Installing Debian Sarge onto a Dell Inspiron 8100

A while ago I reported that I had experienced a hard drive failure on my laptop which necessitated purchasing a new one and re-installing the operating system (Debian). I had been hearing some very good things about the new Debian Installer and so gave it a whirl.

The reputation is well deserved as the new installer is excellent: easy to use, yet with plenty of “expert” options when I needed them — for example both 2.4 and 2.6 kernels were offered as options. I was also impressed as the install was considerably smoother than my previous one. There are still issues with the PCMCIA detection on my Dell, and I had to disable apic and lapic probing to prevent the machine hanging while it was unpacking files. The command I booted with was:
expert26 acpi=off noapic nolapic
although in hindsight the acpi=off was probably unnecessary as ACPI worked fine “out of the box” when I subsequently rebooted.

One problem that I did encounter was that by default both the OSS and ALSA sound drivers were loaded, which prevented me from hearing anything properly. I’m not sure what the correct solution to this problem is, but a fairly simple hack was to add the line:
alias maestro3 snd-maestro3
to /etc/modprobe.d/sound. I also needed to delete the file /etc/modprobe.conf as, if it exists, it takes precedence over the modprobe.d directory.