Debian on Asus 1225B
For the most part, the Wheezy installer works great. Note that means downloading the latest testing installers (I used Wheezy Beta 4) from debian.org, i.e. netinst-amd64). I followed the easy path of "Guided partitioning" (with encrypted LVM) and a single partition. Everything works great until the first reboot. You can simply "dd" this to a USB stick and boot from that.
dd if=debian-wheezy-DI-b4-amd64-netinst.iso of=/dev/the-correct-sd-device sync
Although it's hard to see, at the "changing console fonts" step very early in the boot sequence, the screen becomes random garbage. The machine is working, SSH proves, but it took a bit to figure out. However, via the AtiHowTo the secret is simply installing firmware-linux-nonfree.
To accomplish this, you need a shell in the installer environment (that's a menu option in "rescue mode", or you can ctrl-alt-F3 or something right before rebooting during the first install). Then, edit /etc/apt/sources.list to include "non-free" (add it after "main" on the first "deb" line) and run:
apt-get update apt-get install linux-firmware-nonfree
Now you should be away to the races, at least insofar as you can boot to a console prompt. The X.org server that comes with Wheezy works fine.
Many things you almost certainly don't want on a laptop are installed by default, like sshd, avahi, printing stuff, etcetera. I no longer recall everything I had to un-install, but generally looking at the output of "netstat -plnt" will give you many hints; you likely don't want any network services listening on public address at a bare minimum.
With most services gone and an SSD installed, the machine boots quickly enough that I'm not really troubled by the lack of suspend/hibernate (see below). The longest part of the boot is typing my passphrase and logging in.
Useful Web Pages
- suspend/resume fix for Ubuntu
- bug report about power-off and suspend/resume
- Make console font bigger
- Turn touchpad off while typing
Things Which Work
Sound, X, multi-touch on the touchpad, USB all work great.
Suspend/resume appears to (now?) work fine in Gnome3 as of December.
Things Which Don't Work
I haven't had any luck getting the card reader to work, although I haven't spent very much time trying. The Broadcom WiFi can't be put into monitor mode and is a little flakey overall (not shocking, but I was told this machine had not-broadcom chips, which is a lie). It can, however, at least associate to an access point nearly all the time. I used NetworkManager for this and it works fine.
"Sometimes" upon boot the keyboard doesn't work at all. I don't know if this is a hardware problem that also affects Windoze, but other people report this on the Interwebs also. This seems to happen about 1 in 10 or so boots (and did so even before I installed the SSD, so it wasn't that I screwed up a connection).
Things Which Might Work...
...but that I haven't bothered with very much.
Webcam. No idea, haven't tried. For bonus points the "off switch" is just a physical cover over the lens, so at least I know it's off :)
Hibernate may or may not work. There are reports of fixes needed in Ubuntu to get even suspend/resume to work properly, but as of Wheezy on December 12, closing the lid and re-opening works as expected.
Powering-off while plugged in causes a complete shutdown + poweroff, but then a second later it turns back on. Without power plugged in, it works as expected. This is a little annoying, but again I haven't bothered looking further (since you simply have to remember to unplug, power off, then plug it in to charge).
Do It Again?
Although it's cheap and "mostly" works fine, I think in the future I would prefer to buy a system from ZaReason or system76 who make nice-looking laptops with linux pre-installed. The former sounds better for debian people, as "debian" is a choice of pre-installed system.