Linked by Clinton De Young on Sun 27th Oct 2002 18:15 UTC
Debian and its clones After reading many of the posts regarding the recent OSNews story, "An Unbiased Review of Debian 3.0", I thought this article may be useful to those who would like to try Debian, but are a little intimidated by its installer. Several of the posts to the above mentioned story indicated that Debian's installer was a huge hurtle for many people, who would otherwise like to try it. I have found Debian to be the most useful flavor of Linux, so I wanted to write an easy, though somewhat long, walkthrough in the hopes of allowing a wider audience to experience first hand this stable and unique Linux distribution.
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Another point that might help
by goneaway on Sun 27th Oct 2002 19:03 UTC

at least during X configuration: dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xfree86 will take you back through the entire configuation routine. I think people who have some idea what they're doing are accustomed to Xconfigurator and might get hung up on this point.

X bloatness...
by ealm on Sun 27th Oct 2002 19:18 UTC

If you don't want 'lbxproxy, proxymngr, twm, xdm, xfs, xfwp, xnest, xprt, xspecs, xterm and xvfb', I can recommend installing 'x-window-system-core' instead of 'x-window-system'. If you don't know what these apps do you probably don't want them ;)

Re:X bloatness
by Jeremy on Sun 27th Oct 2002 19:45 UTC

what will the impact of this be?

I am sure most folks will want xdm.

X
by Darius on Sun 27th Oct 2002 19:51 UTC

"If you don't know what these apps do you probably don't want them"

How can we find out what those apps do ? ;) Last time I had a look at the XFree docs, they had a lot of stuff there, but they were all like manpage style and not something you could really read from beginning to end. Are there any resources like 'X for newbies' out there?

most folks
by hmmmmmmmm.... on Sun 27th Oct 2002 19:54 UTC

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Re:X bloatness
By Jeremy (IP: ---.cable.mindspring.com) - Posted on 2002-10-27 19:45:33
what will the impact of this be?

I am sure most folks will want xdm.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

most maybe... not all...

personally i hate it with a passion and while probably not quite as many agree with me as disagree... im sure theres still enough who do that you shouldnt just automatically ~assume~ this...

how hard could it possibly be to simply type "startx" when you want it... and when you dont its not taking up your resources...


Thanks!
by Jay on Sun 27th Oct 2002 20:14 UTC

Clinton, thank you so much for going to all the trouble of writing up these tremendous instructions!!!

hmmm
by BiggyP on Sun 27th Oct 2002 20:26 UTC

i don't see how Debians installer is any more daunting than the old RH installers.

XDM
by Richard Fillion on Sun 27th Oct 2002 20:30 UTC

how hard could it possibly be to simply type "startx" when you want it... and when you dont its not taking up your resources...

XDM is not only for a nice purdy (or not so purdy) graphical login. There is MUCH more to XDM, like remote X sessions, which is the reason i like it.

My experiences with Debian
by Kasper on Sun 27th Oct 2002 20:47 UTC

I've tried to install Debian twice on this machine (A pretty standard Dell with pretty standard hardware. Other distros have worked fine on it, so the reason it didn't work out is definately not that Linux doesn't support my hardware).

The first time, I went to the trouble of downloading all eight (sic!) CDs of Woody back when 2.2 was the stable release. It did install nicely, but I never got X to work - or the mouse for that matter. Which is pretty weird considering how it is a pretty standard PS/2 mouse and a TNT2 graphics card...

The second time around, I used the final release of Woody, this time only with the first CD, and when I tried to run pppoeconf to set up my ADSL connection, I got a kernel panic. Could have been a fluke, I thought, so I rebooted and tried again. Well, it didn't kernel panic - it just spontaneously rebooted...

I would *LOVE* to run Debian, as I am SICK TO HELL of downloading 3 or more ISOs every 6 months (Mandrake) and thus destroying all the preferences, that I have setup, but that installer is pure HELL! I know that it probably *is* me who has done something wrong, but it sure isn't easy to see what.

Now, for the good news: I've also tried to install it on an old 266MHz P2 - worked like a charm... Goes to show how much luck is involved, I guess...

Re: My experiences with Debian
by trip_out on Sun 27th Oct 2002 21:42 UTC

Try using the libranet 2.0 essential CD. Works really well on mine, and you just apt update to the latest stuff. I used to do the same with Progeny, but I reinstalled with it again a couple of weeks back (I have to use linux again you see) and things kept going a bit weird after I had updated, so I gave libranet a whirl. Works great, can't say anything else.

I must say I am interested in Xandros though, I think it would be really useful for someone like me - an engineer who use unix regulaly but who appreciates the ease of windows (sometimes I think why make things hard for ourselves!). Oh and I'm also a musician who loves the BeOS! (had to get that one in!)

if it aint simple, forget it
by Sikosis on Sun 27th Oct 2002 21:49 UTC

an OS may be great and all that, but if you can't make a decent installer to get your OS to the masses you might as well forget it. only the diehards will venture into it. personally, ive found mandrake to be the easiest to install.

text mode installe
by Fabio Ribeio on Sun 27th Oct 2002 21:58 UTC

Whats the big problem installing Linux via text-mode?

is not so dificult!
the installer is a flash, and i didnt noticed much dif if i am using a gui installer!

