Gateway 1450 War Story

In November 2002 I was forced to get a new laptop, so I scraped up as much money as I could earn over the course of a month and, with the help of a friend who was willing to pay for part of it in exchange for computer work, I was able to get a Gateway 1450, which was literally the least expensive non-used laptop I could find. It seemed like a decent enough machine- 1.3GHz Celeron, 256MB RAM, 30GB HD, on-board ethernet, CD-R/RW/DVD drive... and it had a major advantage over my old laptop- it actually worked for more than twenty minutes at a stretch, and without burning my hands in the process (which is always nice.)

It even came pre-loaded with an "operating" system (to remain un-named, but it's initials are "X.P.") which, of course, soon made way for Red Hat Linux 8.0.

However, after installing RedHat I discovered the hard way that the XFree86 driver for the Intel i830M chipset wasn't fully working yet, and that my brand-new laptop wasn't able to run X at all.

I did some searching around the Internet, read some pages that other people had made about the same problem with similar laptops (particularly this one and this one) and ended up finding pre-release kernel and XFree86 packages that, while not officially supported by RedHat, they do work on my laptop.

What I figured out is this:

While I don't mind compiling software (I *AM* a programmer, after all) the thought of having to compile XFree86 from source worries me for two reasons. First, it takes FOREVER... and second, I like the fact that I can use RedHat's RPM package management system to keep my system up to date.

I was compiling perl by hand for a long time, and every time I wanted to install or upgrade any other RPM package which listed perl as a dependency, I was having to use "--nodeps", which was a pain. (I was so happy to see RedHat 8.0 come with perl 5.8 right out of the box!)

After all of the research I found a bunch of packages from RedHat's "rawhide" server. I'm still not 100% clear on what "rawhide" is supposed to be, whether it's a pre-release of what will be in RedHat 8.1, or if it's a separate product, or if it's just a bunch of beta-level stuff... but I found everything in one place (which was nice) and once it was installed, it actually worked (which is really nice.) contained a bunch of packages (some of which had already been upgraded by the time I got this web page written.) The following is a list of the packages I had to install or upgrade in order to get X working on the laptop:


I also ended up writing my own XF86Config file.

I have since upgraded to RedHat 9. It worked right "out of the box", no custom packages needed at all.
[hacker emblem] Copyright 2002-2003 John M. Simpson <>
Last updated 2003-07-25