Page: 1, 2, 3  Next

My BusinessCard install : Debian testing/smxi enhanced
GoinEasy9
Status: Contributor
Joined: 28 Jun 2008
Posts: 81
Location: Manorville, New York
Reply Quote
I really wanted an easy way to install Debian based Linux on my computer(s), and I wanted a KDE desktop (rather than the gnome default Debian uses). I also wanted my install to be clean and free from the bloat that installing desktop manager software usually creates. I think I've found a great way of doing both.

There are a number of ways to install Debian. I found the business card version of their installer to fit my needs perfectly. To download the businesscard iso go to www.debian.org/devel/debian-installer/ and look for businesscard line (at time of writing the second line down, just under netinst). I chose the i386 version (if you want a 64 bit version choose amd64). If there is no businesscard installer there, then use the Stable business card installer, below. Save the iso to your desktop, then, burn it to a cd. This doesn't take very long, since the iso is only about 40mb.

[techAdmin: Latest report: nightly builds are working again. But if the above installer is broken, try using the Debian Stable businesscard installer]

If your computer is set to boot from the CD, slide it into the drive and boot it up. When the Grub screen appears, make sure you choose the Advanced Install option, as it allows you to pick several options not available when doing a normal install. After your done trying to speed read the boot messages, the installation starts.

Debian Businesscard Installer: Below are the initial questions and the answers I supplied. They are the usual setup questions, each has their own screen and continue button. I am not going to go into detail explaining what each line/screen means. The comments I make along the way are just my thoughts as I move from screen to screen during the installation process.

Here we go:
Choose language – English
Choose country – United States
Choose a locale – en_US.UTF-8
Choose other locales to be supported – de_DE.UTF-8
Select a keyboard layout – PC-style
Keymap to use – American English

Detect and mount CD-ROM – While detecting CD-ROM, this message read – “The following Linux kernel modules were detected as matching your hardware. If you know some are unnecessary, or cause problems, you can choose not to load them. If you unsure, you should leave them all selected.” On my install, usb-storage (USB storage) came up. I left it marked to be installed. Continuing, my CD-ROM was detected successfully, Businesscard iso was found and the installation continued.

Load installer components from CD – Installer components to load:
cfdisk-udeb: Manually partition a hard drive (cfdisk).
Console-setup-udeb: Configure the keyboard.
ipv6-modules-2.6.24-1-486-di: Ipv6 driver.
ppp-modules-2-6-24-1-486-di: PPP drivers.
squashfs-modules-2.6.24-1-486-di: squashfs modules.
These 5 modules were the ones I chose. There were more available. I just guessed at which ones I would need since they sounded familiar from other installs that I had done. Don't worry, if you need some of the modules that weren't marked for install, you can always install them later. Continue.

Detect network hardware: There were no prompts, it detected my broadband connection etc. Continue.
Configure the network: Auto configure with DHCP? Yes. That was easy, continue.
Enter hostname: I chose “Debianbox”. You can name your box whatever you like.
Domain name: I do believe “localhost” is standard, but you can use your imagination. Just make sure if you have a network, that all Domain names are the same. Continue.

Choose a mirror of the Debian archive: Choose http, just easier, less hassles.
Debian archive mirror country: Unites States. (or wherever you are.)
Debian archive mirror: mirror.cc.columbia.edu (heh, I'm biased, am an alumni)
HTTP proxy information: choose blank for none, unless you use a proxy. Continue.

Debian version to install: testing (note: the businesscard install for testing (testing) is the only one I've found that gives you a choice of all three Debian flavors i.e., stable, testing and unstable). Continue.

Configure the clock: Set the clock using NTP? This time I chose Yes. On some installs I've had a problem with Yes, but let's see how it works this time.
NTP server to use: 0.debian.pool.ntp.org. OK.
Select your time zone: Eastern. Continue.

Detect disks: There is no prompt, it automatically detects disks.