Re: if it aint simple, forget it
by Anonymous on Sun 27th Oct 2002 22:11 UTC

an OS may be great and all that, but if you can't make a decent installer to get your OS to the masses you might as well forget it.

Did you ever consider that setting the bar just a bit higher by making the installation not so spoon-fed compared to the n00b distros is a method of quality-control to keep the lamers out?

Libranet
by Kasper on Sun 27th Oct 2002 22:24 UTC

OK, I think I'll give it a whirl. I am also very excited about this Debian Desktop project that has been launched. It seems that when the Debian maintainers put their mind to something, they usually get it right (I will not deny that Debian stable is *rock solid* and great for server usage).

Install kde on Debian Woody is simple
by Josep on Sun 27th Oct 2002 22:56 UTC

Just run:

# apt-get install kde

Re: My experiences with Debian
by G0tt on Sun 27th Oct 2002 22:57 UTC

Try Knoppix and if it works just use the HD-Install-script.

install
by Hiryu on Sun 27th Oct 2002 23:14 UTC

I would just like to mention I was able to install debian on my first attempt without a single problem.

And this was with with 2.0 (it had just come out) and I was still a pretty big newbie.

Not saying that debian shouldn't get a new installer, in fact, I think that's a GREAT idea. I just think the difficulty level of the installer is greatly overrated is all.

Re: Anonymous: if it aint simple, forget it
by JCooper on Sun 27th Oct 2002 23:48 UTC

[/i]Did you ever consider that setting the bar just a bit higher by making the installation not so spoon-fed compared to the n00b distros is a method of quality-control to keep the lamers out?[/i]

Ah, we bow to thee oh member of the linux elite. How exactly do you describe a lamer? This is OSNews not a place for elitism.

I think Debian's distro is fantastic....I am myself a 'n00b lamer'....but if you want something hard enough you try, try, try again....

nice article
by jbolden1517 on Mon 28th Oct 2002 00:07 UTC

Very well written article, very clear and should be useful to anyone doing their first install of Debian. I hope you send a copy to Debian and or make this the "Debain install / how-to". However "ease of install" is really a two fold issue the first is what you addressed getting the system up; the second is configuration of major apps like sendmail, apache, etc... Mandrake for example offers a fairly clean interface which quickly configures these things to be usable as a default part of the install. At least IMHO when people talk about the diffulty of installing Debain they often mean the second issue and not just the first.

Debian installer is easy.
by PH on Mon 28th Oct 2002 01:32 UTC

Debian installer is easy. The problem is not with the installer, is with the people who try to install it.
There are god n00bs, and bad n00bs, the ones who read documentation, and the rest, the lazy ones.

Come on, first time i installed debian i printed the whole installation guide from www.debian.org (there's a LOT of USEFUL documentation there), and i didn't have any problem.
If your lazy, dont have enough time or dont want to read docs, dont try Debian, it's not for you. Try Mandrake, RedHAT or Windows XP.
Last week i wanted to install gentoo, i printed again the whole process, and didn't have any problem. Installation was plain and easy, if you READ the docs.

go with the woody
by grits on Mon 28th Oct 2002 01:58 UTC

if someone is new to linux they should probably try something other than debian but if you've been using linux for awhile and !know! you hardware somewhat then do yourself a favor and try debian.

apt-get has got to be the most wonderful way of installing software there ever was! try synaptic for a gui apt-get also. it rocks.

Blah!!!!
by Sharth on Mon 28th Oct 2002 02:05 UTC

I would like to make 2 comments here.

comment numero uno! the Debian-Installer is going to be much more intuitive in sarge's release. There is a debian-installer project which is working to make everyone happier and make the installer better. (hopefully it will also include the old way as well).

comment number dos! You can not run graphical programs from a normal user's login by default. what you want to do is this. run xterm. su to root. and then type <<cp /home/<user you logged in as>/.Xathority ~/>> Then run the program you want to run.

other types
by trpn on Mon 28th Oct 2002 02:25 UTC

I have never used debian but i am curious about apt-get. I use apt-for rpm on red hat and I find it so easy.
If I were to install something like knoppix or libranet would it be the same thing as installing debian woody but with some extra gui config tools and a gui installer?
Do the different debian distro's use the same packages when you install a program or is it like installing a red hat rpm on a suse box (which won't work most times, at least in my experience). In other words if I download a .deb file will it work the same with no faults on Knoppix or Libranet as on regular debian?

Re: X
by ealm on Mon 28th Oct 2002 03:57 UTC

How can we find out what those apps do ?

apt-cache show package


I am sure most folks will want xdm.

To start with this is not about "most folks", it's about debian users. I think most prefer either no graphical login (like me), or a more modern one like KDM or GDM.

