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Debian! I Choose You!

After a little bit of research, I’ve chosen to use Debian as my distribution for the duration of the experiment. While the decision was more or less arbitrary, it was based on a few core ideals:

  1. The Social Contract: These guys believe in free software to such an extent that they wrote up a social contract that governs the user experience with Debian, ensuring that the system and it’s derivatives will forever remain free for use, distribution, and modification. As a part of the contract, they define their use of the term free software to ensure that nobody can question their motives. Although I run a lot of free software on a daily basis, I’ve always been locked into proprietary software and formats in one way or another. It will be interesting to try and figure out how to emulate my current workflow in its entirety with free and open-source software.
  2. A Solid System: Debian is known to be such a solid distribution that Ubuntu (currently the most popular Linux distribution around) uses it as a basis for each of their own releases, and then backports any fixes that they make into the Debian stream. Further, Debian is available as one of three code forks (unstable, testing, and stable), allowing the user to choose from a rock solid stable experience, a less stable one that supports the latest packages, or a potentially buggy one that runs along the bleeding edge of new development.
  3. 100% Community Driven: Unlike other distributions, Debian development is not backed or sponsored by a corporate entity of any kind – it is simply an organization of (almost 1200) like-minded people working towards a common goal through the power of the internet. You really can’t get a better taste for the ideals of open-source software in any other distribution.
  4. Huge User Community: Check out this massive list of people and organizations that currently use Debian as their distribution of choice.
  5. Lots O’ Warez: The stable distribution of Debian contains thousands upon thousands available packages. With access to all of this software, replacing my current setup should be fairly easy (although it might require a bunch of research).

With the release of KDE 4.3 today, I’ve also decided to try using it as my display manager (mostly because it looks really pretty, and I like pretty things). Now I can only hope that Debian has the drivers for my laptop:

  • Motherboard: IBM ThinkPad R52 (Product#: 1859B7U) with Mobile Intel Alviso-G i915GM Chipset
  • Processor: Mobile Intel Pentium M 740, 1733 MHz (13 x 133)
  • RAM: 758 MB  (DDR2 SDRAM)
  • Video: Mobile Intel(R) 915GM/GMS,910GML Express Chipset Family  (128 MB), Intel GMA 900
  • Audio: Analog Devices AD1981B(L) @ Intel 82801FBM ICH6-M – AC’97 Audio Controller [B-1]
  • Storage Controller: Intel(R) 82801FBM Ultra ATA Storage Controllers – 2653 with AE9GMGLK IDE Controller
  • Disk Drive: FUJITSU MHV2040AH  (40 GB, 5400 RPM, Ultra-ATA/100)
  • Optical Drive: MATSHITA DVD/CDRW UJDA770  (DVD:8x, CD:24x/24x/24x DVD-ROM/CD-RW)
  • Ethernet: Broadcom NetXtreme Gigabit Ethernet
  • Wireless: Intel(R) PRO/Wireless 2200BG Network Connection  (192.168.1.173)
  • USB Controller: Intel 82801FBM ICH6-M – USB Universal Host Controller [B-1]
  • BIOS: IBM 70ET69WW (1.29 )
  • Battery: Sony IBM-92P1089
  1. Seth
    December 8th, 2010 at 11:09 | #1

    Hey Jon, did you have any luck with the audio drivers for this machine? I have the same model of laptop and I think I have the wrong audio driver – I get a feedback/buzzing sound from the speakers when I turn them up past a certain level. I figured it was the microphone, so I muted that but the buzzing still persists.

    Any ideas? Thank you.

  2. Jon F
    December 8th, 2010 at 12:49 | #2

    @Seth,

    I didn’t ever experience that problem with this laptop – it always seemed to work out of the box with any operating system that I chose. I haven’t run debian on it for almost a year now (it’s currently a Fedora box), so my memory might be a little hazy.

    On my desktop, I got a rather constant and annoying buzz at one point as well… I think it was while running Kubuntu. If I remember correctly, the problem was solved by installing a pulse audio mixer that allowed me to modify the levels of every sound device that the system supports, instead of just the main mix. I found that there was some internal feedback loop or something that was causing the annoying sound.

    No guarantees that these will help, but try reading a few of the following posts. There might be something in them that gives you a nudge in the right direction:
    http://thelinuxexperiment.com/guinea-pigs/jon-f/pulse-audio-nonsense/
    http://thelinuxexperiment.com/guinea-pigs/tyler-b/how-i-solved-my-audio-problems/

    If you do find the solution, post it back here so that others can use it in the future.

    Best of luck!

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