Partition disks: I use manual. I like to see what partitions and corresponding info are recognized/created. Go to each partition and make sure “Use as” (for me ext3), “Format the partition” (for me Yes), “Mount point” (You need a root, a swap and for me a /home partition – total of 3 partitions). Note: swap partition is not ext3, its “Use as” is swap.
The partitioning screen for a newbie is a bit confusing, like every other partitioning program. Just keep in mind that you can make changes by hitting the enter key for each line, go through selections with up and down arrows and you can always cancel whatever you've done by choosing that option towards the bottom of the partitioning screen. If your satisfied with your choices, when you are prompted to “Write the changes to disks”, choose “Yes” and let the partitioner do its magic. Continue.

More questions from the Installer: (And some of my answers.)
Install the base system: -- Enter.
Kernel to install: linux-image-2.6.686
Set up users and passwords: Enable shadow passwords? Yes.
Allow login as root? Yes.
Root Password? ********.
Create a normal user account now? Yes.
Full name for the new user: ********.
Username for your account: ********.
Choose a password for the new user: ********.
Re-enter password: ********.

Configure the package manager: Use non-free software? Yes.
Services to use: security updates. (volatile updates are only available for stable). Continue.

Select and install software:
Participate in the package usage survey? -- Yes or No, your choice.
Choose software to install: Just leave Standard system marked, if the Desktop Manager is marked, uncheck it. I'll tell you a better way to install the desktop manager later. Continue.

Install the GRUB boot loader on a hard disk: Install GRUB 2 instead of GRUB legacy? No. I'd rather try experimentals on Sid (Which I do).
Install the GRUB boot loader to the master boot record? Yes. (since this is the only operating system on this particular machine.)
GRUB password? No. (Unless you really need one.) Continue.

You can skip:
Install the LILO boot loader on a hard disk.
Continue without boot loader. Continue.

Finish the installation:
Is the clock set to UTC? Yes. (oh well, retrieving utc modules.)

Installation Complete. The Businesscard install iso CD pops out, and you hit enter to continue.

The Debian grub screen passes and the boot scroll starts. Once again, use your speed reading skills to see if you can catch all those things that are being set up, very interesting.

At the login screen, login to root.
Then apt-get update
Then apt-get install unzip. This is not in the Debian base install and we need it for the next part of our custom testing installation.

Now we are going to download a utility (smxi) that contains a better way for you to install your desktop manager. The utility was designed for upgrading your Linux kernel and system. Originally designed for sidux and Debian Sid, it now works for all branches of Debian. It also contains a myriad of features that you will come to find as indispensable. It installs programs, utilities, graphics drivers and helps with file and old kernel removals. To see complete documentation on smxi go to techpatterns.com/docs. But right now, let's get back to installing smxi and the Desktop Manager.

First we have to download smxi.
To download smxi do, as root: cd /usr/local/bin, then,
wget -Nc smxi.org/smxi.zip
then, unzip smxi.zip.
To start smxi, just type smxi at the prompt and your set to go.

Before the installation of the Desktop Manager, a few preliminaries.
The first time you run smxi, smxi will identify which distro you are using, and ask some set up questions.
First question (since it identified testing) it asks whether you want to use apt-get or aptitude. I choose apt-get since my home network contains 5 sidux boxes and I am used to apt-get. From conversations I've had in various IRC channels, I've heard that when using stable and testing, aptitude is the better of the two, because of the way it handles dependencies and recommends. I would love to try it, and someday I may, but right now, I'm afraid that while maintaining both Sid and testing boxes, I'll mistakenly use the wrong one on the wrong box and have problems later. One must remember that if you start with apt-get you stay with apt-get, the same with aptitude. I'm sure aptitude will run with an apt-get'd system and I wish I was knowledgeable enough to tell you the reasons how and why, but, since I can't (at least for now) let's just say it's a rule I will follow.

Next in smxi is the choice to do an upgrade or a dist-upgrade. I'm going to stick to my Sid rules and choose dist-upgrade. smxi now asks whether your using stable, testing, sid or debian other. I choose debian testing since that is what we are installing.

