Red Hat 9.0 Upgrade on Dell Inspiron 8200

The Hardware

Processor1.8GHz Pentium 4 M
BIOSPhoenix BIOS A08 (upgraded to A09)
Display15" SXGA+ (1400x1050) @24bit
Video Card32MB DDR 4X AGP NVidia NV17 (GeForce 440 Go)
Hard drive40GB, 5400RPM; Hitachi DK23EB-40
Floppy driveDell
Fixed optical24X CD-RW/DVD combo; Samsung CDRW/DVD SN-324B
Modemv.92 56Kb internal softmodem; PCTel 2304WT V.92 MDC
LAN10/100Mb LAN; 3C920 (3C905C-TX compatible) controller
WLANDell TrueMobile 1150 wireless mini-PCI (has Agere MPC13A-20/R chip)
FirewireIEEE 1394 (Firewire/i.Link); TI OHCI Compliant controller
USB2 slot USB 1.0; Intel 82801CA/CAM
PCMCIA2 slot; TI PCI-4451 controller
AudioCrystal WDM Audio Codec (Cirrhus Logic CS 4205)

The Process

I previously described my experiences installing Red Hat 8.0 on my Inspiron 8200. Here I describe my experiences upgrading that machine to Red Hat 9.


  1. I rebooted with CD 1 in my DVD drive. I took the opportunity offered to verify all three CD-Rs. I selected 2 Button PS/2 mouse. Then I ran an upgrade and let 'er rip.
  2. When the upgrade finished (about an hour total), I rebooted to see where I was.

How'd It Go?

I found I had a couple of expected problems and a very serious unexpected one.
  1. I expected I might have problems with the video driver. (See my related remarks about the Red Hat 8 installation.)
    1. I rebuilt the nVidia 4496 driver for the new kernel. When I ran startx (I don't use the graphic login screen.), the startup took a very long time, but it worked. However, the mouse/touchpad was frozen.
    2. I dropped back to the VESA driver (and corresponding XF86Config) and ran startx again. This time the mouse/touchpad was functional, though I had the previously reported problems with a screen offset.
    3. I went back again to the nVidia driver. For no particular reason, I started as root and it worked. And the mouse/touchpad worked.
    4. I exited, then started X again as myself, and everything seemed to be okay. Even APM suspend-to-RAM worked.

    However, after using nVidia 4496 for about a month, I decided to revert to 4363. With 4496, the machine would fail to resume successfully relatively frequently, meaning after a couple of days' worth of suspends and resumes. I have not had that experience with nVidia 4363 (as hacked).

  2. The next thing I wanted to do was to run up2date to get all the latest patches. But up2date didn't seem to want to start up. I decided to try poking around at other things....
  3. I tried to go about my usual business and discovered networking wasn't working well at all. It seemed that I could not connect to any website that used SSL (https:), with either Mozilla or Konqueror. Requests to some other websites never completed.

    To shorten a multi-hour, harrowing story, I decided to download kernel RPMs (2.4.20-20.9) from and install them. After I did so, the networking problems vanished.

  4. RealPlayer 8 (and 9) does not work. RP8 gets stuck at an flock() system call (as seen via strace). I've only tried a couple of things, but RP 9 (alpha) dies soon after starting to play with a Memory Fault or otherwise misbehaves. I have yet to have it function correctly with any input.

    Note: Sound appears to be working okay otherwise. I can play CDs okay, for example.

  5. So far, everything else seems to be functioning well.

Other Notes


The process of upgrading to Red Hat 9 from 8 is painless, but the result is painful. It is essential to update the kernel RPMs immediately. In fact, it might even be wise to download them ahead of time so you'll be able to get them while you have a working network stack.

My preliminary opinion on the nVidia 4496 driver is that it works well with RH9 (which was not my opinion of it with RH 8).

TuxMobil - Linux on Laptops, Notebooks, PDAs and Mobile Phones

Dave Kristol,
Last modified: 15 January 2006
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