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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My experiences in getting openSUSE 11.2 (x_64) working on my Dell Inspiron 1501 (part 1)

My 64 bit Dell Inspiron 1501 has served me well for the past few years with very few minor issues once I got all the required drivers and necessary software installed. From the get go, I dumped Windows Vista and installed openSUSE Linux x_64. I started off with openSUSE 10.2 then migrated to oS 10.3. Like I said, it served me well.

Unfortunately, with the release of oS 11.2 last fall, oS stopped supporting oS 10.3. From my observation and experience oS xx.3 has been the best release of each version. Because of this my plan was to wait till oS 11.3 to be released before upgrading. However, new versions of the software used required the latest version of the Linux kernel for it to run. So the decision to upgrade to oS 11.2 was made.

The initial upgrade did not work well (other articles on the web documents the difficulty of upgrading oS to newer versions). My advise - do a fresh install instead of upgrading. The second attempt, I did a fresh install, worked well and was do most of the stuff I did before the upgrade. The second most difficult issue was getting the ATI Radeon Express 200 3D video graphics card to work and the most difficult was the Broadcom wireless network card. Research showed both these devices are not supported in oS 11.2. Now here I am with an operating system that is not able to do my work and am not able to go back to oS 10.3 as it is not available.

Fortunately, oS has a 1-click install feature for ATI products. When I tried it, the graphics drivers install appeared to fail. When the laptop was rebooted the 3D graphics card started working. The Broadcom card was not so easy as there is not 1-click install feature. Eventually I found the only thing missing was wireless support in the Linux kernel. Once the correct kernel modules were installed the wireless card started working. To be continued in part 2

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