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I was hoping for some advice on what the best debian laptop distribution would be.
My main criteria for "what is good"
1. Ease and "Trust" of install - It will be a dual boot computer which already has a linux partition which this will format and re-use.
2. The least amount(or none) post install configuration with display settings/drivers, numlock on by default etc.
3. Minimalist on the software, sensible selection, this will largely be a development environment. Would be happy to have to configure Java, Flash, Chrome but still not to have to spend large amounts of time on this.
4. Powersave - Its for a laptop, I don't want it chewing power hungrily. Or reasonable management tools to configure this.
5. Community - I will chose a distro with a better community even if it isn't techncially as good as another.
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.
Edit: I am a little out of touch with linux developments in the last 18 months 2 years.
Crunch would have no reason not to be stable would it. On the distro page it has a warning
CrunchBang Linux is not recommended for anyone needing a stable system or anyone who is not comfortable running into occasional, even frequent breakage. CrunchBang Linux could possibly make your computer go CRUNCH! BANG!
Will have a look, intially I went looking for sidux initially but seems dead, and knoppix after all this time knoppix still has no built in installer seems a shame. Mint comes in debian as well.
sidux is now called aptosid: http://aptosid.com/
about the details of the fork i don't know.
If i understand you correct you search for stability. aptosid is based on Debian-unstable (still very stable...)
I for one would go for Debian. It is there now, and it will be there in the future (as far one can tell). It is stable, it is light on resources, it is easy. It also has a strong focus on free software (some like that, some not), and as far _i know its the only community project (neither by a company nor by a few only).
Distribution: Debian Testing, Stable, Sid and Manjaro, Mageia 3, LMDE
You will need a wired connection. This is Debian and they do not ship any non-free stuff at all.
You need to have firmware-linux installed. Well you have firmware-linux-free but not firmware-linux-nonfree. Firmware-linux is a meta package that hs both as depends. The non-free package is kernel modules that Debian removes from the Linux kernel because they do not meet Debians definition of free.
Just their way. At least you can get them now without too much hassle. Lenny still had none of that kind of thing in repos that had anything to do with Debian directly.
Only one problem, I have downloaded and burnt netinst to cd, when I am going through the configuration settings in the graphical install my wireless network is not detected.
Is there a way to get around this?
Possibly. Go get the non-free firmware, extract the files from it and put these files (along with the original compressed file) on a usb-stick. Then, next time you install, do so with the usb-stick inserted. If things work out right, then Debian will detect that your wireless card needs non-free drivers, and will then scan your usb-stick for these (if the usb-stick is not there, then the Debian Installer will prompt you to provide the non-free drivers via inserting a "removable drive" -- IE, a usb-stick -- best to simply start with it already present).
I recently installed, and I ran into these issues, so I know it can work. This is described at Chapter 6, section 4 of the manual.