Debian Etch on Dell Optiplex 320

By: on December 14, 2006

After a number of false starts, we were about to give up on the Dell Optiplex 320 as a machine too weird to run Debian on. However, we persevered, and discovered the magic options that cause Debian Etch to not only install, but also boot.

  • Supply the kernel parameter pci=nomsi – this lets the installer (and, for that matter, the normal running kernel once you’ve finished installation) initialise the SATA disk controller correctly. If you omit this, you will see messages like “Unexpected IRQ trap at vector c0“, and the kernel will refuse to detect any hard disks.
  • Install LILO instead of GRUB. For some reason, GRUB refused to read the kernel from the disk after installation was complete. Happily, causing the installer to use LILO instead (on the MBR) results in a booting, kernel-loading, pci=nomsi-configured system.


  1. Jason says:

    For X I also had to

    apt-get install xserver-xorg-video-ati xserver-xorg-input-kbd


    Then in /etc/X11/xorg.conf edit the driver under ATI Radeon to be:
    Driver “radeon”

    Hope that helps someone.

  2. Arne Fischer says:

    Thank your for not giving up! Took me hours today, but then I found this article and now it works.

  3. petri says:

    great! i’m just installing etch and found this page.
    indeed useful information. thanks!

  4. Ekram says:

    Thanks a lot!!! good pick!!! very very useful indeed!!

  5. yan says:


  6. gerhard says:

    Also big Thanks from me for this Posting here

  7. bieler says:

    Huff, really thanks…Obscuring, i could install, but he didn’t known the CD-Rom driver, so the installation stopped on this part.

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