40.41 Dell Dimension 8400 (Belinos)

40.41.1 Belinos Specifications

From the lspci and lshw commands and /proc/cpuinfo:

Spec Details
Machine: Dell Dimension 8400
CPU: Intel(R) Pentium(R) 4 CPU 3.20GHz
Bogomips: 6373
Memory: 1GB
Network: Broadcom Corporation NetXtreme BCM575 (tg3)
Disk: 160GB Maxtor 6Y160M0
250GB Seagate ST3250823AS
Video: ATI Radeon X300 (RV370 5B60) (fglrx)
Audio: On board sound card (snd_intel8x0)
Creative Labs SB Audigy LS (snd_ca0106)
Hostname: belinos
Domainname: togaware.com
Boot: Grub
Kernel: 2.6.11-1-686-smp, 2.4.27

40.41.2 Belinos Usage

Belinos is a desktop machine originally with 1GB of memory and then 3GB [081006], a 160GB hard disk, a 250GB hard disk, and a DVD\(\pm\)RW Dual Layer burner. The machine came with MS/Windows XP installed so the machine was set up for dual boot (part of the Debian GNU/Linux and Ubuntu install options). The machine become a workstation for another user over time, and is now [100428] connected via VGA to a Pioneer 42 inch plasma display acting as an internet connected multimedia server.

40.41.3 Belinos Operating Systems

The original install was the Sarge Release Candidate 3 Debian GNU/Linux Installer, booting from a DVD+RW [050418]. The DVD image was obtained using jigdo-file (see Section ??). Ubuntu Jaunty (9.04) was installed over Debian [090909]. Successive upgrades of Ubuntu have been successful. Upgrade to Ubuntu 14.04 [140422] went smoothly running do-release-upgrade.

40.41.4 Belinos Hardware

Additional 2GB memory was purchased [081006] from Dick Smith for AUD$59 per GB (DDR2 PC5300 667 MHz) and inserted into slots 3 and 4. Process was simple and followed the instructions from the Dell service manual on line. Performance improvement was immediately noticeable.

A 300GB hard drive was added [090701] to the machine. It was salvaged from a external USB drive whose circuit board seemed to have failed—the disk itself was just fine.

A Telstra 3G Wireless Broadband USB was connected. The instructions at http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1147685 (posts number 1 and 7) were followed, and the network manager application then worked with the modem. A key element was that before the process:

$ sudo lsusb
Bus 001 Device 009: ID 19d2:2000

We then run the command:

$ sudo /usr/sbin/usb_modeswitch -W -c /etc/usb_modeswitch.conf


$ sudo lsusb
Bus 001 Device 009: ID 19d2:0031

That is, the :2000 became :0031.

40.41.5 Belinos Issues

  • The system has two soundcards and that presents ongoing issues. Simplest solution was to disable the on board sound card in the BIOS, then only one sound card is found. Otherwise the wrong'' one (on board) keeps getting preference it seems. Even when getting the snd\_ca0160 instead of snd\_intel8x0 the soundcard is working but when used direct through ALSA the sound is choppy---okay for totem but for mplayer need to tell it to useoss’’ instead of alsa'' by setting theao’’ option in /etc/mplayer/mplayer.conf—fixes it for some movies, but others have the reverse problem with mplayer and need alsa'' rather thanoss’’ … weird;
  • Kernel 2.6.11 was required because of its AHCI support for access to the hard drive (so dual boot could be simplified);
  • Non-free kernel modules required for support of the Tigon 3 NIC card (tg3)—irmware license fixed in Linux 2.6.12 by ;
  • Vesa video used until the install of the non-free fglrx driver, then replaced with the Xorg server with support for the Radeon RV370 (but without 3D support), then replace (070126) with the fglrx 3D accelerated driver then upgrade Xorg (090424) and ensure all fglrx packages are removed to avoid failure to start with message: and then a Backtrace and exit.
  • The original, analog only, 19” Dell flat screen monitor (E193FP) had a problem—there was no position where the whole screen was crisp, top to bottom. Generally, letters were fuzzy and washed out at the top of the screen, but fine at the bottom. Also, colours were faded at the top, but clear at the bottom. Seemed like a problem with limitations to off angle views. A replacement screen soon arrived and was okay! Dell requested my paying for the return of the faulty screen, but an email fixed this up and they covered the costs.
  • The original PHILIPS DVD+/-RW DVD8631 drive failed after 5 months. Dell quickly replaced it with a NEC DVD+/-RW ND-3530A.

