual desktops) is always restored when I
switch on the computer.

The hibernate mechanism saves the state of the linux process in the swap partition
during hibernation, and then reads the contents and restores the full context during
the resume process. On my vintage 2006 desktop PC with a Western Digital 1TB drive
bought in 2010 the resume is extremely fast even when there are many windows in use
in my 10 virtual desktops. Since kernel 3.3 it is also very much faster on the Dell
E6410 laptop. So resuming from hibernate is much faster than rebooting, and far more
convenient than rebooting+restoring my working environment.

The hibernate mechanism contrasts with the 'suspend' mechanism, which switches
everything off except RAM, keeping the state of the process preserved and ready to
run. On a laptop the battery (or batteries) may survive for several days in this
state without external power. In contrast when hibernate (suspend to hard drive) is
used, everything is switched off and the state can be preserved indefinitely.
Suspend+resume is very much faster than hibernate+resume though after suspend the
battery will slowly drain if power is not left connected. I also found that on the
laptop if I alternate between hibernate and suspend (e.g. using hibernate for long
periods off, and suspend for short periods off), then suspend sometimes fails to
resume and I have to reboot.

Two forms of 'hibernate' are provided in linux. One (pm-hibernate) uses default
mechanisms provided in the standard linux kernel. The other method replaces the
default hibernate mechanisms with the the 'tuxonice' mechanism (previously known as
"Software Suspend 2"), as described here:, and here, for Arch users.
For several years, I have been a satisfied user of the pre-built tuxonice kernels for
Fedora, and associated utilities, made available here here, by Matthias Hensler.

After trying the default hibernate mechanism provided in the linux kernel, invoked by
the 'pm-hibernate' command, I switched to tuxonice, with its 'hibernate' command,
because it has several advantages, including (a) speed, and especially (b)
informative display during hibernate and resume, and (c) displaying the grub boot
menu during resume.

In contrast, the pm-hibernate command (until about March 2012 in Fedora 16) causes
the machine to by-pass the boot menu on resume (until kernel 2.6.40-4), in case a
user boots the wrong linux kernel, which can lead to loss of work and potential
file-system corruption. Unfortunately this restrictive design of pm-hibernate makes
it impossible to hibernate linux, then boot windows, then later resume linux: you
don't get the choice. This is a terrible, patronising design decision by the
developers. They should at least offer a flag to use with pm-hibernate to make it
show the boot menu on resume.

In recent versions of Fedora 16, the behaviour of pm-hibernate has been improved: it
now always shows the boot menu if "hiddenmenu" is removed or commented out.

Fortunately the tuxonice 'hibernate' script (installed using

    'yum install hibernate-tuxonice'

does not have that restriction, and can also be used with the standard hibernate
mechanism. So after switching to Fedora 15, when there was no readily available
tuxonice version, I used the default hibernate mechanism invoked using the hibernate
script. This overcame the main flaw of pm-hibernate, namely hiding the grub menu.

When a tuxonice kernel for Fedora 15 finally became available, I immediately tried
it, and also tried each new version as it became available. So far I have been able
to get the tuxonice kernel to hibernate, but not to resume! The resume process
starts, indicates that it has begun unpacking the compressed image file, and then
freezes. It's possible that this is fixed in kernel 3.3, but I no longer use
tuxonice, so cannot tell. pm-hibernate has improved so much in the last year that the
advantages of tuxonice are not worth the extra effort (for me). However I miss the
'-r' flag in tuxonice hibernate, which allows hibernate to be followed by reboot,
which is useful for testing and for switching between operating systems.

Note on Dell Latitude E6410 (Released early 2010).

This is the updated version of the E6400.
There are other 'E' latitudes laptops/notebooks from Dell, of various sizes and powers.
A new version, E6420, was introduced in 2011, with substantial changes.
I do not have access to the new version, and I don't know how much of what follows
concerning the E6410 is applicable to the E6420.

This web site also includes

Experiences Getting linux to work on my Desktop PC (Currently Fedora 13)
Using the Birmingham Campus wifi system via Linux (in a separate file).
And some older reports on linux on Dell Latitude D600/D610

Using linux (Fedora 15 Alpha/Beta/Final release) on Dell Latitude E6410:
and partial review of the laptop/notebook

After months of partial success with the Intel graphic card, using Fedora 13,
the machine at last works almost perfectly using Fedora 15, starting with kernel 2.6.38,
as described below.
(Earlier attempts to use Ubuntu and Arch linux did not succeed, for my purposes.)
However, I have not yet tried the fingerprint reader and some of the other devices.
See below for installation process and obstruction from Windows 7!

CONTENTS (Not in same order as file contents).

NOTE ADDED 7 Apr 2011--SWAP Partition and hibernate:
I have recently found that after a kernel upgrade hibernate (suspend to disc) does not always work. The suspend appears to work, but resuming fails and linux reboots.
A cure that works for me is to renew the swap partition after a kernel upgrade. As root (assuming swap is /dev/sda3):
    swapoff /dev/sda3
        if this fails you may have to go into maintenance mode, at run-level 1:
        'init 1'
        then repeat the above command.

    mkswap /dev/sda3

    swapon /dev/sda3

then continue as normal. e.g. 'init 5' for graphical login, or 'init  3' for text login.

Also make sure that the entry for swap in /etc/fstab does not reference some out of date partition ID.

