John Heidemann / Other Stuff / Free Unix / Free Unix on Dell X200

I recently purchased a Dell X200 to run Linux.

General impressions: It’s a nice laptop. It’s larger than the other ultraportables, but not bad. Ultimately, though I cannot recommend the machine with current Linux because of power-management problems.



Machine stats for the X200: Mobile Pentium-III 933MHz, 640MB RAM (in my model), 20GB disk (I replaced it with a 40GB third-party disk without trouble), video is Intel 82830 CGC with a nice large 12.1” display, audio is an Intel 82801CA/CAM AC’97 Audio, internal Winmodem (of some kind), internal Ethernet is 3Com 3c905C-TX/TX-M, internal (optional) 802.11 is (TBD), BIOS TBD.

Disclaimer: PC models change very quickly, what’s on this page may not have bearing on later models. YMMV.


Installation: I RedHat Linux 9 install works fine out of the box using the Firewire CD-ROM (other folks reported problems installing on earlier RH versions).

RedHat 9 autoconfigures the video, audio, USB, wireless, Firewire/i1394 and touchpad without problem.

Video: Both Redhat 8.0 and 9 work out-of-the box with video (prior users had reported lack of X support). XFree86-4.2 (in RH8) works fine, but without XRENDER support (and so anti-aliased fonts in Gnome and Crossover office don’t work). In XFree86-4.3 (RH9) XRENDER and those apps work fine.

Power management: I had a lot of trouble with suspend/resume, and have basically given up on it every working 100%.

To me, the second problem is a major problem. I end up rebooting several times a day, because I need to go from wired to wireless. As a result, I cannot recommend this laptop. Personally, I find one must be able to plug/unplug a laptop and have it keep working reliably. (The only reason I keep it is because it’s so much faster than my last laptop.)

These statements assume APM-based power management under Linux. It’s possible (probable?) that things will work under ACPI, unfortunately, my previous experience with ACPI under Linux on a different machine were not fruitful, it doesn’t see there yet (see the details elsewhere).

The modem is a “win”modem. Another user points to this site for a Linux driver. I tried it and can get AT commands, but I didn’t actually beat on it until it worked. Instead I bought a drop-in real modem.


I don’t have any news about FreeBSD on this machine yet.

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