User talk:Abhay/Inspiron 8500

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With some free time on my hands, I thought of giving Arch Linux a whirl. I will admit that I am a deb-type Linux user as I am coming from Debian and Ubuntu. Some of my usage and/or practices may not be the Arch way. My apologies in advance for this. With some more experience, I'm sure I'll be able to assimilate and this can be an evolving document.

I did find the Dell Inspiron 8500 page on the wiki but since it hasn't been updated since November 2005, I'm assuming that the author has lost interest.


System Configuration

Here are the specifications of my machine. It's pretty much a standard, straight from the horse's mouth Dell Inspiron 8500 except for a few small add-ons.

  • Base System
    • CPU: Intel Mobile Pentium 4-M 2.2Ghz - 512MB L2 Cache - 400Mhz Frontside Bus - Intel 845 Chipset
    • RAM: 2 x 512 MB PC2100 DDR SDRAM
    • Screen: 15.4in 1680x1050 WSXGA+ TFT
    • Video Card: nVidia GeForce4 4200 Go - 64MB
    • Hard Drive: IBM Hitachi 9.5mm 60GB Laptop Hard Drive - 4200RPM
    • CD/DVD Drive: HL-DT-ST RW/DVD GCC-4240N (24x24x10x/8x)
    • Audio: Sigmatel C-major Audio
  • Networking
    • Modem: PCTEL 2304WT V.92 MDC Modem
    • LAN: Broadcom 440x 10/100mbps
    • WLAN: Intel Pro/Wireless 2200BG
  • Peripherials
    • PCMCIA: Texas Instruments PCI4510 PC card Cardbus
    • Firewire: Texas Instruments PCI4510 IEEE-1374

Partitioning the Drive

I still need to use my windows partition for work so I have decided to keep my system a multi-boot. This has some added considerations which those of you without such a need can ignore. I'm assuming that the reader will be able to figure out where to modify this technique for their needs.

My Partition Table

{coming soon)

Actually Partitioning

{coming soon}

Formatting the new Partitions

I wanted to use ReiserFS so the next section will define how to do this. Of course, the boot partition is going to use Ext2. If you don't want to use ReiserFS, please adjust accordingly.

Using my map above, I setup my swap partition:

mkswap /dev/hda3

Then I formatted my /boot partition:

mke2fs /dev/hda1

I then formatted the rest of the partitions with ReiserFS:

mkreiserfs /dev/hda1
mkreiserfs /dev/hda5
mkreiserfs /dev/hda6
mkreiserfs /dev/hda7
mkreiserfs /dev/hda8
mkreiserfs /dev/hda9

Installing the Base Packages

Before installing the base packages, we need to mount all those logical drives and the installation CD. First we mount the root partition. As you can see above, that is /dev/hda6 in my drive map.

mount /dev/hda6 /mnt

After that, we create directories for the other partitions and mount them inside the root partition:

mkdir /mnt/boot /mnt/home /mnt/usr /mnt/opt /mnt/var
mount /dev/hda1 /mnt/boot
mount /dev/hda5 /mnt/home
mount /dev/hda7 /mnt/usr
mount /dev/hda8 /mnt/opt
mount /dev/hda9 /mnt/var

Now we mount the installation CD:

mount /dev/hdc /src

Now that everything is ready, it's time to install the base packages:

/arch/quickinst cd /mnt /src/arch/pkg

After this step, the system tells us the next step, which is to install the kernel.

Installing the Kernel

At the end of the base package install, we are given the next step, installing the kernel. This is another place where you may deviate from my procedure but, in general, I feel it's smarter to use the 2.6.x kernel. For the sake of completeness, however, you have the choice of using the following kernels in their scsi and non-scsi flavors:

  • kernel24
  • kernel24-scsi
  • kernel26
  • kernel26-scsi

Again, I used kernel26 as it has more support of devices which are present in the I8500, it performs better and it's just cooler to say that you're using the more recent version of the kernl. To install the kernel, we use pacman with the following command:

/tmp/usr/bin/pacman.static -r /mnt --config /tmp/pacman.conf -S kernel26

Configuring the System Files

The next step is to configure all those files that bring your system to, at least, the login. Before we do all that, we need to chroot into the fresh installation.

chroot into the New Installation

First we must provide the new environment with a proper /dev and /proc. You can do so this way:

mount -t proc none /mnt/proc
mount -o bind /dev /mnt/dev

And now we can chroot into the new environment.

chroot /mnt /bin/bash

(To be continued...)


I have used the following references in the past so I will link them all here. Not all of them apply to my configuration but they were, in some way or another, useful for me. Please let me know if any of the links don't work any more. Some of them may have anacronistic steps but they are worth linking for legacy and for attribution. I do not claim to be the authority on the I8500.