Re: My experiences with Debian
by ealm on Mon 28th Oct 2002 04:00 UTC

Configuring X is basic linux knowledge. Learn it (pretty simple with such standard hardware). If you're not interested, copy the XF86Config, that your mandrake has generated for you, over to Debian.

Thank You!
by Random Person on Mon 28th Oct 2002 06:02 UTC

Thank you for writing this great summary. It is signifigantly better than the one on the debian site. The only problem I had was that the driver for my net card (CNET PRO2000) isn't in the standard kernel. I had to go in and add it (You need the Davicom network driver). But other than that everything went smoothly! Thanks!!!!

Thanks for article & synaptic tip
by G on Mon 28th Oct 2002 06:07 UTC

I just installed Debian 3.0 before reading this article. I do it pretty much the same except I like Opera for a browser (www.opera.com - adware version is free) and ice window manager (www.icewm.org - a tight, fast little wm). I also compile the latest 2.4.x kernel and use EXT3, but that's just me.

Thanks for the synaptic mention, I just installed it and it looks pretty cool.

Re: Debian installer is easy.
by rajan r on Mon 28th Oct 2002 06:56 UTC

PH, I'm not lazy. I read the documentation beforehand, before I started the installation. I made a clear inventory of the computer I was using. When I started the installation, I still continued to use the printed out howto. I finish the installation, but when it came to setting up the system - I was stump. I manage to successfully connect to the Internet, via dial-up, spent a day downloading software like KDE, XF86 etc. When it was all installed, KDE barely worked for a minute. XF86 refused 24-color, and crashed on the use of FreeType 2 (it used 16-bit colour). Deselect was hell, I never figured it out. I canceled that and just used apt-get install.

Plus, I have to spend time on the Net to actually find out what stuff means. Like who would have guess "nv" was Nvidia? (Stupid me, I downloaded the drivers later on after the installation).

Heck, with documentation, Slackware was much easier to install. Even Red Hat 5.2 with no dependancy checker was easier to install than Debian. Of course, you need to read the documentation. But for Debian, you must have a Masters degree in some UNIX-related course to understand the documentation for Debian.

Print out the documentation on using Debian, print out a cover of some scary picture, bind it with the scary picture as the cover, and it would pass off as a horror novel.

Defaults don't work for many
by george on Mon 28th Oct 2002 07:04 UTC

This article seems to rely a bit too much on "press return". If the defaults work almost everyone can install debian. The Problem is when stuff doesn't work.

Things that complicated my installation:
- My network card (Intel Etherexpress 100, by no way "exotic") also has to be inserted manually
- ADSL (you have to set up pppoe during installation in a separate shell. Of course you have to have downloaded the how-to because this involves some editing of configuration files. You need a separate how-to to tell you what to do if you are not running your own nameserver - insert "usepeerdns" in one of the configuration files - which, I believe, is the majority of the ADSL users)
- My USB mouse (MS Intellieye, not "exotic" either) had to be installed manually
- I spent 1 whole month getting sound to work (ALSA is still a pain)

Debian for i686 (or better) ?
by Arturas B. on Mon 28th Oct 2002 08:00 UTC

Hi folks.

Are there Debian-based systems optimised for i686
or better ?

Regards,
Arturas B.

Re: Debian for i686 (or better) ?
by ealm on Mon 28th Oct 2002 11:24 UTC

Sid is being upgraded to GCC 3.2.1 which also means all packages will be compiled with the advantages GCC 3.2 comes with.

i686 optimizations is not an option since that would make debian non-usable on all machines less than Pentium Pro.
This optimization doesn't give any significant performance advantage anyway though.

IT JUST WORK FOR ME!!!
by emey on Mon 28th Oct 2002 12:12 UTC

Hi,

I quite agree with comments that Debian is not as easy to install as other distro. But for me, I've just manage to installed it on two of my machine. I purposedly using net installation on both machine and succesfully run it on both.

For me the docs on net installation just enough and I even don't have to print it!!! before starting the installation. Well, if compared to Redhat or Suse, it less bloated. My server (MySQL, Apache, PHP) just take less than 700MB to run, complete with KDE DE. Not bad isn't it?

Decay of the English language
by Ronnue Halmut on Mon 28th Oct 2002 12:41 UTC

>Debian's installer was a huge hurtle for many people

A hurtle! Goodness gracious.

XDM and keyboard setup
by Alexis Li on Mon 28th Oct 2002 12:46 UTC

Re: xdm, those who run Gnome or KDE will want gdm or kdm instead, respectively. AFAIK these provide at least the same functionality and are much prettier. Which is worth something.

Clinton, please would you add a note in the X setup to the effect of "the keyboard layout for the UK is 'gb', not 'uk' (which is the Ukraine)". Otherwise, people start X and can't find |, @ or even ". Let alone ~.

Thanks for writing this.

insulting modem users
by Shawn on Mon 28th Oct 2002 13:12 UTC

"I would like to offer my sincere apologies to all the modem users out there. Not only because I can't walk you through this part, but also because you are using modems."

