It's been a while since my last post. Mainly this is because Fedora 7 is working fine and I can just get on with my real job. I have to say it gives me a warm feeling to be using Linux: I don't have that nagging suspicion that I've paid to enter a pact where I'm allowed to use someone else's software in exchange for marketing my life. As a business desktop, Linux can best be described as practical. I've come to think of Linux as a screwdriver rather than an iPod.
Fedora has advanced in a few months to the point that it supports the D630's hardware natively; there is no longer a need to build the video and sound drivers, etc. One thing that I could just not get working however, was the Dell 360 bluetooth module. Finally, I found a discussion on an Ubuntu forum that explained that the problem only occurs on Dell machines with Vista pre-installed. (You may recall that Dell would not sell me a D630 without Vista installed.) The Vista bluetooth driver actually updates the firmware on the Dell 360 bluetooth module so that it can no longer be used by other Operating Systems, including Linux, but also XP. To fix the problem you need to install XP and downgrade the firmware by installing the XP bluetooth drivers.
So how to install XP? You can't install the XP drivers from a VMWare virtual machine, because the bluetooth module is obviously not visible to the host Linux OS, and so is not visible to the Guest OS. I don't have any unused space on my hard drive to create a new partition. How about installing XP on an external USB drive? Well it starts to install, but then won't boot because XP does not support booting from a USB drive. There is a way around this, however. You can craft a XP install CD to support USB drives: there are good instructions here if you need to do this. I didn't. I bought a second hard drive from Dell for £59 (about $120.)
Problem solved? Of course not. The D630 has a SATA hard drive and XP does not support SATA. What's more the Neanderthal XP installer allows you to install additional disk drivers only from the a: drive - and the D630 does not come with a floppy disk. To get around this one you need to craft another XP install CD to support SATA drives. This is not as onerous as it sounds. All you need to do is download the SATA drivers from the Dell website and then integrate them into the XP install image using the brilliant - and free - nLite Windows installation customizer. There are instructions here.
Once I had XP installed, I installed the XP bluetooth driver and that was it! When I restarted Fedora the Gnome Bluetooth Manager was showing the in notification area and running hcitool dev showed device hci0. All I need to do now is work out how to dial out...