These questions will be asked once since we are setting up preferences in smxi. Next time around, the answers to these questions will be contained in smxi.conf, answer once, forget about it.
FYI: editing or deleting smxi.conf will allow you to change preferences later, but, most of us never find a need for that.

To use smxi, you have to install a few applications first. smxi automatically installs these apps when you answer yes-install to the question.

Since you have just installed testing from a recent download, the first part of smxi, which allows you to update the kernel, will just show you what kernel is already installed. If there was a new kernel available, you could install it here.

Choose 1) Continue. This will do a dist-upgrade. (or Upgrade, whatever you chose earlier.) IMPORTANT: Take a look at what applications are going to be removed before saying “Yes” to continue dist-upgrade/upgrade. Problems (mainly in Sid, but since I'm new to testing, maybe in testing also, can be avoided if you abort the dist-upgrade before important applications are removed because of version or dependency problems.

FYI: If you just did a recent download of the Businesscard iso, there may not be many, if any, apps that are upgraded during your initial dist-upgrade process. I always run the d-u just to make sure.

When the dist-upgrade is finished you can now install the display manager.

Continue to the next menu, choose 1) package-install, and go directly to 4) display-manager. The reason I use smxi and not the debian installer to install my display manager is because the maintainer of smxi (h2) has found the most efficient way of installing the DM of your choice. His full versions of DM's are lighter than most distro's lite versions. The fluff is kept out and the important apps are included. I chose kde-full, other choices are xfce, fluxbox and fvwm-crystal.

After the DM is installed, you might also want to go to choice 9) kde-extras, and install those apps, carefully chosen to add functionality to your kde desktop. Also, run choice 2) to make sure system utilities are included and up to date. Or choice 4) which will run system-utilities and add the xorg pieces if they are not already there.

After installing a display manager, I exit the package-install section (choice 15 at present) and then enter 3) utilities, and install 8) h2-favorites, 9) ceni and 10) infobash. There are many other applications to install here, you can look at docs at techpatterns.com/docs.

I would check out all of the menu choices in the docs, as they contain many of the apps you might need to make your system complete.

Back at the main menu, run choice 7) continue to graphics. Every time you install a new kernel, one needs to reinstall the graphics drivers for whatever video card your running. This choice calls sgfxi, another of h2's apps that automatically installs the proper drivers. The sgfxi app can also be run separately if need be, especially if you have an older video card, or a newer video card that needs a beta driver. READ THE DOCS, I even got an old NeoMagic video card in an old Thinkpad running with it.


To put the finishing touches on your testing/smxi install, move to choice 4) on the main menu, the miscellaneous tweaks option. Now go into choice 2) install-graphics, then choice 3) grub-gfx-options, then choice 1) yes-install-grub-gfxboot. After it installs grub-gfxboot and runs apt-get update, it allows you to choose a graphic grub screen that is so much nicer than the stark one supplied by Debian. My choice here is 5) grub-gfx-debian-smxi, since this install was made possible by both Debian and smxi.

Hit choice 7) continue, then 4) continue. Notice the mozilla-tweaks and advanced tweaks options. READ THE DOCS, there are some interesting tweaks here. You can always come back and revisit them later. Then hit choice 6) continue, back to main menu, then 8) start-desktop, and enjoy your new Debian testing smxi GNU/Linux system.

It's nice here to restart the computer, just to marvel at the new graphic grub screen that replaces the text based Debian one. Oooo nice, enjoy.
Back to top
anticapitalista
Status: Contributor
Joined: 13 Jun 2008
Posts: 202
Location: Greece
Reply Quote
Thanks for this GoinEasy9 ;)

When I get time I'll do this. I did it in the past, but nuked the partition for sidux-chaos and then antiX-base.

Just a small point.
If users want to install ceni for example, they must have the sidux repos enabled. By enabling the sidux repos, you get some sidux 'cruft' (for want of a better word) when you next dist-upgrade.
So users may prefer to install the sidux related stuff they want and then disable the repo to keep your box Debian Testing plus a little bit of sidux.

