Debian Post-Install Configuration
My purpose with this posting is to help newbies, period. This is not the ultimate howto or wiki, if anyone knows better or alternate ways to solve these problems, don't be shy, please post them, we all benefit from it. This is basically how i configure Debian, is not written on stone that you should do it like this, but you can try it, and see if it works for you.
This is a compilation of tips and advices from articles by Clinton de Young and Robert Storey from osnews.com and distrowatch.com respectively, googlings, and answers from other contributors to the Debian forum at linuxquestions.org, names that come to mind are: Dead Parrot, HappyTux, and a bunch of others that unfortunately, i can't retain in my feeble mind.
This is the first question a newbie-geek-to-be wants to know. He installed Woody with CD1 and dist-upgraded to Sarge, or installed Sarge with the Sarge installer RC1, and now doesn't know where to go from here.
Before i jump into it, all i have to say to all newbies is this:
READ your butt off, there is no substitute. Follow instructions eventhough it seems like a PITA. Go to debian.org > documentation > manuals, and read.
Give pertinent information when posting your problems, state what Debian version and what kernel you are using, it makes a difference, read what you are told to read, and come back
later on, asking sensible and specific queestions after reading the man, article, or howto, people will respect you, now you know exactly what you don't know, and you will be helped.
But if you post something like:
"I just installed Debian and apt-get ate my <name of app>, and later on, my keyboard and mouse stopped working after told to reboot by my paperboy, and KDE won't let me login for no reason at all, just to spite me i guess, and the thing is: i have never done anything mean to anybody at kde.org, please HELP, this never hapenned to me with <name of no-brainer distro>, i curse the day i listened to my now-ex-friend who told me to install Debian."
Hmm, see my point? is he on Woody, Sarge or Sid, what kernel is he using? because different solutions exist for different kernels; what errors is he getting on the console from var/log? How can we help this infidel? :)
THE X PROBLEM
"No Screens Found" means you did a bad configuration for the X server during the installation, either your video card, mouse, monitor, etc is badly configured either for lack of knowledge or lazyness. Yes, some people do not want to read, they want easy, fast answers that only solve their problems momentarily, and the next day they are back asking similar questions.
On kernel 2.4, read sections 9 and 10 of the following article, or better yet, read the whole article, even reinstall if you have to, in order to do it right:
The Very Verbose Debian Installation Walkthrough
Debian - Not Just Another Pretty Face Part 1
On kernel 2.6, read this wiki:
Unofficial #debian channel FAQ on freenode (irc.debian.org)
You will save yourself a lot of headaches by reading all this.
Usually a well done:
will solve the problem.
Ok, you got Debian installed, let's get going...WOOHOO!
The first thing i do is install a firewall and mozilla (with which i'm gonna check the firewall at grc.com). My favorite firewalls are Guarddog and Firestarter, they are easy to configure. After installing Sarge the first thing i do is:
Why dist-upgrade and not upgrade? read the APT-HOWTO. :)
#apt-get install guarddog mozilla
after i finish downloading guarddog, i invoke it (execute it):
it comes up, say OK to the first screen, in the main screen, click on the protocols flap on top of the page. You will find different categories, choose according to your needs.
Here are mine:
Chat = IRC
File Transfer = FTP, HTTP, HTTPS
Interactive Session = SSH
Mail = IMAP, POP3, SMTP, NNTP
Network = DNS
OK/save/get out , your firewall will start working immediately, at the terminal wait about 10 seconds, a couple of lines will come up, do a Ctrl+c and exit. Now all we have to do is, to test it at grc.com with Mozilla.
Firestarter is as easy, take your pick.
MOZILLA, OPERA, and .deb FILES
Mozilla is downloaded, configure it, and go to www.grc.com.
