Dell Latitude 2100 Discussion on the Dell Latitude 2100, a rugged 10-inch netbook released to the educational market.

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KLF KLF is offline
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Default Installing XP Pro - 06-22-2009, 05:59 AM

I took delivery of a Schoolhouse Red Latitude 2100 last Tuesday, after a long wait for Dell to finally get their act together on netbooks. I ordered mine with Ubuntu Linux, and pretty much every option, including the USB external DVD drive. It's been a VERY frustrating experience, and I'm about to put it back in the box and send it back.

Out of the box, the Bluetooth mouse, touchscreen, and sound wouldn't work. It took awhile, but I finally got ahold of a Dell support number for Ubuntu. Horrible experience. They had me re-installing the OS, downloading updates, yadda yadda yadda, but nothing helped. I spent at least 3 hours on the phone with them, trying to understand their thick Indian accents (no offense intended here). Twice they promised to call me back, but they never did, and calling their "direct" extension only got me voicemail. Finally the 4th technician decided I had a bad hard drive, so they sent me a new 250GB drive, which I received on Friday afternoon.

I installed this drive, re-installed Ubuntu, but it acted exactly the same: no Bluetooth mouse, no sound.

Yesterday I decided to try XP Pro. I just need my new computer to work, I have better things to do. Not working either. I boot from the CD in the external drive, it goes thru the text-portion of Windows Setup, but on the first re-boot, I get a nasty error message about "no bootable files found" on the hard drive. Tried all the suggestions on the Microsoft TechSupport pages, no dice.

Just posting this to vent some, and see if anybody has any advice. I really don't want to call Dell Ubuntu support back, because honestly I don't think they know what they're doing. Upgrading to Ubuntu 9.04 is more work than I bargained for. I'm fine with bailing on Linux and going back to XP, but I can't get that to work either. At this point this computer is an expensive brick.

It's a shame, because overall I'm impressed with the netbook, and I was really looking forward to using it a lot.

Thanks...
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jay-zi jay-zi is offline
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Default 06-22-2009, 08:02 AM

Have you re-partitioned your hdd during the Windows setup (and deleted all Ubuntu stuff)? Often it is really senseful to begin with a blank hdd.


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zrtom zrtom is offline
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Default 06-22-2009, 01:06 PM

I've had similar problems and in most cases the cause was Dell's IO Magic DVD drive. The drive seems to be starved for power. Dell has sent me two "re-engineered" USB cables. Dell has had IO Magic send me a cable directly. Dell has replaced the drive. Nothing really helped. I got one of these from Amazon and it seems to work okay now. This site is littered with similar complaints with the Dell/IO Magic junk.

Dell is aware that I got it working with this cable but have no interest in supplying such cable on their own. After all, they re-engineered it. Frankly, as an engineer, I take exception to them characterizing a cable with what looks like slightly better contacts (but still doesn't work) as "re-engineered."

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KLF KLF is offline
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Default 06-22-2009, 01:31 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by jay-zi View Post
Have you re-partitioned your hdd during the Windows setup (and deleted all Ubuntu stuff)?
Yes, I was very careful to remove every partition during Windows Setup until I had one large "unpartitioned" space. Come to think of it, I actually initially tried to install XP Pro on the brand new drive first, but that also failed, so I tried Ubuntu again (which didn't help).

Quote:
Originally Posted by zrtom View Post
I've had similar problems and in most cases the cause was Dell's IO Magic DVD drive. The drive seems to be starved for power.
Hmmm... well now, this is an interesting tidbit. I looked all over the drive, I don't think this is a "IO Magic" drive, however in the box with the drive was this odd USB Y-cable about 6" long, that would add a second USB connector for the drive, but there was nothing in the meager docs about what it does. The drive has always seemed to work, so I never used it. Perhaps in some cases there isn't enough power from one connection or it is I/O starved, so it needs a second connection into the USB bus. I'll give this a try, see if it makes any difference. I may also try installing from a USB flash drive, using this procedure found:

Install Windows XP on a Mini-Note (USB stick method)

Very disappointed that I'm having to fight with this thing so much just to get it usable. Shame on Dell. Thanks for the help!
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tntc.tig tntc.tig is offline
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Default 06-22-2009, 09:28 PM

If you still want Ubuntu 9.04, read my post on installing it (All you need to do is install a package to get the touchscreen to work, and compile and install some drivers for the sound to work). The Bluetooth mouse needs to be paired with the system and will not work RIGHT out of the box, but once it is paired it should not be a problem. I think you'll spend less time doing a stock Ubuntu install than a fresh Windows XP install.