I call that adding insult to injury. That attitude is one of the primary reasons I bought Libranet and am a happy camper. They delivered to my doorstep and they are not patronizing.

I quite sincerely wish you good luck in your endeavor to increase mindshare for Debian. You're going to need it.

Seeya.


Great, just great
by Rutger on Mon 28th Oct 2002 14:00 UTC

Thanx a lot. Great article and exactly at my i-know-debian-level!

modem users
by johnG on Mon 28th Oct 2002 14:22 UTC

I think I'm like many users: at home, I've got a 56k modem. No LAN. No cable modem. No DSL. Not even a network card.

A few weeks ago I tried repeatedly to install Debian. My Woody CD's md5 checksummed correct but still had a problem installing the ppp packages. The installer told me that there was a problem and that even the debian folks make mistakes -- try again. I tried three times with the same results.

After manually editing XF86Config so X could run correctly, I was stuck with no ppp. Back I went to Mandrake 8.2.

Regarding increasing the number of Debian users... Note that many application programmers are not systems programmers or sysadmins. If you want them to bring their cool specialized apps to Debian, you want to make it as easy as possible for them to migrate. ;)

ppp
by Shawn on Mon 28th Oct 2002 14:36 UTC

Gosh, I'm not as cranky as I was when I wrote that. Please see past the sarcasm, becuase I really want Debian and Linux to do well. I do nonetheless believe that in order for the Debian Desktop subproject to meet its goals, the needs of dialup users will have to be addressed without condescension or flaming. Some of the commercial distros are pretty good at that.

GUI Installer....
by Michael Lauzon on Mon 28th Oct 2002 15:47 UTC

I wish the folks over at the Debian Project would create a GUI Installer instead of just having a text-based one, where when you start the installation it would give you the choice of choosing a text-based install or a graphical one. This is of course just my opinion.



Michael Lauzon
Founder & Lead Project Manager
InceptionOS Project
http://www.inceptionos.org/
michael@inceptionos.org

Re: insulting modem users
by Anonymous on Mon 28th Oct 2002 16:49 UTC

I call that adding insult to injury. That attitude is one of the primary reasons I bought Libranet and am a happy camper. They delivered to my doorstep and they are not patronizing.

As if you're entitled to anything from a volunteer, charitable project or anyone who volunteers their time to write a HOWTO...

PPP
by Richard Fillion on Mon 28th Oct 2002 17:09 UTC

ppp isnt that hard in debian is it??

apt-get install pppconfig

pppconfig (nice little text interface to create connection)

pon connection_name
poff connection_name

I used debian off modem for over a year, didnt find it that bad.

Entitlement goes both ways
by Ilan Volow on Mon 28th Oct 2002 17:19 UTC

I believe in licenses that allow for free distribution and modification of code and software, but that explicitly lock out people who say things like "Free Software is a volunteer effort, so you are not entitled to usability" or "quit whining about what you're getting for free."

Entitlement goes both ways. Remember that.

Re: Entitlement goes both ways
by Anonymous on Mon 28th Oct 2002 17:36 UTC

I believe in licenses that allow for free distribution and modification of code and software, but that explicitly lock out people who say things like "Free Software is a volunteer effort, so you are not entitled to usability" or "quit whining about what you're getting for free."

Why? What can you do if Debian or any other free software project isn't concentrating on things you think are important? Fire them? Take them to court?

They don't owe you, me or any other user jack diddly

And just how is a license gonna 'lock out' people with certain 'tudes?

Debain vs Gentoo
by Andrew on Mon 28th Oct 2002 17:52 UTC

What advantages does Debian have over Gentoo and Vice Versa, taking into accoutn that you can use "testing/Unstable" if you want the latest packages?

RE: Sharth
by Clinton De Young on Mon 28th Oct 2002 18:07 UTC

comment number dos! You can not run graphical programs from a normal user's login by default. what you want to do is this. run xterm. su to root. and then type <<cp /home/<user you logged in as>/.Xathority ~/>> Then run the program you want to run.

I am aware that you can't run graphical root programs when logged in as a regular user. This is for security reasons. What you are suggesting breaks that security. That is why I wrote that you should open another xterm and as the regular user type "xhost +" at the prompt (or you can just do this before you "su" to root). This way, you can allow root to run graphical applications when you want to, but you can also maintain the default security of not allowing root to run these apps. Either way works (and there are other ways as well), but I chose the "xhost +" method when writing my article.

RE: G
by Clinton De Young on Mon 28th Oct 2002 18:10 UTC

I just installed Debian 3.0 before reading this article. I do it pretty much the same except I like Opera for a browser (www.opera.com - adware version is free) and ice window manager (www.icewm.org - a tight, fast little wm). I also compile the latest 2.4.x kernel and use EXT3, but that's just me.

Opera is a nice browser. I even paid for it.

As for EXT3, I am planning to write another article explaining how update and recompile your kernel. EXT3 support will be included in that article; among other things.

