Yay, on Friday, I decided to take the plunge, and install Debian on my laptop. I’ve always wanted to try working in a Linux desktop environment, considering I do practically no Delphi development any more, everything’s either PHP or Python. Since Debian has plenty of support for both of these, it seemed quite ideal.

I’m not dumping the existing Windows install though, so I had to partition my drive. Now, partitioning drives is about the most nerve-racking thing I’ve ever done, no matter what software I’m using, no matter how little data I stand to lose, I’m always scared as hell something will go wrong. Doubly so on this laptop since I use it constantly for work, and it’s the default installation HP put on, which I’m not really eager to bugger up. Luckily, that all went smoothly though :D.

When it came to installing Debian though, I had a problem with the netinst installer I was using, in that a package or two would not install due to missing some authentication files or something. So, since that installer didn’t work, it was suggested that I try an older Sarge installer and upgrade to the Unstable branch from there.

As expected, that installation went without issue. Unfortunately I just had to try my best to keep the machine cool while waiting for the installation to complete and the ACPI applications to kick in so the fans would do their thing. Thanks Korpse for warning me about that in advance ;).

So anyway, after the base installation was done, it was trivial (as I have come to expect from Debian,) to get Gnome, X.org and GDM installed and running. Apache, PHP and the rest were even easier. I was very pleased to see that the Firebird SQL server (open source’d Interbase fork thingey) was available in Debian right away, so I plonked that in as well. All that was left was to install Subversion, and check out my work stuff. Once done, I was 100% ready for work :D.

There are a few things not working yet - I haven’t had much luck with the wireless LAN. Gnome’s wireless LAN configuration applet thing is missing WPA-PSK authentication options (which I’ve configured my wireless AP to use), it only supports WEP. I also can’t seem to get the WPA tools (wap_supplicant) to work correctly. Based on the output I’m getting though, it *looks* like it’s connecting to the access point - it manages to find the AP’s MAC address and everything just fine, and it reports the authentication was successful, but beyond that, I can’t actually ping anything, and all traffic still seems to be trying to go through eth0 (wired LAN) rather than eth1 (wireless). Guess I need to learn a bit more about Linux networking… heh.

Another thing that’s not quite working is Bluetooth. Again, it *seems* to be working, the hardware is detected, and is working fine. My phone can pair with the laptop fine, using the PIN I’ve defined, but I can’t seem to transfer files or anything in either direction. I’ll admit that I haven’t played with this much yet, but I’m not really sure where to go next. I haven’t even tried looking into infra-red yet :).

And yes, I do use all these things, that’s why I spent so much on this laptop :P.

I also haven’t installed the ATI drivers yet, it looks like it’s going to be a bit of a mission on it’s own though.

Along the way I’ve also discovered some interesting new applications I haven’t seen or heard of before. gDesklets seem like a nice way to waste some CPU time and memory if you like to keep your desktop busy. Beep Media Player seems like a very nice alternative to XMMS, seems a lot more stable, and the general feel integrates better with Gnome. RapidSVN looks like it’s trying to be a nice enough SVN front-end, however I find the good old command-line a lot more friendly and efficient (and it crashes less). Sylpheed is a rather nice little mail client, and works well as an alternative to Thunderbird - assuming you’re unhappy with Thunderbird though. ibWebAdmin is a neat web-based tool for managing your Interbase databases, not as feature-packed or good looking as phpMyAdmin, but it does what it needs to do pretty well.

All that’s left now is to give it a shot at work tomorrow, and see how it all goes :).