Once again thanks for posting the steps.
Back to top
techAdmin
Status: Site Admin
Joined: 26 Sep 2003
Posts: 3753
Location: East Coast, West Coast? I know it's one of them.
Reply Quote
The sidux stuff I'm moving towards handling using either a dpkg install of the deb + aptitude update and install ( a feature aptitude has but apt-get does not have, it automatically pulls in all dependencies of the deb) or by a temporary enabling of sidux sources, package install, then removing the sources.

Long term, I might add an option to set an internal apt preference regarding the sidux sources, ie: to have them in the system, but to override them always except in the case of packages only those sources contain. I believe that's the safest option long term, but for now, just adding/installing/removing sources is an adequate workaround, but not elegant.

I'd like to also suggest and recommend aptitude as the best choice to build a system with. While you can as far as I know at any point move from using aptitude to apt-get, you cannot as easily move from apt-get to aptitude.

Initial tests with aptitude are excellent, and today I'll probably post some inititial test results from hubi. The stories with issues with aptitude are apparently sourced from a time between sarge and etch, ie, many years ago. Those problems do not seem to be relevant or present any longer. In any computer related field, it's quite important to realize this is a strictly empirical area, and any major claims for functionality should be based on running real tests on the current software.

Part of my decision to free smxi from sidux was the presence of some claims that I felt required annual empirical testing to verify, and aptitude was one of those claims, ie, the belief it's bad, not suited for sid, etc. This claim was true maybe 3 years ago I believe, but that aptitude was a very very young piece of software, not nearly as robust and mature as it is now.

I am doing all test installs using aptitude now. I think I need to update the smxi wording on that matter to more strongly urge debian/non sidux users to consider using aptitude to build the system, I highly recommend it.

I'll try to get the initial comments and test results by hubi up today.

See the gnu/linux forums for general linux/debian issues, I have one initial aptitude how to/read me thread there.

GoinEasy9, a very nice point by point documentation, the only thing I'd add to it is that at the step where you see the checkboxes for which parts of the system you want installed, I strongly suggest you uncheck the desktop option, and leave ONLY the basic system option checked.

The various debian metapackages, especially gnome and kde, are horribly bloated, filled with at least 100 packages you do not want or need, which is why I stopped using most of the core desktop metapackages and simply use the core packages every desktop should probably have.

If I have the time I might spice up your initial post with some screen shots at the places that are easiest to make mistakes.

As you noted, the debian businesscard cd installer is not very user friendly, especially in the partitioning section, where you have to be warned, if you have multiple partitions, and you use it to create a new one, you will have NO idea what the partition number is, because it doesn't tell you. This is an especial problem if you are installing to partition root, not mbr.

Piper also experienced a bug where he could simply not get installed at all on a terabyte sized hard disk, which is a massive bug in my opinion, that size is going to be fairly standard by the end of Lenny's stable life.

Other bugs are that you need to select pcmcia option whether or not you want it, because otherwise the installer keeps asking you if you want it, so it's best to just say yes, it speeds up the install and knocks some steps off.
Back to top
GoinEasy9
Status: Contributor
Joined: 28 Jun 2008
Posts: 81
Location: Manorville, New York
Reply Quote
Hi Anti,

Ceni is only in the Sid repositories, but, I don't remember having trouble installing it during a businesscard/smxi install. I may be mistaken though. Since I've only installed testing to one laptop I'll double check when I get home. It may be that h2 has it somewhere on techpatterns, and it is installed with wget from there. How that affects dist-upgrades I don't know. I'll test later and wait for a post from the techAdmin for confirmation.

Tom
Back to top
GoinEasy9
Status: Contributor
Joined: 28 Jun 2008
Posts: 81
Location: Manorville, New York
Reply Quote
LoL..You must have been tying the same time i was. Your post wasn't there when I first read Anti's post. Since you already answered his question, and mine, it saves me from trying to figure it out.

From my How-To:
Select and install software:
Participate in the package usage survey? -- Yes or No, your choice.
Choose software to install: Just leave Standard system marked, if the Desktop Manager is marked, uncheck it. I'll tell you a better way to install the desktop manager later. Continue.