See also: Arch Linux on a Dell Latitude E6410 (LINK BROKEN) by Jeremy LaCroix

(using 64 bit Arch Linux, whereas I use 32 bit Fedora).
23 Apr 2011: He now reports success (except for hibernate) with Kubuntu 11.04
18 Jun 2011: I have just noticed this: Xubuntu 11.04 is a Pleasant Surprise

Configuration of my E6410:

    The machine is approximately 13" wide, with
    Display:    WXGA+ Anti-Glare 1440x900 display (14" diagonal)
    Memory:     4GB (2x2048MB) 1066MHz DDR3 Dual Channel
    CPU:        Intel. CoreTM i5-540M (2.53GHz, 3M cache) with Turbo Boost Technology
                (four core)
    Graphics:   Intel: HD Graphics With Express Card
                Often referred to as Intel GMA 500 (or Poulsbo)
        (Alternative was nvidia -- preferred by many users, though
         linux users have had some problems on this machine.
         I chose the intel graphic card expecting it to use less battery power.
         The quality is excellent, for my purposes. But did not work properly on
         linux till kernel -- Fedora 15/Alpha)
    Hard Drive:      500GB SATA 7,200rpm hard drive,
    Media Bay:  8X DVD+/-RW Dri
    Wireless:   EMEA Intel Pro Wireless 6200 (802.11a/g/Draft-n 2X2) Mini Card
        (Alternative was Broadcom, or more expensive intel card)
    Ethernet:   Intel Corporation 82577LM Gigabit Network Connection
    Webcam:     Integrated HD webcam with Microphone
    Internal UK/Irish Qwerty Backlit Keyboard
    Alps touch pad with two buttons below, THREE above and trackpoint.
        (Having middle button makes a huge difference on linux for pasting.)
        Scrolling gestures do not yet work on linux versions I have tried.
        Also tapping the trackpoint button is not yet recognised as a
        left click, whereas tapping the touch pad is. (6 Jun 2011))
    Integrated Ricoh SD card reader. (Works fine since 2.6.37 kernel)
    Firewire available, but not used.
    Bluetooth (not used)
    Fingerprint reader included, but not yet tried.

    BIOS revision: Originally A05, A06 (Jan 2011), A11 (Jan 2012) A12 (2013)
        (Fetched and installed from Dell web site.)

    For some background information on Linux and the Intel Graphics
    card see this article (Jan 31 2009) Intel's Poulsbo Driver A Bloody Mess?
    Follow-up comments are here.
    That may be partly out of date. The graphic card worked with vesa driver on
    the Fedora 13 Live CD, though I had some difficulty getting it to
    work after I had a full installation of F13, upgraded to newer
    kernels and libraries. More details below.

Operating system supplied by Dell:
    Windows 7 Professional (32bit) [I mainly use linux: see below.]
    (I was not able to purchase the machine without OS, though they
    offer various versions of MSWindows.)
    (Why I hate using windows.)

    9-cell (90Wh) Lithium Ion high capacity battery with ExpressChargeTM
        + 1 spare 9-cell battery.
        For information on battery life see below.

        Inserting a battery is very easy. Removing it requires three hands
        ideally: one on each side to hold the sliding catch and one to
        pull out the battery.

    90 watt A/C adapter
        + 2 spare A/C adapters (with 2m power cables)

What Linux found on board (June 2010):
    The '/var/log/messages/' file includes this information about CPU
    and graphics where 'lape' is the hostname:
        Jun  6 14:00:33 lape kernel: Brought up 4 CPUs
        Jun  6 14:00:33 lape kernel: Total of 4 processors activated (20215.47 BogoMIPS).

    (i.e. the Intel i5 is a 4-core CPU, with the power of 4 x 2.5Ghz cpus.)

        Jun  6 14:00:33 lape kernel: Linux agpgart interface v0.103
        Jun  6 14:00:33 lape kernel: agpgart-intel 0000:00:00.0: Intel HD Graphics Chipset
        Jun  6 14:00:33 lape kernel: agpgart-intel 0000:00:00.0: detected 32764K stolen memory
        Jun  6 14:00:33 lape kernel: agpgart-intel 0000:00:00.0: AGP aperture is 256M @ 0xe00000
    The output of lspci is here.

NEWS 4 Apr 2011 -- Fedora 15 Alpha upgraded to (Fedora 15 Beta?)
Would not boot with root mounted readable until I altered grub.conf boot instruction to include "selinux=0"
At first hibernate script would not complete resume, but after various updates seems OK.
(A fix for hibernate working without resume is described above.)
pm-hibernate also works, but annoyingly does not let you see the boot menu on resume.
Occasionally hibernate does not work first time, but does work if the command is repeated. Sometimes it seems to be necessary to kill some unused windows before it works.
19 Mar 2011 -- Fedora 15 Alpha (with 32-bit kernel) working well on Dell Latitude E6410
Temporary summary -- to be revised.
I started using Fedora 15 (F15, FC15) Alpha release, soon after I noticed that it was available, on 15th March 2011.
I now (20th March) have a very usable version of Fedora. Updates are above.

At last there's a version of Fedora that works properly with the new intel graphic card on Dell Latitude E6410.
(I use 32-bit Fedora -- I don't know about 64-bit Fedora).
Apart from sorely missing tuxonice and its hibernate script I seem to be back to my previous Fedora 13 functionality with missing bits fixed: SD card reader now works, and lxrandr gives full control of resolution and external monitor. Even the built-in microphone now works for the first time.

