This weekend I installed Debian 9 (stretch) on my little blue netbook. I love it!
It has breathed new life into this tired little soldier. I bought this netbook a little over five years ago because I was sick of lugging around the 15 inch laptop (pictured with it) at conferences and whatnot. I had just gone to a conference with my friend Nate, who had a little netbook with a 10 inch screen, when I spotted this little blue guy for like 250 bones. Sold!
I currently also have a 17 inch laptop (Diana’s old one) with Debian 8 (jessie) installed on it and that’s perhaps the nicest operating system I’ve ever used. Until now. Stretch has several nice improvements over jessie.
First, wifi. Getting wifi working remains a bit of a challenge in Linux. When I installed jessie, I did the whole install from CD. Then I hooked up the ethernet cable to get internet access so that I could enable the non-free repository and install the driver I needed for wifi. Only then could I disconnect the ethernet and use the wifi. When I installed stretch, I started the install from a thumb drive (the netbook has no CD) and it stopped me and said I needed non-free driver
rtlwifi/rtl8192cfw.bin for wifi and if I had the removable media with it to insert it now. So I went to another computer and grabbed that file off the internet, wrote it to another thumb drive, inserted that into the netbook, and hit “yes”. Voila! I did the rest of the install with wifi— no ethernet required! This seems like a really nice compromise between Debian not wanting to include non-free software and the rest of us wanting to use our wifi. It’s a win-win!
Second, sudo. When I installed jessie, I had a root user and made user tim a sudoer later. After that, I never really used the root account again. When I installed stretch, I made user tim a sudoer just by leaving the root password blank. There is no root account and tim has admin priviledges. Done and done.
Third, perl6. On my jessie box, I did the whole rakudobrew thing. In stretch, there’s a recent version of rakudo all packaged up!
sudo apt install rakudo
tim@zog:~$ which perl6 /usr/bin/perl6 tim@zog:~$ perl6 -v This is Rakudo version 2016.04 built on MoarVM version 2016.04 implementing Perl 6.c.
Fourth, the printer. In jessie, I had to do a little research to determine that I needed to install system-config-printer and then use it to install my printer. In stretch, this was already there and “Settings -> Print Settings -> Add -> Network Printer” was all it took to discover my wireless printer and to correctly guess and install the driver for it.
During the stretch install, the touchpad of the netbook didn’t work. I was all set to research drivers or something for it, but upon booting the system, the touchpad worked. Still not sure why it didn’t work during the install.
The command-not-found utility still doesn’t work, but just installing it and then changing admin to sudo still fixes it.
I am still tinkering, but I can already tell I’m going to love stretch! I was toying with the idea of getting a fancy new laptop, but now I think I will keep using this little blue netbook for a while longer.
Shiny new 4.5 kernel!