[solved] Stretch: less hardware support than Jessie?

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[solved] Stretch: less hardware support than Jessie?

Postby Onsemeliot » 2017-07-02 16:01

I just installed Debian Stretch (32 bit) on my old Acer Extensa 5220. This has been my Debian stable working machine for 8 to 9 years (starting with Etch) and I was always very happy with its performance and behaviour using Debian.

Unfortunately installing Stretch has been much less smooth than anticipated:
  1. The installer didn't allow me to use English (UK) language with German (Austria) localisation. And even the installed OS refuses to offer me other languages through the standard GUI interface.
  2. I use a Atheros WLAN card which did work out of the box in Jessie. I don't get what went wrong in Stretch since it just doesn't accept my WLAN login.
  3. During installation the mouse pointer was jumping around like crazy when I used my touchpad. Therefore I mostly relied on my keyboard.
  4. I've installed my system the third time now and so far I never could manage to actually get my root password working even if it was accepted during installation.
  5. When I chose system encryption I didn't get any option to opt out from writing random data to my disk. I didn't need this and it slowed me down considerably.
  6. Overall performance is much slower.
  7. The GRUB background image is distorted (obviously designed for 4:3 stretched to 16:10).

I did expect the driver situation with the same old hardware would get better instead of worse. As far as I can tell Gnome has gotten better but I'm not sure if I will be able to get everything working like it used to. Especially the WLAN issue gives me to think.

The touchscreen on an other more recent machine did also have issues in Stretch I did not encounter in Jessie. In the end I managed to get the touchpad working satisfactory but I needed to adapt configuration files where nothing like that was necessary with Jessie.

So far I have the impression the quality testing is far from being as reliable as it used to be. What are your experiences?
Last edited by Onsemeliot on 2017-07-05 08:13, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Stretch: less hardware support than Jessie?

Postby pylkko » 2017-07-03 06:58

I have installed Debian 9.0 on an Acer Extensa 5630 (not the same but almost identical) and it does allow me to change the language, the atheros card works, mouse pointer issue may be related to the fact that gnome changed to libinput since Jessie, but that can be either changed to the old synaptics driver or configured to be less jumpy. Numerous professionally done benchmarks indicate that Stretch is significantly more performant that Jessie. If the Grub image is not correct in resolution why not adjust it as suggested in grub manual? and ultimately, if Jessie works perfectly and stretch does not, then one has to wonder why you are not using Jessie? :roll:

So far I have the impression the quality testing is far from being as reliable as it used to be


This might be true, but that is probably your fault, since I am guessing that you did not participate.
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Re: Stretch: less hardware support than Jessie?

Postby ruffwoof » 2017-07-03 10:07

I'm way more of a neub than you having only adopted Jessie for around a year or so. My take is that if you want stability as in rock-solid then the latest Debian 'Stable' should be considered as a test version and instead you should opt for Old-Stable i.e. currently Jessie.

Stable in Debian terms means unchanging ... not solid. Excepting when Stable is in it second year or so. For solid stability Old Stable is the choice ... still receives security updates, has been widely tested to the extreme (including a couple of years in live/release).

With such Old-Stable stability however comes running old (tried and tested) programs ... and potentially not supporting the latest hardware.

Looking back I adopted Jessie at around the right time, a year or so into release/Stable and hardware permitting have opted to stay with that until Stretch enters Old-Stable before upgrading to that, or perhaps a year or so earlier.
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Re: Stretch: less hardware support than Jessie?

Postby Onsemeliot » 2017-07-03 14:16

Don't get me wrong! I know I can not demand anything. I am just not used to a Debian stable release that challenges me with such issues.

pylkko wrote:Debian 9.0 on an Acer Extensa 5630 ... it does allow me to change the language, the atheros card works


I ony get localisation options limited by the chosen language. I can not freely select all languages for all localisations any more. Since Austria is associated with German I can not set up a English system with German localisation.
The WLAN card seems to work in principle, but the authentification doesn't work. Since the most pressing problem is the impossibility to use the root account I do not have many options to deal with the issue anyway.

pylkko wrote:libinput ..., but that can be either changed to the old synaptics driver.


Probably all issues can be resolved given enough time and knowledge. I am just not used having to deal with things like that with a Debian stable release.

pylkko wrote:if Jessie works perfectly and stretch does not, then one has to wonder why you are not using Jessie? :roll:


Because I wanted to use more recent stable versions of the software I use. And I never before had such issues with a Debian stable release. Therefore, I wasn't prepared to run into such trouble. But you are right, I might have to switch back to Jessie.

pylkko wrote:I am guessing that you did not participate.


True. But it wouldn't work to participate in testing when I just want to use a stable system. Especially because I am not knowledable enough to deal with most glitches in a satisfying way. Not everyone can participate in the same way.

ruffwoof wrote:Stable in Debian terms means unchanging ... not solid. For solid stability Old Stable is the choice ...


