Gentoo Linux on a Dell XPS M1210 (amd64)

home | computer science projects | car projects

 I Needed to get a new laptop, I wanted one that was not big (> 5lbs), but still had a good Nvidia GPU.  The Dell XPS 1210 met these requiremets.  When Dell upgraded this model to Core 2 Duo, it made the system even more appealing. As you may be well aware, Intel added EM64T when it went from Core to Core 2, and of course one must a 64 bit machine if it is posible. However, Core 2 is not exactly well supported in 64 bit mode. This guide will provide some information on how to get everything working properly using the amd64 port tree.

My System's Specs
Processor: Core 2 Duo (Merom) T7600 2.33 Ghz 4MB cache
RAM: 2 GB DDR2 667
Video: GeForce Go 7400
NIC: Broadcom 4401
Sound: Sound Blaster Audigy
Wireless: Intel IPW3945ABG
HD: Hitachi SATA 7200 RPM 100 GB
Optical Drive: DVD+/-RW, 8X, SONY

Basically all of my hardware is working properly, except for items which I don't use/need and are therefore untested. These items include: SD cardreader, s-video, modem, SD card reader. Also, I have not tried to get suspend to work.

I will assume that you went through the Gentoo handbook for amd64. I will simply provide proper configuration files that you will need specific to this hardware, and a list of snags I ran into and how to get out of them.

Here Are My Files:


Snags: HAL daemon stopped working.  This was fixed by re-emerging first "kernel-headers" and then "glibc".  That fixed the problem for me.

Wireless: You have to remove the package ieee80211 provided by portage before emerging/updating to "gentoo-sources" > version 2.6.21.  If you got the sources before you removed the ieee80211 package, remove ieee80211 and then re-emerge gentoo-sources and recompile your kernel like my .config file.  

VMWare Workstation: This is still broken for me.  I will fix it and give you the howto. 

2.6.19 - it would seem that they moved the sata stuff, so here is an updated .config file that corresponds to the changes.

.config | make.conf | grub.conf | xorg.conf


I am presently running the 2.6.18 Linux kernel from the gentoo-sources package. I will simply include my .config file. If you compile your kernel with my .config file, most of your hardware will just work.


I set my processor to the EM64T profile since Merom is EM64T. The problem turns out to be that the kernel assumes that if you say EM64T then you are a EM64T Pentium 4 based processor. You know, and I know that Merom is Pentium-M based and not Pentium 4 based. This caused me a whole host of timer issues, which were fixed by disabling the option “CONFIG_X86_TSC” which is automatically set when you select the EM64T profile. For the moment, you must disable this freature by passing “notsc” to your kernel as an option.


Your grub.conf file should look something like this:

title=Gentoo Linux 2.6.18

root (hd0,0)

kernel /kernel_2.6.18 root=/dev/sda3 notsc

NIC: Broadcom 4401

This initally gave me some problems. Older kernels, >= 2.6.16, seemed to have some kind of bug in the b44 driver. When I went to 2.6.17, these problems went away.

Wireless: ipw3945

This wasn't really hard to do, but the biggest problem is that at the present, these drivers are not in the amd64 tree. The good news is that the drivers in the ~x86 tree work just fine. To be able to merge them, just add the following to your “package.keywords” file:

net-wireless/ipw3945 ~x86

net-wireless/ipw3945d ~x86

net-wireless/ipw3945-ucode ~x86

net-wireless/ipw3945-firmware ~x86

Video: Nvidia GeForce Go 7400

The Nvidia drivers in the amd64 tree work just fine. I just had one snag, for some reason the glx stuff was stuck on CPU rendering. You can determine this by typing glxinfo, and if all is well, the vendor string will say “NVIDIA Corporation.” If it does not, and you have the nividia drivers installed execute this command to switch your profile to Nvidia:

# eselect opengl set nvidia

Okay, this should be all you need! If you still have some kind of problem with the methods in this guide, feel free to email me at smadasam – at- gmail -dot- com