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Dell Inspiron Mini 9

Introduction

This is a guide to running Linux with the Dell Inspiron Mini 9 laptop.

This guide is intended to provide you details on how well this laptop works with Linux and which modules you need to configure. For details on how to actually install and configure the required modules have a look at our guides section for distribution specific instructions.

This page is just for discussing using Linux on the Dell Inspiron Mini 9. For a general discussion about this laptop you can visit the Dell Inspiron Mini 9 page on LapWik.

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Specifications

For full specifications see the Dell Inspiron Mini 9 specifications page.

NameDell Inspiron Mini 9 (a.k.a. Inspiron 910)
ProcessorIntel Atom 1.6 GHz, 533MHz FSB, 512 KB cache
Screen8.9“ WSVGA Widescreen
RAM512 MB or 1 GB DDR2 533 MHz
HDD8 or 16 GB SSD
Optical DriveNone
Card ReaderSD, Memory Stick (Pro), MMC
GraphicsIntel Graphics Media Accelerator 945GME
NetworkRealtek Ethernet, Broadcom WLAN 802.11b/g, Bluetooth
Camera0.3 or 1.3 MP
Battery32 Wh (4 cell) (see notes)

Specifications based on european models, US models with more configuration options

Linux Compatibility

DeviceCompatibilityComments
ProcessorYes
ScreenYesBrightness control keys (Fn-9/0) are hardware keys - hassle-free
HDDYes
GraphicsYesKernel module: i915, X.org module: intel; See notes.
SoundYesKernel module: snd-hda-intel. Maybe you need to specify “model=dell” as parameter
EthernetYesKernel module: r8169
WirelessYesCurrently the proprietary “wl” driver by Broadcom works best (see notes). b43 kernel module doesn't seem to work (yet). Ndiswrapper + Windows driver is also an option.
Bluetooth YesTested with openSUSE 11.1, works 1)
USBYes Booting from USB devices causes trouble here
Card ReaderYes (MMC, other parts not tested)Kernel module: sdhci, MMC Boot not available right now (Bios disabled)
CameraYes (1.3 MP model, 0.3 MP model not tested)Kernel module: uvcvideo 2)
Special keysYesStandby, Wireless, Battery status, Mute, Vol. up, Vol. down emit normal keycodes and can thus be bound to scripts etc. Brightness keys are handled in hardware. Internal/External monitor key not tested.

Notes

Graphics

The X.org Intel driver is currently (version 2.5.0, 2008-11-06) broken. The screen flickers in random intervals and sometimes goes dark (while X is still running). The log contains error messages like ”(EE) intel(0): underrun on pipe B!“. Adding

Option     "FramebufferCompression" "False"

to the “Device” section in xorg.conf helps.

With the Xorg/kde4 from openSUSE 11.1 the backlight changes intensity randomly every few seconds (powerdevil?). KDE3 or GTK-based DE's work like a charm. The sollution is to upgrade the Systembios to A004 (was A001 here), or in short-term, change the backlight-control mode with xrandr –output LVDS –set BACKLIGHT_CONTROL native in your ~/.xinitrc

Wireless

The proprietary 'wl' driver is not (and will never be) part of the mainline kernel. Check your distribution's repository if you can find it there, otherwise you can use my self-explaining shell script which will apply a patch from Ubuntu, build and install the module.

Battery

A test on how long the netbook runs on battery under “normal netbook use” is available here.

Summary

1) Konsole Tools at least, KDE Tools messed up a bit
2) Only V4L2 Apps works with the uvc driver (Skype, Cheese), BUT only the “yuv” format, no mjpeg supported by the cam

Discussion

Mary, 2014/01/02 05:37

I got a new router.

I set up the new connection.

It says it's connected but the web page won't load.

Any suggestions?

I've had this fixed 2x already and I'm getting very frustrated with this device.

I only use it to go to email.

I don't understand why I always have problems.

Any help at all?

Thank you so much.

GregVN, 2013/11/26 23:55

I'm running Linux Mint on my 910 (using it to post this comment). It runs very well. Wifi and microphone both work, and it is running far better than Ubuntu did. I've also had Windows XP and Windows 7 installed on it. Linux Mint has been the smoothest OS experience I've had yet on this machine. If you are playing around with different OSes, it's definitely worth a try.

Primoz, 2014/10/14 07:59

Which desktop are you using? Cinnamon? Mate?

gorgold, 2013/08/14 21:30

I just loaded Puppy Linux Slacko 5.5 4g onto my Dell Mini 9 /8gb from a usb cd drive using the normal install. I deleted the OS partition, added a new ex2 partition and flagged it as boot.

Wifi runs, only thing not working is the microphone, which makes Skype useless. Have not looked for a fix yet.