Once there, click on ShieldsUP, this will take you to another screen, go down till you pass 'Hot Spots' and click on 'ShieldsUP' again, this will send you to a third screen, click on 'Proceed', a dialog box will come up, click on 'Continue', in the next screen in the middle of the page, under 'ShieldsUP Services', click on 'All Service Ports', and on this last page, you don't have to do anything, just wait for your ports to be scanned, all 1055 of them! it takes about 2 minutes. They should be all neon-green or blue, no red ports, if you get red ports, go back and reconfigure Guarddog.
One thing i like about Mozilla is that it allows me to kill 3 birds with one shot, i get a browser, mail program, and a composer, which i use as my wordprocessor for my every day chores. Of course, you can also:
#apt-get install mozilla-firefox mozilla-thunderbird
If you like Opera, go to opera.com download opera to your /home directory (/home/your_name/).
Then to install it, as root, from the terminal:
#dpkg -i opera + TAB + ENTER (do not write this)
what this means is that by writing: 'dpkg -i opera' and pressing the TAB KEY it will auto-complete the opera long file name and then, by pressing the key ENTER, it will install the .deb file.
In order to do this, you always have to be in the directory where the file is. Thus, i alwalys download to my /home directory, you could download to /tmp, but then you would have to move to that directory first (#cd /tmp) in order to install app in question.
For you, KDE users, this is what kpackage does.
Clear as mud? hehe, it'll come to you, once you spend 45 minutes at it cussing and bitching, you will never forget it.
will update the menus in most window-managers (wm) except of course, KDE and GNOME who are desktop environments (DE)
Okeedokee, we got the firewall and mozilla installed, we are kinda safe, what's next?
apt-get install sndconfig
run the command sndconfig
EDIT 21 Dec 2004: sndconfig seems to be obsoleted, it gives an error when attempting to be installed. Try this:
Sound and video
find your sound card, and add yourself to the 'audio' group
#adduser <user name> group
#adduser macondo audio
logout/login for this to take effect, as long as you are there, add yourself to the following groups, one by one:
you need a sound mixer:
#apt-get install aumix
calibrate volume and pcm settings
If using apm, install it with modconf
look for apm and install it, then add this line to /etc/modules
add "apm=power-off" in the lilo.conf in the 'append' line.
#apt-get install discover
is very helpful identifying hardware, always install it.
#apt-get install cupsys cupsys-bsd
In mozilla, go to this address and configure printer:
If you want to know if Debian carries apps related to something and what these apps are:
#apt-cache search editors
a list will come up, you can choose from there.
if you want a description, say of vim:
#apt-cache show vim
WINDOW MANAGERS and DESKTOP ENVIRONMENTS
This is a very subjective matter, holy wars are started because of this. My opinion is that whatever makes you happy and helps you work fast, is the correct thing to use. My wife says that with my opinion and a dollar, i can buy a cup of coffee.
For those like me who use old, decrepit boxes, i advice to stay away from KDE and GNOME.
My PII/266/128MB RAM is sluggish and useless with any of these two. I like my system lean and mean, as fast as possible, i installed light apps and fast wm.
#apt-get install icewm icewm-themes iceme openbox
Here's what i think of KDE and GNOME:
OTOH, it flies with XFCE4, IceWM, Fluxbox, Openbox, WindowMaker, and AfterStep, if you have an old box, try all these, and choose your favorite, mine are icewm/openbox, fluxbox became a tad complicated with the new version for my taste. But who me?
Here's what i think of IceWM
APPLICATIONS I INSTALL
#apt-get install locales localepurge deborphan debfoster
I need to install locales, then:
if you are English speaking, choose all the instances of English you use, be it, en_US, en_GB, or any other language you use. For "furriners" like me, i choose all the en_US and all the es_ES (spanish) press ok, in the next screen i choose the language for my environment, making sure it says 'utf-8' at the end of it.
Localepurge, deborphan, and debfoster will save you MBs of space in your hard drive.
Localepurge gives the same configuration, choose again, answer the questions, a good explanation is in the APT-HOWTO at debian.org.