RE: George
by Clinton De Young on Mon 28th Oct 2002 18:17 UTC

- My network card (Intel Etherexpress 100, by no way "exotic") also has to be inserted manually

I was using an Intel Etherexpress 100 card while writing this document. I didn't have to add it manually. However, even if I did, I believe I offered the information necessary to manually install support for any nic supported by the OS. If I failed to do that for you, please let me know what you found lacking and I can fix it for others who may use these instructions.

As for your other complaints, I think I set expectations at the beginning of my article, which didn't include ALSA or USB.

re. PPP
by johnG on Mon 28th Oct 2002 18:27 UTC

Possibly regarding:
> I think I'm like many users: at home, I've got a 56k
> modem. No LAN. No cable modem. No DSL. Not even a
> network card.

Richard Fillion wrote:
> ppp isnt that hard in debian is it??
>
> apt-get install pppconfig

(Someone with no Debian experience here): I think what you're suggesting is to download the package files:
http://packages.debian.org/stable/base/ppp.html
http://packages.debian.org/stable/base/pppconfig.html
copy them to a floppy, boot into Debian, and then tell apt where to find them (that is, on the floppy). Correct?

Ronnue Halmut
by Clinton De Young on Mon 28th Oct 2002 18:27 UTC

A hurtle! Goodness gracious.

Great catch Ronnue! People often want to throw their computers when they don't work. Perhaps my mispelling isn't that far off anyway.

I'm sorry that this mispelling caused you such distress. Perhaps when you write a document of this length, for free, for the benefit of others, you can take the extra care to ensure no errors get by your proofreading. ;)

RE: Shawn
by Clinton De Young on Mon 28th Oct 2002 18:33 UTC

I call that adding insult to injury. That attitude is one of the primary reasons I bought Libranet and am a happy camper. They delivered to my doorstep and they are not patronizing.

Please don't take offense. I was merely joking. Actually, I would like to make this document as useful as possible to everyone. I simply don't have a modem, or access to a dial-up account.

If I can find somebody with a dial-up account and a modem, I would be happy to do it and add documentation for modems to this walkthrough.

Step 13 (Configure Device Driver Modules)
by Daniel on Mon 28th Oct 2002 18:43 UTC

The only problem I've had is that when you are selecting the device driver modules there is not enough (if any) documentation that I could find. Sometimes the names are slightly descriptive enough, but I'd hate to be a complete newbie with this part.
But perhaps I'm just missing the documentation. . . So "Is there documentation for what Device Driver Modules are for what?"

RE: Andrew
by Clinton De Young on Mon 28th Oct 2002 18:48 UTC

What advantages does Debian have over Gentoo and Vice Versa, taking into accoutn that you can use "testing/Unstable" if you want the latest packages?

Debian is a lot more stable that Gentoo. Because of that, if you don't install packages from the unstable build anyway, you only have to install Debian once. When Debian releases a new version, you simply type "apt-get update" and "apt-get dist-upgrade" to upgrade your system to the latest and greatest. It is extremely easy.

On the down side (depending on who you talk to) the stable branch of Debian is considered to be a bit behind the times. This is the price you pay for having great stability in my mind; but to each their own.

The great thing about Gentoo is that you compile everything yourself so it is optimized for your system. Once installed, your Gentoo system will be very fast.

Portage is a nice way to manage packages too. Portage is kind of like Apt, but more closely related to FreeBSD's way of installing packages.

The bad thing about Gentoo is that the packages offered in portage are so new, they sometimes causes Gentoo to fail (although not very often). The other negative, in my mind, is that it takes days to install a usable system.

I hope this helps.

RE: Daniel
by Clinton De Young on Mon 28th Oct 2002 18:51 UTC

The only problem I've had is that when you are selecting the device driver modules there is not enough (if any) documentation that I could find. Sometimes the names are slightly descriptive enough, but I'd hate to be a complete newbie with this part.
But perhaps I'm just missing the documentation. . . So "Is there documentation for what Device Driver Modules are for what?"


Probably the easiest way to find out what driver to use with your card is to type your card's manufacturer and model, followed by "Linux" or "Debian" on Google's web site. Most of the time somebody else has asked the same question and Google's results will provide you with an answer.

Anyone tried the new woody PGI iso?
by Ernie on Mon 28th Oct 2002 19:14 UTC

Anyone tried that woody iso from progeny debian?

Installing XFree86 - Part I
by niflar on Mon 28th Oct 2002 20:11 UTC

> The module that must be loaded in order to use USB
> devices, "usb-uhci" does not show up when I use the
> lsmod command, so I'm thinking it won't work.

The lsmod-command list the loaded modules. If lsmod does not show usb-uhci, then I guess that you do not have any usb-devices connected?

Verbose Debian ppp install How-To
by Shawn on Mon 28th Oct 2002 20:48 UTC

Clinton:

How about an old winmodem and a coaster from AOL? :}

Seriously, though, I will buy a modem for you and get you an isp if you verbosely and clearly document how to install Debian over ppp. Email me if you want to take me up on it.


