[TriLUG] Debian on Dell
faheem at email.unc.edu
Sat Mar 6 17:27:24 EST 2004
On Wed, 25 Feb 2004, Faheem Mitha wrote:
> Dear People,
> I just started a job at Duke. I've been told to put together a machine
> quote for my office. I want to run Debian on it. I tried to persuade my
> employer to use Monarch, but was told I have to use Dell.
> I'm not sure of the best way to go about putting together a machine from
> Dell which has good general Linux support as opposed to Red Hat support.
> I've taken a look at Dell's Precision line of workstations, but it looks
> less than ideal. For one things the descriptions are less than specific
> about what hardware is included. I was hoping to somehow actually be able
> to do a significant amount of customization without breaking the bank.
> I'd greatly appreciate advice or suggestions on how to go about this
> without driving myself insane. Thanks in advance.
I want to thank everyone on Trilug who responded to my earlier message.
I've worked out a tentative spec, which I post below. Here follow some
1) One thing I am wondering about is the "8X DVD+RW/+R, Data Only". I have
no experience with something like this in Linux. Can one burn and play
DVDs. CD-R/CD-RW's with this thing under Linux? I was wondering if it
would be better to get separate DVD (read-only drive) and CD-RW drives to
be on the safe side.
2) They are also being rather coy about the ethernet card. I assume
(educated guess based on Daniel Chen's earlier message and other info)
that there is an onboard Intel card (which works with the e1000 driver),
3) I managed to get the Nvidia GeForce4 MX 440 card on a Dell Optiplex
GX270 to work under X. I could not manage to work it with the nv X driver
(as of 4.2 in testing) but the proprietary nvidia driver (ndvidia) worked.
I hope it will be the same with this "nVidia, Quadro NVS 280". Daniel
Chen's earlier Trilug message seems to confirm this.
A question: I have heard that the nvidia kernel modules are binary. How
come they seem to work with pretty much any kernel I try? Usually binary
kernel modules (in my experience) are very sensitive to the version of the
kernel being compiled against). At any rate, it seems part of the kernel
driver is actually being compiled. The documentation says
"Since the Linux kernel does not support a binary driver interface, we
provide for rebuilding these files on the target machine (or distribution)
and then linking with the binary version of the NV kernel driver."
but I'm not sure what this means.
4) I opted for SCSI instead of SATA drives, since it seems that the Linux
support for the (presumably on-board) SATA controller might be
problematic. Anybody with experience on this?
A friend of mine said the SCSI controller on Precisions was Adaptec but
Daniel said it was LSI, which is presumably well supported by the
mptfusion kernel modules. I'd prefer Adaptec, though.
5) I'd welcome suggestions on changes in the configuration below to reduce
cost while impacting functionality as little as possible.
Dell Precision Workstation 360n
Intel® Pentium® 4 Processor 2.80GHz, 1MB / 800 MHz FSB
Operating System: Red Hat Linux WS (V.3) with one year RHN subscription
Chassis: Small Mini-Tower
Keyboard: Entry Level Quietkey Keyboard, PS/2, (No Hot Keys)
Memory: 2GB,DDR400 SDRAM Memory,ECC (4 DIMMS)
Mouse: Dell USB 2-Button Optical Mouse with Scroll
Monitor: Dell UltraSharp?1901FP flat panel(19.0 viewable),
Graphics Card: nVidia, Quadro NVS 280, 64MB, dual monitor VGA capable
Boot Hard Drive: 36GB Ultra 320 SCSI, 1 inch (10,000 rpm)
2nd Hard Drive: 36GB Ultra 320 SCSI, 1 inch (10,000 rpm)
Floppy Drive: 3.5 inch 1.44MB Floppy Drive
Controller Primary: U320 SCSI Adapter with RAID 0 at No extra charge
Sound: Sound Blaster Audigy II with onboard 1394
Speakers: Dell Two Piece Stereo System
CD-ROM, DVD and Read-Write Devices: CD-ROM, DVD and Read-Write Devices:
8X DVD+RW/+R, Data Only
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