And within a few days of the Alpha release the F15 repositories had a wide variety of updates and application packages -- e.g. vlc, gmplayer, amarok, and others.

The configuration of my machine is given. above.

The Fedora 15 web site offers several different "Live media"
"spins" as downloadable CD iso images, in addition to the full distributions on DVDs.

I chose the F15 Lxde Fedora live CD to download, because I wanted the system to boot
as quickly as possible. The kernel provided was 2.6.38 (almost immediately updated to, which fixed several problems).

To start an installation while the live CD is running, click on the 'install' icon,
and follow instructions -- familiar from previous Fedora releases.

Although I managed to get the version I wanted installed using the Fedora+lxde live
CD I don't recommend it for anyone wishing to try out Fedora15. It may be best to try
the gnome or kde live CDs. I have seen a glowing test report on the live gnome CD.

However I don't like either Gnome or KDE for everyday use, for reasons explained
here, though I dislike Microsoft Windows even more, as explained  here!
Using the LXDE 'live' CD to install Fedora 15 on the Dell E6410
The lxde 'spin' proved not to be usable as a live CD (at least not on my machine). In
particular, terminal responses in lxterminal windows were terrible, with random
echoing of what I typed! I never found out why.

However, after installing F15 from that CD, with a cable network connection providing
30Mb/s I used 'yum update' to bootstrap to a much better version, including a new
kernel and some new drivers, which worked very well:

    2.6.38-1.fc15.i686 #1 SMP Tue Mar 15 05:26:56 UTC 2011

Since then, I have found updates appearing frequently in the Fedora 15 repos. I
started on 15th March and a few days later the system was very usable, with a large
and growing collection of packages in the official and unofficial fedora repos.

Update: 22 Mar 2011 As explained below, although a tuxonice kernel is not yet
packaged for this system, the tuxonice hibernate script can be downloaded and works
perfectly, so far: a much better 'front end' than the terribly restrictive

From initial install of Fedora 15 + lxde to working system

After the initial installation to hard drive, providing kernel 2.6.38, I found problems with the intel graphics, and had to use 'nomodeset' at boot to log in and then run 'yum update' in an xterminal window (as root) to get a new version of the kernel. That installed:
    2.6.38-1.fc15.i686 #1 SMP Tue Mar 15 05:26:56 UTC 2011
along with a lot of driver updates. That made a huge difference and the system was usable.

(I had a problem at first after the update, because using the "nomodeset" boot option earlier had put a temporary file in /etc/X11/xorg.conf invoking the 'vesa' graphic driver, and I had forgotten to remove it before testing the new kernel. I managed to remove it using the Arch Linux CD as a rescue CD.)

I also produced an unusable system later by mistakenly including the fedora Rawhide repo when using the package manager 'Yumex' to add things to the system. That caused some early release Fedora 16 packages to be installed, and they screwed up other F15 things. So I went back to an earlier stage, and used only the standard Fedora repositories and the Atrpms and Rpm-fusion repositories.

Together they have enabled me to build a well configured system including multimedia tools (e.g. gmplayer, amarok, vlc, skype all working).

After the first update, fixing the kernel and various drivers, I could boot up in full graphic mode, and the system has steadily got better and more complete since then.

Instead of OpenOffice there is now Libreoffice, with similar functionality, except that it seems to start up much faster.

The default version of Firefox on Fedora 15 is now V4.0. Google-chrome is also available via the google repo. Firefox is now much improved (not so bulky and slow) and it may reverse my move towards google-chrome, which lacks important functionality that firefox has.

    In fact, because FF 4 is so good, and because the default firefox for fedora 13,
    still running on my desktop PC is version 3.6.15, I fetched the tar file for
    firefox 4 installed it (no compiling needed) and now it runs on the desktop

As usual, after trying NetworkManager I found it too irritating and unpredictable shut it down, and installed wicd instead. Wifi and ethernet connections now work fine.

My t-mobile "pay as you go" mobile broadband USB dongle (with Huawei technology) works as before as before using wvdial. There may also be a graphical interface tool for it, but I have shell commands that suffice.

Fedora 15: /etc/inittab is now defunct

On linux, I normally alter the default run-level to 3 in /etc/inittab -- non-graphical multi-user mode, with text-only login. I can then run 'startx' to go into graphical mode, controlled by my ~/.xinitrc file and ~/.config/openbox files for the windowmanager.
However things have changed and the 'inittab' file recommends altering the link in the system directory in /lib/systemd/. But that did not work for me: I still got the graphical login.
However adding the parameter '3' at the end of the grub boot command works, and has the advantage that it can be modified at boot time if needed.
Unexplained warning: 'dell_wmi'
Lots of things produce 'dell_wmi: Received unknown WMI event (0x11)' messages, even though the action works -- e.g. using Fn+arrow to change brightness. This appears to be a problem reported many times going several years back. It seems to do no harm, and I presume the cause will be removed.

Current installed packages

My current list of f16 packages installed on the laptop is available in alphabetical order here (probably out of date by the time you read it).

My previous list of f15 installed packages (1,899 packages on 27th Dec 2011) is available in alphabetical order here. (I am no longer using F15 on this machine.)
(I am sure that a significant proportion of those packages will never be used by me: they come with the system, or as parts of bundles I install.)

I also installed some additional items that work well, including the Poplog AI research and teaching package.. (I use its programmable editor Ved for all my work.)

