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Dell Precision M6400


This is a compatibility guide to running Linux with the Dell Precision M6400 laptop.

This page is just for discussing using Linux on the Dell Precision M6400. For a general discussion about this laptop you can visit the Dell Precision M6400 page on LapWik.

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For full specifications see the Dell Precision M6400 specifications page.

NameDell Precision M6400
ProcessorIntel® Core 2 Duo, Core 2 Duo Extreme Edition, Core 2 Duo Quad Core Extreme Edition
Screen17“ WXGA+ or WUXGA Widescreen
RAMUp to 16GB
HDD80GB to 500GB
Optical DriveDVD-ROM
GraphicsNVIDIA® Quadro FX 2700M
NVIDIA® Quadro FX 3700M
AMD ATI FirePro M7740
Network10/100/1000 Ethernet
Dell Wireless 1397 802.11g Mini-Card
Dell Wireless 1510 802.11 a/g/n 2×3 Mini-Card
Intel Wireless 5100 802.11a/g/n 1×2 Mini-Card
Intel Wireless 5300 802.11a/g/n 3×3 Mini-Card

Linux Compatibility

Optical DriveWorks
GraphicsWorksRequires the proprietary NVIDIA drivers to function
ModemNot Tested
Card ReaderWorks
ExpressCard SlotNot Tested
Fingerprint ReaderNot Tested
WebcamNot Tested


You can enter any specific notes with running Linux on the Dell Precision M6400 here.

Sound (OpenSUSE 11.1) –> add “options snd-hda-intel model=laptop” to top of /etc/modprobe.d/sound

eSATA (OpenSUSE 11.1) –> modify /usr/share/PolicyKit/policy/ Change allow_active to “yes”. For seamless desktop integration, add disk to fstab with appropriate options. (i.e. noauto,user,rw).


You can enter a summary of how well the Dell Precision M6400 works with Linux here.


Leo, 2010/07/17 03:29

Finally solved a serious slowdown, going on for weeks, just when working a lot it slowed down, doing a lot in VMware, or calling video on Skype. Solution: I had to vacuum my M6400. No kidding. Dust that wasn't visible from the outside. Idle 70C before, 53C after. Back to normal. In Fedora 13 (see my 12 instructions) did: sudo yum install gnome-applet-sensors and then Add to Panel… Hardware Sensors Monitor. Where to clean? Vacuum suck out at bottom cooling air intakes.

Sher, 2010/06/25 14:52

I have forgotten the password for the parental control feature using the webcam, is there anyway I could reset it?, 2010/04/23 20:05
  I am a newbie and am wondering if anyone can suggest anything for a problem I'm having with my in-line microphone not working at all.  I'm running Ubuntu 9.10, Karmic Koala, on a Dell Precision M6400 laptop.  Trying to use SKYPE which works wonderfully in Windows with my mic plugged into the in-line jack;  In Linux, however, my in-line mic does not work at all.  I feel I've tried everything such as playing with ALL the settings in the volume control preferences.  It seems like maybe it's a driver issue but that would be strange. Does anyone have any idea as to what the problem might be?  And no, the Linux onboard recorder does not recognize the in-line mic either. Would be grateful for your help., 2010/04/27 07:23

IN-LINE MICROPHONE PROBLEMS WITH UBUNTU, 9.10** I am also having this problem on the Dell, Precision Workstation M6400. Everything I am at a complete loss in terms of how to fix this issue. Help!!!

Leo, 2010/03/09 19:05

Finally using it as main machine with Fedora 12, x86_64.

1) not using built-in BIOS RAID, gave up, but set it to AHCI
2) where given choice MUST install with basic video driver, because first choice install freezes
3) also use RPM Fusion repositories
4) use akmod-nivida driver

Gets interesting when you Software Update to kernel kernel.x86_64 You want that kernel, it is first in a long time where suspend to RAM works. But…

5) must add to kernel option iommu=soft or else freezes before login, as reported at
6) if using built-in mic, apparently after suspend must do command line alsamixer, set HDA Intel's Input Source to Digital Mic, Digital Mic volume to 67 (not 0, not mute)
7) as always make sure Sound Preferences Input is Microphone 1 / Microphone

I also reprogrammed the Home, End, Page Up, Page Down and volume keys so they're less pita. I made a /etc/hal/fdi/policy/30-keymap-dell.fdi