Debfoster is great, as root, invoke it, and answer the questions about keeping certain new apps. Keep everything you don't know what it is, deborphan will list the libraries that are alone and are safe to nuke.
Deborphan when invoked, will give a list of 'orphaned' libraries.
in order to get rid of them:
#deborphan | xargs apt-get -y remove --purge
I use all three once a week, to keep my box clean of garbage.
#apt-get install ksnapshot xchat xzgv numlockx artwiz-cursor memstat xfe vim
ksnapshot- gives you a picture of your desktop/screen
xchat- to chat on the IRC, in the #debian, #fluxbox, #debian-kde, on the freenode server
xzgv- fast and small image viewer
numlockx- enables the numbers pad to the right of the keyboard automatically on login.
artwiz-cursor- a beautiful cursor by the artwiz boys.
memstat- small (8kb) app that shows what amount of ram your apps are using.
xfe- small and quick file manager, very good.
vim- my favorite editor, fast and simple.
#apt-cache search openoffice.org
will give a long list of Openoffice.org apps and plugins which you can choose.
I choose what i need and install them.
#apt-get install openoffice.org openoffice.org-help-es openoffice.org-l10n-es myspell-es
notice that you can install in many languages, in my case: spanish, substitute 'es' for 'en', and you are in business, for myspell, you have to choose btwn en-us and en-gb.
In the Debian menu, under Editors, click on oowriter.
OOo comes up, go to:
Tools > Options > Memory > Graphic Cache > Use for OpenOffice.org
and change the amount of ram from 9 to 32, this will make it a tad faster.
Next from Memory, go to View, my choice:
Look & Feel = OS/2
Scale = 120
Icon Size = Large
I have bad eyesight :)
The terminal is another of my pet peeves, too small. With your favorite editor go to your
and copy/paste this:
$xrdb -merge /home/your_user_name/.Xresources
next time you start your terminal, you will have a nice, big terminal with white fonts, black background, yellow cursor, with a scrollbar, and 20k lines to scroll back to.
If you are using xdm, kdm, gdm, or wdm, you can make your favorite wm/DE start automatically by editing you ~/.xsession in this way:
and adding this:
then save and exit, logout/login and voilá!
in my case, the next time i login to xdm, icewm will start, if you comment icewm and uncomment openbox, then this last one will start.
If you use startx:
do the same.
When you install x-window-system, it installs xfonts-100dpi, xterm, xdm
If you are using startx and want to increase your fonts, add the following line to your
/home/user/.bash_profile and /.bashrc:
alias startx='startx -- -dpi 100'
you can increas the dpi to 110, 120, etc.
If you use xdm, edit the file:
and add these 2 lines:
#:0 local /usr/X11R6/bin/X -bpp 16
:0 local /usr/X11R6/bin/X -bpp 16 -dpi 100
increase the dpi accordingly.
This should keep you busy for a while, hope this helps.
Edit: if by any chance when you invoke a program from the terminal, it doesn't come up because the server doesn't allow you to:
thank's a lot :D
looks like some quality pointers here. this will definately go into my useful bookmarks.
thanks for the invaluable comments macondo!
You're both welcome, it's not a complete job, but it should hold down the avalanche of questions, if somebody reads it.
Re: Debian Post-Install Configuration
Lot's of good things in there. I'll bookmark and go back to it every now and then.
Anyway, by using Knoppix (yes, yes, I know) as a guide to configuration, lots of googling, a shit-load of trial-and-error, and occasional questions on the on-line resources, my system is now where I want it to be.
Again, nice write up :)
"<sigh> You make it sound so simple... And I guess that by now, most everything a newbie can ask has been asked and documented somewhere on the internet. But I can tell you that when I, as a semi-newbie, started to install Linux (eventually ended up with Sarge) on my laptop (IBM ThinkPad R40), things weren't that simple and easy to find... Laptops tend to have much more specialized hardware than desktops."
