I successfully installed Debian 10.4 on the Dell Mini 9 (Inspiron 910).
Facing discontinuation of support for 32-bit x86 systems after Lubuntu 18.04 LTS, I was pressured to find another GNU/Linux distribution. I wanted to avoid future transitions and found several pages on the Internet suggesting that Debian is known for long term support of many architectures.
I tried the Debian 10.4 LXQt (non-free) LiveCD, debian-live-10.4.0-i386-lxqt+nonfree.iso, before continuing with installation.
The wired network card has no issues, but the wireless network card does. I encountered the following errors when booting the LiveCD:
[26.504] b43-phy0: Broadcom 4312 WLAN found (core revision 15) [26.562] b43-phy0: Found PHY: Analog 6, Type 5 (LP), Revision 1 [26.562] b43-phy0: Found Radio: Manuf 0x17F, ID 0x2062, Revision 2, Version 0 [26.576] Broadcom 43xx driver loaded [ Features: PNLS ] [26.624] b43 ssb0:0: firmware: failed to load b43/ucode15.fw (-2) [26.624] b43 ssb0:0: Direct firmware load for b43/ucode15.fw failed with error -2
Before migrating from Lubuntu 18.04 LTS to Debian 10.4, I created an archive of the /usr/lib/firmware/b43 files from my Lubuntu installation for copying onto the new Debian installation.
I avoided having to enable the non-free repository and installing additional packages by simply copying the b43 files after installation. Rebooting after copying the files allows for the firmware to be loaded:
[24.419] b43-phy0: Broadcom 4312 WLAN found (core revision 15) [24.475] b43-phy0: Found PHY: Analog 6, Type 5 (LP), Revision 1 [24.475] b43-phy0: Found Radio: Manuf 0x17F, ID 0x2062, Revision 2, Version 0 [24.496] Broadcom 43xx driver loaded [ Features: PNLS ] [24.540] b43 ssb0:0: firmware: direct-loading firmware b43/ucode15.fw [24.541] b43 ssb0:0: firmware: direct-loading firmware b43/lp0initvals15.fw [24.544] b43 ssb0:0: firmware: direct-loading firmware b43/lp0bsinitvals15.fw [24.630] ieee80211 phy0: Selected rate control algorithm 'minstrel_ht'
connman is used to manage the wireless network card. Graphical user interface front-ends to
connman were finicky. I proceeded with using
My Dell Mini 9 is usually an isolated computer. I disabled the connman service so that it does not connect to the wireless network automatically during boot:
$ sudo systemctl disable connman
When I update the software, I start the
connman service for temporary connectivity to the wireless network with the following command:
$ sudo systemctl start connman
All features of my Dell Mini 9 are now functioning without any issues.