OpenBSD 3.0 & Dell Latitude A366ST

This machine is no longer in my possession so I am unable to answer questions about it. I hope the following document helps you.

According to my referrer logs, a lot of the people who visit this page are actually looking for information on buying a Dell laptop or solving problems related to Windows. These documents may help you:

This page used to describe the tinkering required to get OpenBSD running smoothly on a Dell Latitude CPi A366ST. However, recent versions of OpenBSD have solved the problems that once existed, so what follows is simply my configuration. This document assumes that you are familiar with OpenBSD or UNIX in general, and at least have read the INSTALL and README files shipped with OpenBSD.

A picture of my laptop. Another picture of my laptop.

Installation itself is a breeze. The CD boots nicely, and once you organize your filesystem properly, the install will not barf.

I will try to cover the following (partly for my own reference, should I ever need to rebuild my configuration), roughly in the order it will matter to a person who needs to do real work with his or her system:

Network card

I used two different network configurations. In one office, I used the LAN adapter available in my C-Dock II, which is based on the 3c905C chipset and thusly becomes xl0.

Using the xl0 interface was no problem at all. I just slid my Latitude into the dockingstation and it picked up the network card right away.

In my secondary office and on my home LAN, I used a Xircom CardBus Ethernet and 56K modem. This interface is named dc0. On both of these networks, I had DHCP configured (see below).

DHCP Client configuration

Painfully simple! I created /etc/hostname.dc0 and put the word 'dhcp' in it. This will automatically request network configuration from the DHCP server when booting. If you never reboot, just run

$ sudo route -n flush
$ sudo sh /etc/netstart

after sliding your laptop in its docking station.


I have been using various UNIX flavours for years, but it was only at the beginning of 1999 that I started to use X, so I am not an expert on X at all. Up until that time, I was quite happy with my console. I still am, but GIMP and Dia do not run well on the console :)

Now, my Latitude only has 2.5 MB of video memory, which limits me to 800x600 with 24 bpp. That is another reason I tend to stick to the console. XFree 4.1.0 has support for the NeoMagic video chipset shipped in my Latitude, so I picked it from the list and it runs just nicely.

Putting Option "extern_disp" in /etc/XF86Config tells X to send the video signal out through the VGA port instead of just using the LCD display.

The TouchPad is /dev/wsmouse


Sound works. Unfortunately the machine is shipped with a shite pair of speakers. Buy a pair of external speakers for the office or get yourself a set of good headphones.

Advanced Power Management

I tend to not power off my laptop. When I am done working, I save my work, logoff my sessions and put the machine into suspend by pressing Fn + Suspend. It powers on automatically when I open the display, or when I slide it into the docking station.

I have disabled the BIOS apm functions -- that is, the machine does not go into suspend when I close the display. I find this to be handy when on the go. If I am working while on a plane or the DART (Dublin's answer to subways), I can close the display and stick the system in my bag while I make my way to the next plane or find a cab. Sometimes, I like it to stay on because I let it do unattended tasks such as compiles or locate.updatedb refreshes when I can not use it anyway (as in, a crowded bus where I have to stand up).

I edited /etc/rc.conf to contain:


I have always hated internal speakers; -q keeps apmd quiet when it goes in and out of suspend.

OpenBSD 2.6 and 2.7 stopped responding to keyboard or mouse input while working on a task. This has not happened in 2.8, 2.9 or 3.0.

I have also noticed that the internal clock is sometimes not updated while the system sleeps. I am a freak when it comes to time accuracy, so I will have to sort that problem out. A portable NTP source may very well be the answer.

Miscellaneous devices

USB support

OpenBSD 3.0 has support for USB, and it supports the Intel USB host controller and the hub shipped in the Dell Latitude. In previous releases of OpenBSD, the controller would sometimes make OpenBSD hang on boot-up. This problem has been solved as of 2.7.

Infrared support

OpenBSD has no IrDA support.

Configuration files