A day of failure with Debian

Today, I tried installing Debian on my HP ProBook 4510S. Three times.

Obviously, I failed. On the first try, I got the wrong CD image (Lenny instead of Squeeze) and only realized that after I installed it. On the second try, I assigned the 500MB /dev/sda1 to / instead of /boot, which resulted in a cataclysmic Debian-style out-of-space dpkg error. Something I got about four times with Ubuntu on my Eee PC, but that’s another story. And on the third try, I almost got it done and even did an offline install of the Broadcom STA driver using Keryx, dpkg and module-assistant. However, it failed to detect any networks, citing a read error😦

Then I gave up and decided to install Linux Mint 9 LXDE. I just burnt it on a CD-RW and I’ll install it as soon as I finish this post😀

Anyway, here’s my “detailed report” on installing Debian Squeeze:

  • You don’t get an Internet connection during the install, so you have to download the 600+ MB CD1 image instead of the 180 MB netinst one.
  • The first CD image for Squeeze doesn’t even come with wireless-tools packaged.
  • You absolutely need Keryx to do any kind of offline Debian install. And the guide here.
  • It’s probably easier to do all this if you install GNOME. But it’s a pain to remove in my experience, so I didn’t even try that.
  • The framebuffer made my eyes bleed. 800×600 on a widescreen display? No thank you.
  • Doing an offline install of the Broadcom STA driver on Debian-based distros is mostly impossible.

The Broadcom driver has been annoying me since I got the ProBook. The only distro on which I managed to manually install it is Fedora. On Ubuntu, I now connect to the Internet using my ZTE MF110 modem and use Hardware Drivers (jockey?) to automatically install it. On a side note, I couldn’t do that with Kubuntu, because KNetworkManager is too buggy to let me connect to networks that do not support 2G data (which Digi Mobil Romania is).

The conclusion? I probably won’t install Debian on this machine again too soon.

12 Comments on “A day of failure with Debian”

  1. […] I’m wondering: should I keep Ubuntu, or give Debian a shot again? After all, I did fix the framebuffer problem. Or maybe LMDE, which, by the way, K.Mandla recently […]

  2. lefty.crupps says:

    It sounds like you just weren’t prepared to do this, if you have no ethernet cable available and were doing the partitions incorrectly. FWIW, I’ve never had a successful Sqeeze install, always going with Lenny, changing the repos post-install, and dist-upgrading my system. I think that the Squeeze installers aren’t working yet but I could be wrong as my previous Squeeze install failures were a few months ago, but I think I had everything else that I may have needed all ready to go.

  3. andrew says:

    Did you load the firmware on there so that the installer could do anything with your wireless chipset?

  4. TheGZeus says:

    The permissions error is a chmod away.
    It’s a bug, but easily fixed.

  5. Janos says:

    I had HP ProBook 4510S until recently, and experienced no problems you mentioned with Debian Squeeze. My colleagues are using Ubuntu and Kubuntu on 4510S without issues, too.

  6. petitbob says:


    Your HP is equipped with an Ethernet interface: it was enough to connect your laptop to the network with this interface and then simply doing a netinstall! why make things complicated when it can be easy!
    as easy as installing a debian than ubuntu with stability and more!

    @ + Petitbob

  7. […] Mint 9 LXDE. I just burnt it on a CD-RW and I’ll install it as soon as I finish this post More here On the first try, I got the wrong CD image (Lenny instead of Squeeze) and only realized that after […]

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