Laptop switch from Ubuntu to Debian Etch.

Geek post!
I’d been using Ubuntu on my Acer Aspire 3624WXCi laptop for about a year now. I really enjoyed my Ubuntu experience until I fell victim to this obnoxious bug. It took a while to manifest itself, too; the problem seemed to get worse every time they upgraded the kernel. Finally, I couldn’t launch a web browser without pointing a fan at the bottom of the machine.
Um, no. Thanks for playing.
I have good backups, and also store all my writing in subversion, so I wasn’t particularly nervous about moving to a new distro. I just couldn’t take the overheating bug any more.
I decided that I wanted Debian, because 1. I love APT dearly, and 2. one of the guys on the bug page said his laptop dual booted Debian and Ubuntu, and didn’t overheat under Debian. Alas, I tried Debian Sarge on this laptop when I first got it, and it didn’t support the video driver (yes, Sarge is too old to have the i810 driver), so I knew I’d need Etch. I also happened to have an Etch install CD, but Debian kind of broke the Etch install CD because their PGP signing key expired. Oops.
I tried using the Sarge CD and running an immediate "apt-get dist-upgrade" to upgrade to Etch, but something was very wrong. Not only did X not work, which the dist-upgrade warned me about, but I had some kind of error message on booting about how some of the modules were newer than the kernel, or something like that. Apparently, they’re very close to making Etch Stable rather than Testing, and maybe the upgrade is, ahem, still in progress. Debian suggests you download and burn a daily or weekly CD and use that, but I didn’t want to do that. See, the machine with the CD burner was the one that was hosed. So I tried the CD Debian said was busted. Guess what? It’s busted. (Surprise! not.) When you get to the downloading from the mirrors, you get a sad red screen and end up with a freshly partitioned hard drive with no software. Alas.
At this point I could have asked my boyfriend to burn me a daily or weekly on his laptop. He was watching Supernatural at the time, though, and it’s just not very butch. I mean, really. Asking my boyfriend to burn me a CD? What’s next, getting him to open the pickle jar for me?
Ahem. If you’re secure in your masculinity, maybe you should download a daily or weekly like Debian suggests. If, like me, you have problems with your masculinity because you’re a girl, or just because, read on.
If you use the busted Etch install CD and tell it not to use a mirror, it gives you the hairy eyeball and tells you you will have a very minimal system and are you sure? Say yes. Reboot.
Log in (you weren’t expecting a GUI, were you?) as root. Add

deb testing main contrib non-free
deb-src testing main contrib non-free

to /etc/apt/sources.list using vi.
I got around the key expiration thing using this page; I think I had to use apt to install apt-key without a valid signature first ("apt-get install apt-key"). It whined and complained but it did it. At that point, I was able to use gpg to get the key, export it, and import it into apt-key.
Yay! it works. Do an "apt-get update" and an "apt-get -u upgrade" to get all the new stuff.
I then did an "apt-get install xorg" followed by an "apt-get install gnome", but I’m pretty sure you could just install gnome and it should get xorg for you (because apt rocks). You could probably "apt-get install kde" as well, although I didn’t try it. I then had a shiny GUI and could use Synaptic to install other software I wanted, like Iceweasel (LOL!). I also did this to get my wireless card working.
Anyway, if you’re crazy like me and want to do this, good luck! My laptop is no longer overheating, so it was worth it. I guess we’ll see exactly how good my backups are after tonight’s NaNoEdMoing.

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One Response to Laptop switch from Ubuntu to Debian Etch.

  1. My Girlfriend the Übergeek

    Katherine is the Übergeek. Go, read, ph34r her.