RE: Clinton De Young
by Andrew on Mon 28th Oct 2002 21:00 UTC

Thanks. I tried to install Gentoo this weekend. I thought I had succeeded but I could not get networking going. I find this incredible because the utility included on the 'Live CD' configured it no problem.

I also know I included the module for the netcard I have when compiling the kernel.

Anyway I downloaded the CD's for SID last night. I am sure that a lot of your guide will apply. Thanks.

The reason why I am interested in investigating Gentoo and Debian is for the update process. I love the Apt Get and emerge concepts. Also they will force me to learn more of the workings of GNU/Linux.

doing it the right way.
by IceTea on Mon 28th Oct 2002 22:05 UTC

This page reached me a couple of days after I first installed debian.
I installed it about 3 times in the last week. No problems with any of them. (only some things I messed up myself)
Having a internet gateway(running on a windows machine, sorry :p) did make an internet install pretty easy.

Only linux experience I had before was a redhat install (I think it was version 6) that lasted less then one week. So you can hardly call this a difficult installation.
OK, so I'm no computer n00b either, but all things concidered, linux still isn't for total n00bs. Hell they can hardly install an M$ product. If installed by a pro, it will work fine.

And installing is one thing, configuring is another.

Thanks to Eugenia
by Clinton De Young on Tue 29th Oct 2002 00:19 UTC

I finally finished a very busy day at work. I apologize for the lateness of this post (although I have already thanked her privately).

I would like to publicly express my gratitude to Eugenia for all of her efforts in making OSNews a site worth visiting. I would also like to thank her for her efforts in formatting my article; making it very accessible and easy to understand.

Why do you need to install off the Net?
by Sam Varghese on Tue 29th Oct 2002 02:22 UTC

It's difficult to understand why the writer insists on having people install stuff directly off the Net. That itself makes it an intimidating prospect from people who come from Mandrake and Dead Rat. Install off the CDs and then uupdate later off the Net. How much do things actually change in the stable branch of Debian?

remarks
by chris on Tue 29th Oct 2002 04:46 UTC

Mandrake is very easy to install, but if that's not what you want than don't stand for it! If you really have the spirit, the gusto, the GNU/Linux Spirit, if you have listened to Richard M. Stallman up close and personal, you have to have GNU/LINUX! If you really want it and youre not just some lamer, then sit down and learn it. GNU/Linux isn't about spoon-feeding "customers", it is about creating a True OS. If you want Debian, Learn it! Learn it by reading lots and lots of books, tutorials, e-mail, and attend the Telluride Tech Festival!

oh my god...
by michael on Tue 29th Oct 2002 06:13 UTC

it works, and im typing this from my compaq armada e500 debian laptop.

Thank you. This is pretty sweet. I have to say im impressed with apt as well, much better then messing around with rpms.

RE: Sam Varghese
by Clinton De Young on Tue 29th Oct 2002 06:29 UTC

It's difficult to understand why the writer insists on having people install stuff directly off the Net. That itself makes it an intimidating prospect from people who come from Mandrake and Dead Rat. Install off the CDs and then uupdate later off the Net. How much do things actually change in the stable branch of Debian?

Actually, the only things I installed off the net were X, Synaptic, WindowMaker and Mozilla. I did this to demonstrate apt and Synaptic. Also, security updates are posted on the web (albeit less frequently than the two distros you mentioned above) and not updated very often on CD.

Another reason for installing off the net is that you don't have to download over a gigabyte of stuff that you don't need if you download all the CDs. Just grab what you want via apt and be done with it.

I'm just curious, what is the difference if I download all the Debian CDs from the net and install them, or only download one CD from the net and use apt to get the other packages I want? It's all coming from the net either way, isn't it?

Of course you are free to install Debian any way you like. That is the cool thing about Debian. It is very flexible.

If you still have concerns, feel free to send me an email, I would be happy to discuss them with you.

The difference is:
by Kasper on Tue 29th Oct 2002 15:15 UTC

That there are probably updated packages on the web, and there are a LOT of packages (even on CD1) that you don't want or need. Thus, installing a minimal system and then upgrading with apt-get will save you a lot of time. If you are installing on a network, then the obvious thing to do is to make a local apt repository on your NFS server, and upgrade the clients from that (again: to avoid unnecessary downloads). However, it *is* nice to have the CDs - if only just to brag about it. (The 266MHz P2 I installed Woody on was not (and still isn't) connected to the internet, so it made sense to download all of it back then).

I accept that you were probably addressing your article towards people new to linux but there will be many who are just new to Debian amy want to go straight to the 2.4.* kernel and use ext3 or reiserfs.

There is an option right at the beginning whereby if you press the F3 (I make be wrong as to which key) you get a choice between the 2.2 .*and 2.4 .* kernel and then get a choice of jfile systems.

It sin't difficult to change the kernel later or add ext3 but this sure saves time ;-)

Thanks
by jan on Wed 30th Oct 2002 01:02 UTC

Thank you for a very clear presentation.As a complete newbie I have found that there is a tremendous amount of HOWTOs,etc, available, but the majority are either very old (and some are not dated, so It takes a while before one realizes that it is old),(and Linux changes so fast) or are cryptic;i.e written by programmers for programmers.
I feel that a cd burner is now an essential part of a computer, and would like to see this added.

