I wish I could help, as my Inspiron 1100 graphics are working decently. I don't recall doing anything special. I did put kernel 184.108.40.206 on the laptop in hopes of easier wireless networking. All I can say is I'm using the plain xorg driver called intel and I do have 24-bit 1024x768 resolution.
A bit of history on this laptop--
Originally my daughter-in-law was using it with Windows XP and it came with 256 megs of RAM and a 20-gig hard drive. When she got a new laptop, she gave this one to her son, who was around 10 at the time. He managed to slow it down to unusability. They live far away, but when they were here for a visit in 2009 they brought along the laptop in hopes I could restore its speed (which was never that great anyway, with just 256 megs of RAM for XP). I did get it going after I got the viruses and malware off of it but I suggested VectorLinux to prevent the inevitable re-infestation. I installed VL6 Standard and don't recall any problems with video. Grandson got a new laptop for Christmas, so they gave the old Dell to me.
The laptop has a quirky CD-RW/DVD-ROM combo drive. It has trouble seeing some home-burned CDs. In fact, I had to create a bootable flash drive for VL6 Standard ISO with unetbootin in order to install Standard. Anyway, at that time I had no problem with the video. When I got the laptop for myself, I replaced the 20-gig drive with a 128-gig drive I had removed from a dead laptop and I replaced the RAM with two 512-meg sticks. I installed VL6 Light, no Windows. I used Light rather than Standard because the computer would boot from the Light installation CD but it wouldn't boot from the Standard installation CD and I no longer had the bootable flash drive I had used the year before. I think there were some video problems upon installation but somehow I got it working, probably with the help of my friend Google.
I updated the kernel to 220.127.116.11 and don't recall losing video. I did run into some problems, though. I think I got black screens upon login but after a reboot or two or four I did get video. I've had some problems with X causing a black screen with no keyboard or mouse response, requiring a turnoff. These are unusual now. I occasionally lose video completely and get a black screen after I tell IceWM to shut down, but the computer is not locked up and it completes the operation. Once in IceWM, I have no problems with video although the glxgears scores are terrible, as you'd expect. When I turn on that computer later today, I'll look through xorg.conf to see if I made any changes. If you start in text mode (runlevel 2), you can edit xorg.conf and the changes will be reflected the next time you run startx. I haven't found the Xorg log files in /var/log to be helpful. When you're working in text mode, you can do quite a lot of experimenting without rebooting as long as you don't lose video completely. Control-Alt-Backspace usually worked to get me back to a console if X failed. Just be sure to save a copy of your original xorg.conf file under another name so that you can easily restore to default if your changes don't help.
We have another old laptop with intel video (different chip). I tried kernel 18.104.22.168 on it but the video vibrated and jumped around badly with that kernel. I went back to 22.214.171.124 and video is okay again.
I do recall spending a lot of time on Google related to one of these video chips but I don't remember if it was on the Dell or the other laptop (Toshiba).
If you do manage to get the Inspiron video working *once*, it'll probably work again after some number of restarts. It seems to settle in once it runs a few times and the problems lessen. I'll get back to you after I inspect my xorg.conf on the Dell.