OpenSUSE 11.1 on a Dell Latitude D610
Updated 26 March 2009

The purpose of this document is to provide information about running openSUSE 11.1 on a Dell Latitude D610 with a specific focus on hardware support. The information contained on this web page is also intended to be useful for other computer models which contain the same or similar components as the Dell Latitude D610.

CPU Pentium M
Graphics Card ATI Mobility Radeon x300
Hard Drive 80 GB SATA
Wireless Network Card Intel ProWireless 2915 ABG
Pointing Devices Alps GlidePoint/StickPointer
Laptop Specific Function Keys
Wired Ethernet Network Broadcom 57XX Gigabit Integrated Controller
Audio / Sound Card Sigmatel STAC 975X AC97
Power Management
Modem Conexant D110,MDC,1.5,v.92

Intel Pentium M Processor
OpenSUSE 11.1 supports the Dell Latitude D610's Pentium M processor out of the box and does not require any additional configuration. OpenSUSE 11.1 does support dynamic CPU scaling out of the box which helps to conserve power and lengthen battery life. CPU scaling is enabled by default. To check whether CPU scaling is enabled, open the power settings manager by clicking the battery icon close to the bottom right of the screen and then clicking "configure". Selecting "Capabilities" will show what settings are enabled. Selecting "Edit Profiles" and clicking "CPU and System" near the bottom will open options to make changes to the CPU scaling policies for different power saving schemes.
openSUSE 11.1 Power Manager

Graphics Card
ATI Radeon Mobility x300
OpenSUSE 11.1 has basic support for the ATI Radeon Mobility x300 graphics card out of the box. The default support for the ATI Radeon x300 is provided by an open source driver which does include support for 3D acceleration. The 3D acceleration is enabled by default. It may be possible to install ATI's proprietary drivers for Linux on openSUSE; ATI's Linux drivers as well as those for Windows can be found at ATI's webpage for GPU drivers.
Integrated Intel Graphics
Many Dell Latitude D610's and similar computers have shipped with integrated Intel graphics rather than dedicated ATI graphics cards. The full capabilities of Intel graphics should be available upon installing openSUSE 11.1. This is because Intel makes an open source driver available. More information about Intel graphics on Linux can be found on Intel's support page. Dell Latitude D610s which use Intel graphics include the Mobile Intel 915GM Express Chipset; Dell Latitude D610s with dedicated ATI graphics solutions (ATI Radeon Mobility x300) use the Mobile Intel 915PM Express Chipset.
openSUSE 11.1 Dialog for X11 Configuration

Hard Drive
The Dell Latitude D610 uses a Serial ATA (SATA) hard drive which is supported by openSUSE 11.1. No special configuration is required.

802.11abg Wi-Fi Card
Intel Pro/Wireless 2915ABG
(Also applies to: Intel Pro/Wireless 2200BG)

The drivers for common Intel wi-fi cards (Intel Pro/Wireless 2915ABG/2200BG/3915ABG etc.) are included with openSUSE 11.1. The necessary firmware to run an Intel wireless card on Ubuntu is also included meaning that an Intel wireless card will work out of the box. The Dell Latitude D610's Wi-Fi indicator light actually does work out of the box, unlike with most other Linux distributions. The key combination Fn+F2 is still used (the same as in Windows XP or Windows Vista) to enable and disable wireless adapters although it seems somewhat unreliable and the Wi-Fi indicator light might not indicate a change in status unless the computer is rebooted.

