Thursday, 28 June 2007

D630 Update

I'm getting no where quickly trying to get the DVD and sound to work on the D630.

There are a lot of posts on different Linux forums describing the DVD problem on similar - but not identical - chipsets. The best I found is here. The advice is to add the parameter all-generic-ide to the "kernel" line in the GRUB bootloader config file /etc/grub.conf:

kernel /vmlinuz-2.6.18-1.2798.fc6 ro root=/dev/VolGroup00/LogVol00 all-generic-ide rhgb quiet

Unfortunately, it doesn't work on the D630.

I have also tried different BIOS options. In the BIOS, under "Onboard Devices","SATA Operation" is set to ACHI (Advanced Host Controller Interface .) The BIOS says the factory default is ATA. Obviously that's not the Dell factory default. If you try to change it you are warned that "SATA Operation must be AHCI when the Flash Cache Module is enabled." Presumably, Dell have enabled the Flash Cache Module to allow the machine to support Vista ReadyDrive. I disabled the Flash Cache and set "SATA Operation" to ATA: Fedora would no longer boot. I did try booting from the Fedora 7 setup DVD (thinking that a reinstall might not be too high a price to pay to get the DVD working) but it was still not recognized - not even with all-generic-ide.

I've had no better luck with the sound card. I have rebuilt the ALSA (Advanced Linux Sound Architecture) driver, library and utilites but it has made no difference.

It is not just a case then, of getting the latest drivers or changing some settings. The brutal fact seems to be that the current builds of the Linux kernel and drivers simply do not fully support the GM965 chipset. I can probably live without the DVD and without any sound for a while until updates are released, which of course they will be. However, this does highlight one of the difficulties of choosing Linux as your OS - especially in a business environment. Businesses tend to have regular hardware refresh cycles; they need to be comfortable that their loadset images are going to work with the hardware they purchase. The dominance of Windows means that hardware vendors support for Linux will at best be an after-thought, or more likely just be left to the Linux community.


Thorsten "thl" Leemhuis said...

I own a D630 since one day now as well; the DVD-problems should be fixed with a new F7 kernel soon; see

I have the audio-problem as well an no idea yet how to fix it. But I'm investigating.

David said...

Thanks for sharing your 'journey,' David. I just stumbled onto your blog and easily caught myself up to speed. I've enjoyed your appealing writing style and technical detail.

I ordered a D630 today and was hoping to put Linux on it (I'll most likely dual boot), though it probably won't be Fedora. I'm sure I'll be coming back to this invaluable blog once I begin my own journey.

I hope you haven't given up--this last post seemed a little..terminal.

David Rowe said...

Thank you for your comments - I really am grateful for your feedback.

I certainly haven't given up on Linux. The D630 is the laptop I use everyday, and I've stuck with Fedora.

I suppose I am resigned to the DVD and the soundcard not working - for now. My guess is that there needs to be a kernel patch to get the DVD to work: when that comes out I'll have a go at recompiling the kernel(!)

I'm not sure about the soundcard. My feeling is that there must be a way to get it to work. (On Windows you can often use a old driver to give you at least some functionality.) So I'm still looking...

Please let me know if you have more success with your install.

Mike said...

I've gotten the sound to work on my D630, F7 and 2.22 stable kernel.

what I did:

1. get an updated driver from GATech, wget

2. extract

3. configure with, ./configure --with-cards-hda-intel

4. make

5. make install

6. reboot

Mike said...

David Rowe said...

Thanks for the tip! I am definitely going to give it a try.