I am pleased that the linux world has at last caught up with all the hardware on the Dell Latitude E6410 -- at least as far as my needs are concerned.
Screen works perfectly, and the SD card reader works. Even the built in microphone, and scrolling on the alps touch pad now work.

Keeping old versions of linux available
When I installed F15, I used a new partition for root, but reused old /boot, /home /usr/local and swap partitions. After the installation, I restored previously saved old boot images to /boot and reinserted some old bits of /boot/grub/grub.conf so that I could still boot previous versions of linux in addition to the new version.
I kept an older mostly working fedora 13, windows 7 (used very rarely), and Arch linux used experimentally.
(Re-using boot and preserving previous installations can be tricky There are probably how-to guides online.)

Sound using Pulseaudio
I had previously found that starting in non-graphical mode and then entering graphical mode did not provide sound by default, and pulseaudio had to be started by an explicit command. In Fedora 15 the command is:

    pulseaudio --start
e.g. in the ~/.xinitrc file, or openbox file.

Allowing logins using SSH (and file copy, etc.)
At first I could not log in to F15 from other machines at home. Eventually I discovered this was because the iptables firewall is set by default to prevent anything connecting via 'ssh' or anything else. Starting sshd should fix that but does not. To fix the firewall I had to run system-config-firewall-tui and choose 'customise' to enable ssh logins. Alternatively, you can edit /etc/sysconfig/iptables, and add this rule, before the first line containing 'REJECT'.

     -A INPUT -m state --state NEW -m tcp -p tcp --dport 22 -j ACCEPT

19 Mar 2011 - TEMPORARY PROBLEMS WITH F15 Alpha:
After the above-mentioned upgrades everything was working well, and I could use pm-hibernate to suspend to hard drive and resume later.
However, when I later tried a full reboot, it had acquired very annoying behaviour: close to finishing rebooting it would hang, for about 6 or 7 minutes, then continue and complete the boot process - after which things were normal.
The behaviour was the same for graphical and non-graphical boot. It seemed to hang after the partitions listed in /etc/fstab are mounted.

While booting was stalled there was no sign of hard drive activity, but the wireless lamp came on and flashed, and the Dlink wireless router, indicated that a connection was being made, but not completed -- e.g. I could not log in remotely. I also could not use CTRL+ALT+F2 to switch to a console terminal during the freeze. But several minutes later the boot completed and everything worked normallyl.
After a couple of hours puzzling about this I found that the pause had disappeared -- perhaps a result of running "yum update" to get the latest updates.
I really don't understand what caused it or what removed it. If it was a temporary bug it should not affect others but I mention it in case someone finds that booting hangs. Wait 5 to 10 minutes to see if it then completes. In that case do a full 'yum update', as I did. F15 Alpha worked well for me, until the final F15 became available.

However, now that I have found a way to boot in non-graphical mode, by putting '3' at the end of the boot command line in /boot/grub/grub.conf I have not tried booting directly in graphical mode, so I can't confirm that that works. I don't like booting straight into graphical mode.
[UPDATE 31 Aug 2011: A couple of weeks ago I bought a new PC to replace my old and sometimes unreliable one, and have been using F15 on it, installed from the "XFCE Light" CDROM. Everything works fine, though because it's a very fast machine I have not bothered to disable the graphical boot: it starts with the login chooser, and I run Openbox. I then use hibernate and resume instead of shutdown and reboot.]

Tuxonice not yet available in F15 repositories
I look forward to having tuxonice with its hibernate command provided in pre-built kernels. It is better than the default suspend to disc (using pm-hibernate) in several ways:

ADDED 21 May 2011:
Using 'preupgrade', installed Fedora 15 on my Desktop PC after trying on laptop
I decided to upgrade my desktop PC (running Fedora 13) to Fedora 15, so as not to
have different versions on the PC and Laptop.

For the first time ever I used the fedora 'preupgrade' package that analysed my
installation and created information about requirements to upgrade. It gave me the
option to skip the upgrade to F14 and go straight to F15. It provides all the information
required to upgrade and alters /boot/grub.conf to give you the option to boot into
the upgrade process when you next reboot. It saves the hassle of downloading a
bootable image, though you need to make sure you have everything backed up.

It mostly worked, but because I had previously been using an encrypted root partition
it failed. It asked me for the password, but seemed to be unable to use it. I have
not understood why: normally Fedora systems simply request the password then decrypt
the partition. In this case it requested the password, but failed. So I decided to
run with root on an unencrypted partition. (Not ideal, since the '/etc' directory
includes some unencrypted potentially sensitive information.)

Since it is not possible to decrypt a partition in 'situ' I rebooted to a working linux,
then created a new partition (the hard drive had plenty of spare space), copied the
contents of the old root partition to the new one (using 'cp -au'), altered grub and
/etc/fstab in the new partition to look for the the new root, and then rebooted.j

It worked after a glitch that stopped some things running, because when I created the
new root partition I had been logged in as a temporary user, and I forgot to make
root the owner of the root partition! (It took some time to track down the cause of
the symptoms.)

For some reason this installation of F15 does not create or update the
/var/log/messages file. I have not been able to understand why. However I can run
'dmesg' from time to time and save the output.

For a while I tried using Gnome and then KDE on this machine running Fedora 15, and
disliked both, as explained here.

