I recently ordered a new laptop for myself, as I shortly have to get my work laptop reimaged with the new corporate SOE, which is most likely going to exclude dual-booting. My work laptop is a Dell D600, and I've been fairly happy with the performance of Linux on it, so I elected to buy a D610, as it seemed to have superceded the D600. I didn't do any further homework. Fatal mistake.
Turns out that the D610 is not just a new D600, aside from being drastically different, the video chipset seems to differ between Intel i915 and and some sort of ATI Radeon Mobility M300. I have the latter, however I've seen stuff on linux-on-laptops.com, which alludes to D610s with the former. From what I've read, I think I'm glad I have the ATI.
Anyway, Debian Sarge just works on a D600. Debian Sarge with a 2.6 kernel can't even see the hard drive (SATA, whoa) of a D610, but strangely the 2.4 kernel can. So I've ended up installing Sarge with a 2.4 kernel, then installing the 2.6.12 kernel from unstable, and then having my 2.6 kernel and a hard drive. Good stuff. But I can't see the CDROM. It's SATA too (wtf?), and apparently you need to tweak the kernel a bit. I hate tweaking kernels. Once you start, you never get it right.
Next, ACPI suspend to RAM doesn't work. It goes into suspend and then wakes back up straight away. So while I'm building my own kernel, I might be needing to build Suspend2 into it as well. I had to use the X.org packages from unstable to get X working, but then it just worked. So currently I'm running more of unstable than stable. I suspect I might reinstall again and see how much of just Etch I can run, as ideally I'd like to track testing with this laptop, not unstable, but it's obviously going to take a bit of work to get this thing to where I want to have it.
For the record, what I got was:
- 512Mb RAM
- Pentium M 1.60Ghz processor
- 80GB hard drive
- the super dooper burn everything under the sun optical drive
- the spanky 1400x1050 screen with the ATI Radeon Mobility M300 graphics chipset and something like 64M of video RAM
- the bluetooth option
- Intel Centrino 2200 wireless chipset, because that's what the D600 had I knew it worked (I think it was also a tad cheaper than the other alternative)
All this for the princely sum of $2,200 AUD. I'm fairly happy. Not as happy as if it worked out of the box like a D600, but happier than if I'd bought a total lemon. I am typing this from Linux, wirelessly, at 1400x1050, so it's not all bad. If it slept when I closed the lid it'd be mostly all good.