The Notebook Buyer's Homepage

Lilla's notes on Inspiron 7000 - OS - Last updated 13Dec98

[Introduction] [Main] [Display] [Sound] [Drives] [Modem/NIC] [Power] [OS] [Accessories] [Physical]

This section contains information about installing various OS's on i7000:

You will find some very valuable information and instructions for installing NT in this document. We are very grateful to everyone for sharing their expertise with the rest of the Inspiron 7000 Community.

UNIX, LINUX, REDHAT and that OS Family

Steve's site - Linux on a Dell Inspiron 7000 Laptop:

Steve is an I7K owner running Linux. You can find information about Linux and other Unix derived OS's on his site. If you have information about these OS's please pass it on to Steve. Lilla


Howdy. In regards to the BeOS demo disc on the I7K - it works only if you change the scan order of the startup discs (this is a BIOS setting) such that it scans the CD drive before the hard drive. Also, you have to hold down the space bar during the Be Kernel boot sequence to get into boot options. Essentially what you have to do is set up the video to use 4-bit grayscale, 640x480. This slows the OS down considerably and of course, we all know that grayscale is boring. So it's only worth it if you're -really- bloody desperate (I was). It's a rockin' OS, though, the best on the market if you can run it. (On the I7K, you really can't. It's not a good machine to see the full capabilities of Be. Oh well. . .) Keith Starr, webtalk


A: We have a file for your specific system type that will allow you to create a boot disk, including CDROM drivers. You can contact us at to have this file sent to you [Lilla: They will email it to you]. There is no boot disk that comes with the system. The Inspiron 7000 dos CD drivers are included with the following file, INSPBOOT.EXE. Save the file, drop to the directory in DOS, and type INSPBOOT A: with a blank, formatted floppy in the floppy drive. This will create a bootable CD diskette with all the drivers. Dell/Brian McCullough, webtalk

A: You received the INSBOOT.EXE file from our e-mail group, correct? You will need to add a DOS driver for a PS/2 style mouse to the disk, and place the appropriate statements in your startup files. Brian McCullough

Q: How to add dos mouse driver on Win 98 boot disk? great that now the win 98 start up disk has cdrom driver? but how to ad mouse capability for the touchpad?

A: Astandard DOS PS/2 mouse driver and should do it. Dell/Brian McCullough, webtalk

Windows 95

A: The Texas Instruments chipset (PCI-1220) is apparently not supported by Windows 95 so anyone that disapproves of the installed Win98 OS has NO CHOICE. Vaughn Cox, webtalk

A: I7000 HD partitioned with Partition Magic 4.0 and dual boots Win98 as installed and Win95 OSR2 Ver 2.1 with Novells Netware Client 2.20. I have a Xircom CEM56 card in the upper slot. I am a network and computer consultant that deals with getting Win95, Win98, and WinNT w/s to work on just about anything. Don Davenport, webtalk

Windows 98

A: Win98 has better support [than Win95] for IRQ sharing, so USB, PC Card controller and graphic card can share one IRQ on a PCI bus. Jim Hu, newsgroup.

A: You can find a good article on trouble shooting shutdown problems on the Microsoft site at: The article number is Q145926. DELL/David Whiteley

Running NT on Inspiron 7000

Dell to Support NT on Inspiron in early 1999

A: G. Carl Everett Jr., Senior Vice President of Dell's Personal Systems Group, was one of four who participated in Dell's "Executive Insights Live!" ( this morning. Carl was asked whether Dell has plans to support NT on the Inspiron series. His reply: "Yes, in fact, the Inspiron family will support NT, and it will be fully supported in the January timeframe." Finally, the answer we've all been waiting for... Thanks Dell! Hans Omli, newsgroup

But, I don't want to wait. I want NT now.

I7K is listed in MS HCL as Win95/Win98/WinNT compatible and PC97 compliant. Dell doesn't officially support I7K under NT4, but you can install it yourself. NT functionality is pretty much the same as found in other notebooks such as IBM Thinkpad 600 and Tecra except IRDA works on ibm. WinNT4 with SP3-4 will run fine on I7K with full video, audio, touchpad, apm, pcmcia/cardbus and modem. You will need to buy softex for apm and cardbus/pcmcia support. Internal modem will require extra tinkering around but it will work. Due to OS lack of support, usb, irda and dvd will not available. DVD will accessible as cdrom. Albert Ho, webtalk

User comments about NT on Inspiron 7000

A: So there is no support for the Inspiron and NT? Funny since there's a nice sticker on my new Inspiron [7000] which says "Designed for NT/98" ... false advertising? Colin Fetter

A: I7K is listed in MS HCL (Hardware Compliant List) as Win95/Win98/WinNT compatible and PC97 compliant but dell doesn't officially support I7K under NT4. Albert Ho, webtalk

Q: Dell does not support NT on the 7000, why? I expect that NT would run perfectly on this unit with the rights drivers. Do you agree? Pierre-Eric Laroche

A: You are correct, NT has been installed by customers and runs just fine on the Inspiron line of portables. Dell has opted to validate and ship the system with Win98 and not NT. If you install NT4 on this system, I would suggest that you purchase a software product called Softex which gives NT power management features that were not originally designed in NT. Dell - WebTalk

NT4 Server

A: You don't need Partition Magic to install NT Server on a laptop, dual boot or not. NT Server install gives you lots of options for deleting, creating, sizing and formatting partitions (FAT or NTFS) when you are installing NT Server. If you plan to dual boot W95 or W98 and NT Server, just make sure you install 95 or 98 first. NT Server install takes care of the rest and makes the computer dual boot flawlessly. Also, you don't need a network card to run NT Server on a laptop. You can run it without a card, or just specify MS Loopback in place of a NIC when you are installing networking under NT Server. This is how we have installed NT Server on our Latitudes. No problems at all. Jake, newsgroup

