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moving from Acer TravelMate to HP Probook, using Debian

I have been using an Acer TravelMate 6592 laptop for close to 3 years (ever since I got my coding job). It had some issues:

  • it's damn ugly, though not as much as Lenovo ones
  • it requires Intel non-free firmware for its Wi-Fi chipset
  • it frequently refused to make the LAN accessible from Linux on boot; this was likely a BIOS issue
  • the battery capacity was below 50% so it didn't last
  • the hard drive was developing bad sectors

Other than that, it truly was an excellent laptop, and I never complained about its performance, ever since I added a 2GB RAM stick, to make it a total of 4GB (except that I wished my HDD was faster, tempting me to buy an SSD). What else I really liked about it is the feature-packed touchpad: Beyond the normal two-finger and side-scrolling, it also had up-down-left-right buttons which allowed constant-speed scrolling. It's interesting that such a touchpad is very rare.

I now got an HP Probook 4530s and its pros:

  • it's stunning
  • it's got a real fast hard drive; there were times when I saw speeds upwards to 70MB/s, which I never saw with the older laptop
  • its Wi-Fi doesn't require non-free software
  • it's far more modern (USB3 support) and supposedly faster (Core i5-2410M vs. Core 2 Duo T7500), but my typical workload made even the TravelMate more than adequate

And the cons:

  • a less featureful touchpad
  • keyboard keys placed in weird locations (e.g. pg up and pg dn buttons are placed far away, at the top-right corner; I blame the (needless for me) numeric keypad
  • the screen resolution is on the low side and so is the screen size; the older laptop is much bigger even if they are both labeled 15.4"

...and Debian:

Quite a few times, I tend to want to stick to a stable release of Debian. Following Debian development does take time (frequent updates, curiosity to see what changed, and something getting broken here and there). So I tried to do the same here. Sadly, some of the software in Squeeze is too outdated to be optimal, so am glad to have teams like Debian Backports folk. But that wasn't enough, so I ended up installing Xorg components from Debian Unstable (Suspend doesn't work well with Squeeze (Debian 6) and backports doesn't have a newer X version.

Let's see how long I last trying to keep pure by running as little from outside Squeeze as possible.


This didn't even last for 1 day. I was having issues with my X hanging the entire OS, forcing me to do a hard-reboot. This happened when I was watching a video using VLC, so I blamed it and installed the version from Debian Unstable. Sadly, doing things that way resulted in a VLC that refused to die normally, forcing me to do kill -9 vlc. I then just screwed my plans and upgraded fully to Unstable, and now VLC quits gracefully. Let's see if I'll have the X lockup again.

update 2:

Well, I still experience machine lock-ups, the bad ones forcing a hard-reboot. This might be related to Wi-Fi because I used the system for quite a while using the wired link, without any such lock-up.

update 3:

No more lock-ups, except very rarely. I run a mix of Testing and Unstable at the moment, but my "/etc/sources.list" file points solely at my custom repository and Testing, for it just is tiring to keep tracking Unstable... way too much bandwidth.