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Adventures in installing linux

By master3bs ·
Well I installed Mandrake. I got an error installing package libxorg-x11-6.7.0-3mdk.i586.

I went back and determined what it was that was not installing correctly. It was listed as a "must have" on the installation guide so I decided to continue anyway; as I can always reinstall.

Well I now have a very powerful command line OS.

I learned how to go to the /etc/inittab file and change it to boot to the GUI instead. Before doing that; I learned the startx command and tried it. This gives me a series of no such file or directory errors.

So I'm going to reinstall mandrake again. In the meantime I'm downloading a centOS ISO and will grab a debian next.

Mandrake is supposed to be one of the easier flavors to install; so I'm going to at least get a graphical interface to work on it before moving on to another flavor.

Most likely I'll blog about this too.

Updates to come

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not precisely true

by apotheon In reply to If you continue to have p ...

Unless you're using a VERY VERY OLD version of Debian, it does "come with a GUI" if you want it. It's better to do a minimal install, though, and just use "apt-get install x-window-system" followed by "apt-get install [window manager of choice]".

Don't fear the command line. It's your friend, I swear.

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I don't fear it!

by lastchip In reply to not precisely true

I just found it very frustrating.

I spent a day and a half trying (on and off) to get a GUI up and running, using "apt-get install x-window-system" and trying much the same using individual packages, after researching the problem. Each time I got some sort of error. The research I read said "don't be surprised if your window manager fails to work - look at some log or other to find the cause". How?

The iso I used was the latest "network" install download, so hardly an old version.

The point is, any completely new user would be put off Debian and probably Linux for life with this experience. I have some very basic knowledge, having tried various distro's, but am far from being an intermediate user, let alone an expert.

Debian would have been far better served, if when presented with the options for pre-defined configurations, the "Desktop" option automatically loaded a working GUI and then some sort of script based wizard that allowed the choice of Gnome, KDE
or "Choose my own" (none).

At least then, a newbie is on his/her way, but presenting a command prompt for a Desktop is not the way to encourage people to start using Linux.

You have to get real with all this. It is the 21st century and people are not going to be prepared to mess around for hours to get a workable system. Xandros avoids these traps by presenting a nice GUI interface (with a working mouse!) and it just installs and works. OK, they might have changed a few of the holy grail configurations to achieve this, but at the end of the day, it achieves it's objective!

By comparison, in just over an hour with Xandros, I had a working Linux system, both printers configured and access to my Windows network complete with file sharing enabled

I have a great respect for your writings, have learnt from them and enjoy your views, but you have to recognise, you have a huge inbuilt knowledge base to sort these problems out. Most of us don't.

One of the reasons I wanted to try Debian, was because of your enthusiasm for it and I felt it may develop my own knowledge a little, but at the moment I have to say, I'm disappointed.

As I said in my previous post, Debian (in my view) is not for novices - at least, not in it's raw form.

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by apotheon In reply to I don't fear it!

There might be some kind of hardware issue going on there. I haven't ever had a problem with getting X running with Debian, except on a machine that had such a cheap-*** motherboard with cheap-*** integrated graphics adapter that the only OSes it would install at all (command line or otherwise) were Debian, Slackware, and Windows 2000. Windows 98 wouldn't work, Windows XP wouldn't work, FreeBSD wouldn't work, SimplyMEPIS wouldn't work, SuSE wouldn't work, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. With Debian, it would install, but I couldn't get X to work. Slackware was the only OS other than Windows 2000 that could get a GUI running, out of a dozen or so that I tried.

I needed a Win2k machine anyway, at the time, because I was supporting Windows end-users. I sacrificed the machine to the Dark God of Microsoft Monopoly, and saved the rest of my computers for more unixy stuff.

Anyhow, my point is this: It's probably some kind of hardware issue. Xandros isn't a 100% "free as in speech" distribution, and has some proprietary drivers included with it, if I recall correctly. That might be why Xandros worked for you and vanilla Debian did not.

Choosing a "desktop" install for Debian should give you a fully functional GNOME desktop. Since I don't like GNOME (at all), I don't use it.

