Dell Dimension E521 with Linux

I bought a Dimension E521n to replace my server last week. I previously built a system myself with an AMD Duron Processor and an add on IDE Controller so I could load it up with hard drives for a file server. The only downside to this was that the fan I bought for this server I built was loud…REALLY loud. When we moved to a different apartment this past year we lost our spare room (office) and the computer went into my bedroom.  Needless to say, it’s LOUD at night when sleeping.

To replace this loud server I bought the E521-n series so Microsoft didn’t get any of my money. For those of you who don’t know, the N series desktops from Dell come with no operating system. Dell also claims that these computers are ‘ready for Linux’…but there are some problems associated with them. I was able to get ClarkConnect back on my server and pop in the IDE Controller PCI card (E521’s are completely SATA) after solving a couple of problems.

First and foremost, you have to make sure your E521 is running BIOS version 1.1.4 (Released January 2007). If you don’t, you’ll have USB problems all over the place. Second, when booting Linux, add the boot parameter acpi=noirq. If you can’t pass this parameter to your kernel you may need to completely turn off acpi using the ‘noacpi‘ parameter. The only downside to this is that your fan will run continuously and cause a bit more noise than it should.

When installing ClarkConnect 4.0, there is a routine for adding parameters to the kernel before GRUB writes to the MBR. I used this to pass the acpi=noirq parameter and after booting everything worked. Without passing this parameter, I received Kernel panics.

It’s also been reported that some kernels cannot find the broadcom module for the onboard LAN device. With ClarkConnect, this wasn’t a problem. I’ve heard that the Fedora Xen kernel has problems with this.

I’m going to list some links here for your reference that helped me in my quest:

ClarkConnect
Dell E521 and Linux Wiki Page
Yet Another Linux Blog and the USB Problem
Hardware Support for E521 N Series @ Ubuntu Forums

Hope this information helps someone with their problems! For those of you running Ubuntu, you’ll have to add ‘noapic irqpoll pci=routeirq’ to your boot parameters to get things rocking.

Old Hard Drive, Bad

I’ve had some trouble brewing at home. Had a 120 GB Share go down 2 weeks ago and I’ve had major problems trying to get my much needed data back from the drive. I lost almost everything as far as settings, passwords, games, etc. But, life goes on right? The only problem is that I’ve had to order a new drive to use for Linux since I’m using the old Linux drive for my main computer which, due to work, must run Win XP. So I’m down and out and have been for about 2 weeks now. I ordered a hard drive and it came in this past week so it shouldn’t be too much longer before I’m able to get back into things. Unfortunately, not having a working computer for about a week and not having the info I needed put me in a fix for Kapps and articles. Look for entries to resume on a more normal schedule this next week. Thanks for reading and sorry for the lack of articles.

Experiment: The Hardware Listing

I just realized that I forgot to list the hardware that we are using for this experiment. I originally posted a small list in a different category here…so I’ll put it here and explain more.

  • Mobo: Abit NF7 2.0
  • CPU: Athlon XP 2400
  • RAM: Crucial 1024MB (512X2) PC2700 (underclocked for these tests)
  • HD: Maxtor 7200rpm 120GB, Western Digital 6GB 5400rpm
  • CD/DVD: NEC 2510A DVD-R/RW 8X
  • Video: GeForce 4 Ti 4400 128MB
  • NIC: integrated nforce2
  • Keyboard/Mouse: Standard PS/2 and Multimedia Keyboard
  • Sound: SB Audigy Platinum X-Gamer
  • Floppy: Mitsumi Standard 1.44 Floppy

Ok, so now we know about the hardware setup. Mrs.Devnet has already saved her entry and I’ll get to publishing it. Please point out anything I might be lacking from the hardware list. Thanks for reading!