Dell Branded Wireless Cards
Some Dell Latitude D610s include a Dell branded wireless card instead of an Intel wireless card. Computers that have an Intel wi-fi card will carry the Centrino branding; those that lack a wi-fi card or have one produced by some other manufacturer will have a Pentium M sticker instead of the Centrino sticker on the right palm rest. These wi-fi cards carrying the branding of the computer manufacturer can be just about anything. Some of these are marginally supported by using drivers that have been developed by reverse engineering closed source Windows drivers. Atheros and Broadcom make a large number of these cards. The Atheros cards are generally well supported on Linux and Broadcom cards are not. Most of the Dell computers shipped during the 2005 timeframe (such as the Latitude D610) included Broadcom wireless cards which are poorly supported. There are currently two solutions for running Broadcom wireless cards on Linux. There is now a project to produce native drivers for some Broadcom wireless cards on Linux (the B43 driver project). These drivers may be included with openSUSE 11.1. Another possible solution is to use NdisWrapper which allows wireless card drivers for Windows to be used on Linux. I don't have any experience using NdisWrapper; however, I would recommend visiting the NdisWrapper project home page for information about the project and using NdisWrapper. Windows drivers for the Dell Latitude D610 can be downloaded from Dell's support page.

If you are buying a new computer and are interested in using any type of Linux on it, it is definately worth paying a little bit more to get a wireless card that has well supported Linux drivers available for it. In my experience, selecting a different wireless card for a laptop will only cost ~$15-$35 US more than the default configuration (if you have to pay more at all). Avoid Broadcom wireless cards if you want to use Linux, Atheros and Intel wireless cards are good choices. The Intel wireless cards also have much better support and the drivers are more reliable on Windows in addition to being better for use with Linux.

Connecting to a Wireless network
To connect to a wireless network, click the network icon in the system tray which is located in the lower right corner of the screen. This icon looks like a green globe if there is an active wired network connection and a gray globe if there is not any active connection. If the computer is connected to a wireless network, this globe is replaced by a blue signal strength indicator (pictured). After locating the network icon, click it, point to "new connection" and click "eth1" which in most cases represents the wireless network. A list of available wireless networks is displayed and users can select which to connect to. This works fine for unsecured networks, but openSUSE 11.1 fails to connect to any secured networks, both WPA and WEP without even providing any indication of what the problem is. This is notably poor in comparison to other modern Linux distributions such as Ubuntu 8.10 Perhaps there is or will be an update to fix this problem. Note that the wireless networks shown in the pictured menu are only listed after configuring them.
Connecting to a Wireless Network on openSUSE 11.1

Pointing Devices / Mouse
Alps GlidePoint/StickPointer
Both the pointing stick (the blue thing that looks like an eraser) and the touch pad along with corresponding buttons work normally out of the box. Additionally, a USB mouse can be plugged into the Dell Latitude D610 and will function immediately with no additional configuration necessary.

Laptop Specific Function Keys
Most of the blue function keys do not have any functionality out of the box. Among these that do work are the shortcuts to control screen brightness (Fn+up arrow/Fn+down arrow) and the shortcut to enable/disable the wireless adapter (Fn+F2).

Wired Ethernet Network
OpenSUSE 11.1 supports the Dell Latitude D610's wired network card out of the box with no additional configuration necessary.

Sound Card
Sigmatel STAC 975X AC97
The audio system on the Dell Latitude D610 works out of the box with no additional configuration necessary. As with many other Linux distributions, openSUSE 11.1 can detect when external speakers or headphones are connected. As a result, openSUSE 11.1 has separate volume controls for headphones and a laptop's internal speakers. The external speakers are controlled by the "Master Volume" settings and headphones (or external speakers) are controlled by the "Headphone" settings.
Volume Control on openSUSE 11.1
Note: To access the Volume Controls on openSUSE 11.1, click the picture of a speaker on the system tray in the lower right corner of the screen, then click "Mixer".

Power Management System
OpenSUSE 11.1 supports dynamic frequency scaling on the Intel Pentium M processor out of the box. The keyboard shortcuts used to adjust the screen brightness on the Latitude D610 (Fn+up arrow/Fn+down arrow) also function properly without installing any additional software. See also: CPU.
Power Management Preferences on openSUSE 11.1
Note: To access the power management settings in openSUSE 11.1 click the battery icon in the lower right part of the screen.


See also:
Index of Linux related documents
Running Fedora Core 9 on a Dell Latitude D610
Running openSUSE 10.3 on a Dell Latitude D610
Running Ubuntu 8.10 on a Dell Latitude D610

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