Q: I need to run NT Server, with 10/100 baseT network/modem for work, i am a field sales guy selling print sever software and Trapping. Peter N, webtalk

A: Check that the PC Card you buy has NT4/5 support. The HCL for NT4 is on and the HCL for NT5 is on the beta CD. Nathan Mercer, webtalk

Native PC Card Support in NT4

A: I have discovered something. It is in fact true that one does not need softex's drivers to get pcmcia support on NT, and as the notes say, it will not be hot swappable without. However, there appears to be a trick to getting pcmcia to work. First of all, I've seen some posts that say to turn pnp off in BIOS. In the BIOS that shipped with my I7K, there is "no" way to turn pnp on or off. There simply is no setting. What one must do is boot their working version of NT, and go into services. Make sure Plug & Play is set to automatic, and it is started. If this is the case, you will be able to go into Control Pannel and open up "Devices". Move towards the bottom of the list of devices, and there should be an entry for PCMCIA. It will most likely be set to Disabled. Set it to Automatic and reboot the machine. Upon rebooting, go into control panel and click on PCMCIA Controller. When I did this, NT recognized my Megahertz/3COM modem (I have the one Dell offers for i7k), and all that was needed was for me to install RAS and the NT modem drivers. This may or may not work with other cards.. Later Ben writes... I noticed that upon rebooting to 98, and then to NT, NT stops noticing the PCMCIA controller, even though you've set the device to automatic.. I'm not sure why this is happening. I'll be working on this so I'll keep you informed, but for now, the solution I last emailed [which is the one presented here] does not seem to work consistently... Ben Freidlin, email

PC Card and Power Management Software for NT4

A: You don't need any third party pc-card software with NT except if you want to add plug and play functionality on your cards like Win95 or 98. If you want that, purchase the software from Softex, it's probably the better! Install NT with the three floppy disks who came with the CD. The install program recognize the PCMCIA and install the right driver for that. I use my I7K on my office with a mix of Novell and NT network. I use also many applications from Groupware (Office and many others) to development tools so, I made hard tests the last two days, without any problem. If you look on the I7K when it came from the factory you have a logo "Designed for Windows NT and 98" !!! That's true, it's designed for windows NT!!! but without support !!! except yours !!! and ours !!! Pierre-Eric Laroche

A: Buy PCMCIA and Power Management software by Softex. Softex site: (about $135 w/shipping)

A: In conjunction with Softex, we have an updated Softex driver on our website for the 3CCFE575BT Cardbus network interface card. Use this driver disk if you have this card and are using Softex with Windows NT 4.0. The filename is NT-575BT.EXE. Dell, David Whiteley

A: Customers have reported success with drivers available from Softex. They will provide APM (Advanced Power Management) and PCMCIA support. Note: These drivers replace the existing NT drivers for PCMCIA, and drivers for various cards will come from the Softex diskette, and not the disk provided by the hardware manufacturer. As with NT, Softex does not provide drivers for every card available, but most of the common cards do have drivers. Dell/Brian McCullough, Webtalk

A: I7000 needs PCMCIA card controller software for NT. Definitely choose Softex over SystemSoft. The Softex software worked as advertised. The power management software has a wonderful battery metering display. Softex has impressive software. Softex offers more hotswappable CardBus drivers. For example, Softex has drivers for 3C575B [3Com Network card] where SystemSoft doesn't. Softex worked out of the box on the Dell 7000. Bob Salita, Newsgroup

Video Driver for NT4

A: Try this site NT 4.0 Download the N40118EN.exe and the N40118EN.txt (load instructions). I just did it on my I7K an hour ago, works great! Frank Kenna, webtalk 11Nov98

A: Go to the ATI web site and download the latest driver for the ATI Rage Pro and NT 4.0: For the configuration, use the "ATI 3D Rage Pro Turbo" It works fine on the I7K. Pierre-Eric Laroche, Webtalk [I think this post is SP3]

A: The correct video drivers for NT 4.0 on the 7000 are the ATI LT Rage Pro drivers located at Installing this driver allows full flexibility in resolution and colour depth. Andrew McLaughlin

A: To install the ATI video drivers on NT make sure that you've installed SP3 FIRST.  Failure to do so will mean that the drivers will appear to load, but after you reboot you are still in VGA mode. Gerry High

A: I've got NT4, SP4 up & running fine on my I7K. I had to hunt down audio, video & modem drivers. I may have got it from Microsoft's hardware compatability web site. In any event, someone in here should know. Video: File is ATI3DNT4.EXE. I think I got that one from ATI's web site.

A: I have NT 4.0 loaded and running on mine. I found the NT drivers on the ATI web site and they work just fine. I run in 1024x768 True Color. No problem. Philip A. Herzfeld, newsgroup

Touchpad Driver for NT4

A: Synaptics V5.0 Touchpad driver for Windows NT4.0 - Lilla

Problem: NT does not detect TouchPad, but is Ok under Win98

A: There is a known problem with some, but not all, i7000 Touchpad's under NT. Read about this in MAIN section of these notes. Search for heading "Internal Touchpad". There you will find a sub-heading about how to test your Touchpad to see if it is compatible with NT. Lilla

A: Has anyone come up with a solution for this problem; I have been running NT for a month on my machine, and yesterday the Touchpad [a PS/2 device] just stopped working. It works fine in 98, but I can do much of anything in NT any more. I will say that it stopped working after a night of playing Blood with some friends using the an external mouse on Com1 and an external keyboard on the PS/2 port. Very strange. Jeff Hales, webtalk

FAT 32 Driver for NT4

A: I downloaded a FAT32 driver for NT ( Works great. David Walker MCSE, CCNA- newsgroup

Sound Driver for NT4

A: Use the true driver (ESS 1968 Maestro 2). It worked fine. Follow this link: or A27711.exe is v4.00.18 of the maestro drivers! v4.00.14 had problems.