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?> <!-- -*- SGML -*- -->
<deviceinfo version="0.2">
  <match key="@input.originating_device:info.linux.driver" string="atkbd">
    <match key="@input.originating_device:@info.parent:@info.parent:system.hardware.vendor" prefix_ncase="Dell">
      <match key="@input.originating_device:@info.parent:@info.parent:system.hardware.product" prefix_ncase="Precision">
        <match key="@input.originating_device:@info.parent:@info.parent:system.hardware.product" contains_outof="M6400;M6500">
          <!-- these work well -->
          <append key="" type="strlist">e02e:volumeup</append>
          <append key="" type="strlist">e030:home</append>
          <append key="" type="strlist">e020:pageup</append>
          <append key="" type="strlist">e049:mute</append>
          <append key="" type="strlist">e051:volumedown</append>
          <append key="" type="strlist">e047:end</append>
          <append key="" type="strlist">e04f:pagedown</append>
          <!-- this one almost works, getkeycodes shows 139 -->
          <append key="" type="strlist">e021:menu</append>

Glued on key caps from Fentek

Once mobile broadband wasn't working but found solution per

Got detailed how-to, but will only spend time to sanitize it and post it here if people would actually ask for it.

Adam, 2010/04/19 00:48

I'd like to see the how-to when you're finished with it.

Also, what wireless are you using? I have a M6400 and put Fedora 12 on. Everything works great outside of wireless. I've tried following but when I enable my wireless it lags my laptop and eventually locks Fedora 12 up completely. I have to reboot and disable the wireless quickly afterwards.

A snippet from my /var/log/messages:
Apr 15 12:22:41 localhost kernel: ratelimit: 1 callbacks suppressed
Apr 15 12:22:41 localhost kernel: b43-phy0: Controller restarted
Apr 15 12:22:41 localhost kernel: b43-phy0 ERROR: Fatal DMA error: 0x00000400, 0x00000000, 0x00000000, 0x00000000, 0x00000000, 0x00000000
Apr 15 12:22:41 localhost kernel: b43-phy0: Controller RESET (DMA error) …
Apr 15 12:22:41 localhost kernel: b43-phy0: Loading firmware version 478.104 (2008-07-01 00:50:23)
Apr 15 12:22:42 localhost kernel: b43-phy0: Controller restarted
Apr 15 12:22:42 localhost kernel: b43-phy0 ERROR: Fatal DMA error: 0x00000400, 0x00000000, 0x00000000, 0x00000000, 0x00000000, 0x00000000
Apr 15 12:22:42 localhost kernel: b43-phy0: Controller RESET (DMA error) …
Apr 15 12:22:43 localhost kernel: b43-phy0: Loading firmware version 478.104 (2008-07-01 00:50:23)
Apr 15 12:22:44 localhost kernel: b43-phy0: Controller restarted
Apr 15 12:22:44 localhost kernel: b43-phy0 ERROR: Fatal DMA error: 0x00000400, 0x00000000, 0x00000000, 0x00000000, 0x00000000, 0x00000000
Apr 15 12:22:44 localhost kernel: b43-phy0: Controller RESET (DMA error) …
Apr 15 12:22:44 localhost kernel: b43-phy0: Loading firmware version 478.104 (2008-07-01 00:50:23)
Apr 15 12:22:45 localhost kernel: b43-phy0: Controller restarted
Apr 15 12:22:46 localhost kernel: b43-phy0: Loading firmware version 478.104 (2008-07-01 00:50:23)
Apr 15 12:22:47 localhost kernel:
ratelimit: 2 callbacks suppressed

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Dave Krause, 2010/04/27 04:12

re:wireless driver - this worked for me:

PKD, 2010/02/22 16:44

Running OpenSUSE 11.1.

SD card reader not working. Getting I/O errors whenever a card is plugged in. Rebuilding kernel now to see if some MMC/SD options will help.

While in kernel xconfig, noticed that my kernel options defaulted to x86 class CPU, not the Core 2 class that is installed. Probably need to comb through all the kernel options at some point to determine if other default selections are appropriate for my system.

Tweaked PolKit behavior relating to fixed-mount drives and eSATA - modified permissions so that my regular user account could mount/umount an external eSATA drive.

Haven't tried CardBus, ExpressCard, 1394a. Bluetooth and WWAN radios not installed. Everything else works very well.

Running vmWare Workstation 6.5. Aside from some audio issues, this too works very well.