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That may be true.

by lastchip In reply to odd

In fact, Debian would not recognise my network card at first, but a second attempt at auto-configuration worked. Ubuntu by comparison, would not recognise it at all. It's not like it's a strange card, it's a Realtek chipset, hardly state of the art!

It is an old machine (K6-400), so maybe there are some hardware issues. Having said that, I've installed Mandrake (as was), SuSE and Redhat at different times, and all have been successful to a degree.

When I have some more time, I'll persevere and see if I can get to the bottom of the problem.

If I can get X to work, do you know the command for KDE? I too, don't like Gnome.

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by apotheon In reply to That may be true.

It sounds like you've definitely got some hardware issues, there. If the thing has been in use for a long time without a line-interactive (or better) UPS, it's entirely possible that the components have degraded over time due to power fluctuations. In any case, I generally use stuff that old only as basic servers that don't require much oomph. Solid as a rock, barring outright hardware failure.

For installing KDE:
apt-get install kde

I'm no more a fan of KDE than GNOME, though, truth be told. Enlightenment, IceWM, Blackbox or Fluxbox, and a number of others appeal to me more, but none nearly as much as WindowMaker. Getting used to WindowMaker, when you're used to stuff like Windows, MacOS, GNOME, and KDE can be kind of odd at first, but once I started getting the hang of it I discovered that no other window manager was likely to ever measure up, barring a fundamental change in the way window managers worked.

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by lastchip In reply to unlucky

That explains it! When I tried to force the issue, I used apt-get install KDE rather than kde! However, I still have to resolve the X issue first.

WindowMaker sounds interesting, maybe if I finally solve this problem, I'll give that a go too.

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finding package names for apt

by apotheon In reply to unlucky

In general, package names for Debian will never have capital letters in them. I have yet to see one, as far as I recall.

You can search for package names using apt-cache search. For instance, finding packages related to KDE could be accomplished by typing "apt-cache search kde". Of course, since there are literally hundreds of pieces of software in a standard KDE install, you'll get a long list. You can whittle it down a bit, to software that only has kde in the name and summary line of its description, by typing "apt-cache search kde | grep kde", which "pipes" the search through a text-search for kde (grep is the computer equivalent of using a gigantic electromagnet to pull all the needles out of a haystack in a matter of seconds).

Unfortunately, even grepping for kde in your apt-cache search gives a lot of results, because there's just so damned much KDE crap available. Still, these suggestions for how to search for package names using apt should help out in the future when you're not sure what install command to use for a given piece of software.

If you find a package name that looks interesting and want more information about it than the one-line summary (for instance, after running "apt-cache search money" one of the results is "atanks - tank-battling game", and you might wonder what the heck that has to do with money), you can use apt-cache show to see more information, including package dependencies, package download size, a longer description of the package, and so on (in the case of atanks, you'd type "apt-cache show atanks"). This will also give you the version number of the software in the package, if you want that information for some reason.

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Searching for kde

by crt In reply to unlucky

apt-cache search kde | grep "kde " would help; searching for kde[space] eliminates all the kde-something packages from the list.

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by rforston In reply to Adventures in installing ...

Best of the free, as in free beer, Linux desktops, IMO.
Does a better job recognizing and installing hardware, large enthusiastic user support community, and there are around 30K free programs in the Ubuntu repositories ....
Try it, you'll like it.

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Try Kanotix!

by ScienceMikey In reply to Adventures in installing ...

I have tried a number of Linux distros over the last 4 years, including SUSE 8.0 (which I paid $80 for and could never get to work right, partly because of non-existent help--I HOPE that's changed since), Knoppix, and Kubuntu 5.04 and 5.10.

By FAR, my best results have been with Kanotix. Though based on Knoppix, it's more purely Debian Sid (don't be afraid, this is a good thing), so it's easier to keep current (less problems with version conflicts, etc.). Herr Knopper uses Kano's install scripts--that's the great thing about open source--but I like my results with Kanotix installs much better. I use Linux over 90% of the time, these days, over Win XP.

A new version of Kanotix is about to be released, for which public betas are available. Current version: 2005-3, upcoming: 2005-4

Another thing that I really, REALLY like is GAGBoot for dual booting. It's a graphical boot loader that I always use as a front end for GRUB and LiLo because of its flexibility and ease-of use:

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