Update: Debian Lenny on AA1 – Starting to Get Things to Work Right

I wrote last night that I’d either have some love or some hate for Debian on my AA1. Today I’m warming up a little bit to it.

It really helps to read as much information as possible before getting in too deep. Mea culpa. The Debian wiki has a nice page on Aspire One setup. The reason I couldn’t see any wireless signals, let alone connect to my own, is because of shortcomings in Lenny’s base kernel. I added debiankernel to my sources.list and installed a fresher kernel.

$ uname -mrs
Linux 2.6.29-bpo.2-686 i686

Now I’m up and running without this ethernet cable tethering me to my desk and I can stick it back in my server where it belongs. I’m posting from Iceweasel in Debian now.

I made another quick change in possible preparation for ditching Gnome and because I like it better. I installed wicd and due to alleged conflicts automagically removed network-manager{-gnome}. I may re-add those, though, because wicd wants to connect to “<hidden>” rather than my SSID. I’ll see if I can fix that first. I’m just happy I can see wireless signals everywhere again.

I’m not sure I’ll ditch Gnome. I measured free -mt at first boot — without any other reconfiguration to get a baseline — and using eth0 rather than wifi my use was 265 MB. I’m sure that’s changed now that I’ve mucked around and made a few changes like the new kernel and apps that start at boot, never mind the toll encrypted wireless puts on a system. I also noticed that Gnome’s not churning away with CPU cycles quite as much as I recalled. That’s probably what will be my make/break criterion since RAM use is a quarter as important with 1 GB than it was when I was running 256 MB. FWIW, with four tabs open in Iceweasel (including resource drainers like gmail and the web editor for this blog), one terminal, and totem open with an audio stream:

$ free -mt
              total       used       free     shared    buffers     cached
Mem:           999        528        470          0          8        263
-/+ buffers/cache:        256        743
Swap:         1427          0       1427
Total:        2427        528       1898

I think I can live with that. For a little while. Maybe.

Still dealing with a few residual issues. The most noticeable is that when rebooting with my new kernel I once again had to edit the menu in GRUB because it was overwritten with settings for a second drive. Not as pissed off about it as I was last night but it’s still annoying. I’ve manually edited menu.lst but I’ll have to see wherever the cached setting is so I don’t have to do this with any more changes or new kernels.

I’ll be apt-pinning unstable repositories so I can get the few bleeding edge versions of things I need. That includes OpenOffice.org 3.x. I don’t think 2.x will work with some of my 3.x calc files (e. g., will my charts break? what about some of my formulae and has Debian patched 2.x so it’s forward compatible with 3.x?) and I don’t care to have separate document versions for Linux and Windows if there are any issues. I won’t get around to posting the DSL Hard Drive Install Guide PDF today. I’ll get to it ASAP because I’m tired of looking at it and because I see I’m getting a lot of hits on that page now. I’ll correct the notice I placed on it in a bit.

I also haven’t tested much hardware — not since it took so freaking long to install and then not having wireless until this morning. I haven’t checked CPU freq scaling yet, nor have I checked suspend/hibernation./resume. Haven’t tried to use the card readers yet. Haven’t done anything with the sound until now (opened stream in totem); need to figure out why the Gnome volume applet moves to mute when adjusting the volume.

Need to adjust volume levels and see if I can record audio through the microphone. The cam works, no thanks to cheese. Had to manually tweak settings to get output. Here’s my first picture as I was greeted when opening cheese.


That’s not on the cheese developers. Everything else is. I did find that cheese doesn’t work any better in Lenny than in Fedora 10; I did manage to get it set up to take a picture but the video is way too shitty to use. I’ll replace this useless package with something that should work better, like mencoder/mplayer.

Still have to set up printers, too. That should be no problem. I’ll see if MTP works well enough to use it; I’ll see if the FUSE mtp filesystem (mtpfs) is available in apt and maybe have better control over the device than I had in Fedora (could do basic file management but no directory-level management, e. g., pictures, text, datacasts, etc.). Need to add a lighter and more powerful shell (ksh/pdksh/mksh). Can get rid of a lot of stuff I’ll never use (inkscape, ekiga). Add stuff I’ll use (skype, flash, etc.). Etc.

When I get time, I think I’m going to compile an AA1-specific kernel. The Debian AA1 wiki page above has a link to one but it uses ext4 in lieu of ext3. Why do I feel like a Luddite for refusing to get on that bandwagon yet?

Unfortunately, I probably won’t have much time to do any of this today due to previous commitments like family and College World Series (hook’em!). I’ll have an update as soon as I get a chance.

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