(Or: Can't Install Debian?)
I wrote previously about some users of Karmic Koala Ubuntu having bad experiences. Well I have to admit I'm now one of them. My (old and rarely used) Compaq laptop had problems with the latest version. Notifications and some windows failed to appear, or rather appeared as a rather fetching digital Burberry effect.
I can't say I was surprised or even disappointed- the laptop is seven years old and getting a bit long in the tooth, even with a recent memory upgrade from 256 to 512MB.
I decided to try out a distro a bit further away from the bleeding edge. Debian is the distro Ubuntu is based on, but it's more conservative- going for stability rather than the latest advances. It also has a reputation of being hard to install. (Joke: Ubuntu is an ancient African word meaning 'can't install Debian'.)
I downloaded the Debian DVD (the laptop won't read CD's for some reason) and opted for the GUI install.
I have to say it was the smoothest and easiest OS install I've ever done. The only minor issue was a message about non-free firmware, which I made a note of and then ignored.
After a reboot, the computer was working well. (I Googled the non-free firmware message and found I needed a driver for my wireless dongle, which I could get by enabling the non-free repositories in Debian.)
The laptop is now running Debian 5 apparently without a hitch. Debian 5 resembles earlier versions of Ubuntu which worked well on the laptop- I think 7.10 was the original version installed. Or to be more accurate, Debian 5 is what previous versions of Ubuntu were based on, so the resemblance is no surprise.
Either way, Koala was bad Karma for the Compaq, and I''ll be playing around with Debian for a while.