Archive for January 20, 2012

Installing Windows 8 Developer Preview on a Dell Inspiron e1505

We have a laptop that’s currently running Windows XP. We have had no complaints about XP and was satisfied with the OS, but Apple recently released iCloud and it wasn’t compatible with XP. Originally, we were thinking of upgrading to Windows 7, but since Windows 8 preview is available, we can test if the new version of windows will work with the laptop.

Laptop Specification and Challenges

Name Dell Inspiron e1505 / 6400
CPU Core Duo T2500 1.7 Ghz
RAM 2 Gb
Screen 1280 x 800
Video ATI Mobility Radeon X1300
Optical Drive DVD+-RW
Ethernet Broadcom 440x 10/100 Ethernet
Wireless Broadcom Corporation BCM4311 802.11b/g
Bluetooth Dell 350 Bluetooth
Modem Conexant 56K Modem
Card Reader Ricoh R5C822 SD/SDIO/MMC/MS/MSPro Card Reader
Other Connectors ExpressCard Slot, USB and 1394a Firewire

The Dell Inspiron e1505 (also call Dell Inspiron 6400) is really not all that old. It uses a Core Duo, a predecessor of the Core2 Duo. The CPU is more than fast  enough for everyday use. The CPU however is 32-bit and will not run 64-bit windows. I believe there are later versions of Dell e1505 with 64-bit Core2 Duo processors.

The challenge to installing Window 8 is that the machine is not even Windows 7 Certified. Dell does not support running Windows 7 on it. It is however Vista Certified so we at least have Vista drivers.

Despite not being Windows 7 certified, Dell e1505 worked mostly out of the box for Windows 7 except for the video card, the card reader and bluetooth. Since Windows 8′s internal are similar to Windows 7, this would be a good indication of what windows 8 would be like.

Installation Experience

I downloaded Windows 8 Developer Preview and burned it to a DVD. I swapped out the laptop’s hard disk with a blank hard disk. The installation was fairly uneventful.

  1. Install blank hard disk into the laptop.
  2. Insert Windows 8 Developer Preview into the laptop and press the on button. Immediately press F12 to go to the boot menu. Select boot from DVD and when prompted on screen, press any key to boot from the DVD.
  3. Follow the instruction and install Windows 8 using the default options. What was a surprise is that by default Windows 8 by default partition the drive into two partition, reserving a small 350 Mb partition for what appears to be for recovery. The instruction also prompts you for a Windows Live ID so it can integrate your login with a windows live ID account, but a windows live ID is not necessary to continue.

The OS boots into the new Metro interface. However, when I examined the screen closely, the screen appear to be running at 1024×768 instead of the usual 1280×800 and there are some devices missing.

Component Description Status Notes
CPU Core Duo T2500 1.7 Ghz Working
RAM 2 Gb Working
Video ATI Mobility Radeon X1300 Not working Video card not detected. Using basic VGA
Optical Drive DVD+-RW Working
Ethernet Broadcom 440x 10/100 Ethernet Working
Wireless Broadcom Corporation BCM4311 802.11b/g Working
Bluetooth Dell 350 Bluetooth Working
Modem Conexant 56K Modem Working
Card Reader Ricoh R5C822 SD/SDIO/MMC/MS/MSPro Card Reader Sort of working SDHC card can be read, but device manager shows problems
Other Connectors ExpressCard Slot, USB and 1394a Firewire Working I was only able to test the USB, but device manager does not show errors. I assume that they are working.

Basically, everything appears to work except for the video and the card reader. Actually, the card reader appears to be working too but the device manager shows 2 “base system device” as not working.

Fixing the Video Card

Dell does not provide any Windows 7 drivers for the x1300 card. Windows 7 does have a x1300 in their windows update, but forum posts indicated that that version has a bug where the video driver will crash after resuming from hibernation (I believe they are using version  8.561.0.0 ). Based on the post, I should be using the drivers provided by AMD.

The lastest AMD driver for the card is AMD Catalyst 10.2 legacy display driver, but it appears to be available only for Vista. The Catalyst installer will not work on the Dell e1505 because  Catalyst won’t install on Dell laptops, but you have to run a tool call Mobility Modder to make the installer work. The instruction for modder instructs the user to download the driver and then run the modder on it to fix the configuration file and then run the modded installer. Rather than messing around with this, I notice that Donotargue.com has already created a modded version of the driver. You can download that driver here. Make sure you download the 32-bit version and not the 64-bit version.

The drivers are Vista 32-bit drivers and won’t install normally. You have to run them as Vista drivers by doing the following:

  1. Right-click on the Installer setup application and select Troubleshoot compatibility.
  2. After it runs through the compatibility detection, select “Troubleshoot program”.
  3. On the screen “What problem do you notice”, check to make sure that the option for earlier version for windows is checked. Press the next button.
  4. On the screen “Which version of windows”, select Window Vista and press Next.
  5. On the screen “Test compatibility”, press the Start the Program button. Press Yes when you get a UAC prompt.
  6. Now follow the instruction to install. I used the option for express install.

The installer appears to crash at the end of installation, resulting in a blank screen. However, when I rebooted the machine, the screen was now in 1280×800. The device manager correctly identified the display adapter as “ATI MOBILITY RADEON X1300″ with a version of 8.593.100.0 and indicate that it’s working correctly. I attempted to play some youtube video at 720p and it displayed properly. Running 3dmark05 displayed a score of around 1027, which sound about right. Resume from hibernation appears to work, as does the Catalyst Control Panel.

Fixing the Card Reader

Windows 8 does intall a SDA Host Adapter and when I plug in a SD card, it appears to work. However, the device manager still report that there are two base system device that are not working. Perhaps the built-in Windows 8 driver only enable SD card, and not other formats.

To fix this, I install the Ricoh driver from Dell, which you can download here.

Conclusion

Other than the video card, installation of Windows 8 on Dell Inspiron e1505 has been mostly trouble-free. The system seems to work properly most of the time, but sometimes lockup or behaves strangely. Since Windows 8 is beta, it’s hard to tell if the crashes are due to old video driver or due to the product being beta. In addition, this is no guarantee that the release version of Windows 8 will work with Dell Inspiron e1505, but based on what we know there’s a really good chance that it will.

January 20, 2012 at 12:40 pm 4 comments


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