Exploring Linux OS: Debian 10.4.0 Buster, KDE desktop. First part of my exploration.

  • Hardware: Lenovo ThinkPad T430s; CPU 2.60 GHz Dual core, RAM 8 GB and SSD 250 GB. 14 inch screen with 1366x768 resolution.

After my installation of Ubuntu Studio a few days ago, I headed on to add Debian about a week ago. So, beside Microsoft Windows 10 Pro, I now have three Linux Operating Systems on same machine. Welcome to read also my first parts of my exploration of elementary and Ubuntu Studio respectively. 

Debian is a Linux operting system that is not based on any other Linux distribution, it is an origin. But many other are based on Debian; like elementary is based on Ubuntu which is based on Debian, and Ubuntu Studio is a flavor of Ubuntu which is based on Debian. Also my "Linux home" Mint is based on Ubunto, which is based on Debian. 

Debian is conservative (=stable) and orthodox (free open software and in official version without non-free software nor firmware). More about non-free firmware later on. 

Debian has different methods to install, including a package where you install more than 59 000 packages from start. Debian is also available with several different desktops. 

I decided to use my more or less normal routine via a Live-USB-stick and install from there. Debian web site(s) is so big and complex, so much information but also sometimes difficult to find what I am looking for. Well, I found the page with download of the "ISO-file", verified it with SHASUM 256 and flashed it onto a USB stick - same basic process as I normally use and used for elementary and Ubuntu Studio. 

After starting the Live version of Debian I went over very soon to install it on the drive with e.g. those steps: 

Calamares installer for Debian 10 (Buster): I selected Swedish, time zone etc. Then install alongside existing OS - decreasing elementary partition. I was not connected to internet during installation, actually no question about wireless during installation nor when starting the Live version. 

Installation went well, and the GRUB menu was updated accordingly as expected with my four operating systems, with Debian on top. 


When I started, it was not possible to connect to WiFi. I suspected firmware for WireLess card, in my laptop an Intel Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 AGN.

I had installed the "official" version of Debian. There is also a "For convenience for some users, this unofficial alternative build includes non-free firmware for extra support for some awkward hardware." Which might had been better to install.

I read on Debian pages and other pages, tried and tested, without success. I will not list all my detours.

The terminal command sudo dmesg helped me to confirm my suspicion about firmware. The command dmesg display all messages from kernel buffer and helped me to the exact name of the missing firmware for wireless connection and returned among else: 

firmware: failed to load iwlwifi-6000-4.ucode (-2)
See https://wiki.debian.org/Firmware for information about missing firmware
iwlwifi.6000-4 is required

By a search in packages.debian.org I found the name of the package where this firmware is included. I connected my laptop to wired ethernet (yes, my laptop has a wired connection!). In the Software central and update manager, after changing settings to also includ non-free software, I found the package and installed it. Restart, and voilá, my wireless connection works! 

So, my problem was only that my laptop needs a non-free firmware. I have heard about that Debian is very focused on free software, and in hindsight I might have avoided this if I had started with the unofficial package. 

For my installation I selected KDE desktop. One reason is that I have not tried KDE earlier as I recall, and secondly that Ubuntu Studio plans to switch to KDE in next release and I was curious to look at it now. 

The installation via Live-USB includes many softwares needed for daily use of the laptop. Far from all 59 000 packages, but what appears as a good standard start. 

I will enjoy have a look at Debian more closly, this distribution that should be very stable and work well. But I plan to add Linux Mint on this machine first. With those four Linux operating systems on the machine, I think I have what I need for exploration for a period of time. 

Henrik Hemrin

5 June 2020


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