Goodbye Fedora, welcome back Debian, Part 2: Review of Debian Squeeze

Users of Linux can save themselves a lot of time, trouble, heartache and pain by taking the path of least resistance and using a distribution that works with their hardware out of the box.

That’s been increasingly difficult for my relatively new Lenovo G555 laptop (AMD Athlon II dual-core 2.1 GHz, ATI Mobility Radeon 4200 HD graphics and Conexant 5069 sound). Starting with many recent releases (Fedora 13 with 2.6.34, Fedora 14, Ubuntu 10.10, Salix 13.1), roughly coinciding with the advent of kernel mode setting for ATI (or so I’ve been led to believe), the open-source ati/radeon graphics driver has pretty much stopped working.

Oh, it “works,” but the screen is blurry, wavy, full of noise. I had been reluctantly substituting ATI/AMD’s closed-source fglrx/Catalyst driver in Fedora, which at times was slow (especially when not built against the running kernel) but never as fast as its open-source predecessor. Starting with Fedora 14 the fglrx driver stopped working entirely and pretty much bricked the system.

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