Summary: Fedora vs Arch
As explained below, I tried using Arch, and was impressed, especially
by its Live CD which boots quickly into console mode, making it an ideal rescue CD.
It also got my screen and internal SD card reader working, and provided a very
convenient and quick update mechanism.

However I found that there does not seem to be as big a community supporting it, so
many of the things I wanted were not available unless I fetched the source from the
Arch user repository and compiled it. That worked for a couple of things I tried, but
was very tedious, and I could not get tuxonice to work that way. In contrast, very
soon after the Alpha release of Fedora 15 (about 5 days) I had a full working system,
except for the tuxonice kernel, which I assume will be available eventually prebuilt
for Fedora users, as in the past.

So my conclusion is that Arch is only for adventurous people who want total control,
or people who want a very lightweight minimal linux system.
The rest this file contains information inserted after I bought the laptop in June 2010.


Overall this is the best laptop I have ever used. Even the speakers sound
surprisingly good despite the machine being small and thin (compared with my previous
laptop: Dell D610). Of course bass is lacking. But a classical music channel playing
on Amarok while I am working is quite tolerable most of the time -- and even better
with earphones, of course!

The screen is much brighter in daylight than previous screens. I regret the fact that
the vertical resolution is now only 900,  but I am coping -- though it needs extra
scrolling when reading or writing documents.

Unfortunately linux support for the intel graphic card has been deficient, though I
found a specific Fedora 13 kernel that does almost all I need, as described here,
except for not supporting the integrated SD card reader, and requiring special care
when using an external monitor or projector. Since Fedora 15, both the SD card reader
and external displays work perfectly.

The keyboard feels excellent, and the backlighting is a very useful option. The Alps
touch-pad works well,  including supporting vertical scrolling, since It's superb to
have middle mouse key on a laptop at last -- I use it all the time for inserting
previously selected text, and am very pleased that I no longer have to emulate middle
key by pressing left and right simultaneously -- this previously drove me to use a
USB mouse, which I no longer need.

The intel wireless card is very well supported on linux. I disabled NetworkManager,
and wicd provides excellent wireless service.
(Note: 8 Sep 2012: I have reinstated NM for a trial period on Fedora 17, since Wicd
seems to have stopped working in F17.)


13 Feb 2011: Virginmedia superhub is junk
Using new VirginMedia (Netgear) Superhub with download speed increased to 30mb/s I
found I had frequent time-outs when using SSH. Problem description and solution here.
I shall add more information on use of the Superhub here.

Summary: The Virgin Media Superhub is Junk except for a small subset of users.
It attempts to integrate cable modem and cable/wireless router in one device, but the
design specification for the package was so dreadful that whoever led that project is
clearly incompetent and should be sacked.

The design flaws, fiercely criticised on the User forum, have been recognised and new
firmware allowing the Superhub to be used as a fast cable modem connected to a
separate router is promised in May 2011. I managed to partially convert it and now
use it with my Dlink DIR-615 router (provided by Virgin Media over a year ago).

Before that I discovered that although the superhub wireless mechanism
works for a laptop in the same room or immediately below, its power was
grossly inadequate for our medium sized 2-storey house, and it failed to
connect anywhere outside the central half of the house. In contrast the
Dlink reaches my laptop in all the far corners of the house, and outside
at the back. Several other people on the user forum also reported
grossly inadequate wireless functionality in the Superhub.

Virgin Media are still advertising the Superhub as a wonderful new combined
Cable Model and wireless router. They are lying to the public and should be

25 Feb 2011: Excellent Dell Repair Service -- brief report
On Wednesday 23rd I dropped my laptop, bending the base. It was switched on,
running linux. at first the wireless connection stopped and would not restart,
until I rebooted.

Thursday, after many tests to ensure that nothing was wrong except for external
damage, I phoned Dell support, as I had 3-year accidental damage cover. I was asked
for my express service code and routed to an expert, who asked me a lot of questions,
then asked me to take a lot of photographs and send them in. I also mentioned a
previously cracked lid, and a fiddly catch on DVD drive. They confirmed that this
could be repaired on site and scheduled a repair visit.

On Friday morning the Dell technician phoned and said he would come between 11 and
1pm. Just before 12, he arrived, disassembled the laptop, replaced base plate and lid
and DVD drive, reassembled everything, waited for me to do a few tests, and left
shortly after 1pm.

Everything seems to be working perfectly, and I have the impression the speakers
sound better than previously. I am very impressed. No talking to someone ignorant at
a foreign Dell call centre as in the distant past.

I guess it's also a tribute to the E6410 design and manufacture that falling from a
table to a hard floor damaged only the outer case. It was running linux at the time,
so could not have been protected by Dell's anti shock protection mechanism, which as
far as I know works only in Windows.

Update: 23 Mar 2011
A few days ago I found that one of the two screws holding the hard drive in place had
come out. I reported this by email and very quickly had a bag of screws delivered by
courier. More excellent Dell service.


Pictures and some reviews
Dell Latitude E6410
See the "E6410 owner's forum" on (mostly windows users, however).
A partial review of the E6410 as a machine to run linux is below.

Intel vs Nvidia Graphics?
I chose the Intel HD Graphics (with Express Card) option, not NVidia. I am happy
with this, as regards performance and power consumption.

At first the linux software support for this card was seriously deficient. For a
while I used a version of fedora 13 with which I could do everything I want as long
as I don't have an external monitor connected when the machine goes in and out of
graphic mode. That version is described below.

