Debian Etch: So Easy A Newbie Can Do It

Posted by dcparris on Dec 18, 2006 8:11 AM EDT
LXer; By D.C. Parris
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LXer Feature: 18-Dec-2006

After getting a nudge from one of our DebCentral readers, I decided to give Debian another shot. You see, I haven't messed with Debian since Woody taught me I was just a wannabe geek. As for Etch, if you've installed *Ubuntu, you can install Debian Etch. In fact, Debian may have found a new home or two or three.

A Little Background

Let's backtrack a couple of years, when I laughed my way through an article in one of the Linux mags, where the author suggested he would do a fresh install of Debian, and related that to the Lord of the Rings characters, who, having achieved their goals, were taken off into some sort of neverland. Inspired, I tried out Woody, only to find myself lost in Aptitude Hell. Back to SUSE, with my tail between my legs. Now, fast forward to the present, where Debian and I both have come a long way.

Installing Debian Etch

The Debian installer starts off with the language settings, moves to formatting the hard drive, with a few sensible default options, and then let's you set your time zone, root and initial user. Next comes the package selection. Although the installer avoids Aptitude Hell, and offers a simple choice of environments, there is no indication for new users as to which graphical environment they will get, nor any way to change the default option. It's either GNOME or nothing.

I understand the hard feelings toward KDE, but that is - or should be - history now. SUSE gives a choice, as do some other general-purpose distros. New users will have to figure out how to get KDE (assuming they even know that is), never mind Enlightenment or XFce. I realize it's simple, but offering users a choice during the installation is a good thing. After all, isn't choice part of the GNU/Linux mantra? DebCentral has a nice tutorial on avoiding GNOME during the install phase, for those who need it.

At any rate, once you choose the environments to install, Debian does its thing, and then you reboot into your shiny new Debian GNU/Linux system. Let me say this, I've installed Debian on 3 boxes, plus my laptop. I've got a server, one with KDE, and the others have GNOME. Our boxes are all donated machines clocking in at a whopping 450MHz and approximately 192MB RAM. Debian blazes on these boxes. Seriously, these boxes probably fly faster than they did with SUSE Linux 8.0 Pro on them.

Running Debian

My laptop's wi-fi broke when I upgraded it from Ubuntu Hoary to Dapper. I'm sure I could have kept Ubuntu and fixed it, but with the tutorial for FWCutter handy, and being in the OS-installation mood, I just went with it. Wi-fi works great at home, had problems at work, but I'll get that worked out, I'm sure. I didn't bother to time things, but Debian seems like it runs faster than Ubuntu, and definitely faster than SUSE.

I decided in the end to follow the DebCentral tutorial for installing KDE from a standard shell environment on the one workstation. Even KDE 3.5.5 runs fast. 2.0.4 loads in about 15 seconds - not bad for a 450MHz box. And you know what? Even though Debian doesn't have a centralized system management app, like Yast, I'm not finding it very difficult to adjust to

With GNOME and KDE both running fast, My two gripes are that I did not manage to play an Ogg-Vorbis file, and could not get my Kodak CX6200 digital camera working. Although with SUSE and Ubuntu, these two items 'just worked', it doesn't seem to be the case with Debian Etch. I don't want non-libre codecs or drivers, so I really don't care if those work or not. I haven't had a chance to test my Handsrping Visor yet, either. Let's face it, though. Most people who are going to choose the desktop environment during a net install will expect their devices and at least the libre multi-media codecs to 'just work'.

New Convert?

You know, I think I can get used to running Debian GNU/Linux. In fact, these boxes now running it used to run SUSE and Ubuntu primarily. Now it's Debian and Ichthux. I've got to test out this PCLinuxOS thing yet, but so far, I can see Debian Etch becoming my primary OS for the foreseeable future. If I sound a bit like a new Debian convert, I won't deny it. Still, it takes a little time to get used to a new distro, and we'll see how this plays out. If you have tried out Debian Etch, let me know what you like and/or dislike about it.

» Read more about: Story Type: LXer Features, Reviews; Groups: Debian, Linux

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Subject Topic Starter Replies Views Last Post
Additional installers for KDE and XFCE Laika 17 3,217 Dec 26, 2006 4:33 PM
kdm/gdm not working gaman 3 3,844 Dec 26, 2006 8:14 AM
xfce bigg 16 10,852 Dec 19, 2006 3:52 PM
I'll be impressed when... tuxchick 14 2,771 Dec 19, 2006 10:57 AM
A great review of Debian Etch dsTst 6 2,729 Dec 19, 2006 10:10 AM
Centralized Package Management azerthoth 18 4,819 Dec 19, 2006 5:58 AM
non-free and contrib repositories miksuh2 3 7,244 Dec 19, 2006 12:31 AM miksuh2 0 7,834 Dec 18, 2006 6:27 PM
Attaching Kodak Cameras to Etch Dougrrr 3 1,724 Dec 18, 2006 4:29 PM

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