Red Hat 7.3 or Mandrake 9.0

on the Dell Inspiron 4150


Please email me if you have any questions or comment or additions, .
This was last updated March 5, 2003 - still under construction.

    This laptop is much more like the Dell Inspiron 8200, then the 4100. The main differences between the 8200 and the 4150 is the screen size and graphics options. I have read through all of the other dell 4100 and 8200 pages on the site, and I think that the 8200 and 4100 are the best supported laptops from Dell, in terms of linux. In fact, a company  Emperor Linux, offers the 8200 (and other laptops...Sony, IBM, etc) pre configured with linux, although I would not recommend buying through one of these types of companies. It is better to do the install yourself, because then you will better understand the setup and configuration of your laptop. Also, it is cheaper directly from dell, and if you ever have to reinstall, it will be familiar to you. Back to the 4150, there are currently no pages that I have found that describe installing Linux on the 4150. This is probably because this laptop has just been introduced a week or two ago. I will take you through the install starting from me opening the box.

Arrival and first boot.
    The laptop arrived a few days after I purchased it online. I was rather impressed with the shipping, because I did not pay for any special rush delivery. This laptop came with Windows XP on it. I am not interested in dual booting so, yet I wanted to make sure that everything was working in windows before I tried to get it working in Linux. I started XP went through the wizard for "using your computer for the first time”, etc. Then I went into the device manager and took screen shots of the device list, so I could have a copy of the details on some of the more complicated devices. I burned these screenshots onto a cd (which served as a good test of the cd burner). Then came the fun part.

I stuck the Redhat 7.3 CD in and pressed F12 during bootup to select booting from the CD drive.

Basic Installation
    For the installation, I just chose the defaults for the majority of the options (including "Laptop Install"). Both interfaces eth0 – (the rj45 network port) and eth1 – (the wireless card were recognized) yet there was nothing different in the way that they were listed.  There was no place for you to enter any of the information that one would need for a wireless card as opposed to a normal network card. I didn't configure wither of that cards at this point, yet I made sure to keep DHCP turned off, if it was on then at every bootup I would have to wait while DHCP timed out from not finding a network.

Other then this it was an uneventful install.
Mandrake install was just as easy.

    One important option that you need to remember during the install is in the boot disk section. I accidentally, my first time, selected that I wanted to make a boot disk, while this is a good idea, I usually don't do it. The only problem with selecting it is that you should have the CD-ROM drive in the laptop right now, not the floppy. So when I selected to write the floppy, the system seemed to freeze. The way around this was to switch into virtual console 2 (ctrl-alt-F2) and find the process that is running the boot disk creator. I killed that process and switched back to the graphical console (ctrl-alt-F7). I had a message waiting for me that said something to the affect of the boot disk program had an error. I chose ok and then selected not to create a boot disk. This worked and i went on to the rest of the installation.

  The video card was detected correctly, and I chose 1400X LCD , in the DELL monitor section (I have the SXGA+).

Additional Concerns


In Redhat: I think that this is a feature that I will not use too often, but this is what I have noticed so far.  There was a small partition in the beginning of my drive when it came from dell (it was vfat). My partition table is coming soon. I left this partition alone, and I left like 6 GB of empty space at the end of the disk, because I read somewhere that the laptop has to suspend to unformatted or “non-linux” formatted space. So, how is it working so far? I can press FN-Suspend, and the system suspends. And I can close the lid. If I open the lid, the system restores, also if I don't close the lid, then I can press the power button and the system restores. The one issue that I notices is that sometimes when it restores, something, not the cdrom, but something else HD I think spins up and wont spin back down until you restart your computer.

         In Mandrake, when the bios suspends or blanks the screen of the system, when the system returns, it crashes, badly. I think this can be fixed by recompiling the kernel for "Dell Laptop Support".

    Right now I have everything except two things working. In Redhat these are being able to burn music cds and using the wireless card. In mandrake, it is the suspend issues.


Dell Description

Technical Description


Mobile Pentium®4 Processor,1.7GHz-M 



14.1inch SVGA+ ATI 16MB Video









40GB Ultra ATA 5400 RPM Performance Hard Drive



Modular Floppy Drive



Integrated Network Card



Internal 56k Modem



Internal TrueMobile 1150 miniPCI card (Wi-Fi Certified)

Lucent Orinoco Card














    Red Hat 7.3 comes with XFree86 version 4.2.0. The card was detected and supported and the LCD was listed under the DELL section of the monitor selection. Same with Mandrake.

    Red hat never even asked me about the card. It simply worked immediately. Same with Mandrake 9.0.

    This works with redhat 7.3 and 8.0 when you use iwtools to configure. With Mandrake 9.0 everything was auto detected and I was online right at after bootup.

    More is coming, for now, I can burn data. I did have to make some changes to the driver file and download another helper application for the front-end. With Mandrake 9.0 no special attention is needed.
    Drexel University GNU Linux Users Group