But when I tried to use  more recent kernel (up to 2.6.36 on Fedora 14) there were
problems with the display, whether at boot time, or if the screensaver blanks the
display, after which it cannot be restored.

So for a while I stuck with the F13 kernel from June 2010. The only disadvantage of
going back to F13 was that I can't use the built in SD card reader, which requires a
later kernel. So I have to mount such cards in a USB SD cardholder. Also I have to
disconnect any external display before switching in or out of graphic mode. But all
that has been fixed in Fedora 15.

NOTE: I have found that with 32-bit 2.6.37 Arch Linux kernel the Intel
graphics functionality is perfect (though apparently only 2.6.38 works with this
Intel graphics running 64-bit linux). I have not switched to Arch because too many
other things that I have working on Fedora seem to be much more fiddly to set up in
Arch (e.g. tuxonice for hibernate).

People trying to use the E6410+Nvidia graphics with linux may find this web site useful. Nvidia graphics also seem to be causing problems for Linux+E6410 machines. (I don't know if the problems have been solved yet. The intel graphics problems have, since about march 2011 e.g. in Fedora 15). Added 2 Feb 2011: Ashton Fagg's web site may help users with the nvidia graphics card: (He uses 64 bit Fedora). ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- This website is still messy and repetitive. I'll try to improve it later. (If you have any additions email me with your suggestions. Thanks. All contributors will be acknowledged.)

PARTIAL UPDATE - 21 Jan 2011 (Fedora 13 on Dell E6410 SUPERSEDED SINCE F18)
Machine Details summarised above.
Graphics on Fedora was OK only on an older Fedora 13 (fc13) kernel

Using the 1440x900 graphic display with intel HD graphic card was found to be problematic until I installed the Fedora15 Alpha Release in March 2011, using this kernel
    2.6.38-1.fc15.i686 #1 SMP Tue Mar 15 05:26:56 UTC 2011
(installed by "yum update" soon after installation of FC15).

I found no earlier versions of the linux kernel (on Fedora or Arch or Ubuntu) that worked properly with this intel graphic card.

Partial solution, using Fedora 13
For a time, I used a partial solution that works on (32-bit) Fedora 13, but only with the hard to find kernel -- with tuxonice (software suspend 2).

Just in case someone is unable to upgrade to Fedora 15, I provide details for getting this machine to work on Fedora 13 with this kernel:
Matthias Hensler, kindly retrieved the packages from his archive at my request. I have made them available for download here until there is a proper long term fix.
This works with modesetting turned on at boot time (using the default or "i915.modeset=1" in the boot command or perhaps just "modeset", or even no command specifying mode. (Not sure.)

In addition you need to have the Xorg 'intel' driver, and make sure that your file /etc/X11/xorg.conf mentions the intel driver for video, not 'vesa' or 'psb'.

This solution is imperfect for three reasons:
(1) I have to make sure that no external display (monitor or projector) is connected when switching in and out of graphic mode -- otherwise it crashes.

(2) Using lxrandr I can select only the default screen resolution 1440x900, instead of the lower resolutions of which the display is capable.

(3) Using fedora 13 I can't use the Ricoh SDHC card reader built into the laptop, so I have to use an external usb adapter for SD cards, which is a nuisance.

I was able to live with those constraints between June 2010 and March 2011, when FC15 Alpha became available, removing the constraints.

Other F13 and F14 pre-built kernels don't work with Intel graphics on E6410
With all other F13 or F14 kernels I could only get the laptop to start up OK with nomodeset and the 'vesa' driver specified in /etc/X11/xorg.conf, which made using an external monitor or projector impossible.

NOTE added 2 Feb 2011 (Arch Linux 2.6.37, 32 bit on Dell E6410); Updated 9 Feb; 13 Feb 2011

My display partly worked with a 2.6.36 kernel on Arch linux, but getting it to boot with the display working as desired was not reliable, and there were problems after hibernate/resume or screenblank.

Following a suggestion by Jeremy LaCroix ( who has almost the same hardware configuration on his E6410 but uses a different wireless card and runs 64-bit linux, I tried Arch linux with the 2.6.37 kernel (32 bit) and things seem to be better, especially with recent software updates.

    %uname -rv
    2.6.37-ARCH #1 SMP PREEMPT Sat Jan 29 19:40:04 UTC 2011

On my machine the display now starts up perfectly with that kernel. It also works after screen blank, and after pm-suspend/resume. (That includes restoring previous WPA wireless connection.)
At first pm-hibernate did not work at all: after hibernate: it re-booted instead of resuming. This was fixed as described here.


    add after root=/dev/sda14 in the boot specification:


    In the file /etc/mkinitcpio.conf add "resume" to this line:

        HOOKS="base udev autodetect scsi sata resume filesystems"

    Then run this command as root:

         mkinitcpio -p kernel26
Now pm-hibernate works on Arch.

Early problems after hibernate, with the display, and use of mouse or touch-pad after hibernate, have disappeared since an Arch update on (9 Feb 2011).

So it looks as if 2.6.37 is mostly usable running Arch on my 32-bit machine.
However, I now use 2.6.38-1 on Fedora 15.

If I can find a way to get tuxonice and other things I use working with Arch I may switch to using it at some future date. Meanwhile I prefer Fedora as so many things I can easily install on Fedora (or Ubuntu) are much more hassle to find and install on Arch. (E.g. kernel-tuxonice).