I do wish that knetworkmanager was able to handle PPTP and Cisco VPN sessions. Ability for knetworkmanager to handle my USB WWAN card would also be a bonus (right now using kinternet for USB WWAN). I'm sure that if I compiled these manually I could probably get things to work the way I want, but that somewhat defeats the package management inherent to openSUSE.

All said, I am very happy with OpenSUSE 11.1 on the M6400. It is every bit as fast as I hoped it would be.

Francisco Escarpa, 2009/08/26 11:35

Updated ALSA to latest version (1.0.20-43.1) from Opensuse repositories corrected the issue. All microphones work OK on Opensuse 11.1

Luis, 2009/08/25 15:11

Has anyone tested Fedora core 10 or 11 with the 256 Samsung SSD HD that the M6400? Also I'm trying to figure out if I buy 6 of these laptops can I run RHEL 5.3 WS Client and Fedora core 10/11 with multiple NICS. I'm not sure where to find a PCMCIA that is compatible with these OS and has 2+ ports. I would like the these laptop to work with 2-4 NICS in linux. I'm thinking of getting 6 of these laptops with 2 SDD drives (1 for windows xp and 1 for linux), FX 3400, quad core 2.5, but I'm mising the Dual or quad nic capability.

luis, 2009/08/25 15:13

Also I would like to know if there would be any reason for not getting these systems with SDD if I'm running linux.

porro, 2009/06/25 00:22

Is the RAID bug supposed to be solved in fedora 11 final?

Im trying to install fedora 11 in an m6400 quadcore and it trows an exception when trying to partition the RAID1 disks.

porro, 2009/06/25 04:37

The error was because there were too many primary partitions. Merged 2 together and the installer then could partition.
Ran into another bug were if I tried to modify the bootloader entries to change the labels (dualbooting xp) it would crash. Leaving it at default values worked.

Mike R, 2009/05/04 13:37

I have a Dell Precision M6400 with built in webcam and mics, and have been dual booting WinXP and Ubunti 8.10 for a month now. All works under Ubuntu except the dual digial mics. I've played around with the sound settings, (HDA Intel…ALSA and OSS) but to no avail. I also had to toggle some bluetooth settings to get my dongled Logitech MX5500 keyboard and mouse working.
If anyone has any thoughts about getting the mic(s) working I would greatly appreciate it.
Mike, 2010/04/23 20:13


I am having the same problem with my in-line mic running Ubuntu 9.10, Karmic Koala. Do you have any idea how I can get my mic to work in Linux?

Trying to use SKYPE which works wonderfully in Windows with my mic plugged into the in-line jack. In Linux, however, nothing can see my mic. I feel I've tried everything such as playing with all the settings in the volume control preferences. It seems like maybe it's a driver issue but that would be strange. Do you have any idea as to what the problem might be? And no, the Linux onboard recorder does not recognize the in-line mic either.

   Would be grateful for any help.
Cory, 2009/04/10 19:54

I'm running FC10 x86_64 & it's great. Two things. I can't seem to get bluetooth working. I'm not ever sure where to start with that. It just doesn't detect it. Also, I have the E-Port Plus docking station. When I hook up speakers, I don't get any sound from the speakers, just the laptop's internal speakers. So I moved the speaker connection to the headphone jack & I don't get sound out of the speakers or the laptop (I'm 100% sure the speakers work).

Any ideas?

Mike H., 2009/03/12 20:34

Have quad-core + nVidia Quadro FX 3700M + 1920×1200 screen. This is a nice machine. And fast!

I have a openSUSE 11.1 running well. Sound works. Graphics work fine with nvidia driver. But wireless PCMCIA my cards dont work. (I dont have an internal mini-card – they are removed before we get laptops). Both cards I have are Atheros based and one definitely worked for years using mad-wifi on a different laptop (and different version of linux). Ive tried the latest madwifi ( I think) and it still doesnt work….

Alberto Patino, 2009/03/01 21:17

I'm unable to install Fedora 10 x64/Fedora 11 Alpha on top of SATA RAID 0, any help about this will be very appreciated.

Leo, 2009/03/27 05:38

You'll have to wait for Fedora 11 Beta for a fix, per Meanwhile I have switched off Intel Matrix Storage Manager RAID, and instead I'm using software RAID of Fedora 10, installed with “Review and modify partitioning layout” on installation.

Leo, 2009/04/07 21:37

No luck with Fedora 11 Beta, not even got to pick English. Now with Fedora 10 I machine still doesn't come back from suspend too often, though it came back sometimes. Using x86_64. Hoping for the suspend to get better I updated to kernel- because of specific improvements in kernel 2.6.29, but no luck, still not coming back from suspend well. Sometimes coming back from suspend isn't good enough.