40.41.6 Belinos Install Log 5 Sep 2009

Standard Ubuntu install. The options chosen: Language: English; Location: Sydney; Keyboard: USA. Partition: see below; Who are you?: Enter the details; Migrate documents and settings: Select nothing; Install; Restart.

Partition (MS/Windows installed on /dev/sda1 and /dev/sda2):

Spec Details
/ 130G & sda3
swap 2.8G & sda5
/home 250G & sdb1
/store 300G & sdc1

The virtualbox-3.0 package was installed to the install MS/Windows XP (the box has a license for it). This worked just fine.

091024 Purchased a Vodafone mobile broadband. Had to set it up in XP (using VirtualBox) as could not determine how to do so under Ubuntu. It was recognised under Ubuntu and the Network Manager application prompted with a wizard to set it up, but could not proceed from there. It seemed to try to connect but then failed. tried passwords and pins but nothing worked (there is no pin on the SIM). Under XP, run the installed automatically from the supplied CD. Choose prepaid and not to send usage data to Vodafone. It installed Windows .NET as part of the process. However, it still did not run on Ubuntu until I found that the APN is vfprepaymbb and the username and password are web. Now with network-manager-gnome I can connect and disconnect to mobile broadband. 19 Apr 2005

Standard Debian install. Choose boot media with F12 on boot. F2 to edit the BIOS, needed for 2.4 kernel (no support for AHCI so select Combination under Drive). MS/Windows XP already installed, so use the Debian GNU/Linux installer to reduce the NTFS partition size, but keep it, and repartition the remainder, ending up with a dual boot machine.

Install: lang=English, location=Australia, kb=American English, network through DHCP, hostname=belinos, resize NT partition and partition remainder as a desktop, write partition changes, install grub, reboot.

The repartitioning of the pre-existing MS/Windows NTFS partition is now handled directly by the Debian GNU/Linux installer. At the partition step select:

  \#2 primary 159.9GB ntfs

We want to keep this but make it smaller. Choose the size (40GB) and write changes to disk. Then partition the new free space as a Desktop Machine.

Default Desktop partition was:

Spec Details
/ 7G & sda3
/home 110G & sda6
swap 2.8G & sda5

Grub automatically noticed MS/Windows XP and added an appropriate entry for booting.

Root passwd, user account, apt install.

Install sudo for wajig.

Package installs: exim4 (smarthost with no local delivery).

StartX (choosing defaults for setup) has no problems (initially vesa, then install the non-free fglrx driver).

Install kernel-image-2.6.11-1-686-smp. Set BIOS back to AHCI and in /etc/fstab change the /dev/hda to /dev/sda. Tell Grub to boot from /dev/sda3:

  \# kopt_2_6=root=/dev/sda3 ro

With the BIOS back to AHCI we can now boot MS/Windows XP and GNU/Linux.

40.41.7 Troubleshooting Tigon3 Network Card

The firmware license problem was fixed for the release of Linux 2.6.12.

While kernel 2.4.27 was initially installed, upgrading to 2.6.11 lead to the network card not being found. The required kernel module for the Broadcom network card (tg3.ko) was moved by Debian to non-free due to its inclusion of firmware that is non-free. The package (kernel-nonfree-modules-2.6.11-1-686-smp_2.6.11-1_i386.deb) can be found at http://www.acm.rpi.edu/~dilinger/kernel-source-nonfree-2.6.11/. Download and install this package:

  $ wget http://www.acm.rpi.edu/~dilinger/kernel-source-nonfree-2.6.11/\
  $ wajig install kernel-nonfree-modules-2.6.11-1-686-smp_2.6.11-1_i386.deb

I also had to update the list of available modules:

  \# update-modules

The module can then be loaded:

  \# modprobe tg3

and on next boot the network will be set up. ATI Radeon X300

The Dell Dimension 8400 comes with an ATI Radeon X300 graphics card. This is supported as the radeon driver in X.Org, but does not include 3D acceleration. For that we initially needed to obtain the non-free fglrx driver, as described below. This package is now part of Debian (as of 060320) so the special install as described below is no longer required.

