The next step in putting a new hard drive into my laptop is to make a full backup of the /home files. I haven’t done a full-image Clonezilla-style backup in a long, long time, and I do recommend it it you have a spare drive and a lot of spare time. Instead I just back up my user files. I have two working Linux computers right now, and if I need to rebuild one, I can do a reinstall and get my preferred applications set up fairly quickly.
I’m about to put a new hard drive and battery in my main laptop, a 2017 HP Envy 15. Whenever I make a change like this, I like to be ready with backups, Linux install images on USB drives and whatever tools and parts I might need. I’m not as worried about running into problems because I now have a very decent second computer — the 2011 27-inch iMac running Debian Buster — if the laptop isn’t ready right away, I’ll still be able to work.
I’m a hypocrite. I use the Chromium browser packaged by the Debian Linux distribution. I also use Google’s sync service for my bookmarks. By using the open-source (yet Google controlled) Chromium instead of the proprietary Chrome (which is based on Chromium), I fool myself into thinking I’m adhering to some kind of software freedom principles. I don’t want Google “spying” on me, so I don’t use Google Chrome, which could be a black box doing all sorts of horrible things for Google’s benefit.
The debate over whether to include nonfree firmware in the Debian installer has emerged from the depths of the debian-devel mailing list under the title “Making Debian available.” The gist of this extremely long e-mail thread (and Debian is a mailing list culture, despite attempts to pull it into the 21st century is that the Debian Project is hostile to new users because its standard install images do not include nonfree firmware, and installations on most laptops will go poorly because the Linux kernel and free firmware might not support their WiFi or display systems.