Q: I downloaded the A27711.exe file from Microsoft, but when I attempted to install it I received the following message: Error Creating Process START "c:\HCLDRV\ES1968" Reason: The system cannot find the file specified. Carlos, newsgroup

A: That is ok--it is just extracting the files. Go to the control panel, multimedia, advanced tab and do an "Add" device, "Unlisted" and give it the above directory.  It will find the INF file and install the drivers. Gerry, newsgroup

A: I've got NT4, SP4 up & running fine on my I7K. Audio: I forget where I got this from but I found the link here in DellTalk. The file name is A20951.EXE. I may have got it from Microsoft's hardware compatability web site. In any event, someone in here should know. Jerry Hofmann, webtalk [File name makes it sound older than above? Lilla]

Problem: Audio does not survive a suspend/resume (with fix)

Q: Does anyone's audio survive a suspend/resume? I've talked to several people on Dell Webtalk, comp.sys.laptops, and the folks at Softex, and no-one is successful in this area. With NT 4 SP4 & the latest ESS Maestro drivers (v4.00.18) the audio stops working after resuming from a suspend or standby on the I7K. The only thing that returns the sound is a full reboot. This problem occurs regardless of whether Softex drivers are installed or not, and with both SP3 & SP4. Other than this last nagging problem, NT4 works well on the I7K. If you DO have audio that survives a suspend/resume, could you please share your secrets... and/or post your BIOS version, driver versions, etc. Marc Johnson, webtalk

A: I am able to get sound on the i7000/NT after suspend/resume. I am using Softex APM and PCMCIA drivers. Before using the new drivers, I quickly verified that sound did not work after resume (initiated from the Softex APM control). After installation, the same procedure resulted in sound coming from my speakers. I used Control Panel->Sounds and played the Start Windows sound.

Problem: Extremely loud tone during warm reboot

Q: I am trying to get a sound that works correctly with my I7K and NT 4.0. I tried using the driver from Microsoft's HCL site, and it works, but when you shutdown the machine you get an extermely loud tone. This continues until you power off and then on the system. Any thoughts? Jerry Kurata

A: I am encountering the same thing. It appears that the built-in microphone on the Inspiron 7000 is turned on during a restart from Windows NT (instead of being muted) and the sound is piped through the internal speakers. This behavior only occurs during a warm reboot from NT. If your volume control (beneath PCMCIA slots) is turned too loud, it creates a feedback loop with the onboard mic resulting in the extremely loud tone you hear. A temporary workaround is to lower your volume until the feedback loop is eliminated. Note, this does not mean you need to turn down the volume all the way, just until the sensitivity of the mic doesn't pick up sound from the speakers. I would like to know if you've received a better solution (perhaps new drivers which eliminate the feedback loop?) Sandra Lui, email 10Dec98

Internal LT WinModem Driver for NT4

Goto Digitan web site at Get the driver for their ISA-based Lucent LT Winmodem (It's V90 capable). The file name is Modem520ISA.EXE. Follow Albert Ho's step-by-step installation instructions in this document.

A: As author of the 56k=v.Unreliable site with extensive information on the LT Win Modem, I'd like to point out that regarding the LT on NT question: The driver for WindowsNT is LTMODEM.SYS (Win95/98 use LTMODEM.VXD). The Genica web-site (on the list of firmware links) has some of the best NT initial installation advice I've seen. Note, my page talks about updating the modem with NT, but assumes you already have the modem installed. It's been almost a year since I installed mine in NT [not an I7000], and I'm not expert in all the possible problems you might have doing the initial install, but it *can* be done <g>. Aloha, Richard

A: I got my Inspiron 7000 internal modem to work under NT4.  It works as well as the Win98 counterpart. I'm pretty happy to get full video, audio, modem, touchpad, apm and cardbus to work under NT4. It works as good as the Win98 version. I had to use another vendor's driver and it's not straight forward but once you get it installed, it works flawlessly.  Ho, Albert O, newsgroup [Albert was the first one to get it to work. Good going Albert! [Albert provides detail step-by-step instruction in a later post - included in this document.]

Network Card Driver for NT4

A: New 3Com drivers for 3C575 -- no Softex required! Driver works great! They don't offer hot swapping, 2 PCMCIA card support, or advanced power management. However, I don't care because I just wanted the network card to work. Yeah!

A: Good News! I have been able to use the 3Com Megahertz Cardbus Ethernet PCMCIA card (3CCFE575BT) in Windows NT 4.0 without Softex. There is a new driver in 3Com (11/2/98) that works fine. Manuel Roman, webtalk

A: Definitely choose Softex over SystemSoft. Softex offers more hotswappable CardBus drivers. For example, Softex has drivers for 3C575B [3Com Network card] where SystemSoft doesn't. Softex worked out of the box on the Dell 7000. Bob Salita, Newsgroup

A: Dell now ships Softex drivers with this card and they have posted Softex drivers for this card on their site. Lilla

A: For the Xircom Realport 10/100 and the Linksys PCMCIA Ethernet adapters, you *DO NOT* need the Softex cardbus drivers. MS's hardware test site says that the TI 1220 Cardbus chipset is supported natively by NT 4. I have successfully set up both the Xircom and Linksys cards using the drivers that came with them and NT 4, SP3's native Cardbus support. Morris Morris, Webtalk

DVD, USB, IRDA - Not Supported by NT4

A: Due to OS lack of support, usb, irda and dvd will not available. DVD will accessible as cdrom. This functionality is pretty much the same as found in other notebooks such as IBM Thinkpad 600 and Tecra except IRDA works on ibm. Albert Ho

A: Windows NT 4.0 does not provide support for USB. I would advise using Windows 98 or a dual boot for that. Dell/David Whiteley, Webtalk

User Comments on Installing NT4

A: I have NT4 + SP3 on this I7k. Things you need:

A: The NT4 system/boot partitions must be in the first 4Gb. If it is not you will get "Inaccessible Boot Device" or Similar Nathan, webtalk