NOTE: 5 Feb 2011 -- Testing Xubuntu light with 2.6.38, on Dell Latitude E6410
I fetched the latest 32 bit Xubuntu (Natty alpha 2) "live CD" to try out. It uses a 2.6.38 kernel.
I chose Xubuntu as that was described as the most light-weight version, which is what I always prefer.
The Intel display worked fine, and I could connect an external monitor and run 'xrandr --auto' to get it working. When I added lxrandr I could also get the full range of display resolutions available on the E6410, instead of only the default 1400x900. It also worked with an external 1280x1024 monitor.
Having got that far with the live CD, I created a partition in which to install it, sharing the existing boot partition. For the initial installation I had to use a cable connection as it did not give me the option set up the connection to my wireless router using WPA.
The Xubuntu installer followed my instruction to use the existing /boot partition without reformatting it (I had saved a copy as a precaution). It discovered the existing boot files and managed to edit my menu.lst file to create a new grub.cfg file using syntax I had never seen before, for booting in a variety of environments. It left my previous windows 7 and fedora 13 options, and other experimental options available. That's impressive. Fedora has never offered me that option (Correction: When Fedora 15 finally appeared, it told it to use the pre-existing /boot partition without formatting. I merged the new installation with old ones successfully.)

Also unlike Fedora Xubuntu sensibly makes the boot menu visible on start up by default. Hiding it by default is completely daft when there is more than one boot option (e.g. linux and Windows).
I spent a little while trying XUbuntu using Openbox rather than the other Desktop managers available. Most things worked though I did not find out how to disable network-manager so that I could use wicd.
pm-suspend worked at first with Ubuntu, but after doing it twice I had trouble re-connecting to the wireless network. Presumably that's a temporary problem. I could not run pm-hibernate, as hibernate was not included in the alpha test kernel.
Xubuntu did not install as good a default set of X libraries as Arch linux did (e.g. including libXt, libXext, libX11, and motif/or lesstif).

For a while the debian x-terminal-emulator, which I had not previously encountered, was the only replacement for xterm that handled the xterm region-scrolling mechanisms properly: for example, gnome-terminal, and lxterminal both failed.
(Correction: lxterminal in Arch running 2.6.37 and on Fedora 15 works OK as an Xterm emulator.)

In Xubuntu+2.6.38 The Alps touch pad now has vertical scrolling working!
Not yet in Fedora 15, alas (2 Apr 2011).
Jeremy LaCroix reported favourably on Xubuntu 11.04 in May 2011.

kernel 2.6.36 on Fedora 14 with Intel GMA 500 graphics

I thought this graphic card worked on Fedora 14 with the 2.6.36 kernel.
Alas that proved wrong. If a screensaver is allowed to blank the screen, nothing can get it out of the blank state, except a reboot.
Moreover, sometimes resuming after hibernating does not restore the screen properly.
So I have to go back to the Fedora 13 system described below, and perhaps wait for F15 and the 2.6.37 kernel?

Getting Fedora 14 to work:
At one point I tried building a new kernel on FC14 as described here. It partially worked, but is now out of date.

All of this section, concerning Arch, Ubuntu, and Fedora 13 and 14 is now history, since I installed Fedora 15. It overcomes the problems with the screen and seems to be rock-solid (for me).

Use with external 22" monitor

I bought a Dell 22" Monitor (model E2210) for use with the laptop but at first I found that plugging in an external monitor crashed linux, though it worked OK with Windows 7. That was later fixed in Fedora 15.

Because I could not immediately use the 22" Dell monitor, I gave it to my wife, to replace her 17" Samsung 1280x1024 monitor, used for her work, which includes making orienteering maps, using OCAD.
The Dell was much better for her work, so she kept it!

I then bought a cheaper, 22" monitor at Comet: LG FLATRON W2253TQ (£139.00).
That has worked very well since, with 1920x1080 resolution, which allows me to view two PDF A4 documents side by side (or two pages of the same document).

It has DVI and VGA input sockets, much better switches on the panel, and a slightly higher spec (contrast and response time) than the W2243S.
Its performance is excellent and it has so far not gone wrong.
The DVI input is connected to my desktop PC for normal use.
The VGA input can be connected to the laptop when required, and the 'source' button used to switch inputs.
A highly recommended monitor.
For now I mostly use the LG Monitor with my old desktop PC, though I may later move to using mainly the laptop as it is more powerful.

However, while connected to the PC I can log through to the laptop and use it across the network, very conveniently: a great benefit of linux and the X window system.

More detailed contents list to be added.
Meanwhile scan down looking for bold headings, or use your browser to search through contents.

Operating-system Neutral Items (realplayer, wpa, vpn, email)

UPDATE 25 Dec 2006: RealPlayer problem solved

Previously I wrote:
A mystifying problem remains. On the D610 if I try to run the BBC realplayer based video news player ( it works fine, until I use xine or mplayer to display a video. After that nothing using realplayer works (apart from sound) until I restart the X window system. I don't have that problem on the D600. If anyone can tell me how to 'refresh' the video capability of realplayer without stopping and restarting X11 I'll be grateful. (At least it's not as bad as having to reboot). Merely switching to a text console (e.g. Fn+ALT+F2) and back does not work.
I discovered by accident how to solve this problem. I made this discover while running RealPlayer (gold) (built July 2006). The problem had occurred both on my desktop PC running Fedora Core 6 and on my Dell D610 running Fedora Core 5. The above steps have fixed the problem on both. It also worked on F7.


