FreeBSD couldn’t cut it on my Pavilion after all. Once I got it all built from source and tried to run the X server, it refused to find a usable screen. Running the HAL/DBus service didn’t help at all. So I gave up and decided to try a desperate act: I tested openSUSE 10.3 GNOME Desktop.
First, I used to love KDE, but it got so bloated and the confounded developers never fixed all the bugs. The new KDE 4 is only worse. Yes, I tried it, and I’d rather not think about the experience again. GNOME is only slightly better, so I gave that a try.
Previous attempts with 11.0 and 11.1 couldn’t even give a decent framebuffer, but 10.3 recognized everything nicely. SaX made a couple of errors scripting the modelines for the Dell D1028L monitor, but I was able to correct them by editing the xorg.conf directly. Once I manually set the resolution at 1024×768 and forcing a 70Hz refresh, the display was quite tolerable. I also had to manually force the fonts to display at 100 DPI. So far, everything is working fine.
The other issue was Novell’s failure to fix the installer on 10.3. Eventually I found a page discussing the use of the Super Grub Disk. Boot with it and tell the thing to find your Linux installation and create a usable Grub config on your MBR. A little confusing, but not impossible to make it work.
So let the Novell haters come and link and talk bad about me; I really don’t care. I have work to do and, for now, openSUSE is making it happen with significant improvements over just about everything else I tried. Of course, Windows is simply not an option in my world.
Update: This, too, shall pass. While studying ways to fix the way the kernel interacts with the broken ACPI, I got SUSE where I couldn’t do anything at all. It just was not worth the hassle. However, I did learn an awful lot about broken ACPIs and such, like HPs insistence on having the thermal zone report in Centigrade, when it’s supposed to be Kelvin. What a mess…
Anyway, I’m back to CentOS because in the process of mucking about with the ACPI, I learned how to fix the stuff I didn’t get working there.
I’m hoping I can figure out what I’m doing before too long, or I’ll never get anything done.