After 'installing' Mandrake 8.2, in which i did nothing, it was an automatic installation, i tried to install Abiword, no dice, urpmi gave a dependency hell, i coulddn't do much, i went to the forum and it was a silent type of treatment toward newbies, NOBODY told me to read anything even when i asked, i questioned the linux wisdom when a newbie couldn't install a simple package. They told me to RTFM, i told them i would gladly do it, if only told where to find it, i was promptly ignored, remember, this will be 2 years this October. Needless to say, i disinstalled Mandrake the next day, and went back to Windows 98.
Then i read The Very Verbose Debian Installation Walkthrough by Clinton de Young, and i installed Debian the first time i tried to, by following the instructions, i printed from the article. I didn't know i had installed kernel 2.2 or that Sarge or Sid existed, much less kernel 2.4 .
Yes, it's simple nowadays, you got people who want to help, people who even tell you what sections to read in order to solve the problem, and STILL, newbies won't read it or follow instructions.
"Again, nice write up "
Thanks, i did it with the best of intentions.
Great! I suggest putting this on a web site.
"Great! I suggest putting this on a web site."
If anybody wants to do it, he/she is welcome, as long as the contents is not changed.
Another easy-to-setup firewall is FireHOL. For most newbies these few simple steps should be enough to put your computer behind a stealthed firewall:
# apt-get install firehol
# nano /etc/default/firehol
(You'll find that there's text in this file: "START_FIREHOL=NO", change it to: "START_FIREHOL=YES". Exit nano saving changes.)
And that's about all there is to it.
(Well, FireHOL also comes with a wizard for creating a FireHOL configuration that is tailor-made for your computer:
# firehol-wizard > /etc/firehol/firehol.conf
But this is not really necessary at all -- the default config file should work just fine as a basic firewall for the home workstations/desktops.)
Sometimes firewall outputs its log messages in the console, which can be very annoying if you want to do something outside X. If you use FireHOL, you can fix this by installing the "ulogd" package (apt-get install ulogd) and adding the line
If you want to find out how to make this work with other firewalls, such as Firestarter or Guarddog, you need to consult ulogd documentation -- I've only used ulogd with FireHOL.
One of the most troublesome tasks for beginners seems to be the X configuration. For Debian 3.1 (also called "Sarge") there is the command "dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xfree86" (while testing/Etch and unstable/Sid use X.Org and "dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg"). This command (executed as root) asks a lot of questions about your hardware and many new users don't have the kind of detailed knowledge of their hardware that is needed to answer these questions.
So Debian has developed a program called "xdebconfigurator" that is supposed to probe your hardware and tell you all the info you need in "dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xfree86" (or "dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg"). It's far from perfect, but it's still worth a try if you don't know your hardware specs.
Here's how to use xdebconfigurator: First you need to install it (aptitude --with-recommends install xdebconfigurator). Then you can run it (as root): "xdebconfigurator -x". This should output all the information you need for successfully configuring X. Just write the info down and run (as root) "dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xfree86". The most important details are the video driver, the mouse device and protocol, and the monitor horizontal sync and vertical refresh values.
Note: It's actually possible to just type "xdebconfigurator && dexconf" and be done with it, but I find it better to enter the info manually via "dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xfree86" because xdebconfigurator is really far from perfect.
Enabling NumLock (keyboard's numeric pad):
macondo already introduced the numlockx tool. To make it work, you need to add a line for it in some file that is read during X start (.xinitrc or .xsession; kdm and gdm have their own Xsession files somewhere under /etc):
/usr/bin/numlockx on &
To make the numeric pad available in console, uncomment the "LEDS=+num" line in /etc/console-tools/config.
GNOME and KDE now have cool new technology to automatically mount & unmount your removable media -- you just plug the media in and KDE/GNOME mounts it for you and when you unplug the media, GNOME/KDE unmounts it automatically.
It's possible to use the same automounting technology also in XFCE or in some small window manager if you install GNOME's "volume manager" (apt-get install gnome-volume-manager) and add a line for it in some file that is read while X starts (.xinitrc or .xsession):
GNOME's "volume manager" has a GUI configuration utility that you can use by typing "gnome-volume-properties" in xterm.