A: I have NT running on a 7000. This is what I've been able to do:

A: Dual boot Win98/NT. I have it installed this way. It seems to work OK. Rick Helbling, Webtalk

A: Other notes: NT 4's DOS setup program (Winnt.exe) wouldn't create an 8 GB partition. I created a 2 GB, FAT partition so I could dual boot Win98 and NT. Once installed, NT's Disk Administrator let me partition the remaining 6 GB into one partition. Morris Lewis, Webtalk

A: With NT it is often absolutely necessary to reinstall the service pack AFTER you've installed a new device. (Cute, huh?) Something to keep in mind if you've installed a new device and it isn't working. ThinkpadMan, newsgroup

How to Install NT4 plus SP3-4 on Inspiron 7000

by Ed Staffin 28Oct98 (posted on webtalk)

Hi All, after nearly 3 days of grueling working I now know exactly how to get NT working on an I7000. Follow these steps *exactly* and life will be good. Go outside these guidelines and misery is sure to follow. I am not a Dell employee, just an end user who wants this to work. Anyhow, here goes.

  1. Blow away the existing OS on the drive and repartition it with 2 partitions. The primary must be 2 gig or less (very important!) if you want more than two partitions, that's fine, but make sure the first one is 2 gig or less. Install NT (workstation or server is fine) on the C drive, but make it the absolute minimum install. Don't even bother installing networking just yet. All we want to do is get nt to boot off the c drive.
  2. Once this is accomplished, go into the NT disk administrator and create the second partition if you haven't already done so. Reformat the second partition to FAT or NTFS as is your pleasure.
  3. Now run NT setup again and install on the D drive normally. Do not install networking just yet. Once this is done, blow away the winnt and program files directories on the c drive.
  4. Now install service pack 3. Do not install SP4 just yet or you will be sorry (trust me on this). Once SP3 is installed, install Softex pc card drivers. Do not install the systemsoft stuff it will only cause pain and suffering (specifically, it will make your net card work but will trash the sound driver and when you go to reinstall the sound driver it will trash the systemsoft driver aeeeeeee!).
  5. Install Softex Power management drivers.
  6. Install the ati video drivers.
  7. If you are going to be installing Vstudio, be sure to install IE4 with SP1 off the 1st vstudio CD before you install the NT option pack. Otherwise you will end up having to install IE4 twice.
  8. Now you can install the option pack.
  9. If you get an error on boot up during or after installing the option pack that says something about not enough storage, reinstall Service Pack 3 and life will be good again and you can continue.
  10. Next, install office, vstudio etc. Now you are pretty much done with the NT portion of the install except for SP4. Hold tight we'll get to that in a minute.
  11. At this point take a breather and run rdisk and get an emergency repair disk made.
  12. Now go back and install win95/98 on the cdrive.
  13. Once this is done, boot the machine and press F2 to enter the bios setup and change the boot order to boot the CD first.
  14. Stick your NT CD in the drive and boot off the CD. This will start the NT install process again and give you a chance to do a repair. The only thing we want to do here is repair the boot sector so that the little menu comes up. Make sure when you do the repair that you do not have anything check other that repair the boot sector or you will be mightily sorry.
  15. Now boot again and go into the BIOS setup to reset the boot order back to the hard drive or floppy or whatever you want.
  16. Now you can reconfig the win95/98 system with all the DELL supplied drivers etc. and we'll be all done except for one thing... SP4.
  17. Install NT service pack 4 after all is done and life will be good. That's it. Good luck and send me money! :-) If you want, you can email me at

    Later ... Ed

How to Install LT WinModem under Win NT4

by Albert Ho (10/27/98)

First off, I'm writing this down based on memory recall when I got my I7K. This is not a guarantee it will work for all cases so YMMV. First Assumptions:

Step 1. Goto I7K BIOS Setup; and goto modem settings; remember the following settings...

Step 2. Goto Digitan web site at Get the driver for their ISA-based Lucent LT Winmodem (It's V90 capable). The file name is Modem520ISA.EXE. Run the Modem520ISA.EXE and extract the files to a directory \modem520 DO NOT run the SETUP.EXE application that comes with it.

Step 3. Insert WinNT Service Pack 3 CD and look for the file PNPISA.SYS and install the driver using the INF file. If you do not have the SP3 CD, goto Microsoft's web site & download nt4sp3_i.exe. Start the SP3 install by running nt4sp3_i.exe. It will first extract all the files. While it is extracting, note the directory it is extracting TO. Wait for the extract to finish. When the "Welcome" dialog appears, do NOT acknowledge it. Using a DOS box or NT Explorer, go to the directory where the files were extracted to and copy PNPISA.SYS & PNPISA.INF to the \modem520 directory. Now, choose "Cancel" on the Welcome dialog for SP3 installation. Now you have the PNPISA files. Now install the PNPISA driver. (Just right click on INF and choose install and reboot computer). Make sure that in Control Panel --> Devices --> "PnP ISA Enabler Driver" that it's set to Automatic for Startup.

Step 4. Goto Control Panel and remove other COM ports except for COM1 (for the built in serial port).

Step 5. Add a COM2 port (for use by winmodem) and match the settings you read from the I7K BIOS for modem settings. (mine is Add COM2 and settings at 2F8 hex, IRQ 3)

Step 6. Goto Control Panel

Step 7. Run REGEDIT.EXE and goto HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\ltmodem There should be a key entry named "ModemIo". Change it's value data to what the BIOS says for modem configuration port (mine is 130 hex) Make sure the change is saved to registry Close the registry.

Step 8. Reboot WinNT.

Step 9. That's should be it. Verify by running WINMSD.EXE and look Under Resources and ltmodem should appear there in Device list or IRQ list or IO port list. Verify by running Hyperterminal and select COM2 and type a modem command like "AT" to insure that it responds with OK.

Step 10. If you wish, add in control panel the modem string "S38=0" to force V90 and disable kflex modem. Advantages of using I7K's internal modem?