Well, until Stretch stable was good enough for me. This might have changed. Which seems odd to me since newer releases should in principle have less problems with the same old hardware.
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Re: Stretch: less hardware support than Jessie?

Postby pylkko » 2017-07-04 07:18

There was a post on this forum just some time ago where some one solved the localization problem you mention. If you have auth problems for wifi, that most probably does not relate to the kernel modules (drivers)/OS but to some misconfiguration in the network settings.

When you install the system, you can choose to close the root account or not.

I think you overestimate the niceness of having more recent software. Most software changes have next to zero real life relevance to desktop users. Even so, all stretch packages can be backported to jessie and many have already been.

You make an assumption that is simply not justified. You say: "I did expect the driver situation with the same old hardware would get better instead of worse". It doesn't work like that. Often times hardware works best with the kernel/os released at the time the hardware came out. Later versions will have regressions and design features that are not optimal for the hardware simply because other hardware are now more used.

Furthermore, you claim that you don't have the skills neessary to help in the "quality checking" that you complain about. This is simply wrong. Any one with any skills can test programs - in fact just as you have now - and help even if they do not know how to create software/program.

notice that there were some problems with the original installer that were later fixed
https://lists.debian.org/debian-cd/2017 ... 00039.html
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Re: Stretch: less hardware support than Jessie?

Postby Onsemeliot » 2017-07-04 09:35

pylkko wrote:If you have auth problems for wifi, that most probably does not relate to the kernel modules (drivers)/OS but to some misconfiguration in the network settings.

Even if I experiance the same issue with the root athentification? Then this would be just coincidence. And what about the other systems where I do have the same issues with at least the wifi authentification. I suspect it is different there because those systems employ sudo instead of the root account.

pylkko wrote:When you install the system, you can choose to close the root account or not.

Sorry, I don't get what "close" would mean in this context.

pylkko wrote:I think you overestimate the niceness of having more recent software.

At the moment I went for Trisquel 7 to serve my most pressing needs to have a system that I could at least in principle use for my everyday work until I figured out what I need to do with Debian in order to get all working as intended. But there I encountered that the included version of the Evolution mail client (3.10.4) has issues with Gmail and an other mail account I use because it "Could not connect to 'imap.gmail.com:993': Peer reports incompatible or unsupported protocol version." The most recent version would be 3.24.3. The version 3.12.9 included in Jessie obivously didn't have the same issue, but maybe it doesn't have anything to do with the version after all. This is just the first clue the Gmail documentation gives when encountering this error.

pylkko wrote:Any one with any skills can test programs - in fact just as you have now - and help even if they do not know how to create software/program.

I'm aware that even I can report back if I encounter problems. But putting myself in a situation where I have to expect to encounter complicated situations when I actually need to do urgent work wouldn't be very sensible. Of course I try to give useful feedback if I do encounter problems but as mentioned earlier I am not skilled enough to constantly deal with an unstable system.

pylkko wrote:notice that there were some problems with the original installer

It doesn't seem to be related to what I have issues with since on my system the selection seem to work properly. I only miss the freedom to choose what ever language/localisation-combination I want.

But the clouds seem to lighten slowly: I can connect to at least one other protected wifi network. Therefore, I have to correct myself: Not all new Debian/Lubuntu/Trisquel versions seem to be the problem, but an incompatibility of those new versions with the way my router seems to handle authentication. Maybe these new systems need some other configuration. I will try to find out what to change. The yesterdays update of my router firmware didn't help. ... I reset the router and rebooted it. Afterwards I was suddenly able to connect with Trisquel. Unfortunately I do have still issues with Lubuntu, but I might switch to something else on this little notebook again.

Only the failing root password recognition remains a mystery. Therefore I have looked up how to reset the root password and will try to install Stretch again in order to attempt a repair of the authentication glitch after installation.
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Re: Stretch: less hardware support than Jessie?

Postby pylkko » 2017-07-04 17:07

Onsemeliot wrote:Even if I experiance the same issue with the root athentification? Then this would be just coincidence. And what about the other systems where I do have the same issues with at least the wifi authentification. I suspect it is different there because those systems employ sudo instead of the root account.
Like I said, the first thing you should do is read the logs. If you don't, then the best you can do is guess.
Sorry, I don't get what "close" would mean in this context.
if you don't want to read the handbook/manual, then maybe look at the wiki:
https://wiki.debian.org/Root wrote:At installation time, you are asked whether you want to use the root account or not.

I'm aware that even I can report back if I encounter problems. But putting myself in a situation where I have to expect to encounter complicated situations when I actually need to do urgent work wouldn't be very sensible. Of course I try to give useful feedback if I do encounter problems but as mentioned erlier I am not skilled enough to constantly deal with an unstable system.
There are also enterprise OS's where you can get support. But if you choose Debian, there is no support like that.
It doesn't seem to be related to what I have issues with since on my system the selection seem to work properly. I only miss the freedom to choose what ever language/localisation-combination I want.
I know, I offered that because you don't provide any info/logs/data about the situation and are not capable of describing it in enough detail for anyone to really know what our issue is, or if there even is one.