I had trouble ejecting my mounted cdrom drive by pressing the drive's eject button but I fixed it by adding the following line to /etc/sysctl.conf:
Good Job macondo... I know you've helped me quite a bit in the past few weeks since I started using debian... I will have been using linux for 1 year come October... I finally found my niche in debian... Thanks again, and good job...
I do maintain a small personal FAQ that I keep locally on my computer and sync with the web. I'm in the process of heavily updating it (as I'm getting more experienced), and I may add some of your pointers.
"I do maintain a small personal FAQ that I keep locally on my computer and sync with the web. I'm in the process of heavily updating it (as I'm getting more experienced), and I may add some of your pointers."
No problem, feel free. it's a good idea to keep important documents, in a folder at a web-mail address, i do that with Yahoo.
Edit: if by any reason you can't get an answer from this forum or any other one, you still have other options:
1.if you are in a hurry, try the IRC, with xchat.
2.Do a search in this site
3.go to debian-user mailing list (find the address in debian.org)
4.google your eyes out! www.google.com/linux
Yeah well...how do i use xchat?
From the Debian menu > Apps > Net > X Chat, click on it and it will open.
On the first screen, type your nickname at the top, first space from left to right.
Choose 'Freenode' from the servers list on the left column, click on 'Connect' at the bottom, this will take you to a second screen, it will take a minute or two for the page to be full completely with Freenode messages, ignore the ones that say they coudn't find your name, server, etc, eventually the page will be full of messages.
At the bottom, at the cursor, join the channel (# symbol means channel) you want by typing this:
/join #<channel name>,
in my case.
it could be #linuxnewbie #xchat #kde #gnome , etc, you can find a list of the channels at this particular server at
Please read the FAQ, this people don't suffer fools lightly.
Edit: a friend of mine who read the original posting, wrote to me saying that i neglected to explain how to use vim, being fast and simple according to me. :)
Vim has many options that i don't know or use, my needs are basic, so i use it to view files and editing.
Vim = Vi improved
#apt-get install vim
To view a file without any intention to editing it, just invoke it as user with the file in question. Let's say i want to check a file just to make sure something is there.
this will give me a list of the modules i got installed. Ok, i found out what i wanted, To get out, just type:
Do not forget the colon at the beginning.
As root, invoke vim:
#vim <name of file>
Vim has 2 modes: VIEW and EDIT. View comes by default, as you open a file, you are in the View mode, if you want the Edit mode, just press the key 'i' or 'a' and an 'INSERT' title will come up at the bottom of the page, when you see this, you can start editing. Use the arrows (down, up, left, right) to move, and backspace and delete keys to erase.
Once you finish editing, you can not save and exit in the Edit mode, to do this, you have to switch back to the View mode. In order to do this, you press the key ESCAPE, the INSERT sign disappears, and you proceed to type this:
and press the key ENTER. (w means 'write to disk' and 'q' means quit, don't forget the initial colon) .
Example: i want to add a module, this means i have to edit /etc/modules
Press the key 'i' to edit,
add the module
Press the key ESCAPE to move back to View, once there, type:
Enter and voilá
Note: if you screw up, got mixed, are drunk or any other situation and can't remember for the life of you, use this:
this will override everything, saving what you edited.
if you just want to get out of Dodge and don't care to save anything:
BETTER LOOKING FONTS
Assuming you installed x-window-system
as root, with your favorite editor, go to /etc/X11/XF86Config-4
make sure the line with the 75dpi fonts ends with ':unscaled', do the same with the line '100dpi', this latter one should be on top of the 75dpi one, if it's not there, add it; move the line with the 'Type1' fonts to the bottom.
You should end up with something like this:
My favorite fonts are the Bitsteam Vera fonts.
#apt-get install ttf-bitstream-vera
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