I had a difficult time getting anyone on the phone to support Linux, but with a little persistence and research, I was able to get everything working. Since I want everyone else to have it easy, I posted rough directions here. If you have any questions, please reply in the thread about the install, since that'll let the next person who needs help find the answer as well. If you decide to go with XP, I would edit this thread or create a new one documenting the hoops you had to jump through to get it working.
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KLF KLF is offline
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Default 06-22-2009, 10:10 PM

OK, thanks (printing linked thread now). I will look thru it, then probably will give it a try. I'm a total NOOB at any flavor of Linux, but I would like to get it installed because a) I do want to learn it, and b) I'm pretty sick of the Microsoft mess with Vista and Office 2007. I am worried that some of the critical applications that I want won't run under Linux, I can already name a couple.

As for the Bluetooth mouse, it was pairing fine (well.... most of the time anyway), but even when it said it was all set, it wouldn't work. Wouldn't move the cursor, no button responses, etc. I tried the mouse with a couple of other machines (one desktop, one laptop) and it worked fine, so I know the mouse itself is good. With only 3 USB ports, one going to the occasional DVD drive, I'd rather not use a corded or USB-based wireless mouse. Besides, I wanna pair to my phone (which also refused to work) so I can eaily download pictures and backup my contacts.

I guess my optimal setup would be to have a dual-boot system, and with a 250GB drive I should be able to do this. As I understand it I need to install XP first, so that's my plan.

Heading home with some new 2GB USB flash drives in hand, gonna have another go at it. Thanks again, I'll report back how it goes.
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zrtom zrtom is offline
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Default 06-22-2009, 10:46 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by KLF View Post
Hmmm... well now, this is an interesting tidbit. I looked all over the drive, I don't think this is a "IO Magic" drive, however in the box with the drive was this odd USB Y-cable about 6" long, that would add a second USB connector for the drive, but there was nothing in the meager docs about what it does. The drive has always seemed to work, so I never used it. Perhaps in some cases there isn't enough power from one connection or it is I/O starved, so it needs a second connection into the USB bus. I'll give this a try, see if it makes any difference.
Very disappointed that I'm having to fight with this thing so much just to get it usable. Shame on Dell. Thanks for the help!
Maybe the DVD drives they sell through the Business and Education channels are different; let's hope so. That's also interesting about the Y-cable yours came with.
Yea, for normal 5 minute uses of the DVD drive, my single cable works fine. It's during the lengthy OS installations that it starts to hiccup.


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KLF KLF is offline
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Default 06-23-2009, 03:12 AM

Well, I got XP Pro working. It was kinda kludgy and crude, but it worked. I'm not sure I'd do it this way again, which is why I don't think it's worth a separate thread.

I used the link I posted above to prepare a USB flash drive, booted to this flash drive, and told it to run the Text-mode portion of Setup. This failed, something about a critical file not found. I figured I was screwed. But, I had already been thru the text-mode portion of setup, so I re-booted to the flash drive again, this time I chose the GUI-mode option, and the graphical portion of XP Setup started. But... since the first portion of Setup had run from CD, it wanted the CD again to complete. So, I plugged the CD drive back in, stuffed the XP Pro CD back into the drive, and sure enough it took off and started working. Problem was, when it re-booted again, I got the same hard drive error.

So, I booted to the flash drive again, chose GUI Setup again, but since Setup was complete it just booted to XP and I logged in as Administrator. I opened BOOT.INI and found the problem. Instead of "multi(0)" at the beginning of the OS boot line, it said "signature(########)" where ######## was an 8-digit number in Hex. Not sure why Setup did that, but I changed it to "multi(0)", rebooted, and it is fine now. All the drivers are now installed, EVERYTHING is working. WOOHOO!!

Doing all the Windows Updates as I type this on my other desktop, should be ready to rock tomorrow.

Hope this is helpful to someone.


Latitude 2100n | Schoolhouse Red | Windows XP Pro | 2GB RAM | 250GB HDD | Touchscreen | Webcam | External DVD/RW | Bluetooth
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andreas970 andreas970 is offline
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Default 07-31-2009, 05:46 PM

Awesome! Thank you KLF. This lead me to an even easier fix. I was having the same problem, and here's what I did.

1. Run through text portion of XP pro install.
2. When reboot fails, boot to Knoppix live cd.
3. Edit boot.ini to change "signature(########)" to "multi(0)" at the beginning of the OS boot line.
4. Reboot with windows CD in drive.
5. GUI portion went right on trucking.

Weird! But at least there's a fix.
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slampt slampt is offline
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Default 08-04-2009, 01:53 AM

Hey Guys,

I just received a 2100 I did attempt the OSX install using a vanilla kernel but this failed, (I will attempt it again later but for now I have an XP query I am hoping someone would be able to help).

I have installed XP but the sata mode is set to ATA, has anyone had any success getting AHCI mode working under XP? I installed all the dell drivers for the controller but when I reboot and set it to AHCI in the bios I get a BSOD then it quickly reboots and tries again, and again etc.

Cheers
Slampt
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