Posts Tagged ‘scientific linux’

Squeeze Hardware Love and SL6rc1 Tease

February 21, 2011

More fun with laptops this evening.

Squeeze Hardware Love

This follows up on what I wrote earlier about a DW drama queen’s reviewer’s complaints about Debian hardware support. Since that person didn’t elaborate much beyond a wireless card on what hardware was problematic, I wanted to give an indication of how easy it’s been to configure my own hardware.

Aspire One

First, I think everything except one of the card readers on my Aspire One worked perfectly out of the box (net install) when I ran Lenny on it. The only issue I had — which has occurred regardless of distro (but not in XP, except when rebooting from a Linux crash to XP) — was with the Atheros wireless card. It’s flaky. The camera, microphone, audio jacks, etc., all worked fine. If not for the wireless problem, whether it’s hardware or software, I would run Linux on that little netbook and be a lot happier with it.

Primary Laptop

My new-old laptop got a new wireless card that doesn’t require some kind of blob or quirky driver to work. It’s worked fine with every distro I tried. I used ethernet to set up Debian via net install. Everything on it’s worked flawlessly. That includes the peripherals and devices I plug into it.

Peripherals and Devices

I’ve used a couple different Bluetooth headsets with my laptops as well as phones. They’ve been easy to configure by editing .asoundrc to include a setting (e. g., for btaudio) to direct alsa to redirect audio to the headphones — pretty much the same as any other distro using alsa would require.

Debian has pulseaudio available, but it’s not default like in certain other distros. I’m not a big fan of it but it’s probably the easiest way to get a2dp working in Debian.

Speaking of Bluetooth, all my phones are able to send files (mostly pics) to the laptop via Bluetooth. Set up was easy using the default Bluetooth tools installed in a basic net install (Gnome is the Debian default). My USB Bluetooth dongle was detected from first boot and has had zero trouble.

My printer, a nifty all-in-one HP inkjet model released in the past 18 months, wasn’t supported by the CUPS and HPLIP versions in the SL5.{4,5} ecosystem. The printer worked when I updated certain packages, but I suffered breakage on the scanner side. I lived with that until I had to use that scanner. That’s a game-changer when it’s down to one choice. That’s when I reinstalled Lenny and then upgraded the system to Squeeze (which was still in testing) because a colleague had given me a thumbs-up on it.

My other printers are all supported. No issues.

My USB hubs, powered and unpowered, function properly. Someday someone will build a laptop with enough USB ports to plug all my stuff in at once, and I will buy it. Until then, my desk looks like a freaking spaceship with blinking green and red lights everywhere.

All the rest of my USB plug-in stuff has worked flawlessly or with what I consider minimal configuration. That includes cameras, ZIP drives, external hard drives, and so on.

SL6rc1 Tease

I decided to install SL6rc1 on my Aspire One tonight. I know I wrote earlier that I’ll have more on my testing, and hopefully I’ll get around to that by the weekend. I’ll also have a few words (and a screenshot!) to say about the installation — which would probably upset that little weenie over at DW because the graphical installer didn’t launch from the icon so I did it text-style.

It went fairly smoothly, I updated the system, added some software, and had to add a few seconds to GRUB so I can choose between SL6 and Windows XP (didn’t have to but wanted to).

Anyway, this is just a tease. I’ll write a proper review shortly and load a few screenshots.

Update 20110221

February 21, 2011

Okay, it’s been a long time since I was able to update this blog. My trial period of running SL/CentOS 5.5 on my other laptops was brief. I reinstalled Debian and updated to Squeeze. I continue to use SL 5.5 on my Aspire One. And XP but I use it so seldom that updating often takes over an hour.

I’ve acquired more hardware the past six months, including a freaking iPod. Yes, I know, but I inherited it. I still hate Apple because their products are overpriced and mediocre-performing (or worse). The good news is it’s better supported under Linux than my dodgy MTP-based Samsung S3 (which I still prefer). I use it mainly for spoken word podcasts since the sound quality — ahem — doesn’t need to be so good for those.

I grabbed the live image for Scientific Linux 6rc1 last week when it was released. I ran some preliminary tests on my Aspire One to test its wireless card with a more modern kernel. I was surprised Saturday afternoon to go over 12 hours uptime. The card finally did crash and I was unable to scan again, but that was after 25 hours and under circumstances I figured would result in loss of wireless. How did I know? Because that’s happened occasionally while using 5.5. The problem seems to happen when moving large volumes of data through SSH or running extremely long SSH sessions. This has been off-putting to say the least. I’m not inclined to change for the sake of change — 5.x will continue receiving support for quite some time so there’s no rush. I may install SL6rc1 on my main laptop, though, and aid in testing (at least its card has never crashed like that Atheros card continues to do on occasion).

I’ll post a separate entry about this test later to give impressions of the changes between 5.5/6 as well note other problems I encountered.