When you get it to work then do me a favor and send email to Dell and ask them to support ACPI and NT4 for Inspiron 7000. This will insure the notebook's future for NT5 (Windows 2000). [see main section for how to do send a message to Dells's designer/engineer team.]

Enjoy! Albert

Lilla-- Thanks for your help. Albert wrote me with the instructions, and went off with out a hitch. Curious, are you involved/employed by an organization who is supporting this machine.  If not, it's certainly very nice of you to look after all the new Dell owners. (I see your name all over the newsgroups) --Thanks!

Since you asked, it's just the nice thing. Lilla

Windows 2000 (aka NT5) Beta 2

Recommended Links: Windows 2000 (NT 5.0) Features and Frank Condron's World of Windows

This link appears to be saying "something" about Inspiron 7000's that ship with Win2000, but sounds too good to be true. Are they actually committing to providing dual-video controllers and IEEE 1394 (firewire) on all Inspiron's that ship with Win2000? Lilla

A: Hi everybody, I just installed Office 2000 and it works great on this Dell I7K system! The installation was a breeze and all the programs appear to function okay. I received seven CD's from the show.

The components installed on this puppy so far include:

I also have software from the Microsoft EXtreme Event including:

Thought I would share all this good stuff with my favorite Forum!!! David Farah, webtalk

User Comments about NT5 Beta 2

A: My new Inspiron 7000 runs fine with NT5 beta, the Luxsonor decoder works fine with the 98 driver provided by Dell. You have to install the NT5 beta driver first, and later to copy the luxsonor.sys from the Dell Software CD to the system 32 directory. (The luxsonor NT 5 beta driver give you the well known blue screen). It works fine for the image, but no sound at all coming from DVD movies. The sound is OK when I play CDs. I use the ESS A27711.exe file from Microsoft. Do you know if somebody succeeded in playing movies with the DVD on the Inspiron 7000 and NT 5 Beta ? Luc-Henri Barthelemy, email

A: Cardbus will *not* work in NT5b2 unless the machine supports ACPI. Supposedly beta3 will feature APM and Cardbus support for non-ACPI laptops but that will not be out till February/March next year. The BIOS is flash upgradeable. Whether or not DELL will provide an ACPI BIOS [via flash upgrade] to provide what most other vendors in the marketplace *already* have is another question. Nathan Mercer, webtalk 26Nov98

A: As for sound, use the NT4 ESS 1968 drivers at... Dave Nichols, webtalk

A: I think all current and future Inspiron users should put pressure on Dell to support NT and ACPI on I7K to insure the notebook's future when NT5 comes. Albert Ho, newsgroup

A: NT5B2 on I7000: Using a USB Intellimouse and it works fine. Plug and play and the whole enchillada seems to work well with USB - no reboot required. I managed to print about a page using IR but it was slow to the point it was frustrating so I hooked it up with a cable. The I7K is now doing "beta" server duty - and is quite happy doing it. John Welter, MCSE+I

A: Morris Morris (via webtalk) on running NT 5.0 Beta 2 on a Dell Inspiron 7000:

A: Here's my experience with NT 5.0 Beta 2 on a Dell Inspiron 7000. Short take is -- don't bother.

Bob Salita Software Developer

How to Install LT WinModem under NT5 Beta2 (build 1877)

by Dave Nichols 15Nov98, webtalk

Here is how I got my LT Win Modem (Inspiron 7000) working in NT5b2(1877). As always YMMV.

  1. Start/Settings/Control Panel/System/Hardware Tab/Device Manager...
  2. Listed under ?-Other Devices will be 16550
  3. Right click 16550, choose Properties
  4. Click the Reinstall Driver button
  5. Click the Display a list of the known drivers... button
  6. Click Modem
  7. Click Next
  8. Choose LT for the manufacturer
  9. Choose LT Winmodem for the model
  10. Click Next
  11. Click Yes to the Update Driver Warning dialog box.

Reboot when finished (it installed to Com3 on my unit)

A: NT50b2 works quite well on my I7K with the CDROM (not DVD) EXCEPT for the 3COM ethernet card which was shipped. It's a CARDBUS card, and even with the MS workaround for CARDBUS, it still doesn't work. Sound, WinModem, Hibernate, all work well. You need to get the newer drivers from Microsoft's HCL site. After that, go into Control Panel/Sounds, click on the drivers tab, and add the driver. Note sound doesn't work after you've been in hibernate mode. I had the same problem with the ethernet card -- I returned it. Also, the LT WinModem "works" but not at 56K because the driver for it is too old. I tried installing the latest drivers from Lucent and it locked the system. Kenneth Lahn, webtalk

Windows 2000 (aka NT5) Beta 3

A: FYI NT5b3 will support APM and Cardbus Hopefully Dell can come up with an ACPI BIOS for the Inspiron 7000 though....... Cheers Nathan Mercer MCT MCSE+I Wellington, New Zealand

Partitioning & Formatting

A: All the Inspiron 7000 drives come formatted FAT32 - one partition. Dell, Webtalk

A: My 8G came as one large Win98 FAT32 partition. Bruce A. Mallett, newsgroup

A: I just received a 7000 with a 6.4 Gig HD -- it came formatted as one partition, FAT32. Mark G Stahl, newsgroup

Q: I just ordered a Dell Inspiron 7000 and the rep told me that the 8GB hard drive is not formatted into smaller drives (i.e., there is only a Drive C). I understand that a drive this large makes inefficient use of the disk space and a better option is to format the drive into 1-2GB drives (Drive E, F, G, etc.) br1104, newsgroup

A: If you have FAT32 [which is what the I7K comes installed with], you shouldn't worry about partitioning your hdd. Pre-FAT32 [like FAT16 typically used for Win95] you had to worry about big clusters, and that's why people partitioned.  Clusters are not an issue with FAT32, so don't worry, be happy. morguns, newsgroup

