From rick Wed Nov 27 02:26:44 2002
Date: Wed, 27 Nov 2002 02:26:44 -0800
Subject: Re: [TAG] Re: Linux user
Quoting Heather Stern (email@example.com):
>> Since laptops tend to have lots of proprietary
hardware, choosing a
>> distro with good hardware detection is a plus. Mandrake, SuSE and
>> Red Hat all claim to have good hardware detection. (That's something
>> that's lacking in Debian, although Libranet, a Debian-based
>> distribution, claims to do well at it.)
> Knoppix has *excellent* hardware detection - it's a live-on-CD distro,
> but is Debian based.
Knoppix is also a superb way to painlessly get onto Debian itself, if you're on the i386-family architecture. So is Libranet, and so is [obsolescent installers snipped a/o Jan. 2005 revision of this page. For currently recommended options, please see http://linuxmafia.com/faq/Debian/installers.html. -- RM]
(Many people assume all distributions are synonymous with some particular CD set or installer. The assumption isn't applicable to Debian, whose essential feature is an enforced distribution policy, maintenence regime, and organisational scheme. Thus, you can take your pick of Debian-compatible installers, and you'll still end up with Debian over the long haul.)
If you've installed Debian using one of the plain-vanilla install images or floppy sets from the Debian Project or one of the many third-party ones, you can retrofit however much "hardware detection" you want by apt-getting these standard Debian packages:
Hardware identification system (thank you, Progeny Systems, Inc.), for various PCI, PCMCIA, and USB devices. Will improve XFree86 hardware probing.
- kudzu, kudzu-vesa:
Hardware-probing tool (thank you, Red Hat Software, Inc.) intended to be run at boot time. Requires hwdata package. kudzu-vesa is the VBE/DDC stuff for autodetecting monitor characteristics.
Mouse device autodetection tool. If present, it will be used to aid XFree86 configuration tools.
Hardware information-gathering tool for VESA PnP monitors. If present, it will be used to aid XFree86 configuration tools.
Sound configuration (thank you, Red Hat Software, Inc.), using isapnp detection. Requires kernel with OSS sound modules. Uses kudzu, aumix, and sox.
USB/PCI device hotplugging support, and network autoconfig.
Diagnostic and setup tools for many non-PCI ethernet cards
Diagnostic and setup tools for many PCI ethernet cards.
"A little tool to manipulate network cards" (examines and sets the MII registers of network cards).
Autodetection of printers and PPD support, via an enhanced version of Red Hat Software's Tk-based printtool. Requires the pconf-detect command-line utility for detecting parallel-port, USB, and network-connected printers (which can be installed separately as package pconf-detect).
Personally, I appreciate the fact that the plain-vanilla installers for Debian omit most hardware autoprobing. I've seen far too many Linux distributions' installers (**cough** Mandrake **cough**) choke up and freeze hard on funky hardware that doesn't like being poked at. The above a la carte approach to hardware-recognition software strikes me as much, much to be preferred.
 Recent Knoppix CDs have included a beta-ish script you can optionally run to install the distribution to your hard drive. Without running that script, Knoppix remains the superb live-on-CD distribution referred to earlier. Either way, it's a knockout achievement.