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Dell Vostro A860


This is a compatibility guide to running Linux with the Dell Vostro A860 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 Vostro A860. For a general discussion about this laptop you can visit the Dell Vostro A860 page on LapWik.

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For full specifications see the Dell Vostro A860 specifications page.

NameDell Vostro A860
ProcessorIntel Core 2 Duo
Screen15.6“ WXGA Widescreen
HDDUp to 160GB
Optical DriveDVD+-RW
GraphicsIntel Graphics Media Accelerator X3100
NetworkEthernet, Dell 802.11bg, Bluetooth

Linux Compatibility

Optical DriveYescheapest Version only CD-RW
GraphicsYesIntel GM965/GL960
SoundYesConexant CX20561
BluetoothNot Tested
56K ModemNot Tested
Card ReaderYes
ExpressCard SlotNot Tested


I installed 8.10 and it was a flawless 35 minute install except that wireless did not work.

Then I booted it with the dell recovery iso. The install takes a good while and seems to hang at the 'removing unused packages' but your patience will be rewarded. You'll have wireless afterwards, and a very clean factory-type install of Hardy. You can download the iso here:

Sound does not work out of the box but everything else does… after running 490 updates, sound and everything else, including headphones seems to work great!


Everything works out of the box, without any modification. Reported problems on Ethernet and wireless are obsolete due to fixes in the Kernel.


Richard Thornton, 2011/03/19 12:58

Opensuse 11.1 thru. 11.4 64 bit works fine. SLED 11 also is fine. Gnome seems to be the most compatible gui, but with 11.4 KDE 4.x is also excellent.

Liratnak Meas, 2011/02/05 04:31

Hi Vostro A860,
I think this series is not good, I got a lot of problem since the first time i delivered it. 2 years of using this product, I changed RAM, Cooler fan, Battery. Hum… many problems.

Richard Thornton, 2010/02/23 12:45

I bought a Vostro A860 because it was $399 and it works very well with linux both Opensuse 11.1, 11.2 and SLED version 11. My only complaint is I think the screensaver may cause system lockups with SLED 11 and KDE wireless does not work, GNOME works fine.

zhangsong, 2009/10/10 09:49

I have met the same problem. I tried ubuntu 8.04,centos 5.3 with madwifi.When I was using madwifi,it can find the AP,but can not connect successfully.I didn't try other distrubutions.I aslo hopes to find a solution.

Punky, 2009/09/14 06:22

I use Arch Linux 2009.8 iso image and everything works well, but I did not try wifi and have problem with hdd Load_Cycle_Count, but everything can be set up…I strongly recomend Ubuntu Linux because this iz Ubuntu laptop! :D

Pavel, 2009/07/25 05:43

I installed debian lennny/squeeze on the notebook.
All h/w works.
Wifi needs some setup.
Let me tell you how.
1. ath5k wouldn't work
2. you need to use older drivers - I used latest madwifi-hal-testing or so.
3. Madwifi-hal wouldnt compile with m-a.
4. I gave up 'the debian way' and just unzipped it into /usr/src/modules and I did 'make && make install'.
5. After you have ath_pci make sure you unload ath5k and re-load ath_pci.
6. You should now have ath0 device.
issue 'ifconfig ath0 up' command
7. To scan the network I use wifi-radar or 'wicd-clint –no-tray' or wicd-curses.

PS. I don't know if it is important but I disabled bluetooth in BIOS and I also disabled 'wifi hotkey'. So now bios turns my wifi card on upon start and I can't (or I don't need to :-) turn it on/off using Fn+F11 (the button where the antenna mark is).

Kind regards,
Im happy with the notebook.

rolly hernando, 2009/07/23 04:50

wireless is not a problem in vostro a860. if your wireless is not working even if you make all the config, try to check your QMI device if it is inserted perfectly.
see that at the back of your laptop.just remove only the cover with the 2 screws, then check.
good luck.

gachora, 2009/06/25 17:08

The wireless button of vostroA860 could only give me bluetooth! On and off. I installed kubuntu 8.10 without success on wireless. I uninstalled and loaded windows thinking it could work but that didn't. I then installed kubuntu 8.10 and upgraded to 9.10 but still couldn't get it to pick the wireless. Checked the system/networks and clicked to enable the atheros drivers but no wireless even after typing in all necessary connection details for the wlan. how do I get this thing to give me wireless and not bluetooth!

Rob, 2009/07/23 01:33

Try Mandriva. It works well with this model.

rolly hernando, 2009/07/23 04:32

Check your QMI device if it is plugin. You can see that if you removed the cover at the back.
Maybe your QMI device is not inserted perfectly.

alwyn, 2009/04/22 10:19

I cant find my e-mail setup on my dell laptop

nickolay, 2009/03/03 13:37

A very good notebook. I've bought it with Ubuntu pre-installed. Then I installed on it Mandriva 2009 - worked greatly and now I use on this model Zenwalk 5.2 - everything works.
Zenwalk shows better performance then Mandriva and Ubuntu. Slackware 12.2 also works great, but Zenwalk is easier to tune up

Rob, 2009/02/17 22:47

Does anyone know why it says “If you want to dual boot a system with Windows, you will want to install using a standard Ubuntu 8.04.1 DVD.” on the Dell website?

rolly, 2009/02/19 15:41

if you have there the ubunto setup/dvd, u can open and use it as it is your os

Louisiana84, 2009/05/09 11:33

If you want to dual boot, do not use the Dell Recovery .iso because it will completely wipe the hard drive when it installs. You can use the latest Ubuntu 9.04, follow the instructions for a side-by-side installation during the easy 7 step set-up and I promise you you can not only dual boot but you will be so totally happy with the Ubuntu side of the partition that you may never need or want to boot into Windows. Everything works in 9.04 – I've done a thorough testing of this machine in 9.04.

Works out of the box list: wireless, sound, headphones, ethernet, video. Install system from cd. Run updates. I did zero hacking to make this machine work. Did not even open a terminal window.

Andrew Thoreson, 2009/01/09 10:05

See my own guide on it here:

The WiFi issue was annoying to find, but once I found it it worked perfectly.

rollyhernando, 2009/01/13 11:28

hi there andrew,

i was too wondering how i enabled the wireless capability of vostroA860 with xp.
kindly help..?

please extend into my email …

Louisiana84, 2008/12/14 03:48

I'm hoping to find a solution to the wireless issue. If anyone knows a fix, please post it. Thanks!

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dell_vostro_a860.txt · Last modified: 2012/02/12 09:52 by
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