The Punisher

Slackware on the Dell Inspiron 8500 WUXGA

This is a fairly new laptop from Dell with a wide aspect screen, Nvidia 64 Meg video card, wireless nic, 10/100 onboard nic, modem, usb and infra-red on board. The dvd/cd rom is hot pluggable and interchangeable with a floppy drive.


The installation was done with a Slackware 9.0 CD and was a smooth experience. I don't use either Gnome or KDE but I did install the gnome libraries as they are needed for some of the software I use regularly.


This is the most interesting piece of the installation since it is a wide aspect screen with a few extra options available using the nvidia driver for the card.

First you need the nvidia drivers, these are downloadable from here and install as a kernel module.

Once downloaded, untarred and installed, the kernel needs recompiling in the usual manner. Once done, some extra options are available in the kernel configuration that are specific to those drivers.

For the XF86Config file I never use the configuration tools, I do it by hand since I know what I need and what is useful. The great thing about X is that you can draw a screen of any resolution, size and ratio as long as your video card is capable of doing it.

Here's the XF86Config file

One thing to note is that I also disabled the Video Expansion in BIOS.

The window manager

I use gdm as a graphical login greeter, I don't use XDMCP and I don't need anyone trying to connect to my screen over a network socket so I make sure XDMCP is disabled and I always add the -nolisten tcp option to gdm.conf. Look for the section concerning the standard X server and make it look like this StandardXServer=/usr/X11R6/bin/X -nolisten tcp.

Here is the full section

# Definition of the standard X server.
name=Standard server
command=/usr/X11R6/bin/X -nolisten tcp

I used to use Sawfish as my window manager, it's lightweight, fast and easily configurable. Plenty of information on installation, configuration and plugins is available from the main Sawfish page.

Here is my Sawfish initialization script. (note: you could add Sawfish to the regular Xsession script but I don't bother)



# merge in defaults and keymaps

if [ -f $sysresources ]; then
    xrdb -merge $sysresources

if [ -f $sysmodmap ]; then
    xmodmap $sysmodmap

if [ -f $userresources ]; then
    xrdb -merge $userresources

if [ -f $usermodmap ]; then
    xmodmap $usermodmap

# set a nice background
wmsetbg -b black -e $HOME/.backgrounds/slacklogo2.jpg
# start the date
# locakable screensaver
xscreensaver -no-splash&
# clock
ofclock --color 65535,65535,65535&
# system monitor
# lets keep an eye on the Snort log
root-tail -g 200x10+10+1060 /var/log/snort/alert&
# get sawfish going

I use Sawfish to set the style and position of the clock and gkrellm. BBDate has a nice configuration file which lets me place it where I need to and lets me set the font and background so it melds with the desktop nicely

I also edit the Xsessions file in /etc/gdm/Sessions/ to delete all the junk I don't need.


I now use Ion as my Window manager. You can see my configuration files here.

Desktop Backgound

I try to keep this as small as possible, here's how.


Wireless networking is not available using the onboard card, I suspect this is because compliance to FCC regulations is controlled by the Windows driver for the card and until an official Linux version is made available you'll have to use a PCI card to go fully mobile with it.

A driver is available for the onboard NIC however, and once again this a kernel module

It does have some peculiarities though, like although the card is recognized at boot it takes some time to get an IP Address. I overcame this by adding a few lines to /etc/rc.d/rc.local.

Here is what I did

# /etc/rc.d/rc.local:  Local system initialization script.
# Put any local setup commands in here:
# Start eth0 since it refuses to do so on boot first time

DPID=`/usr/bin/pgrep dhcp`
if [ $DPID > 0 ]; then
echo "DHCP Started already"
sh /etc/rc.d/rc.iptables start
sh /etc/rc.d/rc.snort start
	if [ -x /etc/rc.d/rc.inet1 ]; then
		sh /etc/rc.d/rc.inet1
	DPID=`/usr/bin/pgrep dhcp`
	if [ $DPID > 0 ]; then
		sh /etc/rc.d/rc.iptables start
		sh /etc/rc.d/rc.snort start
		echo "Interface not up";

setterm -bfreq 0

The last line has nothing to do with the card, I just don't like the annoying beep made by the machine which does not have an option to disable in BIOS.

I am frequently exposed to hostile environments so I use a firewall to deny incoming connections and Snort to monitor what's going on.


The Infra-red port works but I don't use it for anything, my Palm Pilot (Sony Clie really) gets connected to the serial port for synchronization.

The machine also doesn't seem too good at timekeeping so I use ntp when connected to my home or work LAN.

Here are my ramblings on Slackware in general, which also contains other info on general configuration. For lots more information on Linux on Laptops and a bunch of other mobile devices take a look at TuxMobil.

This quote just isn't true...

.: If you want to converse with me contact punisher at my domain :.
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