Q: I am going to repartition my drive. Anything I should know? Fabrice, Webtalk

A: If you re-partition the hard drive, you will blow away all your information including the Save-to-Disk file. You will need to recreate this when you are finished re-partitioning the drive. Use the command: PHDISK /CREATE /FILE to do this. If you don't recreate this file, you may get an error message on boot saying this file is missing. Dell, Brian McCullough, Webtalk

A: OBSERVATION: Dell/BRIAN IS SAYING "PHDISK /CREATE /FILE" see posts under Partition Magic where someone says "PHDISK /CREATE /PARTITION". Can either one be used? Lilla

Q: My Sony 505 uses the same scheme for it's hibernate file. Each procedure [file and partition] is an option, though I agree with Dell that creating a hibernate file is less troublesome than creating a partition; you have to re-partition your hard drive whenever you upgrade your RAM using the partition switch. epbrown, newsgroup

A: For the Save-to-RAM option there is no need for that file, right? Fabrice Robbe

A: That is correct. Dell, Brian McCullough, Webtalk

A: My take would be that the only advantage now that you have FAT32 is for organization. I prefer to have my drive partitioned so I have have OS and APPS in one spot, and all my DATA in another spot. It's a little faster for backing up, plus when you have to re-install Windows ... which seems like you will have to at least once a year, I find it easier to trash on partition and leave my data intact. David, webtalk

How to partition using FDisk as recommended by Dell

Q: Just got my I7k with 6.4G drive. Anyone know where I can find some step-by-step instructions for how to chop up the disk into 3 2GB sections? Any help would be most appreciated. Chris Dowden, Webtalk

A: You can get these instructions [which use FDISK] on Darrell Krumwied's Dell WebTalk Page At the bottom will be a link for FDISK and Format instructions. Dell/Brian McCullough, Webtalk

Note: This instruction is for a Dell desktop so it does not tell you how to make a Save-to-Disk file for your laptops Save-to-Disk feature which I believe you must do after a reformat on a I-7000. Lilla

Partition Magic - 3rd Party System Utility for HDD

The Partition FAQ reports that Partition Magic 4.0 has some problems. This is apparently why people are experiencing problems with it on i7k. Advise is to wait for v4.01. This link also has "How To" information and Tips on partitioning. And a link to Partition Magic Newsgroup. This is a really useful site for Partitioning and Multi-Booting. You will also see a link to "Partition Manager" a freeware utility which complements Partition Magic, in otherwords it is not an alternative by is a companion product. If you follow that link you will see a links for Partition Primer, Partition FAQ. The FAQ explains Partition Magic vs. Partition Manager.

A: I got my i7000 about two months ago and using pqmagic ver 3.04 set up a c win partition, d data partition and had not problems at all. Suspend to disk still works flawlessly. I did not do a total reformat. In fact I have to say this is one of the most stable systems I have ever owned. Harris Moreida, newsgroup 6Dec98

A: I used Partion Magic 4.0 on my I7000. It went flawlessly. Works great. Still have suspend to disk intact. there weren't any gotchas. Laurence Q, newsgroup

A: Thank god (or whoever) for Partition Magic. Not convinced the "Save to disk" partition was set up in the first place as Partition Magic did not display it. Took a bit of playing to get the partitions sorted. Then a quick
PHDISK /CREATE /PARTITION sorted out the "Save-to-disk" partition. 250mb of the disk is unaccessable though above the 1028 cylinder limit. The "Save to disk" partition had to be below this. Anthony Walker, newsgroup

Note: PHDISK /CREATE /PARTITION vs. PHDISK /CREATE /FILE. See discussion above. Also read microsoft's write up at link provided in this document.

A: I used it [Partition Magic] to partition the 8 GB drive into smaller pieces so I could dual boot NT4 and Win98. Sorry I lost his name.

  1. I deleted the phdisk partition
  2. then shrunk the Win98 FAT32 partition to 5GB first.
  3. Then, running phdisk from the i7000 disk, recreated the save to disk partition.
  4. I created a 200 MB FAT partition for booting, and the rest for NTFS and NT.

    Lilla's notes:
    1. Sounds like his save-to-disk worked afterward as he mentions no problems with it.
    2. Did ZZTOP survive? Procedure to remove ZZTOP if you want to assure it is gone?
    3. There's some information about how to protect ZZTOP in Rik's write up on ZZTOP which is included elsewhere in this document.

A: I think I have an easy way to install NT on a i7k. Partition Magic 4.0. It's about $50 and saved me a whole lot of grief. Take an out-of-box i7k and:

  1. Run PM and shrink the existing partition to a few gig.
  2. Create a new FAT partition and move it to the beginning of the drive.
  3. Install NT4 (or other OS)
  4. Install Boot Magic

    Now you have the original FAT32 win98 installation as well as NT4 (or other OS).
    Gary Brown, webtalk

A: I had no problems with Partition Magic 4.0 on my I7K. I resized the 8GB FAT32 partition, then created 4 FAT16 partitions so I could try out Win 98/ NT 4.0/ and NT 5.0. Marc Bate, webtalk

A: I used Partition Magic 4.0 and lost my PHDISK file, tried in vain to replace it, and it appears that the 7K will not recognize it. I know it is being created and it is present, but no cigar?? Paul A. Christensen, email

A: I have 7000 w 6.4 GB. I first used PQ PartitionMagic 3.0 (DOS based) to originally partition drive. I have since upgraded to 4.0 installed via Win98. 4.0 is nice because it operates in a "what if" mode - it allows you to "play" with all your partition configurations and then it runs a batch file version in a dos session to perform all the changes indicated. Caveat:

I lost the suspend-to-disk function. The suspend-to-disk file that PHDISK DOES create never is seen correctly by BIOS during boot - I always get a "missing or wrong size error." Since I seldom used suspend-to-disk anyway, I deleted the suspend-to-disk files and went on. I just ignore the error messages for now. I swear at one time with a particular partitioning scenario, I WAS able to create a workable suspend-to-disk file. I resized later and then re-lost the ability to create suspend-to-disk file. (Every time I resized, the existing suspend-to-disk file always failed) I suspect the partitions cylinder and sector boundaries may be compatible if they are created at some points within the total disks surface, and incompatible if created at other points. Although PHDISK creates the .BIN file, it may cross boundaries that something else doesn't expect due to odd size partitioning. A whole bunch of partitioning moving to different cylinder and sector boundaries could test this.

