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Re: Making Debian available

"Andrew M.A. Cater" <amacater@einval.com> writes:

> It already does: the second or third question gives you the option to
> install non-free firmware, if needed, from a USB stick. That method does
> work but very few people use it.

This is the method that I personally always use, but I install systems
infrequently and every time I install a new system I have to work out
again from scratch how to make this work.  It sounds like it should be
simple, and yet it never is.  Something always goes wrong: I can't figure
out the right place to put the firmware, the firmware files are in the
wrong format, the prompts for when to switch USB sticks from the installer
to the firmware stick aren't at the right time, or *something*.

I have always managed to get it to work, but usually it's an hour of
cursing and Googling things and making different USB sticks in different
formats with different file systems and retrying parts of the installation
until I hit on the magic combination of factors to make it work.  And then
I promptly forget how to do it in the two years before I get another new
computer for some reason.

The installer with non-free firmware built in would, I think, be better.
I know it exists, but last time I wasn't able to use it because I needed a
testing installer, not a stable installer, for some hardware reason, and I
couldn't find the non-free testing installer for some reason.  (This was
probably my failing.)

I'm sure that much of this is my personal problem, but I can say that even
a person who is quite familiar with Debian and has installed a lot of
Debian systems struggles with the current set of options and has a hard
time finding a path that works.

> Wifi is the tough one: The companies that dominate laptop chipsets -
> Broadcom/Realtek/Qualcomm don't make it easy to find out which
> particular chipset it is. For USB Wifi connectors it's even harder -
> lots of Realtek chipsets in cheap dongles seem to require you to go and
> get a repository from git and build DKMS - RTL8812* springs to mind.

For the record, this is always the problem I have.  The last system I
installed didn't have an Ethernet port.  I think there was some way to
make Ethernet work over USB, but I didn't have the right hardware.

Russ Allbery (rra@debian.org)              <https://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/>

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