Geek News: SUSE Linux 10.0 on a Dell Optiplex GX620

Skip this if you’re not interested in techie stuff; we’ll return to our regularly scheduled logic programming soon.

Yesterday I got some fancy new equipment: A Dell Optiplex GX620 desktop, with a stunning Dell 2405FPW 24″ screen. Then I was lucky enough to find a North American mirror which already had the brand-new SUSE Linux 10.0, released day before yesterday, and installed it. Went almost without a hitch (see below).

More specs: The thing is running on an Intel Pentium 4-640 (3.2 GHz, 2 MB L2 cache, and an 800 MHz front-side bus, and Extended Memory 64-bit Technology). That’s not anything super-fast, but plenty of computing power for me. It came loaded with 1 GB of RAM, a 160 GB harddrive, ATI Radeon 600SE video card with DVI connector, and a DVD-ROM and a DVD+/-RW drive.

To install SUSE 10.0, I downloaded the 64-bit version of the install DVD image (SUSE-10.0-EvalDVD-x86_64-GM.iso), burned it to a DVD, and started the install process. YaST recognized all the hardware without difficulty. Everything was set up in less than an hour. The only problem came when I booted for the first time, when the machine became unresponsive just after starting X. The screen goes blank like it’s making to switch from VGA to the fancy video driver, but then instead of a cursor it just stays blank and the system hangs. Seems the stock “radeon” driver for doesn’t like my card or my monitor. So I installed the proprietary ATI driver.

If you’re reading this because you have the same problem and you’re wondering “How do I download the driver if I can’t even run Firefox?” then: (a) Boot in “Linux (failsafe)” mode to get a console. (b) Tell X to use the vesa driver instead of the radeon:

# sax2 -m 0=vesa

and save your new X configuration. Now you can start X (or reboot into graphical mode). (c) Then download the driver from the ATI website (fglrx64_6_8_0-8.16.20-1.x86_64.rpm). (d) Install the driver. (c) Tell sax to use it by starting it with

# sax2 -m 0=fglrx

I obviously haven’t tried it all out yet. The CompactFlash/Secure Digital/Memory Stick/SMC reader in the monitor works at least; Nautilus even automatically mounts it and asks me what I want to do with the photos from the digital camera! SUSE 10.0 comes with a bunch of new features that need exploring, such as Xen (a VM sorta like vmware, except it doesn’t do Windows, which is unfortunate, because if it did, I could finally run Language Proof and Logic software without having to reboot!) and Beagle (the Gnome version of Spotlight).

16 thoughts on “Geek News: SUSE Linux 10.0 on a Dell Optiplex GX620

  1. Did you ever try to install an optical mouse with SUSE? Some months ago, I tried it with an older version of SUSE. And I gave it up. Mandrake is much more comfortable with those things, I guess. Posted by enwe

  2. Hm, never had any trouble whatsoever with mouses. Mine are all optical.Also: The DVD drive (an LG GDR8163B) and the DVD writer (a Philips DVD8701) work fine, Nautilus would even burn a DVD image simply by right-clicking on the .iso file). The fglrx driver as installed from the RPM supplied by ATI for some reason didn’t do 3D acceleration, so I reinstalled it by downloading the Driver Installer instead, built an RPM for Suse 10.0, followed the instructions in and now it’s working. YaST also had no trouble identifying my HP 1100 Laser printer and the HP OfficeJet 6110 all-in-one, which can print and scan (using hplip). I only had to tell Samba to allow guest access, and the printers are also accessible over the wlan. The gnome-screensaver doesn’t turn off my monitor, so I installed xscreensaver instead. Got all the fancy non-GPL’d multimedia stuff off using YaST as well, so now I can play mpegs and DVDs in Totem or Xine. Posted by Richard Zach

  3. Thanks for this post, I just got my GX620 and am switching to linux for the first time. Coming from a Novell background I’m obviously chosing SuSE 10.0 to start with Posted by Bryan Thoreson