Daniel M., 2012/09/15 20:55

I'm running Ubuntu 12.04 on my Dell Mini 9 and the screen resolution is wrong: the aspect ratio is incorrect. When I go into systems/display there are no other options. I tried using a post about xrandr in the terminal but I don't know the right name for my display: it is not “VGA” or “VGA1”. Does someone have instructions for changing the display to the right aspect ratio on the Mini 9?
thanks,
Daniel

Barnendu Goswami, 2010/01/12 01:10

Kubuntu 9.10 (with updates via wired LAN)

Everything working fine, except initially no Broadcom wireless.

I tried the self explaining script initially without luck…then followed the Broadcom driver instructions more closely (in their readme) (from http://www.broadcom.com/support/802.11/linux_sta.php). In particular, pay attention to the blacklist, rmmod and insmod instructions. Don't forget to perform everything as root (sudo for Ubuntu and it's variants users). Then, re-ran the script from the console (for newbies, running the script from command line - you need to specify path properly, or script won't execute)try:

sudo ./build_and_install_broadcom_wl.s

Once done; the network manager picked up the device within a second. I yanked the wired LAN, and configured the wireless for my AP, and wqas surfing moments later (5 mins later I'm typing this!)

My extreme thanks to linlap. :D

Dude, 2009/12/05 13:27

I tried lots of different Linux distros with my Mini 9. I always go back to the Dell factory Ubuntu 8.0.4 LTS version. It's the only version that works well with Wireless and Skype. Skype is even available for download in the repository. Other versions of Linux have problems with audio when I install Skype.

Donn Gabrielson, 2009/09/01 00:52

I tried the self-explaining shell script to install the wireless driver. It failed becasue there was no build directory under /lib/modules/2.6.24-24-lpia/. I was hoping this would correct the auto-start of the wireless at boot (my wireless connection no longer connects after I did a software update and the drive is enabled but indicates “not used”)

minianer, 2009/09/01 08:12

The script would only work, if the correct kernel is installed. I think the lpia-architecture is only available with the special dell-ubuntu for the mini, so any other version or distribution needs some adjustments to that path (maybe more?).
Some distros also have user-repositories with non-free stuff, like packman for opensuse, where you maybe can find it as a complete package….

cher1122, 2009/07/10 05:02

new to linux I just bought Dell mini 9 with ubuntu start. I tried to connect to external monitor I went to

preference
display preference
Minitor:HP 22”
on
I won't be able to save the set up.
I tried Fn+F8 (Won't work)
But, when i restart the notebook it works.

Please help

Ron, 2009/06/25 02:00

I've just found that the Mini 9 won't take a Memory Stick Pro Duo without an adapter. It definitely won't fit or work without the adapter and if you do stick it into the slot, you'll need tweezers or something similar to pull it out.

Billy , 2009/06/01 17:10

I run Kubuntu 9.04 on my Dell Mini 9 (64GB SSD/2GB RAM). Boots in about 10 seconds and runs great. I did have to do my first software update via my wired LAN to load the right driver for the mini internal WLAN card.

Doc, 2009/04/21 16:17

Fedora 10 (gnome) is running fine, no screen flickering but lshw is reporting for display controler (945GME) “this device hasn't been claimed” and glxgears is giving about 700 fps, while glxgears in “MS Windows” reported about 1000 fps. Does any one have succesfully compiled and installed the linux drivers with the Intel Embedded Graphics Drivers (IEGD) Configuration Editor?

Ryan, 2009/04/10 03:31

i dont know if you have to run your shel script as root(or how to do that either1)) but i cant get it to run on debian 5.00 lenny
:-(

other than that everything works great on the mini.

1) new to linux
Thoradin, 2009/02/04 09:44

The flickering backlight was solved for me with a biosupgrade (A001 to A004)

Al, 2009/02/04 03:51

No problems with xubuntu, install was normal, I experienced no screen flicker, and have yet to. MMC works right out of the box. Mine does not have bluetooth or a webcam, so I can't speak to that. Wifi works fine with the xubuntu default install as well.

Bluetooth, 2008/12/23 22:52

Bluetooth is working with opensuse 11.1. But most of the kde tools are damaged in the release and did not show up the adapter.

hcitool dev should show up the device on the console. My working combination is the obex-server from gnome and the obex-send tool from kde3. browsing the phone not tested, but only a matter of working tools I guess.

Thoraedin, 2008/12/21 03:09

I just installed opensuse 11.1 on the dell 910, but even with the given option, the screen (backlight) flickers randomly. Is there any new solution for the intel gma950? could find anything on the xorg mailinglist…

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dell_inspiron_mini_9.txt · Last modified: 2010/10/13 15:21 (external edit)
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