Tom, before we start I am sure you must be having sufficient knowledge about the chipset and why it is essential to have the appropriate driver installed for it however just in case you might want to look at it in case need be; Chipset
Now coming to your questions, I would first start with A.
Chipset drivers are required for the smooth functioning of the chipset and to get the optimum performance and speed of the buses that interconnects a chipset to the important high & low speed devices. Since the chipset controls communications between the processor and external devices,
it plays a vital role in determining system performance therefore, not having the driver installed may result in degraded or no performance at all.
When you rolled back the appropriate Intel driver, setting it to the default windows driver, you mentioned that you noticed better performance in terms of speed. Now here's the catch; almost all the popular operating systems including Microsoft's come bundled with numerous set of device drivers for well known chipset manufacturers including Intel. I am assuming that it could be the case that the driver that you installed from the CD was not the right one and when you rolled it back to Microsoft's, the driver it installed was in accordance to the chipset and upon speed test you experienced slightly better performance, but since I do not like making assumptions; here's some information I'd like you to write back so that we can get to the right solution.
Which Linux distro are you planning to install exactly?
What is the motherboard model of your systems?
Which chipset does it have?
Which utility did you run for system speed check and do you have any logs generated as a result? (Attach log if any)
Were there other chipset drivers in the media you received from Dell for that chipset?
Now with the help of the answers, we will find out the exact driver to your chipset even for Linux and see if you experience better results. Hope this helps, keep me posted!
Thanks for the info.
Looking at Kunbuntu but not fixed on that.
I'm not at that location so I can't get the MB info at the moment, but I'm hoping to find some general info anyway so I can apply it to many different Dells and maybe some others that I have to deal with. If I have a variety of Dells and maybe this or that version of Linux I guess if it runs and seems to get to all basic parts of the system it must have some workable driver. It would be nice to be able to check someplace whether I have the latest/best driver. Does Intel have Linux drivers for all its chipsets and someplace to look them up? Dell offers Intel drivers for Linux for some systems and not for others. If there is no Linux driver is there a kludge to somehow use the win driver or does that slow it down too much?
The test was PerformanceTest by Passmark. Good company, been around a while. In addition to testing various pieces (math, ram, disk) it has a general exercise of all parts at once for a period of time similar to a good multitasking use of an office system. On just about every score it was a little faster after the roll back to the MS default driver.
No, there weren't other versions of the driver from Dell included.
You're welcome Tom! Okay now since you will be testing multiple Dell machines, we will not be specific and let us address this issue being a bit more generic. Going first with Kubuntu, it's no different from Ubuntu that I use on my laptop except for it uses KDE. As yet I have not seen Kubuntu in the list of certified OS over Intel platforms while RedHat and Suse are however this does not mean that it won't work since most of the linux distros including Kubuntu has chipset drivers in them when installed and you don't require installing device drivers other than for ATI and NVIDIA or any other non-compliant devices. Moreover you can access Ubuntu Forums and lookup hardware discussion that you will greatly benefit from since Kubuntu matters are also discussed there. For any matters related to KDE on Kubuntu, you can always access Kubuntu Forums However when you identify your chipset, it will become a lot easier for you to download and install the most appropriate driver. Let me guide you to Intel chipset identification procedure which is very simple and will assist you in finding your exact chipset and it's suitable drivers everytime you switch a machine.
Intel has multiple ways to identify your chipset that you can find here on Intel Chipset Identification and if for further assistance, you can download the Intel Chipset Identification Utility that you can download and install to find your chipset. You may not find the utility for Linux there, in that case you can either run that utility on Windows platform on that machine and find your chipset or refer to the other ways mentioned on Intel Chipset Identification page.
If you access Intel Download Center you will find on top of the left frame, CHIPSETS option under the Download Center tab. Select the type of machine you are using i.e. Desktop, Laptop, Server, etc and under every tab you will find multiple chipset options. Select the chipset for your system (lest you know your chipset via Intel Chipset Identification Utility or any information you have received from the vendor) and you will get to the page with driver download option for that chipset. In the drop down menu, select the type of OS you are using (in your current senario, it will be Linux*) and if you are unsure, select the "OS Independent" tab which will display multiple driver download option including chipset. You can then download the chipset driver and install it.
I hope this information helps you however keep me posted in case you find any problems and we will try to isolate the problem and find a workaround.
You're welcome Tom,
I am glad that it helped. As for the download side, it might have encountered a short term problem however just in case for future reference, here is the link to Intel Download Center