I listen to Rdio a lot, and I hooked up an old laptop to my stereo with a FiiO E10 USB digital-to-analog converter (it’s great, and priced low) for maximum home listening pleasure. The laptop is a Lenovo Thinkpad X120e, running Ubuntu. I like Thinkpads (I’m writing this on an X240), and they wear well, but the battery on it is pretty much dead, and I spilled a glass of red wine on the keyboard and Page Down sticks, but still, if you spill wine on an advanced computing device, that’s a small price to pay. It was cheap Argentine malbec, so no major loss there either.
A few days ago I ran the updater. One of the updates was to the kernel, which might have been where the problem arose: the machine wouldn’t boot! It started up, detected the hard drives, the screen flashed … and then instead of the login screen showing up in a few seconds, the screen stayed black. If I booted into recovery mode and then rebooted it would work, but at low graphical resolution, and that’s a stupid fix anyway.
After some fiddling I decided Ubuntu just wouldn’t work on it, so I tried to install Debian. The Thinkpad requires a non-free driver for the wifi to work, so I installed with the thing plugged into my router with a cable, got it going, made sure it would reboot properly, added the
firmware-realtek package … and it just wouldn’t see the wifi device. After more fiddling I decided Debian wasn’t the thing either.
Next I tried Linux Mint, is based on Debian and Ubuntu, and (philosophically troublingly, but installationally pleasingly) includes non-free wifi drivers, so it all worked pretty much out of the box. (Debian’s great on servers, but Ubuntu and Mint have made installing on a personal machine much, much easier.) All I’ll ever do on it is use Firefox or ssh in from the other side of the room, so I don’t care what it looks like. I got the sound configured to use the FiiO E10, and all is well. I logged into Rdio to find Iron Maiden have released “Speed of Light,” a song from Book of Souls, which comes out next month, so I cranked that up and got back to work. Up the Irons!