Re: PPP by johnG
by Peter on Wed 30th Oct 2002 09:05 UTC

(Someone with no Debian experience here): I think what you're suggesting is to download the package files:
http://packages.debian.org/stable/base/ppp.html
http://packages.debian.org/stable/base/pppconfig.html
copy them to a floppy, boot into Debian, and then tell apt where to find them (that is, on the floppy). Correct?


Actually, once you've got the .deb packages on a floppy or FAT partition and rebooted back to Debian (or came home from work or other connected computer where you downloaded the files onto a diskette), mount it (mount /floppy for diskette or, if you have it on the same computer on a different partition by, say, mount /dev/hda1 /mnt) and then use dpkg instead of apt-get:
dpkg --install /floppy/ppp*deb
(maybe --install can be -i, but I don't remember at the moment)

This way you would install every Debian package in /floppy that started with ppp. If your mounted partition is /mnt, then replace /floppy/ppp*deb with /mnt/ppp*deb, etc. Also, if you've managed to install and configure mtools, you could first run:
mcopy A:ppp*.deb /tmp
and then
dpkg --install /tmp/ppp*.deb

I believe those commands should work. Let me know if I messed up somewhere. :-) (you can also use my e-mail)

That backslash for mcopy is correct and required to "escape" the star.

- Peter.

THANKS.
by dansan on Wed 30th Oct 2002 14:18 UTC

Just wanted to let you know that there are people who do appreciate the instructions. I've installed debian on many a machine, and I love it! (takes me WAY less time than with one of those all-wonder GUI installers). I had trouble telling people to try debian, because most of the people I know aren't willin to go hunting for answers. Well, now I can send them to this page ;) GREAT. Lets keep making debian a fun and powerful place to be.

dansan
** Debian lover.

To get your monitor autodetected nicely, and some other nice stuff:

Before typing "apt-get install x-window-system", as described in the section "Installing XFree86 - Part I", type the following as root:

apt-get install discover read-edid mdetect

and THEN do

apt-get install x-window-system
or
apt-get install x-window-system-core

HTH,
jc

thanks and queries
by jan on Thu 31st Oct 2002 20:25 UTC

Having now printed it out I have a few comments( perhaps there are others as slow as me).
Step 8, part 11
"write down which partition will be the boot..."
Given that ,so far, there are only 3, of very different sizes, there would seem to be no need to physically write anything; unless there is some data that I am missing.
Perhaps you could also give the same very verbose and explicit info for creating at least one of the additional partitions that you list. Whenever I "presume" something I seem to be wrong!

step 10, part 111
It seems that many people coming to linux already have a windows OS and , not wishing to lose their internet access if anything goes wrong, require a dual-boot system. This, from comments in many NGs, seems to be not too easy to do.
Could you find the time to do as good a job with this as you have done here?
Many thanks

Thanks!
by lafey on Thu 31st Oct 2002 22:28 UTC

This tutorial is simply great. I had Debian running without troubles. One thing I did miss - (and it was completely my fault) was the mouse, for I choose Netscroll PS/2 - while I should have choosen PS/2. How does one configure the mouse again?



Many thanks Clinton for your effort!

Wanting to burn a CD with an ISO for a friend currently on dialup, I found Debian now steers you to using a bit of software called Jigdo to assemble the ISO. Unfortunately, the ISO it assembles doesn't - at least for me - run the process properly on login after the initial reboot. It mentions the timezone issue, but gives no option to set it, opens a nano session to edit apt/sources without any instructions on what to do there, and then sets the root password to a value apparently random - so there I am locked out of root. I used the very good Minimux boot floppy (not Debian, but by a Debian fan in France) to get in and remove the root password, and then tried to use dselect to bring in more packages - but the Jigdo system puts the packages under a "pool" directory and dselect is expecting a different directory structure, and I can't get it to accept this one. So here I am having to boot from a Knoppix CD (great piece of work!) to even dial in and look to see if there are instructions on how to work around this new, more horrific than ever, Debian install process. Oh, but first I tried the Progeny Woody installer to see if that would get farther - no joy, it wouldn't accept any mouse choice at the screen where it askes whether you want to blow away your system or install in unused space or whatever - the mouse could move, but it wouldn't take a click. For my own system I'm in the process of installing Gentoo - takes awhile with assembling all the programs, and still a bit rough around the edges, but as soon as the Gentoo crew finishes up the reference installs for 1.4 - precompiled - you can bet I'll never try to put Debian on anything again. And I'm saying this as someone who has used Debian on a number of systems for several years. If you're not going to build a good installation system, at least you have to document how to work around it's shortcomings when it goes bad - and not do stuff like rearrange your ISO without making the docs and programs match its new presumptions.

thank you
by sean on Fri 1st Nov 2002 05:33 UTC

well after 2 failed atempts i am on my way to start over. thanks for the tutorial. already cleared up many questions

excellent instructions
by anonymatous on Fri 1st Nov 2002 15:04 UTC

Thanks Clinton. Hope you will write more.

