So I replaced my Latitude D410 with a shiny new Latitude E4300 (Intel Core 2 Duo SP9400 2.4 Ghz with 4 Gb RAM). Here are some notes about this laptop that might be interesting for others.
I now use an SSD drive for my main disk (Dell Ultra Performance SSD, it’s the second generation of Samsung SSD) and I’m satisfied with that choice, I can boot (an unmodified Debian desktop install) from the SSD in less than 30 seconds while the same system booting from a traditional hard-disk takes more than 45 seconds.
The Intel GM45 graphic card is not auto-recognized by Xorg 7.3 (or rather by xserver-xorg-video-intel 2.3.2 which is in lenny) so you end up with the vesa driver by default. It’s possible to force the usage of the intel driver by adding a “Driver “intel”” line in the device section of xorg.conf but I have opted to use Xorg 7.4 (available in experimental). With this version, I can successfully use the DVI output in the associated dock and I have working suspend/resume. It does create some interesting problems however since that version of the xserver relies on HAL to detect the keyboard layout and doesn’t use the Keyboard section of xorg.conf. You have to create
/etc/hal/fdi/policy/10-keymap.fdi by using
/usr/share/hal/fdi/policy/10osvendor/10-keymap.fdi as template and reload HAL then restart X.
The Intel 5100 Wifi chipset requires Linux 2.6.27 at least for the new iwlagn driver. This driver also needs a new firmware (the iwlwifi-5000 one) that is not yet integrated in the non-free package firmware-iwlwifi (see #497717).
It works ok with alsa and the version integrated in linux 2.6.27 but it still has some rough edges when used in combination with the dock. Using the output jack connector on the dock doesn’t stop the output in the integrated loudspeakers and the volume on that connector is so low that you could think that it doesn’t work at all if you don’t pay attention. Using the microphone works fine.
For reference, if you play in the mixer, “Front mic” means the microphone connected on the dock while “Mic” means the one connected on the laptop. Each “Analog loopback X” option goes pairwise with the corresponding “Input source X” setting. In order for the recording to work, I have to set “Digital Input Source” to “Analog Input”, “Digital” must be activated and “Input source 1” defines the default input used for the recording.
Contrary to the previous laptop, Dell offered no choice on the bluetooth chipset, they only propose the “Dell 365 Bluetooth™ Card” so I took it but it doesn’t seem to work out of the box. In fact I can’t even see it with lspci or lsusb so I wonder if they did something wrong during the assembly. Googling on the topic didn’t gave me any good result, let me a comment if you know how to get this working.
Update: so apparently the bluetooth component is there (ID 0a5c:4500 Broadcom Corp.), it just appears as an USB hub so it’s somewhat difficult to guess that it’s effectively a bluetooth card.
Freezes, in particular with an amd64 installation
I first installed the system in 64 bits mode (amd64 architecture) but I had very regular freezes of the system (I couldn’t finish a single kernel compilation for example). Since I switched to an i386 installation, the system is more stable but I still get an occasional freeze every other day. It might be that a more recent kernel fixes this or maybe it will be fixed with a future Dell Bios update… we’ll see, but it’s my biggest complaint with this laptop so far.
Lucas Nussbaum bought the same laptop, you might want to read his remarks as well.
Load the full article only if you want to see the lspci and lsusb output on this laptop.