Adding Debian linux to Dell Latitude 3190

Donald Daniel, May 2019

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The Dell Latitude 3190 is a small laptop computer. I did not get the "2 in 1" version that has a touch screen. I doubt that the touch screen would be compatible with linux. It has a screen, keyboard, two USB ports, one HDMI port and wifi and bluetooth capability. It does not have an internal optical drive for CD or DVD use. An external optical drive can be purchased for it. It does not have an ethernet port. It is available with a hard drive or a solid state drive. I bought it with the solid state drive because I think that would be less likely to be damaged by rough handling while the computer is turned on.

It comes with Windows-10 installed. This article is about adding linux so you can choose between windows and linux when you boot up the computer. The hard drive or solid state drive will be divided into a windows partition and a linux partition.

To do the installation you will need a wifi connection to the internet, and two USB sticks. If the wifi connection is secure you will need to know the password. I have tried 2GB sticks and 16GB sticks, both worked. So size is not a problem.

If you have not already done so, go to dell.com/support and search for the Latitude 3190 user manual. Download it to your computer for future reference. The file has a long name. You probably should change the name to a short name. Section 5 of the manual is what you may need to refer to to help with this installation procedure.

Get a "composition book", which is a notebook 9.75 by 7.5 inches with pages blank except for horizontal lines to write on. It will be available in the school supplies section of your local grocery store. Number the first 12 pages for now. Leave the first 10 pages for a table of contents that you will fill later. Starting on page 11 write down everything that happens as you go along. It is best to write the date each new day.

The first step will be to defrag the hard drive to move all scattered files to the front, and free up lots of empty space on the drive. In the windows search window in the lower left corner of the screen enter "defrag". In the widow that pops up see that your drive is selected and click "optimize". This will defragment your drive. If you have used your machine for some time and have put lots of stuff on the drive, it may take some time. If you machine is new, it will take less than one second.

Some settings in the BIOS must be changed to allow installing linux. The BIOS is a chip on the motherboard that contains a firmware program that tells the CPU where to find the software to boot up the computer. The changes will not harm the way your computer works.

Turn the computer off. Then turn it on while tapping the F2 key at the top of the keyboard. This will get you into the BIOS. My computer was shipped with the BIOS set to make the screen too dim when the computer is plugged into AC power. To correct this, click on the "video" section of the BIOS table of contents. You will see two screen brightness sliders. One is for operation with battery power, the other for operation under AC power. Both should probably be in about the center position. You do not drag the slider with the cursor to move it. When the slider is highlighted, use the left or right arrow keys to move it.

Unfortunately I did not write down all of the BIOS settings before I started. I tried lots of things before I got it to work. So I do not know which settings were finally changed from their original settings. So I will now list every setting that might have been affected. They are shown the way they are now that it works.

GENERAL

Boot sequence: "debian", "windows boot manager" and "UEFI" checked. Note: "debian" could not have been there before I installed debian. Page 51 of the pdf version of the manual shows "windows", "legacy" and "UEFI", that is all. "legacy" is still un-checked. So "debian" was added when I installed debian, though I did not do it myself.

Advanced boot options: nothing checked.

UEFI boot path security: "never" checked.

SYSTEM CONFIGURATION

USB configuration: "enable USB boot support" and "enable external USB port" both checked.

SECURE BOOT

secure boot enable: not checked.

expert key management: "enable custom mode" and "PK" checked.

POST BEHAVIOR

fastboot: "minimal" checked.

That is all. Compare your BIOS with the above and make any changes needed. Click "apply" then "exit". Your computer will continue to boot into windows. As soon as it does, shutdown and reboot to make the changes take effect.

We need to download the linux install program. Go to www.debian.org/distrib/netinst. Under "small CDs or USB sticks" click on "amd64" then "save" to save it in your download folder. You have an Intel CPU, not an AMD CPU. So you may wonder why you need to download amd64. This is because both Intel and AMD use the AMD 64 bit instruction set in their 64 bit CPU chips.

We need to download the drivers for the wifi in the computer, because they are not included in the netinst file we have just downloaded. Go to packages.debian.org/stretch/firmware-iwlwifi. Scroll to the bottom. Under "architecture" you see "all" in blue letters. Click on that. In the new page click on "http.us.debian.org/debian". In the pop up window click on "save".

We need a special program that can write the netinst file we have already downloaded to a USB stick in the proper way so we can boot from the USB stick. Go to the website rufus.akeo.ie. Click on "rufus 3.5" and in pop up window "save".

Now to see what we have downloaded, click on the folder icon at the bottom of your screen. Click on "downloads". Now you can see what you have downloaded. In addition to rufus files you should have files similar to this:

debian-9.9.0-amd64-netinst.iso

firmware-iwlwifi_20161130-5_all.deb

Put a USB stick in. Click on "rufus". "do you want this app to make changes to your device?". Yes. Rufus window pops up. In boot selection select "disk or ISO image". Click on the SELECT box. A window opens up showing the netinst file. Click on it then "open". Click "start". It will take a while to write your netinst file to the USB stick. Then remove the stick.

Put in the other stick. I think you can just copy the wifi file to the other stick, I do not think you need to use rufus. After you copy, remove the stick.

Shut the computer down. Now put the first "netinst" stick in the USB port of the computer. You only have one stick in the computer. As you turn the computer on repeatedly tap on the F12 key. The boot process will stop and display choices of where you can boot from. Use the down arrow key to select UEFI... then press "enter". Very shortly the debian linux install program will boot up.

I prefer to not used the graphical install and use the down arrow key to select the plain install. Hit "enter" key. The installation should start, giving you choices about where you live etc. When you are in this version of the install program The "tab" key and the arrow keys will change selections, and the "enter" key will accept a selection.

At some point the installation will stop and complain that you do not have the wifi drivers. At that point add the second USB stick. Now you have two sticks plugged in. When I continued the install, it complained again and I continued again. This time it worked and did not complain again.

It will ask you to select your wireless network. Make sure you select the one you know the password for. Then it asks you to select which security protocol your wifi uses. Then it will ask for your wifi "passphrase", or password.

In the next part it suggests the name "debian", I accepted that, though a blank space with no name would have worked. Next it wanted a domain name, I left it blank.

Now we come to the critical part. Be slow, thoughtful, and careful. Under "partition disks" select "manual". Scroll down to the largest ntfs file, hit "enter" key. Select "resize the partition". "write previous changes to disk and continue?" yes. Enter "50%" for the new partition size. This will divide the partition in half and make one half available for linux install. Select "guided partitioning" "use largest free space" "all files in one partition". "finish partitioning and write changes to disk?" yes.

Now you are past the critical part. No http proxy. Take "usage survey?" your choice, I said yes. Accept the default selections of desktop, print server, and standard system.

Now it will download lots of stuff. After a long while it will say "installation complete". Remove both USB sticks. Click "continue". It will re-boot into linux if you do not select windows fast during the first part of the boot. For now, let it go into linux.

Enter your password and go into linux. Click on "activities" in the upper left hand corner of the screen. At the bottom of the drop down list of icons see a square array of nine dots in three rows of three columns. Click on that. A bunch of icons will appear. At the far right of the screen see three dots in a vertical column. Click on the bottom dot. Click on the "utilities" icon. The terminal icon is a gray rectangle. Right click on the terminal icon. In the drop down window select "add to favorites".

Reboot the computer into linux. Now when you click on "activities" you will see the terminal icon in the list. Most of the power and fun of linux can be accessed in the terminal.

If you are new to linux, read the article how to use linux terminal. The article contains a wealth of very useful information. The article tells how to use the "synaptic" program to download additional debian packages of software.

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