This installation was the most recent Squeeze RC2 release, downloaded just two days before this blog post. If you’ve never installed Debian, please see this detailed guide for installing Squeeze. I used the graphical installation offered on the welcome screen.
The previous OS on this laptop was Windows 7, and it has been my experience Win7 does strange things with its file system. Several Linux distros have had trouble doing a repartition and format behind Win7. It failed on the first try, and required I restart the installation process. This was the only hiccup I experienced; the installation was otherwise routine. I chose the defaults all the way through.
There were only two noteworthy items. First, the sound as a whole is much lower than on any previous OS I have tested on this laptop. That is, turning it all the way up still produces a much lower sound volume than I expected, and the tiny speakers at the base of the screen hinge barely put out any sound. However, plugging in headphones offers the normal volume. I can’t guess whether this represents some flaw in the as-yet unfinished product.
Second, I had to build the Broadcom STA module to get wifi working. The instructions are easy to follow; find them here. By using the module assistant, you can easily rebuild any time the kernel is upgraded. This assumes you have access to a regular wired ethernet connection during the process.
Additionally, if you like using the Alps trackpad as much as I do, you really should consider adding the
gpointing-device-settings package. The standard GNOME tool for setting acceleration is nowhere near as sensitive as most modern laptops need. This added tool shows up in the menu system under Preferences as “Pointing Devices” and allows for a much finer control over most items.
For those less clued in on Debian, a major concern will be such things as the multimedia packages easily obtained for Debian from Debian Multimedia, an additional repository. Follow their instructions. Once you have your apt repositories updated, I recommend you install the following:
apt-get install mplayer gecko-mediaplayer libdvdnav4 libdvdread4 libdvdcss2 w32codecs sun-java6-jre sun-java6-plugin
This will pull in a lot of dependencies, of course. Because I like the Opera browser, I added that to my
sources.list. Just follow the instructions here. Installing this will also give you the Adobe version of Flashplayer as a dependency. Otherwise, you can simply:
apt-get install flashplugin-nonfree
There are other specialized repositories, and just about every package not already available that way probably has a Debian build version somewhere. The size of Debian user community is so large, it’s hard to find a peculiar Open Source project which does not have a Debian packaged version somewhere. Simply use your favorite search engine with the key word “debian” and whatever it is you are hunting. Same goes for any hardware issue you encounter on your particular hardware. The likelihood some Debian user has already dealt with it is very high.
Update: For those who want to know, here is the hardware via
00:00.0 Host bridge: Intel Corporation Mobile PM965/GM965/GL960 Memory Controller Hub (rev 0c)
00:02.0 VGA compatible controller: Intel Corporation Mobile GM965/GL960 Integrated Graphics Controller (rev 0c)
00:02.1 Display controller: Intel Corporation Mobile GM965/GL960 Integrated Graphics Controller (rev 0c)
00:1a.0 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801H (ICH8 Family) USB UHCI Controller #4 (rev 02)
00:1a.1 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801H (ICH8 Family) USB UHCI Controller #5 (rev 02)
00:1a.7 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801H (ICH8 Family) USB2 EHCI Controller #2 (rev 02)
00:1b.0 Audio device: Intel Corporation 82801H (ICH8 Family) HD Audio Controller (rev 02)
00:1c.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801H (ICH8 Family) PCI Express Port 1 (rev 02)
00:1c.1 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801H (ICH8 Family) PCI Express Port 2 (rev 02)
00:1c.4 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801H (ICH8 Family) PCI Express Port 5 (rev 02)
00:1d.0 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801H (ICH8 Family) USB UHCI Controller #1 (rev 02)
00:1d.1 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801H (ICH8 Family) USB UHCI Controller #2 (rev 02)
00:1d.2 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801H (ICH8 Family) USB UHCI Controller #3 (rev 02)
00:1d.7 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 82801H (ICH8 Family) USB2 EHCI Controller #1 (rev 02)
00:1e.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801 Mobile PCI Bridge (rev f2)
00:1f.0 ISA bridge: Intel Corporation 82801HEM (ICH8M) LPC Interface Controller (rev 02)
00:1f.1 IDE interface: Intel Corporation 82801HBM/HEM (ICH8M/ICH8M-E) IDE Controller (rev 02)
00:1f.2 SATA controller: Intel Corporation 82801HBM/HEM (ICH8M/ICH8M-E) SATA AHCI Controller (rev 02)
00:1f.3 SMBus: Intel Corporation 82801H (ICH8 Family) SMBus Controller (rev 02)
02:09.0 FireWire (IEEE 1394): Ricoh Co Ltd R5C832 IEEE 1394 Controller (rev 05)
02:09.1 SD Host controller: Ricoh Co Ltd R5C822 SD/SDIO/MMC/MS/MSPro Host Adapter (rev 22)
02:09.2 System peripheral: Ricoh Co Ltd R5C843 MMC Host Controller (rev 12)
02:09.3 System peripheral: Ricoh Co Ltd R5C592 Memory Stick Bus Host Adapter (rev 12)
02:09.4 System peripheral: Ricoh Co Ltd xD-Picture Card Controller (rev ff)
09:00.0 Ethernet controller: Marvell Technology Group Ltd. 88E8040 PCI-E Fast Ethernet Controller (rev 12)
0b:00.0 Network controller: Broadcom Corporation BCM4312 802.11b/g LP-PHY (rev 01)