Archive for March, 2007

LXer Article

I install, begin to configure and unknowingly make a mistake in the second installment of my adventures in Debian-land.

The next day I got started on the to-do list we made in Part 1. After I got the Video card and CD drive switched out I wanted to erase Ubuntu and re-format the partition it was on. My friend suggested I use GParted so I took his advice and downloaded the Live-CD, burned it to CD-R and re-booted the computer directly into the program. GParted quickly read the two hard drives and provided a nice straight forward menu of all the partitions. Here’s what they looked like:

hda1 ext/3 4.6g Ubuntu install.
hda2 swap 1.4g ‘linux-swap’ partition.
hda3 ntfs 15g Windows-XP install.
hda4 fat-32 16.4g Empty windows partition.
hdb1 fat-32 60g Where I was going to install Debian.

You may be asking yourself why I went through the trouble to erase a perfectly good Ubuntu install and change the format on the partition for no reason, good question. If I’m installing Debian why should I keep Ubuntu around if I never use it and I had never used GParted and wanted to check it out. It could be used to test other Linux Distributions like Sidux or PCLinuxOS and Damn Small Linux, or DSL for short. I formatted hda1 and then hdb1 to ReiserFS and then had to boot into Windows and use its partition program to reformat hda4 fat-32 partition into NTFS so that Windows would actually let me install programs and games on it. Why am I keeping Windows again?

I felt bad using a whole CD-R disk for a 35meg install program but it was a whole lot cheaper than downloading and burning four or five DVD’s of software that would only get used once. With a fresh pot of coffee all to myself and the to-do list completed I finally put “the rubber to the road”. I started a pot of coffee, put the install disk in and re-booted the computer..

After answering the basic questions like name, language and location, the install program asked me where I wanted to install it. I chose hdb1 as the destination and slammed my second cup of coffee as I watched the install program pull everything from the Internet and install it at the same time. I was sweating a little from the excitement, trepidation and seriously strong coffee I make. On the boot screen Debian was added to the list of boot options but I noticed is that there was still an option for Ubuntu even though it wasn’t there anymore, I’ll worry about that later. It was now done with the basic installation. I got XChat up and running and got on IRC with my friend so that I could ask him for help if I needed it, which I did, a lot.

I thought that I would be able to choose the GUI during the install with but Gnome is the default GUI when doing a net install. Gnome is nice but I have been using KDE for 3 or 4 years now and I am kinda stuck on it. With the basic install done, it was time to really get my feet wet setting up and using Synaptic. My friend had all kinds of info and helped me configure it like his and we added repositories and all kinds of stuff so I would be able to get all KDE and all software I could ever want.

So my friend asks, “You like KDE right?, you want to upgrade to KDE 3.5.6?, it should be easy”, I respond with my best Forrest Gump impression “okay”. He guided me through configuring Synaptic and the software repositories. We enabled the ‘experimental’ repositories at which point he tells me that “very few people run Debian using the experimental repositories all the time but don’t worry we are only going to enable them long enough to get the KDE upgrade and then we will go back to using the stable and testing repo’s”. I followed his direction and we got the experimental repositories loaded into Synaptic and I checked the KDE packages for upgrade.

This is where I made a critical mistake, I didn’t look closely (or at all really) at what the program listed as going to be installed, upgraded and (especially) un-installed. I was completely unaware of challenge that lay in front me as I hit the apply button…

Everything upgraded and looked to fine and dandy until I went to open up Synaptic again, because it wasn’t there. At first I thought I was just wasn’t seeing it but nope, it was gone. I had somehow managed to un-install the software installation program on my own computer. Only I could do something that stupid, My grandfathers words rang in my head “The only difference between Genius and Stupidity is, that Genius has its limits”. I am living proof he was right.

After my self loathing ebbed to a manageable level I started to figure out what went wrong. opened up a terminal window and tried to install Synaptic by means of apt-get but that failed to to dependency problems. So I looked at the list and tried to determine which ones in particular were keeping me from successfully re-installing Synaptic. I will spare you the hours of frustration involved with the trial and error process of narrowing down the list of culprit programs that I needed.

Here’s what I figured out after the adrenaline rush of my temper tantrum subsided, or maybe it was the coffee.. To resolve a dependency Synaptic had upgraded libvte4 to libvte9 which for some reason needed to un-install Synaptic to do so and would not allow me to re-install it until I had deleted libvte9 and re-installed libvte4. I must say that in figuring out what I did and how to fix it I was taught a lesson in patience and humility. I will never again not take the time to look over just exactly what is going to be added and taken away when I hit the upgrade or install button ever again.

