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I have a Dell Inspiron 15R N5110 Laptop (Core i5 2nd Gen/4 GB/500 GB/Windows 7).

I previously installed Windows 10 on my system, but my computer was very slow, so I decided to install Linux on it.

It is currently running Windows 7.

My problem is: the only drivers I have for my laptop are Windows 7's and I can't find Linux drivers for it.

How can I download my laptop's drivers for Linux? And does my laptop support Linux?

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    As a general note, Linux itself usually comes with most of the drivers that you need. Externally downloaded drivers are almost entirely limited to graphics cards and custom hardware (and all of the graphics cards have at least basic display support without manufacturer drivers). In Linux, the model of driver development is generally to have them rolled into Linux (the actual kernel) itself rather than being distributed separately. – chrylis -cautiouslyoptimistic- Jan 27 at 6:39
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    Consider some hardware upgrades. Additional 4 GB of DDR3 RAM won't cost you much, but will make a huge difference. Swapping the disk for a SSD will make the computer feel more responsive too. – gronostaj Jan 27 at 14:00
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    If it's a 2nd gen i5 it's not considered old for Linux ;) – Jan Dorniak Jan 27 at 16:07
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    How old is old? I'm writing this on a ~15 year old ThinkPad with a Core2 Duo CPU, running a recent (updated a couple of months ago) version of OpenSuSE. Works fine... – jamesqf Jan 27 at 18:28
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    Your laptop is not old by any reasonable measure within the FOSS community. Linux still runs on almost 32-year-old 80486 hardware (it’s very slow, and you need more memory than many of the lower end '486 systems originally came with, but it does run), and some of the BSD variants still run on 40+ year old hardware. A 12 year old CPU is still a young adult in comparison. – Austin Hemmelgarn Jan 28 at 12:44
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It is very unlikely that you will need any additional device drivers other than those that already come with most popular Linux distributions, specially on non brand new laptops. The only exception regards GPU devices used for games, such as NVidia and AMD Radeon GPUs. In such cases, some manufacturers sometimes provide their own device drivers but, even though, most are also supported by Linux community.

Anyway, a possible lack of Linux support from the manufacturer might not prevent you from installing Linux: you can install the system and later install any manufacturer-provided device driver (if available/necessary). Though again, it is very rare on laptop devices.

If you are not very familiar with Linux, I suggest you choose a distribution with a friendly, intuitive interface, such as Linux Mint Cinnamon Edition - that would be definitely my pick, if you ask me for a recommendation. You can also try Ubuntu, Pop!_OS, Elementary OS, DeepIn or Fedora.

Hope this helps.

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    I think it is worth adding that you can test these distributions before installing them, because they usually come in a form of a live DVD, ie. a system that you can run off a DVD disc (or a USB stick) without installing it. This way you can check if everything works OK on your laptop. – raj Jan 26 at 16:50
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    AMD graphics drivers are included with Linux these days (though maybe some older GPUs still need non-free firmware). It's just NVIDIA you still need to give the middle finger to. – Michael Hampton Jan 27 at 10:03
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    @ctrl-alt-delor - the dark-side being..? I'm genuinely curious. The only Linux distro I've ever used a GUI on is Ubuntu (and use others regularly over ssh). – SiHa Jan 28 at 7:39
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    @SiHa When I said dark-side. I am referring to proprietary software. That is software that takes away your freedom. Take a look at the free-software definition ( gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.en.html ). – ctrl-alt-delor Jan 28 at 14:26
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    GNU/Linux comes in many "flavors". While some "flavors" come with both proprietary (free) and non-proprietary (non-free) driver support built in, some do not. Even within a flavor, there's a range of support see here. Your Dell seems to support Ubuntu, FYI. – marshki Jan 28 at 17:09
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Well, as a proof of concept, I'm writing this answer on my trusty Dell Inspiron 15R N5110, running Debian 10 Buster amd64!

Everything works fine, including 3D graphics support, wifi, keys for brightness, sound, wifi switch etc.

On Debian, after installing the OS you need to add non-free repos in /etc/apt/sources.list. Then you can plug an ethernet cable to the ethernet port (it's a Realtek which works out of the box) and install these packages:

apt install firmware-brcm80211 firmware-amd-graphics

My laptop has Broadcom wifi and ATI Radeon HD 5400 graphics, so the above line is needed to add the firmware for these devices. There are variants of the laptop though I think, having other devices installed, in that case you'll need the respective firmwares. apt search firmware-.* will be helpful on such occasion.

Perhaps Debian derivatives like Ubuntu or Mint automate this process so you won't need to add any firmware by hand. But since they also add lots of bells and whistles, some of them unnecessary, they cannot be as fast and snappy as Debian.

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    Yes, there's a GUI on Ubuntu that will prompt you to install these. – Michael Hampton Jan 27 at 10:05
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Dell lists Red Hat Enterprise Linux, SUSE Linux and Ubuntu as supported for your model. This means any popular Linux distribution should work.

Missing drivers (if any) can be installed during the installation process, later through your package manager or manually. You don't need to download any drivers now.

If you're looking to install Ubuntu, please read How to Install Ubuntu Linux on your Dell PC.

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A lot of Gnu/Linux distros come with drivers. Test it with a live Distro (one that will run from CD or USB-storage.

Debian is a good Distro (but only has the Free drivers, by default). Apparently Mint is better for easy install on hardware that has no Free drivers.

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    It's not too hard to add the "non-free" subset from debian. I've revivified a number of "killed by Windows 10" laptops, in some cases handing back a fully-functional laptop that had been handed to me for "disposal" and I tend to use debian for that. – Ecnerwal Jan 27 at 1:50
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how can I download my laptop's drivers for Linux?

A part of drivers is integrated in the linux kernel (the must known), you don't need to install them manually, the newest may require the latest kernel release.

And that my laptop can support Linux?

Answering this question by proposing a linux distribution suggestion, you can use Ubuntu or Linux-Mint which provide a driver scanner tool to install the missing drivers from different sources (free, non-free , official and non-officiel) .

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Happily using my 12yo Dell D830 with Lubuntu 20.04.LTS to do C# dev, running tools such as JetBrains Rider IDE on it. I put a spare 60GB SSD in to replace the 1TB hard disk, which helps a lot with speed but wanted a very lean Linux.

I picked Lubuntu after reading this page on lightweight linux

First get bootable USB working - using pendrivelinux

Booted PC off USB Verified Memory Ran full install, creating partitions 8GB, 2GB swap, about 46GB home et al Redid install later creating 6GB swap and all the rest in / because filled root doing installs

Installed software

  • Jetbrains toolbox
  • Rider
  • CLion
  • Stuff via Muon Package Manager
    • clang
    • Make
  • Direct download and install Chrome
  • dotnetCore as per official page
  • Built and ran console apps for C# and C++

set ssh following github guide so was then able to use github

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