I did instruct to uncheck DM, but it really wasn't prominent. If you can get screen shots into the how-to that would be great. When I do another testing install, I'll review it again.

later
Tom

Just a note: d-u with smxi has been running flawlessly on the testing/smxi installs I have done. I've updated the kernel twice also without incident.
Back to top
bowhuntr
Status: Interested
Joined: 08 Sep 2008
Posts: 15
Reply Quote
I just used the business card installer to do this, except I went with Debian Sid instead of testing. Everything seemed to work as expected, although there were a few things not installed for kde4 that was needed. This very well could have been because I missed them. I am not for sure what happened but it was easy enough to use aptitude to install them.
Back to top
Ghstryder
Status: Interested
Joined: 08 Sep 2008
Posts: 24
Location: Michigan
Reply Quote
Nice post, thanks GoinEasy9.

This is what I had planned to do to this box one of these days, nice to see the updated info.
Back to top
GoinEasy9
Status: Contributor
Joined: 28 Jun 2008
Posts: 81
Location: Manorville, New York
Reply Quote
I guess with sid and kde4 in the state that they are in now, using this method (the Debian Businesscard install) to do a fresh Debian install will become more popular. Next time I do a new install I'm going to follow it line for line and see if anything has changed (was originally written 9/08).
I love kde, but at this point I need kde3 so I can be productive using my computers, kde4 is now going to live only on my experimental machines until it matures.
I'm going to track testing on my main production box that is a sidux install, last dist-upgraded on 4/4. This box still runs kde3 and hopefully I won't have to do a reinstall. All the other boxes that I use daily that I updated to kde4 will be reinstalled with testing. This is a sad day because sidux and sid ran very stable for almost 2 years on my whole home network, but I'm spending to much time fixing things now, or trying to reconfigure and/or work around problems.
The Sid/testing thread techpatterns.com/forums/about1193.html was also very helpful building my knowledge of tracking and should be read, especially if you want to include sid sources. Richard has been using this method for a while, and the infamous techAdmin has some great links there for increasing your apt skills.
So, happy Squeezebox creating everyone. I just hope kde4 doesn't invade testing anytime soon.
Back to top
GoinEasy9
Status: Contributor
Joined: 28 Jun 2008
Posts: 81
Location: Manorville, New York
Reply Quote
I guess you can read the link here lists.debian.org/debian-release/2009/05/msg00113.html. The moving of a feature incomplete kde 4.2.2 into testing only leaves me with stable in Debian, or just completely freezing sid or testing installs to keep the advantages of kde 3.5.9. At the moment my sid installs are frozen since 4/4, although I have updated a few to kde 4.2.2 for testing purposes.
It's bad enough when sid becomes unstable and requires daily maintenance (one expects that from sid), but, as the link reads, the debian guys are expecting testing to also become unstable during the period of transition. I wonder how, when squeeze becomes stable, the update from lenny to squeeze will go. At least for the kde folks.
I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm starting to look outside debian for an answer.
For those of you that are interested in using the above how-to, just be aware that at present, I don't consider either testing or sid to be stable environments for production machines. For many, I'm sure it works. But for me and those I help keep a running stable linux system, cpu bursts to 80%, laptop temps spiking to 80 degrees cent, plasmoids dying etc., are no way to run a business. These problems weren't happening before the update to kde4.2 and the new xorg and hal were introduced.
Sorry, I have more to say, but I will end rant here. If the techAdmin doesn't feel this rant belongs in a sticky, you can remove it and I will place it elsewhere.
Back to top
GoinEasy9
Status: Contributor
Joined: 28 Jun 2008
Posts: 81
Location: Manorville, New York
Reply Quote
KDE 4.2.2 has hit testing/squeeze tonight, so if your using the how-to, just be aware that some of the instructions may or may not have to be revised.
The how-to was written back in Sept/08 when the Debian we love (testing and/or unstable) was a lot more stable than it is today.
Back to top
Display posts from previous:   
Page: 1, 2, 3  Next
All times are GMT - 8 Hours