PHDISK web site said they make BIOSes for manufactures and don't support problems because it's the manufacture's problem to support. I have PQ working on the problem. PQ requested a report on exactly where all my partitions are. I'll forward any solutions PQ comes up with. David, email

A: I have an I7K with Win98. When I used PM4.0 to create logical drives D: and E: the system stopped recognizing the save-to-disk suspend file, and then the system froze and would not reboot except into Safe Mode. I booted with a recovery floppy, deleted the partitions with FDISK, rebooted again and typed the following to recover the original system configuration with ZZTOP: ZZ -ZZLOAD -SURE (thats: ZZ[space][hyphen]ZZLoad[space][hyphen]SURE ) the ZZ files were still there despite the reformat, and the system restore went flawlessly. See ZZTOP recovery procedure below. PattyV1953, newsgroup

ZZTOP (disk image utility shipped on i7000)

ZZTop is a "last resort" program hidden on your hard drive by Dell. If your system becomes totally corrupted, you can use ZZTop to restore the hard drive with its factory default information. Jason Litka, webtalk

Dell ZZTOP Restore Procedure as given by Dell in Webtalk

There is an application called ZigZag that will restore your system to like factory new condition. There is a method (known as ZIGZAG) to restore your system's software to its original, factory-downloaded condition. (NOTE--Any data not backed up before running the ZIGZAG program will be lost from the C: partition)

Sincerely, Andrew Blair Dell Online Services

Dell Tech Support ZZTop Recovery Procedure, provided by PattyV1953 (i7000 user), newsgroup

I was completely frozen out of everything except in "Safe Mode." (Speculation was that Partition Magic 4.0 did something funny to the "suspend to disk file." (Techs recommended that the hard drive not be partitioned except via FDISK in DOS. Directories and subdirectories will serve my purpose, though.)

Nothing worked, so tech support e-mailed me the Win98 Reinstall instructions (4.5 pages!). When I couldn't even format the hard drive, I called back. The second tech support person was creative in discerning the problem and we finally got C: formatted, and I was NOT looking forward to reinstalling the operating system and everything else. Well, then, he told me about a GREAT ZZTOP shortcut which he had just discovered in the last couple of months, and which I am sharing here and elsewhere:

If you need (or want) to restore your system to out-of-the-box pristine condition, and have just formatted the C: drive (deleting any partitions you may have - foolishly, a least in my case, tried to create with a third party utility), reboot to an A:> prompt and type:

ZZ -ZZLOAD -SURE (That's: ZZ[space][hyphen]ZZLOAD[space][hyphen]SURE)

If the ZZTOP image of your original system is still hanging around, the utility will immediately and automatically begin to reload it to your C: drive. If the image has been destroyed, it will tell you much faster than other routes (which, thankfully, I did not have to explore). Techie Dan told me that restoring the C: drive to a single partition using fdisk (NOT Partition Magic) may have helped keep the ZZTOP image intact.

BTW, both calls required less than 15 minutes total from dial to live person on, and between the two techies, they stayed with me and worked on the problem for close to three hours until it was completely resolved.

A thank you to Rik for posting ZZTop information

Rik, thank you so much for your findings [see Rik's post below]. Your time has saved me a lot of time.  I tried your method and it works like wonder.  I highly recommend using ZZTop to restore the system. I own a Inspiron 7000 with Windows 98 preinstalled.  Somehow the back-up system Dell installed at the end section of the drive was corrupted ( the -zzcheck failed. I do not know what caused it ). So I followed your instruction and using -zzdump to over write it ( since the system under C: is good).  It installed successfully.  Then, I use the -zzcheck to check the integrity of the image again.  This time is good. Then, I decided to partition the hard disk into two drives, C: and D: drive. I debugged, fdisked, and formatted. All went well. Last I put in the diagnostic disk from Dell and went straight to MS-DOS. Then typed in zztop, I checked the integrity of the image, and it is still there, and it is still good.  So, I typed in zz -zzload.  It posted that the destination is smaller than the origin.  I had a choice to either quite or go ahead.  I choose " Yes" which means go ahead.  It went well.  Now, I have C: and D drive, plus a good system in my C: drive ( it took only 15 minutes to load ). For those who just got a brand new system, and like to try new software that tends to make the system very unstable and do not like to spend time to reinstall the whole system back to what it was.  I recommend using the zztop. First, check the integrity of the image that was installed at the very end of the disk.  If for some reason, it was corrupted, or it was not installed there.  you want to use the zz -zzload and save a copy as back-up at the end of the disk, before you start to play around those new software that might cause your system to act strange or freeze up.  Anyway, I tried and it works great.  So, I like to share my experience to those who also like to try the zztop. If you have questions, read Rik's posting again (see below). Best wishes, cyharuta, newsgroup

