Dell Inspiron 6400

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The goal of this article is to provide a comprehensive guide for Dell Inspiron 6400 owners seeking to install Arch Linux. It will attempt to cover all facets of hardware management, including wireless networking and hotkey support. Although this guide has been written specifically for the Inspiron 6400, many of the sub-sections can be applied to other Dell Inspiron models, including:

  • Dell Inspiron 640m
  • Dell Inspiron e1405
  • Dell Inspiron e1505
  • Dell Inspiron e1705

Hardware Specifications

The 6400 series laptop is currently available in a number of configurations and this guide will attempt to cover them all. Refer to the list below to determine whether your configuration has been documented.

  • Red items have yet to be covered in detail and require a Wiki entry

Base Components

  • Intel Core Duo and Core 2 Duo processors
    • T2500 (2GHz/667MHz FSB/2MB Cache)
    • T5600 (1.83GHz/667MHz FSB/2MB Cache)
    • T2050 (1.66GHz/667MHz FSB/2MB Cache)
    • T1350 (1.66GHz/667MHz FSB/2MB Cache)
    • T5200 (1.60GHz/667MHz FSB/2MB Cache)
  • 512MB/1GB/2GB 533MHz/667MHz DDR2 SDRAM Memory
  • 15.4" Widescreen Display
    • WXGA (1280 x 800)
    • WSXGA 1280x800 with TrueLife™
    • WSXGA+ 1680x1050 with TrueLife™
  • 80GB/100GB/120GB/160GB 5400/7200 RPM SATA Hard Drive
  • 8x CD/DVD+/-RW/DL+R
  • Broadcom 440x 10/100 Ethernet
  • Conexant HDA D110 MDC V.92 modem (winmodem)
  • Sigmatel STAC 92xx Audio
  • Ricoh R5C822 SD/SDIO/MMC/MS/MSPro Card Reader
  • 4 USB 2.0 Ports
  • Firewire port (IEEE 1394)
  • 1 ExpressCard Slot
  • Synaptics touchpad with scroll zones

Video Options

  • 128MB ATI Mobility Radeon X1300 with HyperMemory
  • 256MB ATI Mobility Radeon X1400 with Hypermemory
  • 256MB nVidia GeForce Go 7300 with TurboCache
  • 128MB Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950

Wireless Options

  • Intel Pro/Wireless 3945ABG (802.11a/b/g)
  • Dell Wireless 1390
  • Dell Wireless 1500 Draft 802.11n Wireless (Intel 4965AGN)
  • Dell Wireless 350 Bluetooth Module
  • Dell Wireless 355 Bluetooth Module



Sigmatel/Intel Chipset

The Sigmatel audio chipset should be detected automatically during installation, requiring no input from the user.

ALSA Audio Drivers

Refer to the ALSA wiki for general assistance with volume settings, group permissions, etc.

OSS Audio Drivers

See the OSS wiki for more information.


ATI X1300/X1400 Radeon Mobility

Proprietary Driver (catalyst/fglrx)

See ATI wiki.

Open Source ATI Driver

Please refer to the ATI wiki for more information.

Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950

Open Source Intel Driver

Install the driver, available in the xf86-video-intel package.

Use gft to generate the Xorg Modeline values and then edit /etc/X11/xorg.conf and add these values to the Monitor section, for example:

Section "Monitor"
 Identifier "Monitor0"
 VendorName "unknown"
 Modeline "800x600" 40.12 800 848 968 1056 600 601 605 628 #60Hz

Lastly, add the following to the "Device" section, replacing the existing Driver value if present:

VideoRam       229376
Option "CacheLines" "1980"
Driver      "intel"

nVidia GeForce Go 7300

The NVIDIA Driver Wiki works fine. A side note: When running Beryl/Compiz-Fusion, while opening multiple instances of FireFox, the entire window went black. Forcing AIGLX solved this.


Broadcom 440x 10/100 Ethernet

The Broadcom Ethernet card should have out-of-the-box support. No configuration necessary.


See Wireless network configuration.

Conexant HDA D110 MDC V.92 modem (winmodem)

The Conexant modem requires the proprietary hsfmodem driver. Dell offers a debian package hsfmodem_7.60.00.06oem_i386.deb at their support site.

The following PKGBUILD can be used to create an Arch Linux hsfmodem package from the debian package:

pkgdesc="Conexant modem driver by Dell"

build() {
  cd $startdir/src/
  ar x ${pkgname}_${pkgver}_i386.deb
  tar xzf data.tar.gz
  cp -a usr etc $startdir/pkg/
  1. Download and place hsfmodem_7.60.00.06oem_i386.deb and the PKGBUILD in a new folder, and run makepkg to create the package. See ABS for details on building packages.
  2. Run hsfconfig as root to build the module and initialise the modem. A reboot is required before the modem can be initialised. Run hsfconfig again after reboot.
  3. The modules are automatically loaded and a /dev/modem symlink is setup for use with the modem. Now use wvdial or other dialer programs to connect to the internet.

