MacOS X is shiny, elegant and all, but it is excruciatingly slow on the iBook. Dog slow. Slow as molasses. It is barely usable. I think the culprit is the lack of RAM (it is only 256 MB). I know I should upgrade, but I am loath to spend money right now.

So I decided to install Debian Etch on this iBook.

What, another Linux?

Well, perhaps I will switch again to MacOS X after upgrading memory. Later. Right now I want an usable laptop. “Usable” and “Linux” sounds like oxymoron, but I am quite comfortable with Linux than with Mac OS X. Besides, I am curious about using Linux on other platform than x86.

I downloaded the network installer, burned it on a CD. I copied some data I already accumulated in the laptop to a flash disk. Then I begin the net install.

It was surprisingly easy. The iBook booted from the installer disc without problems. I let the installer wiped out the Mac OS X installation and put a minimal Debian system. I edited sources.list to use the University of Indonesia Debian mirror, then I installed a minimal KDE system by typing aptitude install kde-core.

The problems: hotkeys were not recognised, and the wi-fi was not working. The first was easy to solve, just install pbbutton package. The latter is rather difficult. Apple use Broadcom chipset for the Airport Express card. The driver is included in 2.6.18 kernel, but the firmware is not distributed. After some googling found the solution is to install the bcm4xx-fwcutter package. I did just that but it failed to download the firmware, so I have to install the firmware manually.

Unfortunately, KNetworkManager seems unable to detect the access point at work. Back to the command line. I run iwlist command which detected one of the office’s access points. But it cannot associate with the Broadcom chipset.

Another difficulty is right clicking. In Mac OS X I can emulate it with Ctrl + click, but it doesn’t work in Linux.