Thursday, February 10, 2011

Debian GNU/Linux testing(nearly squeeze) on Dell M501R

The installation was a succesful one. The installer behaved better than the one coming with ubuntu. The salient points of the journey

1. I downloaded the DVD1 of the testing branch.
2. Booted of the DVD and was presented with myriad of options to start installation. I selected the text based install. (I tried to boot with a ubuntu 10.10 previously, but was unsuccesful. This was owing to the fact that the custom ubuntu kernel was not playing nice with the acpi architecture of my laptop. The kernel option passed was pci=noacpi, which then booted to the live enviroment)
3. Installed the desktop and the laptop options
4. The ati card behaved beautifuly with the open source drivers. Installed xcompmgr and composition was provided for docky and gnome-do.
5. Broadcom drivers had to be compiled from source. More about this in a previous post.
6. Tried to install the liquorix kernel using synaptic. It screwed up my graphics drivers. Purged the graphics driver and booted back to the debian kernel.
7. Compiled the liquorix kernel manually with liquorix configs. Then installed the propreitory drivers from ati, followed by re-installing xcompmgr for composition.
8. Re-compile the broadcom drivers for the new kernel
9. Configured docky to look similar to the layout in pinguy os.
10. Installed mplayer-mt for the 3-core amd phenom
11. Installed pidgin.(Empathy started crashing after few updates)
12. Installed chrome browser
13. Installed KDE full.
14. Failed to run compiz

Update 18.02.2011:

Empathy(11) and compiz(14) started working after updating the ati propreitory drivers to v 11.2

Thanks to the Debian GNU/Linux team and congratulations on a great release.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Debian GNU/Linux squeeze, aka V6 released

The entire world celebrated the release of Debian GNU/Linux 6 aka squeeze. All over the world, people await and rejoice the release of a new "stable" version of Debian GNU/Linux. This is true particularly for people running servers, apps who want a stable interface to all other interconnected software. The stability issue relates to the interfaces the apps provide to the external world. This stability is important in keeping mission critical servers/computers uptime to the maximum.

When apps are upgraded in a fanatic manner, the interfaces they offer to the external world too change. This results in lot of effort being put to manage these changes. Security updates are provided for stable versions such that they dont disturb these interfaces. For "normal" users the stable might seem outdated compared to the downstream projects like ubuntu. Ubuntu uses the packages from the "unstable" branch to provide bleeding edge software to "normal" users. I would recommend the stable branch to all kinds of users owing to the highest quality of packages resulting from being cooked in the testing stage for approximately two years.

If users want to use the bleeding edge software, I recommend people to download the weekly builds. With this they have an advantage, they run bleeding edge packages. The Debian project also gets an advantage, since, users can test these packages over time and provide feed back to the project which in turn will help in fine tuning the packages for the next stable version.

Thanks RMS, Ian, Linus and all the Freedom software developers for liberating and continuing to do so my computing experience. I am very confident that the Debian GNU/Linux and Debian GNU/KfreeBSD will grow and include many more freedom kernels in the future. I for one would like to see GNU/Minix in the next release. With multi-cores we are now ready for micro-kernels.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Broadcom issues on Debian GNU/Linux

Debian GNU/Linux testing installed excellently on my Dell inspiron m501R laptop. But it had the kernel 2.6.32. So I went ahead and compiled the vanilla kernel patched with the liquorix touch. After booting into the new kernel I was welcomed with a broken public network connection because of the broadcom chip. I knew that the drivers from broadcom were now "freed". I was confident that the community definitely would have done something about it. It was made true by a maintainer on arch forums who goes by the name vesath.

The work around were very simple. The patch files were all one or two lines long. But they did the trick. Thanks vesath. The compile went excellently well after applying those patches. Loaded the "wl" with the requisite crypto modules. lo and behold, I am connected to the public network and am typing this immediately.

So what did I do.

1. Download the latest driver source code from
2. Extract it in ur home directory
3. Download vesath's patches from here
4. Patch them by "patch -p1 < patch_file_name
5. Run "make"
6. Copy wl.ko generated to /usr/src/linux-2.6.37/drivers/net/wireless/wl.ko
7. add "insmod /usr/src/linux-2.6.37/drivers/net/wireless/wl.ko" to /etc/rc.local
8. add "lib80211" to /etc/modules. This is a dependency module for wl.ko
9. Reboot

I just love the freedom I am having with my computing experience. Thanks to all the freedom software developers.