30 July, 2009

Installing Fedora 11 on Dell Inspirion Mini 10

Last week i got my hands on a friends' Dell Inspirion Mini 10 and the chance to install Fedora 11 on it. The Dell Mini's a really a nice piece of hardware with truly small dimensions and big battery life.

Dimesions - Just amazed to see what can be packed in such a small box these days). Weighing under 1Kg.
Screen - Though it's a very small screen compared to what we're used to, it's very decent.
Battery Life - 7-8hrs!!
Keypad - Very nice and comfortable for a device of this size.
Performance - o complaints for the portability it provides.
Fedora 11 works beautifully with the slightest effort :))

Touchpad - The Touchpad kept behaving weirdly(Was it the drivers..hmmm..) and i had a tough time using it.

Now coming to the Fedora 11 installation experience.

1. Download the Live CD iso using a torrent from here.

Prepare a bootable USB by ext2 formatting the USB stick, making the partition Bootable and then installing the iso to the USB as follows:
#yum install livecd-tools
#livecd-iso-to-disk Fedora-11-i686-Live.iso /dev/sdb1
(Assuming sdb1 is the bootable USB partition)

Boot using the USB and DoubleClick on the Install to HardDisk Icon.

Partitioning and Installing - Fedora 11 uses EXT4 as the default FS and expects an EXT4 rootfs. But, the version of GRUB supplied by Fedora does not support EXT4. So, we need a separate EXT3 /boot partition of around 20MB. The Installer crashed many a times and we observed that the installer is unable to format a swap partition into any other FS format. We had to boot using the USB and change the partition table using fdisk, then then use mkfs.ext3 to partition it. This left with the impression that Fedora needs to work on the LiveCD installer, at least providing less cryptic messages when it comes to getting the partitioning right. I wonder if a newbie could figure her way out of the cryptic error messages and weird behaviour of the installer.
Apart from that, the installation was a breeze and got over in 5 minutes flat.

Configuring FEDORA11 on the Mini 10

Enable the rpm fusion repos as follows:
#rpm -ivh http://download1.rpmfusion.org/free/fedora/rpmfusion-free-release-stable.noarch.rpm
rpm -ivh http://download1.rpmfusion.org/nonfree/fedora/rpmfusion-nonfree-release-stable.noarch.rpm
rpm --import /etc/pki/rpm-gpg/RPM-GPG-KEY-rpmfusion-*

The first thing that needs resolution is the inordinately large font that makes usability Zero.
GoTo System->Preferences->Apprearance->Fonts->Details and change the Dots Per Inch to 80. Use Alt-C to close the window. This makes the system much more usable.

Touchpad: Behaves weirdly and is a tad too sensitive. GoTo System->Preferences->Mouse and reduce the sensitivity by playing around a bit. Also enable the 'MouseClick with TouchPad' and Vertical Scroll features.

Wireless: Doesn't work by default as the Broadcom drivers are non free.
#yum install kmod-wl
And wireless works!

Audio & Video: Just install the normal codec packs and mplayer.
yum install ffmpeg ffmpeg-libs gstreamer-ffmpeg libmatroska xvidcore
#yum install mplayer smplayer

Increasing the Screen Real Estate: By default it's difficult to browse. In Firefox, remove the Bookmarks Toolbar. Also set the Top & Bottom Panels of your Desktop to AutoHide giving you a very comfortable viewing.

Stop unnecessary services from System->Administration->Services.
Also remove programs like imsettings-start, Login Sound, Print Queue Applet, Remote Desktop etc. by going to System->Preferences->StartupApps and reduce the number of programs that start at boot up.

All in all this gives you a pretty fast booting and responsive system running your favourite Fedora 11 :)

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