Distro Hopping [Summer 2011]

Updates recently have been few and far between, and its largely because I can’t keep an Operating System on my laptop. What’s up with that?

Distro Hopping [Summer 2011]

As many of my friends know, I move to the next Ubuntu release at Beta 1.  That time has come, and I immediately jumped into the release scramble.  Typically, Ubuntu betas are pretty darn stable (ignore Unity).  In the past, I’ve loaded up my Ubuntu release, cleared out the cruft, and ran with a pristine operating system.

Unfortunately, this time Unity (still) doesn’t work, Gnome 3 (Shell and Fallback) is horribly crippled by Ubuntu’s hackiness, and even Xubuntu was seeing some serious glitchiness (WHY?! — Don’t remind me its a beta)

Annoyed by a hacked around distribution, I decided to take another turn with Fedora 15.  Fedora ships with default Gnome 3.0.1 and with a few tweaks can really be a great operating system.  My only annoyance remained with the font rendering — the one hack that Ubuntu does right.  There is a project which offers some tweaked packages that improve on font readability by Infinality, but it still wasn’t enough for me.

I wanted three things:

  • Stability
  • Modern packages
  • Ubuntu’s top-class font rendering

The Linux Mint team offers a solution to picky people such as myself: Linux Mint Debian Edition.  This is a rolling release version of Linux Mint based on Debian Testing.  The LMDE team created their own repository of fully tested packages to be released to users, guaranteeing both modern and stable packages.

Where LMDE falls short is the lack of Ubuntu’s Jockey Driver Finder/Installer program.  At first installation, my Dell Latitude E6400 lacked graphics acceleration (NVIDIA Quadro NVS 160) and wireless (Broadcom 4315) drivers.

A powerful community is without a doubt where Linux Mint excels.  I found tutorials for both in the forums.  After following some very detailed instructions (NVIDIA, Wireless), I had a system running at 100%.  Needless to say, I was pleased.  Of course, I’ve only had LMDE installed for about 15 hours, so we’ll see how things go and if I am still content later this week.  Stick around for some repeat information on getting these drivers installed, or see you next time!

NVIDIA Drivers on LMDE

Open up a root terminal (Menu -> Accessories -> Root Terminal), then type the following commands:

apt-get update
apt-get install nvidia-kernel-dkms nvidia-settings nvidia-xconfig

That’s all there is to it!  Restart your computer and enjoy.

Broadcom STA Drivers on LMDE

Open up a Run window (ALT + F2) and enter ‘gksudo gedit /etc/apt/sources.list’ and add the following:

deb http://ftp.us.debian.org/debian testing main contrib non-free

Save this file, but don’t close it.  We’ll come back to it shortly.

Open up a Root Terminal (Menu -> Accessories -> Root Terminal), then type the following commands:

apt-get update
apt-get install module-assistant wireless-tools
m-a a-i broadcom-sta
modprobe -r b44 b43 b43legacy ssb
modprobe wl

Go back to your gedit window and remove the last line that you added to it.  Then go back to your Root Terminal and issue another ‘apt-get update’.

That’ll do it!  Restart your computer and go find some wireless access points!