For an Intel 855 GME chipset with integrated graphics it can be quite tricky to install and configure XFree86. The documentation below describes how I did it.

The laptop comes equiped with the integrated graphics chip 855GME that doesn’t have any extra graphics memory nut uses the main memory of the computer. Due to a bios bug the native resolution of the LCD (1400×1050) is not listed as a supported video mode in the video bios.

Fixed versions of the video bios are available from Intel but Dell, Acer, Assus and may other companies have not incorporated them into their own versions. Therefore I had the following options to install XFree on my dell:


Without any patches or further modifications it is possible to use the standard vesa driver at a resolution of 1024 x 768 but only with 256 colors.

Commercial driver

Use a commercial driver for the X-Server e. g. the one made available at xig. But this will cost you at least 69 $ and may complain about incorrect ELF headers or libraries. At least that happened on my redhat 9 installation.

Patch the Intel I830 Driver

It seems Dell finally fixed the initial video memory bug in their Inspiron 510m so that you don’t need the 855patch anymore. In XFree 86 Version 4.3 the intel video driver is still buggy. This can be fixed with the 855wrap, a tiny little program executed during boot, available at Christian Zietz’s site. No need to change the source code of XFree and recompile it.

In XFree Version 4.4 the intel video driver is fixed. But you still have to add :

    Option "DisplayInfo" "False"

to your XF86Config in the Device Section.

Now you are ready to configure X for a resolution of 1280×1050 at 24bpp. Here are the relevant sections from my XF86Config file. :

    Section "Device"
        Identifier  "Videocard0"
        Driver      "i810"
        VendorName  "Videocard vendor"
        BoardName   "Intel 852"

    Section "Screen"
        Identifier "Screen0"
        Device     "Videocard0"
        Monitor    "Monitor0"
        DefaultDepth     24
        SubSection "Display"
                Depth     24
                Modes    "1280x1024" "1024x768" "800x600" "640x480"

    Section "DRI"
        Group        0
        Mode         0666

Still the native resolution of the display (1400 x 1050) is not supported and will not be as long as Dell doesn’t include the fixed video bios into a bios upgrade.


New Yes, even without a commercial driver the native resolution of 1400 x 1050 is possible. Alain Poirier wrote a tiny program called 855Resolution that patches the buggy video bios on my Dell (Bios A 04) and replaces one of the resolutions listed with 1400 x 1050.

Here I added the following line to my /etc/rc.local:

    /usr/sbin/855resolution 3c 1400 1050

Then you only have to add the relevant mode to the Display Section in your XF86Config and -voila – it works. If you plan to use swsusp make shure the bios is patched after resume and before X is restored. This can be set in /etc/suspend.conf with the SWSUSP_START_PROGS_AFTER_RESUME option.

External monitor

Have you ever wondered how to enable the external monitor port on your Dell?

Then have a look at the i855crt project at sourceforge. This project develops a userspace driver for linux that allows to enable and diable the external port. Afaik, at the time of writing only the clone modus is supported. This means, that for most projectors, the resolution of the display needs to be reduced to 1280×1024 or below.

Thanks to Pattrick Boettcher for this information!