A link to a separate file:
o adding VPN software to access the School of Computer science


After upgrading my Dell Latitude D610 (whose batteries have not exploded) to use Fedora Core 5, I have now at last overcome the problems of using wpa_supplicant to access the University of Birmingham wireless network.
Details here (separate file).

A simpler solution based on NetworkManager is provided by Martin Escado here (specially useful for Ubuntu users).

Users of Palm pilot wishing to use the campus wireless network should see these notes by Tim Williams.

Using sysctl to overcome problems caused by Fedora/Redhat security defaults
Problems caused by security settings (Selinux) in RedHat and Fedora core (since FC4), and how to get round them using 'sysctl' are described here.

Booting up in non-graphic mode and using CTWM for window manager

I don't like booting straight into graphic mode not least because that adds to the load on the machine and slows down booting. So I edited the file
changing the line
to make it boot into state 3 (full multi-user mode without graphics) rather than state 5 (multi-user mode with X11):
When it boots up I get a 'login' prompt on a text console, and after logging in I can run 'startx' to initiate the X window system. I control its behaviour using a file .xinitrc, which starts a clock, a couple of Xterm windows in different virtual desktops, and then run the small, fast, highly tailorable and extremely robust window manager ctwm (version 3.7). To show how small ctwm is, here is part of the output of 'top', with ctwm running:
 9758 axs       15   0  6456 2172 1692 S  0.0  0.2   0:00.11 ctwm

I use ctwm with 8 or 10 virtual desktops, and lots of keyboard bindings to reduce use of mouse, including going to next or previous virtual desktop.

Is ctwm the only window manager that supports the 'wrap' default when you cycle through virtual desktops: i.e. when I get to the last desktop, the 'next desktop' function takes me back to desktop 1, and likewise the 'previous desktop' when on desktop 1?

I expected this to work on gnome when I tried it, but the gnome designers do not seem to understand elegance: so, there's no wrapping.

Use of mouse in the root window gives access to menus selected by all three buttons. E.g. a menu item invoking xvidmode enables instant switching of screen resolution instead of having to go through a tool to switch or cycling through resolutions using CTRL+ALT+PLUS/MINUS. I get a new xterm (console) window instantly by pressing key F1 with mouse cursor not in any application. etc. etc. (xvidtune can also be invoked).

The .ctwmrc file makes it possible to do many kinds of tailoring very easily, including specifying that some windows should be visible in all desktops, some should have no title bar, etc. etc. I used to find that ctwm always compiled easily from source. But it uses 'xmkmf' which is no longer included in FC5. So I untarred the ctwm-3.7.tar.gz file on a machine running FC4, followed the instructions up to xmkmf, which created a Makefile. I copied the whole lot to my laptop running FC5, then ran 'make', and 'make install', which gave me my much needed ctwm.

You can normally fetch the latest version of ctwm from
I have made available a version of the tar file that includes the Makefile created using the default settings for Imakefile.local. It can be fetched (about 1.1Mb) here. If you untar it and type 'make' it should produce a usable version of ctwm. Run 'make install' to install it. To make the man file available copy to /usr/local/man/man1.

There are many web sites giving sample versions of .ctwmrc to produce different sorts of 'Look and feel' with ctwm, e.g.

Find more by giving ctwmrc to google.

Other window managers for X11 systems are listed here:

UPDATE 30 Aug 2006: Playing DVDs and Music CDs

For some time I was not been able to play DVDs on my Dell D610, whether using FC3 or FC5. It turns out that that's because I had been using the command
    gmplayer /dev/dvd
which used to work on my old laptop. However, I've just looked at the mplayer man file and noticed for the first time that I was giving the wrong command! It should have been
    gmplayer dvd://
So I can play dvds OK -- Not that I need to often, but I had just got a dvd containing a video recording a lecture I wanted to listen to.

Like one of my colleagues I was not able to play music CDs using linux on the D610 or on my desktop machine using FC4, without first copying the files using cdparanoia and then using play, or gmplayer -- until I learnt about alsamixer !

When I ran it on my desktop pc I found far more options than I had previously thought existed and one of them seemed to toggle the CD input. That enabled me to use cdp to play a music CD.

Then I did more investigation and found that gnome-cd would play a cd.

On the Dell D610 I had more difficulty. alsamixer did not seem to do anything to make cds play, but I did some exploring and found kscd.

The kcsd tool has an 'Extras' button. One of the options it provides is 'configure kscd'.

One of the options that provides is "use direct digital playback".

I selected the 'alsa' backend, clicked on 'Apply' and after that CDs worked on my laptop with kscd.

It seems that cdplayers can use either the analog input from the cd device, using a cable that connects the device to the motherboard, or else play directly using the digital source. But apparently our linux systems were not set up to do the latter by default, which seems to be required now on the D610.

I learnt a bit more here

Fortunately kscd works fine with ctwm: I don't need to run kde.

UPDATE 8 Feb 2007: fighting the University (Microsoft Exchange) email system

With help from Zeth Green, I've added information on accessing university email from a linux machine.

This report is listed at TuxMobil - Linux on laptops, notebooks, PDAs, mobile phones.

Maintained by Aaron Sloman
This web site was first created some time in 2003 soon after I acquired a Dell D600.
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