This page describes how I installed Debian Linux on a Dell Latitude C610. Installing Debian was fairly easy; getting XFree86 to work took a long time. Hopefully these hints will make it easier for the next person. I received much helpful advice from Kay Nettle, our local Debian wizard, but I am responsible for any errors in the following.
Dell Latitude C610 1.0GHz Pentium III processor 20GB hard drive 512MB memory Combo DVD / CD-RW drive Toshiba SD-R2102 14.1" TFT display ATI RADEON Mobility (Dell), chip M6 (LY) 32-bit color Internal D/A 350 MHz 60 Hz scan 16 MB memory Adapter String 1002-4C59-00 Bios BK 5.0.0 VR005.000.006.002.006.001.001.001 | Wireless Ethernet card 1150 Wireless Networking 802.11 (Intersil PRISM2) 56K Modem Winmodem, PCTEL 2304WT v. 92 MDC + 10/100 Ethernet 3Com 3c905C Built-in stereo speakers Intel 82801 CA/CAM AC'97 Audio Controller Windows XP operating system Modular floppy drive
Having wiped out Windows by installing Debian, I then reinstalled Windows. Since the disk partition had been changed, Windows gave me the option of setting the size of the disk partitions, so I allocated about half of the disk to Windows. Reloading Windows wiped out Debian; it took about an hour, but didn't require much interaction.
Finally, I booted from the Debian CD again and re-installed Debian. Now I was able to put the two Debian partitions in the unused space above Windows. Perhaps I should have tried to make a FAT partition to use in communicating between Debian and Windows, but I didn't.
In case of a hangup in the boot process, you can say linux -s to Lilo boot to get into Debian for maintenance. All in all, getting the basic Debian to work was not too hard.
Before you can compile XFree86, you need several libraries that did not get installed with Debian, even though I asked for nearly everything in the ``easy'' install of packages. The following things are needed:
There were several errors where a file in the xc/... tree was symbolically linked to something in /etc/... which was sym-linked to itself. I traced the links and deleted the files that were linked to themselves.
Compile XFree86 as per the instructions by doing make World >& world.log and then look at world.log with emacs and search for ** to find errors. Once there are no errors, make install >& install.log and check install.log for errors. The make World takes about half an hour. make Everything >& every.log can be used for a faster remake. A few times I deleted everything in xc/... and started over until I got a clean make.
The file XF86Config that is generated by running xfree86 -configure is pretty good, except that you need to change the mouse to Protocol "PS/2" and Device "/dev/psaux" .
The Debian boot process as initially configured will start xfs and xdm.   xfs hangs up and requires cycling power to kill it, and it doesn't seem to be needed. I removed the files /etc/rc2.d/S20xfs and /etc/rc2.d/S99xdm to avoid running xfs and xdm during startup. After logging in, X is started by running startx . Exit by entering exit or power off by entering halt from root.
Adam Monsen reports that the PCTEL 2304WT V.92 MDC winmodem should work with the driver at: http://linmodems.technion.ac.il/pctel-linux/
Gordon S. Novak Jr.