Now that I’ve gotten this old Dell Inspiron 2600 up and running (read about how I got Ubuntu 8.04 to work), it was time to throw some extra RAM into it.
The system monitor was showing a weird amount of RAM, but it definitely wasn’t the max (512mb). When I opened up the bottom of the laptop (where I figured the memory modules should go), I only saw a slot for one memory module.
Weird. I thought in the manual, it said that you could install two memory modules (up to 256mb) for a total of 512mb. So where is this extra memory module?
After digging through the documentation some more, I figured it out. There are two locations for you to install RAM, one on top of the motherboard and one underneath.
The easy to reach place is on the bottom of the computer. Look for the circle labeled “M,” and remove that screw. You can now slide the cover out of the way, and you should see a spot for one RAM chip as well as the built-in modem. When you look in the documentation for how to install a memory upgrade, this is where it sends you.
The other place is more of a pain in the butt to get to. But, it’s certainly do-able once you see the proper instructions.
First, you’ll need to remove the keyboard. You can find the official Dell documentation here.
Next, you need to remove the EMI shield. When you look under the keyboard, the EMI shield is the piece of sheet metal covering the left half of the opening. Follow the instructions found here in the Dell documentation.
Now you should see another slot for a memory module, the fan (with the processor underneath) and some other random stuff. Install your memory module and carefully put the machine back together.
I’m not 100% sure, since I got this machine after it had been used (and presumably upgraded), but I think the spot underneath the EMI shield is where the original RAM is installed. I found a 64mb board there. The other place was probably empty when the laptop shipped, and that was intended for regular memory upgrades. That would explain why it was so much easier to get too…
Anyhow, now my Dell Inspiron 2600 is running a bit smoother with 512mb of ram (instead of the previous 320mb). When the computer is at rest, Ubuntu is chewing through about 150mb of RAM, leaving 350mb available for applications. For a machine this old, that’ll just have to do.
In the future, I may disassemble the computer again and take some pictures for a more formal write up. In the meantime, use the official Dell documentation. In this case, it’s your friend. The important thing is to note that there are two locations for the memory to go. Although this is stated in the documentation, it’s not very well highlighted and I skipped over that bit of information the first couple of times I read the section on adding new memory.
Now I just need to get a USB wireless dongle working, and this will be all set for use in my classroom. Woot!