  4. Story last modified Tue Aug 23 16:09:00 PDT 2005SAN FRANCISCO–Start-up XenSource has succeeded in booting Microsoft Windows on top of Xen software, an important milestone in its effort to commercialize the virtual machine. XenSource said Tuesday it accomplished the feat using an Intel processor equipped with VT, or virtualization technology–a feature scheduled to begin shipping in new chips later this year. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company is demonstrating the software this week at the Intel Developer Forum here. Xen, which is designed to let multiple operating systems run on the same computer, is almost always is used with Linux. But running Windows as well is useful in the real world, where both operating systems are widely used atop the powerful networked computers called servers. Beginning later this year, XenSource plans to sell management software called XenOptimizer to help customers use Xen. Getting Windows started on Xen wasn’t easy, said Simon Crosby, a XenSource co-founder and vice president of corporate development for the 45-person company. For example, the boot process uses 16-bit code from that must be emulated on today’s 32-bit and 64-bit chips, he said. The XenSource programmers booted Windows XP SP2, Crosby said. Xen software is a “hypervisor”–software that manages a computer’s hardware resources so they can be shared by multiple operating systems. By virtualizing and sharing this hardware, computers ideally can juggle more jobs gracefully and efficiently. @import ‘/css/news/carouselflat.css’;Xen uses an approach called “paravirtualization,” in which the operating system must be modified to be aware of the hypervisor layer. Future versions of the two most commercially successful versions of Linux, Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Novell’s Suse Linux Enterprise Server, will include the necessary modifications. With the VT features of Intel’s chip, though, an operating system can run on Xen without having to be modified. The chipmaker’s engineers contributed the initial Xen support for VT, Crosby said. Intel’s chief rival, Advanced Micro Devices, has a parallel technology called Pacifica that it plans to introduce in 2006. Though Pacifica and VT work somewhat differently, Xen employs a software layer called VMX that is designed to handle differences chip technologies. Xen engineers will be able to start building Pacifica support soon, Crosby said. “We’re expecting evaluation systems shortly,” he said. Copyright ©1995-2005 CNET Networks, Inc. All rights reserved. Posted by Jeff Price

  5. Jeff – you’ll need a VT-enabled CPU to do that. Not sure if the 640 has these extensions; they’re new.In the meantime, I’ve been able to boot Windows 2000 on QEMU and on Bochs. Both are free x86 emulators. Either should work, but QEMU is a lot faster. Have not tested whether they’ll run the mentioned software under Windows, but I see no reason why not.  Posted by David Molnar

  6. Thanks for that hint! I installed QEMU , installed Win XP, and LPL is running like a charm. I haven’t tried network connectivity yet, though, and haven’t gotten the QEMU Accelerator module to work. Posted by Richard Zach

  7. How did you ever compile qemu on suse 10 ?I’ve been trying for a time now, and with NO progress.Please tell me… did you downgrade to a older version of gcc? Posted by Fredrik Sjöstedt

  8. Brilliant tip – thank you – worked for me on a Packard Bell iMedia 1304i. Same problem with X startup. Allsorted now! Posted by Jonathan Ayres

  9. I’ve been trying to install Suse linux 10.0 on my Dell Demension 2400. Everything seems ok until the last thing when it’s anylizing my system, it just hangs there. It doesn’t do anything. I’ve checked my media, I’ve tried re-install, I’ve tried installing with ACPI disabled. Same thing every time.It’s like it can’t recognize some of my hardware. I have Pent.4 2.66 Ghz. 512ram ATI Radieon 9250 (PCI) card. Posted by Mike Tsagakis

  10. I had the “black and green screen” problem when trying to run the sax2 command as well.This advise is assuming that the ATI package completion was done without errors also.Use fglrxconfig to configure 3D acceleration instead of sax2. This must also be run as root. I ran it using init 3 and switched to init 5 after the configuration. You may need some information about your monitor to get the highest possible refresh rate for your monitor, but the 3D works great. I went from `250 fps with glxgears to `4700 fps.Good Luck  Posted by Richard Rajchel

  11. the latest driver from ati sometimes works and sometimes hands.. once it boots it wont crask but if you try to restart the x server it will hang the system.. anyone run into this issue? Posted by Anonymous

  12. Thanks for the great blog. The “How do I download the driver if I can’t even run Firefox?”Was a serious stumbling block for me, since I am not a serious Linux type.Scott Posted by Scott Rosenbaum

  13. This message has made my day. I have been trying to install LINUX on the optiplex for a while now and YES it worked. DELL need to standardize their systems someday!Cheers,Sweta Posted by S Parker

  14. Thanks very much!I just have encounter the exactly same problem! Posted by wqx

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