Summary

This page describes installing Ubuntu Linux 8.04 on a Dell Latitude C600 laptop. It was not a trivial installation to get everything working. The installation involved replacing the /etc/X11/xorg.conf file that Ubuntu generated to get full resolution.

Hardware Notes:

Processor: Pentium III (coppermine) 750 MHz
RAM: 512 MB (max)
Hard Drive: 20 GB (Hitachi_DK23DA-20)
NIC: 3Com 3c556 (cyclone)
Sound: ES1983S Maestro-3i
Graphics: ATI Rage Mobility M3 AGP 2x

Trials

Linux Distro Result
Ubuntu 9.10 Max resolution of 800x600, sound okay.
Suse 11.2 Live Resolution of 1024x768 but choppy sound.
Debian 5.03 Max resolution 800x600 & 'Volume Control Found Nothing'.
Fedora 11 Live Max resolution 800x600.

Procedure

At your own risk, you can use the Dell C600 xoeg.conf  file that I used. The procedure I used to get it is listed below.

  1. Boot up Suse 11.2 Live CD.
  2. Copy the entire /etc/X11/xorg.conf file to your home directory:

    me@myhost$  cp /etc/X11/xorg.conf xorg.suse112

  3. Networking works, so use a webmail account to mail the file to yourself for storage.
  4. Install Ubuntu 8.04. I recommend Ubuntu version 8.04 because I couldn't find an "xorg.conf" file in Ubuntu 9.10 (turns out it is dynamically figured out). This is also a Long Term Support (LTS) version which will be updated until April 2011.
  5. Networking works, so retrieve the "xorg.suse112" file you emailed yourself and save it to your home directory.
  6. Make a backup copy of the original xorg.conf file:

    me@myhost$  sudo cp /etc/X11/xorg.conf /etc/X11/xorg.conf_ORIG

  7. Replace the existing xorg.conf file with the one in your home directory:

    me@myhost$  sudo mv xorg.suse112 /etc/X11/xorg.conf

  8. That's all it took for me to get the 1024x768 full resolution of this older laptop and good sound. It might or might not work for you.

Remarks

I have no idea why this doesn't work "out of the box" for Ubuntu 9.10. I searched in Synaptic package manager and saw that the two packages xserver-xorg-video-ati and xserver-xorg-video-r128 were both installed. It seems like the right packages are there but not being used(?).

For linux newcomers: Ubuntu will not play mp3 files immediately due to patent restrictions and/or the free software licensing. The first attempt to play the files, though, will guide you to the proper software to download and install. Accept the suggestions.

To get to the BIOS use the F2 key at boot. F12 at boot allows you to set the boot device. BIOS = Version A23 (latest as of 2007-05).