Fedora 14 on Dell Latitude D620

I’ve installed Fedora 14 on a Dell Latitude D620. I’ve been running Fedora 12 on other hardware for a while but this machine has never had Linux on it before. Previously it was running MS Windows XP. This is a pretty long run-down of my experience with a couple screen shots. Click on those here for large files if you are interested – everything below the jump.

I backed up the files I would need and did the install with the DVD. I did this at work where internet speeds aren’t all that great, so it was more efficient for me to download the DVD iso over night while I wasn’t here and run the install from the disc the next day. I usually install quite a few packages right up front.

The install itself was the first and largest issue I’ve had. I have the machine docked and connected to a second monitor. The laptop itself has a 1440×900 LCD. The connected LCD is 1280×1024. I think the install screens were using the 1280×1024 dimensions. What that means is the “Forward”, “Back” buttons for the install process were not in view. I knew where they should be and with some hunting and clicking I made it through. If that had failed I would have tried undocking and restarting the install.

Once the install completed I logged in. KDE is my preferred desktop environment. Part of the change for me in going from 12 to 14 is moving from KDE 4.4.5 to KDE 4.5.2. The difference is huge. I was very happy with 4.4 but 4.5 is awesome, far surpassing the halcyon days of 3. What were improvements to me? There are a few things I can mention right off the bat.

First is the appearance. Usually with a new install, one of my top priorities would be getting things to look the way I like. KDE on F14 is gorgeous right out of the box


(Click on it for a big one.)
Second, a number of functions have become simpler as well as more attractive. The two I noticed first are managing networking and multiple displays. The network manager widget on the task manager bar is greatly improved. Clicking on it gives me a very nice interface for managing my network devices. Wireless and wired connections work flawlessly out of the box.

Fedora 14 with network widget showing.
(Click on it for a big one.)
The size and orientation utility has improved and having my second monitor work was just a matter of enabling it. It would be better if I didn’t have to do anything at all, but the fact is that where it is now is still pretty great. I can see all my possible video interfaces and configure them from there. Compared to what was involved in XP, this is really simpler on a number of levels.

I haven’t really had problems with anything not working. I’ve had small bumps but no major problems. Sound works great, no set-up or issues for me. That’s no surprise to me and something I expect, but I still see stuff pop on-line asserting that Linux has problems with sound. Maybe on other distros or hardware, but I haven’t had a major issue for quite some time. This was no exception.

Setting up Synergy took no time at all. I share a keyboard and mouse with this laptop and my desktop machine. I didn’t run into one of my odd bumps though. If I start the synergy client before activating the second display on the laptop, it doesn’t work correctly. I don’t know if this is a Fedora problem or a Synergy problem. I need to enable the second display and then fire up the synergy client. Both machines pick up their ip address from DHCP, so I don’t autostart the server or clients as they may need to be adjusted. (These machines don’t restart that often anyway.) I also don’t want the client autostarting on a laptop that may or may not be connected.

KpackageKit still does some weird stuff. The most annoying is that when I’m installing some new piece of software, it often needs elevated privileges. But the authentication dialogues have been popping in under what’s on the display. (OK – I ran an update since I wrote that and the issue seems to have gone away.) I have to watch the task manager, to catch that there is one open. It’s not the end of the world, but not ideal. The other is that it doesn’t like it if I choose to require a double click to open files. Clicking on the package group icons twice opens the “Rename” box below the icon. I have to hit enter to open it, and then a help dialogue window opens as well. I normally don’t use that option, but it was odd to notice this behavior for the short time I had it on.

Performance is good on what is a decent system, a little old but still with good horse power under the hood. Applications start quickly and everything seems to be running smoothly so far. It is a 32 bit system and installing Adobe products is significantly easier than on my 64 bit box. Some may wonder why but I use a number of sites that require flash, and Tweetdeck is my preferred twitter client, which requires AIR.

There are some nice additions to what is available with this version of Fedora. One is Netbeans 6.9. Netbeans is my favorite IDE so I’m pretty happy to not have to go out and get it externally. Python 2.7 and 3 are available and can be installed side by side. QT tools are still available, though not QT Creator, I don’t know why. PyQT for QT3 is also in there. And of course the immense library of software is all available. I’m getting all my favorites set up just the way I like them.

As far as external software, Google and Adobe both set up repos so that your package management system can be leveraged. I really like that. MySQL Workbench is a tool I like a lot but they don’t have a package for F14 yet. The F13 package wont install because of a dependency problem. I could probably work it out, or build from source but I’m not in that big of a hurry. jSQL Workbench (similar names but not related) just needs Java and I’ve got that. It also supports more RDBMS platforms.

Pretty early on I set up rpmfusion repos – that gets me all the closed source type stuff, or whatever else Fedora can’t ship themselves for whatever reasons. That takes care of MP3 playback, dvds, and all that good stuff. Fedora isn’t as easy as Ubuntu in that regard, but for me it’s perfect and gives me a level of control that I really enjoy. Once I have a repo set up, then it becomes a seamless part of my operations. In fact (while I’m thinking about it) I would love it if KPackageKit made it easy to tell what repo was providing a package.

For a final screen shot, here’s both screens with some apps open. On the left, the laptop LCD with Kdevelop and Konsole. On the right my big LCD with Firefox open to me editing this post.

Both screens with some apps open.

That’s about it, just 2 days in. I’m sure I’ll have more as things move along.

I’ll post my hardware stats here for reference.

Dell Latitude D620

  • 1.83GHz Centrino Duo
  • 2 Gig Ram
  • nVidia G72M – Quadro NVS 110M
  • Intel wireless
Posted in Geeks In Action, Linux, OS
2 comments on “Fedora 14 on Dell Latitude D620
  1. charles says:

    Hi. I have found your review very useful because that laptop is a candidate to be bought by my (not too high) budget. I was wondering if it could work in F14 because it has turned to be an old model. Im surprised that all ran almost flawlessly (specially the wireless), and that is perfect because when using linux distros, each one has its personal battle with the hardware! I hope not to encounter with issues beyond the external-monitor-assisted installation, and Im glad to find this info because not much people write reviews about Fedora on laptops (not much as Ubuntu). Thanks

  2. Ohle Burr says:

    A few days ago I did something similiar with a Dell C800-Laptop and SuSE 11.3. Took me about 10h to configure the X-Server. Since a lot of years I haven’t done this kind of stuff (Around 2000, maybe earlier), so I’ve forgotten almost all the basics. With todays machines and software you hardly ever have to configure the X-Server, because of its well-done autoconfiguration. But in this special case it did not recognize the LCD-monitor from Dell. Eventually I googled for a solution, and found some “Modeline”s for a Dell Monitor, that turned out to work.
    I wonder, if Fedoras 14-Setup would have been smarter than SuSEs here?

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