Ricoh R5C822 SD/SDIO/MMC/MS/MSPro Card Reader

The Ricoh card reader should work out of the box, as long as MOD_AUTOLOAD is set to yes in /etc/rc.conf. Assuming you use a HAL-aware desktop (GNOME, KDE, etc.), when a memory card is inserted, the kernel should automatically load the mmc_core/mmc_block modules and mount the new filesystem according to your desktop's automount settings.

This has been confirmed with the following card types:

  • SD Card

Synaptics Touchpad

The Synaptics touchpad should provide basic functions out-of-the-box, however if you would like to use the scroll zones and enable other advanced features, please refer to the Touchpad Synaptics wiki.

Power Management

ACPI Hibernation/Suspend

ATI video card owners might need to add vga=0 to the kernel options in kernel parameters in order to resume from suspend2ram. This behavior seems to change from version to version of catalyst, so your mileage may vary. Try it without vga=0 first, and if it does not work then add it.

CPU Frequency Scaling with cpufrequtils

Refer to the Cpufrequtils wiki for step-by-step instructions.

Multimedia Buttons & Fn Hotkeys

Unfortunately, configuring multimedia buttons and function keys on your laptop can be complicated process. Factors that must be taken into consideration include your choice of Desktop Environment (or lack thereof) and the actions you wish to bind to the special buttons or keys. For a detailed explanation of what is required, please refer to the Hotkeys wiki.

The following tips may offer some assistance in getting started.

Multimedia Buttons

For the most part, the Volume and Playback buttons should be recognized as an unassigned key by the Linux kernel. In which case, all that is necessary is to bind the button to an action.

It is also worth noting that the multimedia buttons and equivalent Fn key shortcut (e.g. Fn+PgUp = Vol Up) will produce the same keycode, so if you configure the button, the Fn hotkey combo will execute the same action.


The GNOME desktop provides an easy method for binding multimedia keys to their appropriate action.

  1. Browse to System -> Preferences -> Keyboard Shortcuts and scroll down to the Sound section.
  2. Click on an item (e.g. Mute) and then press the corresponding multimedia button
  3. Repeat this process for all of the multimedia buttons

The volume buttons should now work system-wide, and the playback buttons will now work in media players such as Rhythmbox and Exaile.

Openbox and other Window Managers

The xbindkeys utility is highly recommended for lightweight desktops such as Openbox--refer to the Hotkeys wiki for information.

The following is an example ~/.xbindkeysrc config file, making use of the multimedia buttons:

# vol up
"amixer set Master 2dB+ unmute"
  m:0x10 + c:176
# vol dn
"amixer set Master 2dB- unmute"
  m:0x10 + c:174
# vol mute/unmute
"amixer set Master toggle"
  m:0x10 + c:160
# play/pause
"audacious -t"
  m:0x10 + c:162
# back
"audacious -r"
  m:0x10 + c:144
# forward
"audacious -f"
  m:0x10 + c:153
# stop
"audacious -s"
  m:0x10 + c:164

Function (Fn) Hotkeys

Function keys seem to be less standardized than the Volume/Playback buttons, and therefore it can be difficult to get all of them working properly. For example, the Standby shortcut (Fn+ESC) may be recognized while at the same time the Hibernate shortcut (Fn+F1) is not. To make matters more confusing, it appears that some Fn keys such as those that adjust the LCD brightness are controlled by the BIOS, independent of the Operating System. Again, the Hotkeys wiki is highly recommended reading.

The following example shows how one can configure the Dell Media Direct button, Eject (Fn+F10) and Hibernate (Fn+F1) hotkeys to execute specific commands:

First, assign kernel keycodes to the Media Direct button and Fn hotkeys, using the /etc/rc.local script (which is executed before X loads):

# /etc/rc.local: Local multi-user startup script.
setkeycodes e009 122	# e009 eject fn
setkeycodes e012 130	# e012 mediadirect
setkeycodes e00a 123	# e00a hibernate fn

Then use the xbindkeys utility to bind the newly recognized keys to a custom action. Here is an ~/.xbindkeysrc config file:

# media direct button
  m:0x10 + c:134
# eject function hotkey
  m:0x10 + c:210 
# hibernate function hotkey
"sudo /usr/sbin/pm-hibernate"
  m:0x10 + c:209

Finally, execute xbindkeys at startup by placing it in your .xinitrc (or appropriate startup file for your environment):

xscreensaver -no-splash &
eval `cat $HOME/.fehbg` &
xbindkeys &
pypanel &
exec openbox-session

As stated previously, it can be a complicated process involving lots of trial & error troubleshooting, but hopefully this will help you get started.

Other Resources

TuxMobil: Linux Laptop & Notebook Installation Guides

TuxMobil: DELL Notebooks

Gentoo Wiki: HARDWARE Dell Inspiron 6400

Gentoo Wiki: HARDWARE Dell Inspiron 6400 Fixes for common problems