This document describes how I got a modern Linux distribution to run on this 10 year old laptop (as of 2009), Dell Inspiron 5000e.

The laptop originally came with Windows Me, which I quickly upgraded to Windows 2000 Professional. I also made it dual boot to Redhat Linux 8. For several years the machine sat unused until I decided to see how a modern, circa 2009 Linux distribution would run on it.


Due to the relatively slow processor and not much RAM I first tried to install Xubuntu 9.04 on it. Unfortunately the Live CD hung about 10% into the startup. The same happened with Ubuntu 8.04 CD. I decided to give up with Ubuntu, and try SimplyMEPIS since I had read a lot of good reviews about.

First attempt with SimplyMEPIS 8.0.10 was no better than Ubuntu, but then I noticed the startup screen said I could use F3 to set resolution explicitly. After I set it to 1400x1050, the Live CD booted correctly. The actual boot option you need to add is xres=1400x1050, for example to the Grub menu once you have installed.

Apart from the display resolution problem, all the hardware, including my wireless Orinoco PCMCIA card was detected and worked correctly. I chose all the defaults in the installer, and let it format the whole disk.


The hardware support is decent, but I was somewhat surprised that the support was not as good as with some more modern laptops.

Intel Pentium III 600 MHzworks
15.0 inch LCD Panel, 1400x1050 pixelsworksNeed to set xres=1400x1050 to kernel boot options.
256 MB RAMworks
20 GB Hard Driveworks
DVD/CD-ROM driveworks
16 MB ATI Rage M3worksJust using the Open Source drivers, no 3D effects.
5.25 Floppy Driveuntested
Microphone and Headset portsuntested
TouchpadproblemWorks until PS/2 mouse is plugged in, then stops working (won't help if mouse unplugged).
Mouse buttonsproblemSee above.
Display sleepuntested
Suspenddoes not workKPowersave just causes logout. Closing lid gets into a state where you can't recover without powercycle.
Hibernatedoes not workKPowersave just causes logout. Fn+Suspend hibernates, but recovering does not work.
Fn keysuntested


Orinoco Gold PCMCIA wireless cardworksDespite selecting auto-connect, need to manually connect to wireless accept point after reboot.
Microsoft PS/2 MouseworksUsing this breaks touchpad, see above.


All in all the machine is usable, but you have to remember to shut down when you no longer need the machine which is annoying in a laptop. KDE 3.5 which comes with SimplyMEPIS 8, makes things feel a little bit sluggish, so personally I would look at replacing that with something more light weight.

If you found any errors above, or have found solutions for areas that are still problematic, or have found better solutions to issues, please let me know. Also, if you found this document useful, consider making a small donation to help cover the hosting costs.