Rik's tells you what you might one day need to know about ZZTop on I7000

Pre-caution- this may be WAY more info than anyone ever wanted about this utility, but it should clear things up.  :) Some notes about ZZTOP.  Read carefully, I'm not responsible for anyone screwing up their computer.  All this info comes from me actually doing this with a Dell Latitude CP and an Inspiron 3200. (but applies to any laptop) If you really want to experiment, take a blank drive, load Win95 on it, boot to the Dell Diags disk, from the DOS prompt type ZZ -ZZDUMP this will create the image, and you can experiment away.  On to the info: For the sake of argument, we are going to say that your system is new with a freshly loaded Dell image on it.  The total amount of disk space used is 250meg, the drive is a 4 gig drive in two partitions. The ZigZag image (i.e. the ZZ of ZZTOP) is also 250meg.  No compression is used on the image, it's just a straight copy.  Thus, if you have a 4 gig drive and 3 gig of data on it, making the ZZ image won't work.  I have not tried to create a ZZ image on a drive that didn't have enough space on it.  I'm told it will fail instead of overwriting your valuable data, BUT I HAVE NOT TESTED THIS.  BE CAREFUL USING -ZZDUMP TO MAKE AN IMAGE ON THE DRIVE. The image is written to the disk starting and the VERY end of the PHYSICAL drive (i.e., it's actually on the second partition, most likely the D: drive), and is written backwards.  (Starting at the end of the drive, and writing toward the beginning of the drive). If you _never_ save data on the D:, the image will never be harmed. If you fill the D: drive, the image is gone.  It _IS NOT_ recorded to the FAT table that this info is there, it is considered _BLANK SPACE_ by the harddrive and FAT table and will be overwritten if you use that area of the disk.  This presents a small problem with 2gig drives since Dell usually formats them in two partitions: 1.5 and .5 gig. with a 250 meg image, it won't take much on the D: drive to overwrite it. Now, two popular questions have come in this newsgroup:  Can I protect the image, and can I make changes to the image.  Basically the answer is yes to both of these.  Everything that follows is completely unsupported and not recommended by Dell.  This is NOT what the ZZ image program is for, this is simply how it works, use at your own risk.  (Note- all reports below that say the image won't be harmed assume you didn't actually write data over it in the process of anything) First- Neither formatting or partitioning will harm the image.  If you don't believe me, create a test harddrive with image from my instructions above and try it yourself.  Converting from FAT16 to 32 will also not damage the image, but will make it inoperable.  If you start with 16 and convert to 32, ZZTOP will report a corrupt image. If you convert back to 16, the image will be fine.  So, with this information, using the sample system above I can repartition the drive into 2 partitions- 1.8, 1.8, leaving .4 unpartitioned.  I can then format the first two into drive C and D and leave the remaining .4 alone.  This way, nothing will ever write to that space, and the image will last forever.  If you use the -ZZDUMP switch to create a new image, it will still use this unpartitioned space, ZigZag does not care what that area of the drive is doing, it will just start writing stuff there.  Again, Note that changing the partitions will NOT damage the image.  I could even partition AND FORMAT the 3rd area into a 400 meg E: drive and that would NOT damage the image.  However, with a 250meg image, anything over 150meg worth of data placed to the E: drive will overwrite it. This is how you can protect the image indefinitely. But, what good is the factory image 3 months from now after I've loaded all my games..  er, applications?  I'd have to reload all of that... True, but you can always create the image using the -ZZDUMP switch whenever you want.  Keep in mind, if you now have 1.5 gig of data on the drive, it will want 1.5 gig of free space at the end of the drive for the image.  And again, I don't BELIEVE ZZ will overwrite allocated space on the drive (i.e., space that you currently have files), but it might, so be damn careful if you try the ZZDUMP.  Also, the command line program is ZZ, not ZZTOP if you want to use the switches. There is no way to create the image as a file, or to copy the image once created to any other device.  If you want those features, buy a program called Ghost (That's what ZigZag really is anyway, just modified to only work the way described).  The only valid switches on the ZZ.EXE program are -ZZDUMP, -ZZLOAD, and -ZZCHECK.  ZZDUMP creates the image on the drive, -ZZLOAD restores the harddrive from the image WITHOUT VERIFYING IT FIRST!  Never use this command.  If you want to restore, just use ZZTOP, option 2.  -ZZCHECK is the command to check the image (ZZTOP option 1). ZZTOP will also work on Win NT (Even though Dell doesn't use it on NT), but you CANNOT change the size of the partition.  If you image a 1.6gig partition, you can only reload a 1.6gig partition.  If you change the size, you will get an error ~80% into the restore when it tries to copy one of the NT boot files. As for 95 and 98, ZZTOP won't change the partition table, so you can image a 1.5gig drive, repartition and reformat the drive to 2 gig or 1 gig and reload the image back on. WARNING: all this info I obtained from playing with this program over a few days on a harddrive I COULD AFFORD TO LOSE.  If you want to experiment, do it on a blank drive or drive with data you don't care about.  One mistake, one file copied to the wrong place and completely destroy the image.  If you've just formatted the drive, everything it gone.  If you are going to try any of these things, backup your valuable data FIRST, and always run the integrity check before formatting and partitioning just to make sure it's okay (That's ZZTOP, option 1 or ZZ -ZZCHECK from the Dell Diagnostics disk). For those that have no idea what I'm talking about, ZigZag (aka ZZTOP) is a utility for imaging the harddrive as described above.  The important files are ZZTOP.BAT, CHECK.COM, and ZZ.EXE, with ZZ.EXE being the one you really need.  the .BAT file just sends commands to the .EXE file.  CHECK.COM is a utility that allows you to type 1,2, 3 and Y or N during the use of the .BAT file. If you need more info, you have WAY too much time on your hands. :) (Figuring all of this out pretty much proves _I_ have way too much time on my hands...  hehe.) Rik

Additional information about ZZTop

First- Neither formatting or partitioning will harm the image.  This is true most of the time, but not always. The image will be destroyed by FDISK if you create a partition that begins within the area used to store the ZZTOP image (because the partition table is written there).  Also, if the partition starts just before the ZZTOP image area, the FORMAT command will destroy it when it formats the FAT1, FAT2, and root directory of the partition. You'll also lose it if any program tries to be cute and hide some data in the area between the MBR and the first partition, because that's where ZZTOP hides *its* control information.  Several boot-manager type programs and security mechanisms do this without warning you about it. Joe Morris