Needles to say I have KDE 3.5.6 and all is well. I returned my repositories to ‘testing’ but I don’t think I will be venturing into the ‘experimental’ repo’s for a while, if ever. So in my next installment I start to get more than just my feet wet running Debian and I wonder aloud why I have to call my browser Iceweasel instead of Firefox.


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LXer Article

With the gift of a new computer the help of a friend I recently decided to move from running OpenSuSE to duel booting Windows and Debian. Thus begins my adventure in Debian.

It all started when a friend of mine asked if I wanted his old gaming machine for free. “It has Windows on it though, is that ok?” he added, with a smile on his face. Everyone has heard me rant, or go off “You shouldn’t use Windows because…”, and, “You should use Open Source Software”. I pick my battles and try to show them by example how it is better, but, who ever listened to logic anyway? Darn Friends…

I had been living Microsoft free for over year because I had written over the original Windows install with SuSE 10.0 back in November of 2005. You can read about my SuSE exploits on my Switching to SuSE 10 thread.

I’ve not missed having to take care of a Windows desktop but my new job has me working with Windows only programs, and, after a year away from it I needed to get used to using Windows again. My one nagging issue with my old machine was that it was essentially un-upgradeable. I couldn’t upgrade the amount of RAM or speed of the processor and the front side bus was a wonderfully slow 66mhz. As a result I was unable to play many of the popular new games that have come out for PC since I bought it. I’ve always wanted to try gaming under Linux but until now did not have the ability (speed) too.

A couple of weeks ago I got around to asking my friend about the computer and he was kind enough to drop it by, I have such good friends. I have to say if this is his “old gaming machine” then I am afraid to see the “new” one because WOW! It is a Cadillac compared to my existing machine. I am going from an AMD 1600+ 1.4g 512mg-RAM 66mhz FSB to an Intel P-4 2.4g and 1.5g-RAM, 533mhz FSB. It is easily the most modern PC I have yet to own.

But first I wanted to upgrade a couple of things. The new machine had an ATI-9500 in it, and, I ‘just happened to have’ an ATI-9600 of my own along with a DVD-RW to replace the existing CD-drive. So, with the new video card and CD-drive installed, I used about half a can of air (am I the only one that blows out the dust in my cases every week?) and was ready to power up, and check out my new computer.

The new machine has two hard drives, one 40g and one 60g. My friend had installed Ubuntu along with Windows-XP on the 40g hard drive. It was partitioned into ext/3, swap, ntfs and fat-32 file formats. Ubuntu was on the ext/3, XP on the NTFS and FAT-32 partitions and the 60g hard drive was one big empty fat-32 partition. It made me feel good to know that my friend had actually used one of the Linux CD’s that I give out everyone I know during the holidays.

While instant messaging with a friend one evening and I told him about my new computer, what I’d done and that I wanted to put Debian on it (so I can be a “real” Linux user). Only “hardcore” Linux users use Debian or Slackware or Gentoo (Its true!), and I’ve only used Red Hat and SuSE, meaning I don’t know jack. I ‘just had to’ do this to be taken seriously…

After a few chuckles, my friend (and Debian advocate) offered to help me set up my machine and show me all the cool things he knows. I owe my friend a large debt of gratitude, I’ve learned many new things in the last several weeks thanks to him. We talked about it for a bit and we put together a to-do list, here is what we came up with:

1. I Formatted the 60g HD into ReiserFS using GParted and used the existing 1.6gig swap. GParted is a great tool for re-formatting partitions and entire Hard Drives, like I did.
2. I re-formatted the 5gig Ubuntu partition into ReiserFS. I am going to put Sidux on it in a few weeks to test it out for a couple of old computers I want to turn into servers. More on that later too.
3. I download and burned a Debian net install cd, It was only 35 megs in size. We figured we could pull everything else off of the internet.
4. I cleaned up the Windows partition and ran the disk defragmenter. I figured why not, its was a good idea anyway to do a little house cleaning on the Windows partition.
5. Take a deep breath..

So in my next installment, or as I like to call it “How I un-installed synaptic and other tales” I will share with you my trials and tribulations in Debian-land. I will tell you how I upgraded KDE 3.5.6 and lost synaptic at the same time, and how I got it back too. Plus I describe all the fun I have been having turning a Debian “net Install” into the desktop of my dreams.


LXer Article

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