When there are issues with wireless kernel side stuff it usually manifests itself with the chip not being recognized by the kernel or the chip dropping connections etc. If you cannot connect to any wpa2 network then the prime suspect in that situation has to be network conf. If you can connect to some networks but not others, then again, the most likely candidate is that there is some conf that is suboptimal. If your jessie system can connect without issue on the same hardware, then you can of course compare the versions of the packages you need to connect to wifi with the packages in stretch. It is likely that some are exactly the same, whereas others are not.
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Re: Stretch: less hardware support than Jessie?

Postby Onsemeliot » 2017-07-04 19:22

pylkko wrote:because you don't provide any info/logs/data about the situation and are not capable of describing it in enough detail for anyone to really know what our issue is, or if there even is one.

Well, I get that this must be frustrating for you and I appreciate that you nevertheless kept patient enough to come back to my thread. Unfortunately I had already installed Trisquel when I started the discussion here. Therefore I didn't have any log output to offer. I did not expect to be the only one with the described issues and wanted to find out if others had similar problems and what they did about it.

Concerning manuals: I try to read manuals when I understand which manual is relevant. But since most of them are rather technical and do go into very deep detail in my experience it's often a rather daunting tabbing in the dark. In my experience manuals are great if I want to look up something I only vaguely remember. But if I want to get the hang of something totally unfamiliar they I often get lost.

I finally got the wifi working on my new Stretch installation (after the firmware update yesterday and an additional reset and reboot today). I suspect older GNU/Linux systems do still accept some discarded details which newer systems refuse. So this in fact hasn't been a Debian issue after all.

And just a moment ago I was able to repair the broken root authentication by booting my new system with a bash command line and setting a new root password. I will try to give feedback on this in more detail to the Debian development team as I actually do have the impression there went something wrong during installation. Maybe it has something to do with me using the German keyboard and possibly even in combination with the whole disc encryption and LVM. I suspect this combination might not have got a lot of testing. (The obviously more general than expected bug #866206 has been filed already.)

The next thing I need to care for is my language/localisation combination. At the moment I have German with German (Austria) localisation. I want to keep the localisation (because of my keyboard and the other regional details like Euro sign and comma or points in numbers) but I would like to switch to English (UK) language. Unfortunately I so far didn't find an option to get this. From what I have found so far on my web search I have the impression that there is no single configuration file where I could set the desired combination properly since the configuration seems to be spread out over different places. But maybe I did get that wrong. I expect I will get the hang of it soon.
Last edited by Onsemeliot on 2017-07-08 08:10, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Stretch: less hardware support than Jessie?

Postby pylkko » 2017-07-05 05:33

Yes. Good to hear that things are working better now. If you want to read a good manual, I suggest the Debian administrators handbook (available online). It is very far from being technical. Search this forum for the thread where the localisation problem was discussed. If you cannot find it, then say so, and I can try to search for it.

In the future, when you have questions, and it will happen again, it is not common that other people have the same issues. Therefore it is good practice and also a bit more polite/considerate of others to learn how to produce some concrete error messages from the logs. You can read about these in the handbook, most of them are present in all Linux distributions.
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Re: Stretch: less hardware support than Jessie?

Postby Onsemeliot » 2017-07-05 08:12

pylkko wrote:I suggest the Debian administrators handbook

Thank you for the pointer to the Debian administrators handbook. I will check it out.
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Re: Stretch: less hardware support than Jessie?

Postby pylkko » 2017-07-10 18:19

Onsemeliot wrote:
pylkko wrote:I suggest the Debian administrators handbook

Thank you for the pointer to the Debian administrators handbook. I will check it out.


I guess this was the thread I was thinking about considering the locale and keyboard. Although it was for Jessie.

viewtopic.php?f=10&t=131126&hilit=+locale
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Re: Stretch: less hardware support than Jessie?

Postby ruffwoof » 2017-07-10 20:14

Onsemeliot wrote:The next thing I need to care for is my language/localisation combination. At the moment I have German with German (Austria) localisation. I want to keep the localisation (because of my keyboard and the other regional details like Euro sign and comma or points in numbers) but I would like to switch to English (UK) language.

IIRC in Xfce there is a panel applet where you can have different countries/flags in the panel and sequence between those or use the drop-down to directly jump from one to another. Something like xfce4-xkb-plugin ... that does all of the locale/keyboard switches with a single click. Maybe there might be a similar offering in Gnome.
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Re: Stretch: less hardware support than Jessie?

Postby Onsemeliot » 2017-07-11 06:31

ruffwoof wrote:Something like xfce4-xkb-plugin ... that does all of the locale/keyboard switches with a single click. Maybe there might be a similar offering in Gnome.

Good to know that xfce has such a versatile GUI.
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