Alberto Patino, 2009/04/13 23:41

Hi, I'm finally running Fedora 11 Beta with original Dell Partition, Win Vista Recovery Partition, Windows Vista and of course Intel RAID 0. I had to sort out many problems.

1.- I had to fix/patch dmraid problem not in Fedorat 11 Beta yet, see ,

2.- I had to create my own Fedora 10 CD1 disc with the patched dmraid. Not very difficult

3.- Install Fedora 10 failed in the GRUB installation (on top of RAID 0, of course). I used disc created in step 2 to Recover Linux and install manually grub.

4.- After this finally I got to boot Fedora 10 from this great laptop, but discovered new problem in init script rc.sysinit, specifically fsck resulted in a modprobe: FATAL: error running install command for binfmt_0000. I was tracking this problem but with no idea for the solution. I run Fedora with the rescue CD and I did a full update for rawhide. This solved the problem. Im not very happy because I couldn't discover the real cause of this.

5.- Final problem with graphical boot, Xorg without xorg.conf having probolems. I copied xorg.conf from Fedora 9 Dell XPS M1730 also with Intel RAID 0. It didn't work so I installed akmods and akmod-nvidia to install nvidia 3D driver.

Now I have an acceptable Fedora 11 Instalation with my Dell Precision M6400!

[root@hawking ~]# date
Mon Apr 13 18:37:41 CDT 2009
[root@hawking ~]# uname -a
Linux hawking #1 SMP Mon Apr 6 03:50:07 EDT 2009 x86_64 x86_64 x86_64 GNU/Linux
[root@hawking ~]# /usr/local/sbin/dmraid -s
*** Group superset isw_djdijbebfb
–> Active Subset
name : isw_djdijbebfb_ARRAY
size : 976783360
stride : 256
type : stripe
status : ok
subsets: 0
devs : 2
spares : 0
[root@hawking ~]# fdisk -lu /dev/mapper/isw_djdijbebfb_ARRAY

Disk /dev/mapper/isw_djdijbebfb_ARRAY: 500.1 GB, 500113080320 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 60801 cylinders, total 976783360 sectors
Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Disk identifier: 0xe0000000

                         Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System

/dev/mapper/isw_djdijbebfb_ARRAY1 63 224909 112423+ de Dell Utility
/dev/mapper/isw_djdijbebfb_ARRAY2 225280 4419583 2097152 7 HPFS/NTFS
Partition 2 does not end on cylinder boundary.
/dev/mapper/isw_djdijbebfb_ARRAY3 * 4419584 106832249 51206333 7 HPFS/NTFS
/dev/mapper/isw_djdijbebfb_ARRAY4 106832250 976768064 434967907+ 5 Extended
/dev/mapper/isw_djdijbebfb_ARRAY5 106832313 107249939 208813+ 83 Linux
/dev/mapper/isw_djdijbebfb_ARRAY6 107250003 312046559 102398278+ 8e Linux LVM

I'll post detailed instructions in my blog

Leo, 2009/04/24 17:20

By now I now love my M6400 with Fedora 10.

What finally fixed the suspend was to use closed source nVidia driver, fine with me for now. Didn't use nVidia installer, but followed advice to get it from RPM Fusion.

To control Touch Pad to turn off tapping I installed gsynaptics. Then to enable System - Preferences - Hardware - Touchpad I DON'T follow old advice about Xorg, but I sudo nano /etc/hal/fdi/policy/10-synaptics.fdi and make sure there is

<?xml version=“1.0” encoding=“UTF-8”?>
<deviceinfo version=“0.2”>
<match key=“info.capabilities” contains=“input.touchpad”>
<match key=“info.product” contains=“Synaptics TouchPad”>
<merge key=“input.x11_driver” type=“string”>synaptics</merge>
<merge key=“input.x11_driver.SHMConfig” type=“string”>true</merge>

I had to have audio ALSA and there were two volume controls that I had both to max, because they multiply and one of them looking 70% or so seriously made it too quiet. Master and Front had to be up. “Front” really is the internal speakers.

For sound input I had in System - Preferences - Hardware - Volume Control - Preferences button to turn on Digital Input Source and then in Options tab to tell Digital Input Source to be Digital Mic 1.