Debian 3.0 on Nov Linux Format DVD
by KnightFire on Sat 2nd Nov 2002 06:46 UTC

Debian 3.0 is on the cover DVD of the November issue of Linux Format - it's bootable too!

Thank_you.
by Hamoud on Mon 4th Nov 2002 08:30 UTC

Bigest thanks for your so complete and concise help on this subject. I definitively wouldn't have make it alone.

The Devil Is In The Details
by László L. Orosz on Wed 6th Nov 2002 17:23 UTC

I have read both articles of "An Unbiased Review of Debian 3.0", and "The Very Verbose Debian 3.0 Installation Walkthrough". The first issue is their heavily Unix-biased nature. For one who comes from the Win-DOS world with great expectations, Unix is rather intimidating. The file system where you would expect common sense names like /sys for system, /cfg for configuration, /apn for applications, /prg for programming, /src for source, /math for math e.tc., is loaded with meaningless, or misleading names. The twisted logic of calling every peripheral hardware component a file, but without the proper drivers you cannot really do anything with them anyway, is not so easy to swallow. Well, and, that mounting and unmounting ... as if you regularly would unmount the tires of your car anytime you park it, and mount them, perhaps, before going anywhere regardless of location, and weather conditions! Also, the "seven bit clean" chauvinism is like a curse: it has made so much harm; yet, some daemon-worshipers try to keep it forever. It is time to get rational: the pun and fun time is over; we need a house cleaning! Well, issues touching the foundation, I know, are very hard to deal with; nonetheless, it would be rather naive to pretend that they do not exist.

But, now limiting the scope to the installation, I am not fully convinced that the presented very verbose walkthrough really alleviates all my uncertainties, and mitigates unforseen mishaps. The devil is in the details, and if you do not give all the details then surprises can be really nasty. I like to single out a few of them.

1) Partitioning should start with a partition plan. Hints and loose references to various partitions should be replaced with specific, practical values presented in a table for various scope and size of installations. The presented values should consider future expected expansion requirements, and space-demanding activities like burning CD's or DVD's. An installation can be completely spoiled by not mentioning, or just giving some unspecific hint of, key elements like the need of more than 1G'B for /opt alone, as is the case in some distributions. If Debian does not rely on /opt, it would be comforting to know it. On the other hand, if it uses /opt, then it should be stated clearly.

2) Monitor 'resolution' selections are not always foolproof. In one of my installations, the 1152x864 address space has resulted in an almost completely dark screen way out of shape. In another installation, selecting 1280x1024 has resulted in a perfect setting for that address space, and completely wrong for all the subsequent values of 1280x960, 1152x864, 1028x768, 800x600, and 640x480. Obviously, the writer of the auto configuration has forgotten about that the selected address space corresponds to a 5:4 ratio, whereas the subsequent values require the normal monitor screen ratio of 4:3. Applying the 5:4 ratio also to those values is most likely the cause of the undesirable result. In cases like these, the guidance should tell in which file what values should be adjusted, and for further details it should refer to the appropriate special HOWTOs.

3) By addressing only a broad band network configuration, the guidance leaves out in the cold 90% of the PC users, and likely close to 99% those who really need help. Most PC's come with internal modems, some of which are genuine hardware modems, and others are the so-called win-modems. Configuring them on Linux, both of them are rather problematic! The default settings are for external modems. (But, why?!) Some 'experts' prefer to write a million-line script instead of naming those few variables that have to be set specifically for these cases. Well, I would not even start installing such a distribution that could not assure that eventually I would be able to dial out!

4) Linux printer configuration is another spot of thin ice. Even if it gets through, most likely, the default setting is not what you would like to see, not to speaking about negligently wrong settings. I have not seen an installation guidance yet that would address the elementary parameter settings for margin, letter size, title, heading, frame, header and footer control. It is rather waxing that knowledgeable people are speaking about daemons, networking, who knows what else, but never about the printer located four-foot distance from the computer. I am not interested in sending my printouts to Manchuria, but I prefer to have a 1" margin on the left of the pages to have room for punching holes, and putting them in a binder. Some people in the controlling positions should recognize that one size does not fit all! Is it too much to ask to let the user decide about this and similar issues?

Well, I am sure that other people could add to the list. In order to write a good installation guidance, one, first, should compile such lists. Broadening the Linux base should not necessarily lead to some dumbed-down, automated versions of Linux distros. The new users should be looked at as intelligent, rational human beings, and common sense should gradually gain more room from the dark shadows of rigid, mostly outdated traditions. Installation guides are very important, but I prefer concise ones with the support of specific HOWTOs for partitioning, printing and other critical areas. These guides should be up-to-date and complete, with the emphasis on local usage, with meanigful applicable examples. A proper installation plan should perhaps also consider the intended usage of the system, but before addressing that we have left with some serious work to be done.