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Re: Debian on Laptop

Hi Federico,
Earlier I wrote:
>> I've been running a Slackware Linux distribution on my desk top
>> computers  for one year now. Now I intended to install Linux on my
>> laptop too and was  recommended by a friend to use the Debian
>> distribution.  I ordered the distribution from Linux System Labs
>> and I tried with 1.3.1  but unfortunately I finally had to give up.
>> I then tried to install Slackware  3.3 and it went on without any
>> problems and the system worked at once including  the network
>> interface (PCMCIA 3c562). Even if the Debian system may be more
>> advanced in several ways it does not yet seem to be mature to be
>> installed on  laptops.

> I don't think so, when I first installed linux one year ago I choosed
> Debian by chance knowing nothing about distribution and the old 1.1
> installed very well on my laptop (an Oyster Bhrama clone). Then
> I installed 1.3.1 on the laptops of two friends and all went good again,
> the only really hard thing is to guess the right modes for XF86.

Well, the most essential thing that differs (todays) laptops from
desk top computers is the PCMCIA interface which is the way to communicate
with the world out there (and of course the somewhat special driver chips
for the LCDs)  If the operative system is not capable of manage with this
then it will not be installed on that computer. To be able to do serious
work on my computer it is absolutely necessary for me to be able to connect
the computer to the network, either being at home or at my institue. In
my case I use a 10Base-T board from 3Com.
>> The installation procedure is also very tedious and not at all for
>> non unix experts. The slackware user interface is very easy to understand.
> This is partially true. Deity will partly resolve the problem but
> what about the INITIAL install? What have the boot-floppy people 
> to say?

It is the initial install I speak about. Not about upgrading the system.
To go through all the Debian packages in the first initial install took
me several hours. After having failed the first time, I did only install
the most essential things the second try. I actually used boot diskettes
for Debian as well as for Slackware even if I know that I don't need that.

>> These were the problems I had:
>> 1) First the README file was misleading. It was said that in 1.3 there was
>> an error which caused XF86Setup not being able to configure the system. It
>> was said that this will be fixed in 1.3.1. As I HAD 1.3.1 I understood that
>> this was fixed and I went on with the installation.
>> Obviously this was not fixed. When I came to the configuration of X it failed
>> and it continued to fail. I even tried to uninstall the X packages and install
>> xbase, quitting, installing rest of X but it failed and the system mostly
>> hung.
>> 2) After this I initialized the partitions (50Mb /root and 1200Mb /usr) but
>> forgot to explicitly say that I wanted /usr on another partition, which caused
>> me one more failed installation.
>> 3) The third attempt to install succeded, i.e. I could configure my X server
>> (ok I still have problems with the CL7543 TFT server but that's another issue)
>> 4) I never got the network to work. Well, the PCMCIA package recognized my
>> board but I never got any eth0 so the network was unreachable. I tried to
>> look on the net for hints on this but failed. Not even sendmail from one
>> user to another within the machine worked.
> Maybe I didnt understand but, you tryed first 1) THEN 2)? I.e., you
> first tryed to install the system and X, then you made the partitions?
> Or you installed over an old linux (slackware?).
I installed it on a new fresh harddisk. I would never try something like
installing a Debian-distribution over a Slackware if it was not explicitly
said that it was supported. That is, due to the faulty README file I
first tried to install everything. Then I tried to uninstall the X-packages
and reinstall the xbase and then install the rest of the X-packages
again, but that failed completely. I had to initialize the hard disk
and install everything again (first xbase, then rest of X), just due to
this erroneous README file.
> 2) is not a bug but a feature, you can partition any way you like and
> then splitt stuff to suite your taste. You can have 1, 2 or any number
> of partitions...
Ok, that maybe is to ask for too much, but when it (could have) found that
I would need a total of about 300 Mb and my root partition only was 50 Mb
then I could have got a warning, but there I only have to blame myself
when I missed to mount the rest as /usr.
> I cant comment on 3) and 4) because I use ppp, but let me say that
> Debian always worked fine on my and my friend's laptops. So why don't
> you give it another try? After the initial pain Debian is the best
> distributions around!
Well, as I said, I have to know that I can hook it up to the network
and as it is now the PCMCIA support in Debian seems to not be stable
enough for that. I will give it a try in the next stable release, but
then I will first try to install it on a another hard disk, in the same
way I did with Slackware now.

I also had problems with Emacs being very slow to start in the Debian
release, but that may be due to that the network was missing due to the
failure in the PCMCIA startup. Emacs starts very quick in the Slackware
distribution now.

	Best regards
	Roland Orre

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