And you probably know for WiFi you have to do System - Administration - Network - Devices tab - Help menu - Contents item - 8. Establishing a Wireless Connection.

I love my LVM software RAID. Admittedly, it limits my backup options to file based because not one tool I found supported partition backup from LVM software RAID (not counting dummies that copy empty blocks). But with Intel RAID apparently not compatible with Fedora 10, LVM software RAID is it.

More details:

Knowing to look in pm-suspend.log it was easy to find the Fedora built-in driver for nVidia prevented successful coming back from suspend. Though really just Xorg is shot, you could ssh in. As mentioned, fixed with closed source nVidia driver.

My first Touch Pad was so lame (button press moved cursor, and it jumped across screen like an insect all by itself with me feet away) in all OS (XP or Vista 32, Vista 64, Fedora 10) that I finally had it replaced, and now it seems OK or at least much better.

While investigating I heard when getting years old or dirty that Track Stick can cause drifting cursor, and if so then a fix might be disconnecting its cable internally.

Yet have to publish my complete installation how-to, but if there are questions here I might do it sooner.

Tom tester, 2009/02/23 23:25

With Opensuse 11.1 all Hardware is full funtional,
but the micropfone.

Pete, 2009/02/17 18:34

Have ubuntu 8.10 (intrepid) x64 installed on the M6400 for about 2 weeks now. Works great. Had to install the nvidia 180.22 drivers to get resolution above 1200×1024 and I haven't tried the bluetooth or webcam yet, (although it recognizes them)

I have 8 GB of ram and have multiple VM's running using VMware workstation 6.5. Had some difficulties on VM performance, but using various formum's have worked out most of the issues. (Mainly keyboard issues, and swappiness and other performance settings). Currently one 2 issues remain with VMWare. Sound is choppy out of VM's and Full screen mode with twin-view doesn't work properly (you loose the menus) But quick switch works as well.

All in all, very happy with it, looking at the choppy sound today, when I ran into this forum, so I figured I would post my experience.

Matt Smith, 2009/02/03 21:34

I have an M6400 with Fedora Core 10 x86_64 installed and running. I have upgraded to the Nvidia 180.22 driver and have the system working with Xinerama and TwinView for docked multi monitor display. I am having a few issues with the Compwiz cube though….

Overall, the M6400 rocks. I am using it as a combination development system and mobiel server for project demos, etc. I have tested with XP Pro x64 and Vista x64 in VMWare VMs alongside the Linux host, and all is running well.

Had to use AT&T's alternate DNS servers when setting up the Dell 5530 HSPA mobile broadband card…

Norm, 2009/01/29 04:59

Recently received Dell Precision M6400 pre-installed with XP. Dell has been promising me it will be available with Red Hat for two months, but I finally gave up waiting. My version has the NVIDIA® Quadro FX 2700M, Intel Wireless 5300, and 1920×1200 screen.

Tried to install Mandriva 2008.1 first, but it had a problem with the Intel SATA controller and hung installer.

Then tried Mandriva 2009.0. This installed OK. Couple of issues in the installer: (1) did not recognize graphics card, so used VESA driver, so limited resolution; (2) did not recognize the Intel 5300 wireless so could not configure in installer. After boot, wired networking was fine, but software installer kept crashing, so very hard to update. Finally updated all packages (like 350!). Was then able to recognize wireless card and get it set up, though network config tool was not listing the available networks. Found on Nvidia site that support for the 2700M card required the very latest (Jan '09) driver, so downloaded and installed (requiring kernel source be installed first). Let the Nvidia installer reconfigure X, and on restarting X found proper driver (splash screen) and 1920×1200 resolution being used. Everything was looking good, but then found sound was not working. Tried various approaches, but eventually got it working by muting *both* of the analog feedback channels via the kmix mixer window. Works with Pulseaudio. So now Mandriva 2009.0 appears to be fully functional. Suspend to RAM works fine too.

Also installed OpenSUSE 11.1 for comparison. Went fairly similarly to Mandriva. Did not recognize graphics card, and for some reason with SUSE the max resolution was limited to something like 800×600 (whereas Mandriva had been 1200x? I believe). This actually made it very hard to do anything, so immediately had to install the Nvidia driver. Somewhat easier since SUSE can use its software installer to do this. Same sound issue as Mandriva, and am having some distortion on loud passages for some reason. Still looking into that. Basically fully functional though.

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dell_precision_m6400.txt · Last modified: 2010/10/13 15:21 (external edit)
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