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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
Wed, 23 Oct 2013

After six or so months with Fedora, I'm looking for something new

These things happen in predictable patterns. Due to hardware issues I land in Fedora, and after six months it's time for something else.

Not that Fedora 18 and now 19 haven't been great, because they have.

But I'm wary of my AMD APU-based HP laptop's trouble with suspend/resume and 3D acceleration. I had both working for a very short time during the AMD Catalyst 13.6 beta's brief run.

But before that I had neither, and now I have decent 3D with AMD Catalyst but seemingly no hope of working suspend/resume with this AMD A4-4300M APU and its AMD Radeon HD 7420G graphics.

And I'm getting tired of new kernels coming into Fedora, some with Catalyst support, some without. And it's past time that this AMD GPU (I think it's the Trinity family) get better support from the kernel and the free and proprietary drivers.

What I'm saying is that if the hardware support I need is not going to come soon, I'd like something more stable while I'm waiting.

So I started auditioning new Linux distributions yesterday.

And when Debian 7.1 and 7.2 Live DVDs both allowed me to successfully suspend/resume my HP Pavilion g6-2210us laptop, I was firmly pulled back into the Debian camp. To my "home" distro.

But I still need to see if I can get working 3D accelerated graphics -- probably with AMD's proprietary Catalyst/fglrx driver -- in a Debian-based distribution. And I also need to continually test the free Radeon/AMD driver for both suspend/resume and 3D.

And what's different this time is that I'm not requiring a working dual-boot with Windows 8 (though I think I can swing it nonetheless, given that I know a whole lot more about how my HP's UEFI/EFI/Legacy BIOS works with both Windows and Linux).

So here's what I'm looking to try:

Debian-based distros

  • Debian Wheezy
  • Debian Jessie (aka Testing)
  • Debian Sid (aka Unstable) Crunchbang Waldorf (based on Debian Wheezy)
  • Siduction Xfce and GNOME (based on Debian Sid)
  • Aptosid Xfce and GNOME (based on Debian Sid)

And while I haven't had suspend/resume success in the live environments of Fedora 20 (currently in Alpha) and Xubuntu 13.10, I'm still going to try:

  • Ubuntu 13.10
  • Ubuntu 12.04

At this point I'm wondering if the 3.2.x kernel in Debian just might be what's behind the successful suspend/resume of this particular laptop.

My choice is looking very split-the-baby at this point. If I can't get both suspend/resume and 3D acceleration, which of those two do I want more? Right now I have 3D but no suspend/resume, and I'm thinking that if it has to be one or the other, that suspend/resume will win.

So I'm busy gathering ISOs right now. Soon the testing will begin.