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Debian testing (Etch) on HP zd8000.

The machine is a Pentium 4 at 3Gh
512 MB Ram
80 GB hard drive formatted NTFS.
17 inch screen (1440 x 900 at 60 Hz under Win XP)
4 x USB ports
Firewire port (not tested)
On board Conexant HSF modem (AC97 Type, does not work)
On board wireless connection (not tested)
Supplied OS: Windows XP Pro SP2 installed (install discs were supplied). MS works was also ‚ÄĆinstalled.

I chose Debian testing (Etch) because I run Debian stable (Sarge) on my desktop box and it is trouble free.  The GUI package management (Synaptic) just works.  I figured that the later version would be more likely to recognise the hardware in the laptop.
Instructions for the install are available from debian.org
The install was done in the first week of November 2006.

The first step was to shrink the NTFS partition to make room for Etch.

After defragging the hard drive using the Windows tool I displayed the state of the partition on the analyse screen available in defrag.  Then I used a measuring tape to estimate the space at the end of the partition not shown as occupied by any file.  The estimate came to about 50 GB so I gave Windows an extra 5 GB.  There was a goodly amount of unoccupied hard disc real estate in between the Windows files as well.  This meant I could aim at 35 GB for Windows and 45 GB for whatever I chose which was Debian testing (Etch).
Using a knoppix 5.0.1 DVD I used QTParted to shrink the existing partition to 35 GB.  No problems, just carefully follow the prompts. Windows booted and a number of programs started and ran without a problem.
I downloaded the Debian testing netinstall iso on another computer and burnt it to disc.

My ISP uses DHCP and I plugged the network cable in on one side of the computer and loaded the netinstall CD into the other and booted away.  I generally went with the default selections except for partitioning where I manually set up separate partitions /, swap, /home, /boot and /var.  At package selection I went with laptop and workstation (I think it was workstation; I really must keep better notes).   It then started downloading packages and a message said it would take hours so I went to bed.  (My broadband isn't very broad)
Some hours later I woke up and sleepily went back to see what was happening.  There were a couple of things to click on and I went with what seemed reasonable to a sleepy head and then rebooted into my new OS.

It was all there.
The touchpad worked just the same as in Windows except I think the response in Debian suits me better than in XP.
The screen resolution was the desired 1440 x 900 at 60 Hz.
The wired network worked perfectly and I found about 70 program updates to download which came down without a hitch.
I slid a music CD into the slot and it played.
I used Synaptic to download and install Kaffeine and slid a movie DVD into the drive and Kaffeine played that.
The wireless network card shows up in ifconfig -a and I assume it will work but I don't have anything to network with.
The USB ports recognise thumb drives and an external 40GB disk.
Grub was there and properly set up to boot either Debian or Windows.
The onboard modem is a Conexant HSF thing which doesn't work and I expect I will have to learn about compiling a kernel to suit, which is a pain.

It was all pretty hassle free.  The Debian people have done a really good job.  They can't be blamed for not being able to access "pay for" proprietry drivers for the modem.  I am definitely not a Linux guru being completely self taught so I probably can't answer any questions not already covered by the Debian docs.




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