The following is sufficient to get things working:

wajig install mesa-utils fglrx-kernel-src fglrx-control fglrx-driver
cd /usr/src
sudo tar xjf fglrx.tar.bz2
sudo module-assistant prepare
sudo module-assistant a-i fglrx

Edit /etc/X11/xorg.conf to replace

        Driver "radeon"


    Driver      "fglrx"
    Option "VideoOverlay" "on"
    Option "OpenGLOverlay" "off"
    Option "UseInternalAGPGART" "no"

Then reboot and fglrx was being used. Special Install

The fglrx driver has a problem with concurrent X sessions, resulting in a total freeze of the machine at times (and regularly) when swapping between X-sessions (as in Ctrl-Alt-F8, etc.). The 3D acceleration (as tested with ppracer) works well though!

Download the driver for X.Org 6.8.0 (also works for 6.8.1 and 6.8.2):

  $ wget http://www.stanchina.net/~flavio/debian-fglrx-xorg/fglrx-driver_8.14.13-1_i386.deb

Or else the driver for XFree86 4.3.0:

  $ wget http://www.stanchina.net/~flavio/debian-fglrx-xfree86/fglrx-driver_8.14.13-1_i386.deb

Download the kernel module (only required for 3D acceleration and you can do without if the binary for your kernel is not available):

  $ wget http://www.stanchina.net/~flavio/debian-fglrx-modules/fglrx-kernel-2.6.11-1-686-smp_8.14.13-1+2.6.11-5_i386.deb

Install them:

  $ wajig install fglrx-driver_8.14.13-1_i386.deb
  $ wajig install fglrx-kernel-2.6.11-1-686-smp_8.14.13-1+2.6.11-5_i386.deb

Then modify /etc/X11/XF86Config-4 or /etc/X11/xorg.conf:

Section "Device"
        Identifier      "ATI"
        Driver          "fglrx"
        Option "VideoOverlay" "on"
        Option "OpenGLOverlay" "off"
        Option "UseInternalAGPGART" "no"


Section "Screen"
        SubSection "Display"
                Depth           24
                Modes           "1280x1024" Audio

The Creative Labs SB Audigy LS (using the snd_ca0106 module) did not present a mixer that the gnome-volume-control could find until gstreamer0.8-plugins was installed. The alsamixer command found one okay. Also, with some applications the sound is choppy - like the music is slow with continuous clicks. Yet, a DVD and ogg worked just fine with Totem! Also xmms is okay with the OSS driver. Realplayer clicks. Seems to happen when sound is played direct through ALSA rather than via the OSS emulation! Also needs at least kernel 2.6.11.

Since there are two soundcards in the machine, the simplest approach to making the CA0106 the default is to add both soundcards to /etc/modprobe.d/sound:

alias snd-card-0 snd-ca0106
options snd-ca0106 index=0
alias snd-card-1 snd-intel8x0
options snd-intel8x0 index=1

As of 081112 there remains the ongoing issue of getting the right sound card loaded and set as the default. Currently the manual process after a reboot is to remove all snd modules and then modprobe snd_ca0160. On Belinos, to get xmms working, needed to use the also driver, not oss. So add snd_intel8x0 to /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist to see if that helps. Starting MTA delay

At first, on boot this waits a long time (presumably times out). Something changed and this problem disappeared. Flat Screen Viewing

The supplied 19” flat panel had problems. Top of screen was fuzzy whilst bottom is just fine. But tilt the screen fully down (so it is about a 30 degree angle) and the whole screen looks okay - so probably not good at angular view!!!!! Not too good.

Dell replaced the screen at their expense. The new screen does not suffer the same problem. However, oranges look orange near the top and yellow near the bottom! Oh well, it is a cheaper screen!

Note also that to get a 60Hz display (the optimum) the following modeline in /etc/X11/XF86Config-4 in the Monitor section:

  Modeline "1280x1024" 108.0 1280 1328 1440 1688 1024 1025 1028 1066
  -hsync -vsync

To check the LCD screen out use the lcdtest package from http://www.brouhaha.com/~eric/software/lcdtest/. Especially the a command. Disappearing CD

After some package upgrades my CD drivers has disappeared! There was a kernel-image-2.6.11-1-686-smp upgrade from 2.6.11-2 to 2.6.11-3? Solution was:

  \# modprobe ide-generic Stop-Start Video

The DVD drive had to be tuned to allow smooth viewing of videos in xine and totem. See Section ?? for details.

Your donation will support ongoing availability and give you access to the PDF version of this book. Desktop Survival Guides include Data Science, GNU/Linux, and MLHub. Books available on Amazon include Data Mining with Rattle and Essentials of Data Science. Popular open source software includes rattle, wajig, and mlhub. Hosted by Togaware, a pioneer of free and open source software since 1984. Copyright © 1995-2022 Graham.Williams@togaware.com Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0