Weeble (clockworksaint) wrote,

Needing some Linux advice

It looks like my laptop is in bad shape again. Last time it was upgrading to Ubuntu Jaunty - some video driver or something disagreed with it, resulting in random hanging, and it seems the hanging resulted in file-system corruption, which could be repaired by fsck, but still left me with critical parts of the system not working and no clue how to restore them without reinstalling. I reinstalled Jaunty once and the same thing happened. Then I gave up on Jaunty.

So for the past few months I've been running Ubuntu Intrepid. It worked more or less okay. But the other day I made the mistake of plugging in my mobile phone to try to upload media onto it. Apparently there's a known bug that causes a kernel "oops" when you plug in a USB device which has malformed responses to some message or other. This resulted in a system that hung on shutdown. And now it seems that forcing it to power down has corrupted the file-system. Some time after rebooting, everything stopped working and I discovered a message in the system log that the file-system's journal was aborted and it was remounted read-only. Upon rebooting it tells me that it needs to run fsck to repair stuff. I've still to do that, but I expect that even if it succeeds I'll be back in a situation where important files are missing or corrupt and I'll have to reinstall.

So, kind reader - what should I do? I have a vaguely recent backup of my home folder, and I suspect I can probably salvage most of what's there on the drive right now. But I'm not loving the Ubuntu experience. It seems dreadfully unstable... but are other distros any better? I'm running the 64-bit version, should I consider a 32-bit one?

These are the things I would like from my Linux:

  • Rarely or never suffers total system death as a result of crashes or loss of power.
  • Provides a straightforward way to roll-back upgrades that introduce instability.
  • Runs X-windows.
  • Runs a web browser and Flash applets.
  • Has working sound on my laptop. (It works on Ubuntu, but is much quieter than on Vista, and despite much research I never managed to fix that.)
  • Runs Pidgin or something else that lets me log into Google Talk.
  • Lets me run Python 2.6 and Pygame (which uses SDL for rendering/sound/input).
  • Doesn't force me to grovel through config files for basic configuration.
  • Has a package manager that will fetch upgrades for me automatically.
  • I was using xmonad as a window manager but still using Gnome for the panels like the system tray icons and the basic menus. I'd like to still do something like that, but I don't really care if it's Gnome or something else doing the system tray icons and whatnot.
  • I would really like something that provides something like system restore points in Windows. Even if my home directory is nicely backed up I don't like having to go through a lot of rigmarole to reinstall the OS and then figure out what packages I had before.

Does this suggest any particular distro that would be good for me? Also, I think I've suffered from a laptop that's not particularly Linux-friendly. I have Vista installed in it too, but I haven't booted it for months. The next time I'm buying a laptop, how should I go about getting one that will result in a good Linux experience?

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