SimplyMEPIS on Dell Inspiron 5000e

My Dell Inspiron 5000e was the first computer I bought after I moved to California in 2000. It was pretty near the top of the line laptop because I wanted a desktop replacement, and even though it was a refurbished system it cost around $3,000. It was a great computer at the time, although it overheated too easily (probably why it was refurbished in the first place), requiring an external fan or other auxiliary cooling methods when working for extended periods of time in normal room temperatures. However, it is about 10 years old technology so I am finally getting rid of it.

Costco has has a laptop recycling deal with Gazelle, and it seems Gazelle would pay about $20 for the laptop with Windows Me on it. Unfortunately it does not seem like they would pay for any of the extra stuff that I’d like to part with: extra battery, Windows 2000 Professional upgrade, a second Orinoco wireless PCMCIA card, PCMCIA Firewire card, PCMCIA Ethernet card and PCMCIA modem card, along with an assorted set of cables, other software and nylon carrying case. Everything in about perfect condition. Incidentally, if anyone wants any of that, email me an offer.

While preparing to get rid of the laptop I wanted to see how a modern Linux distro runs on it. I first tried Xubuntu 9.04 but the Live CD only boots about 10% of the way, same with Ubuntu 8.04. I did not want to fight too much with it, so I decided to try SimplyMEPIS 8.0.10 instead, because I have read good reviews about Mepis. While it first did not have any better luck, I figured out the problem was that it did not detect the right display resolution. Forcing that by adding xres=1400×1050 to boot options fixed it, and I had no other problems installing it.

I was surprised and disappointed that I have more problems running Linux on a 10 year old laptop compared to last year’s model. Suspend and hibernate don’t work, plugging in PS/2 mouse disables touchpad until reboot, and wireless does not connect automatically after reboot (although the latter could be an issue with KDE). I am pretty sure most if all problems could be worked around, but when things just work with later hardware it really is a disappointment. I used to run Redhat 8 on it, but can’t remember if it had any of those problems. I am also pretty sure setting that up required some more work to get the display right.

SimplyMEPIS seemed fine, although I was somewhat lost due to unfamiliar UI. That could be due to SimplyMEPIS using KDE, but since I don’t have much experience with KDE it is hard to tell. The UI was slightly sluggish (although not too annoying), so if I were forced to use this laptop again, I would probably look for a more lightweight solution than KDE or Gnome.

I did a full writeup too in the Linux-on-laptop style: SimplyMEPIS 8.0.10 Linux on Dell Inspiron 5000e laptop

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  1. Rob Hoag:

    I might be interested in some of those parts for the dell inspiron 5000e if you still have them and the price is right.

  2. Heikki Toivonen:

    @Rob: Sorry I forgot to update the post. I sold everything already.

  3. Rob Hoag:

    Thank, no problem.