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Old 05-16-2009, 12:24 PM   #1
DavidMcCann
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Installing Debian with /home inherited from Fedora


I wanted to switch from Fedora 8 to Debian Stable, to avoid the frequent changes and unreliable bleeding-edge features.

Having /home on a separate partition, I kept it and just put Lenny on the root partition. When I rebooted I got a warning that/etc/gdm/xsession could not set mode 0700 on .gnome2-private because the operation was not permitted, and the session was terminated. At that point I panicked and reinstalled Fedora.

An enquiry elsewhere on the forums has not found an explanation of what's happening, or even what the message meant. I could try deleting .gnome2-private and reinstalling Debian, but I wonder what might the the next thing that gives a problem. Reformatting the whole disk and then restoring my files from backups and reconfiguring all the software does not appeal it took me long enough working out Gnucash the first time!

Can anyone who's switched to Debian from another distro tell me if this is an inevitable problem, or just a glitch? If a Debian installation is going to quarrel with the old configuration files, I shall have to try CentOS or put up with Fedora.
 
Old 05-16-2009, 01:27 PM   #2
stress_junkie
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You could just boot a live CD and remove the old gnome configuration files from the home directory.
 
Old 05-16-2009, 01:35 PM   #3
estabroo
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sounds like you have an ownership issue possibly, you might want to check to see that the uid of the user you created for yourself matches the uid of the files in your home directory.
 
Old 06-13-2009, 11:32 AM   #4
DavidMcCann
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Eventually I removed all the configuration files, to restore the essential ones later. Even then, I found all my data files marked as unreadable after the installation! Inspection showed that the owner was set to 500 as a name instead of as a uid! chown solved the problem, but it's still an odd feature.
 
Old 06-13-2009, 03:12 PM   #5
Qew
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidMcCann View Post
Eventually I removed all the configuration files, to restore the essential ones later. Even then, I found all my data files marked as unreadable after the installation! Inspection showed that the owner was set to 500 as a name instead of as a uid! chown solved the problem, but it's still an odd feature.
It's not an odd feature, it's just the way Debian and Fedora do things. Users in Red Hat-based systems start at 500, while in Debian-based systems it's 1000.

A few years ago, before I met Debian, I changed from Mandriva 2006 to Ubuntu Dapper (ie, a Red Hat-based system to a Debian-based one), where I faced the same problem in my home directory (from UIDs of 500 to those of 1000). OK, I could just start my home from scratch, but I decided not to and see if I could fix any issues that came up. The first thing I had to do was chown the contents of my home directory to my current user, which converted the UIDs from 500 to 1000.

Last edited by Qew; 06-13-2009 at 03:14 PM.
 
Old 06-14-2009, 05:05 PM   #6
DavidMcCann
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It's not an odd feature, it's just the way Debian and Fedora do things. Users in Red Hat-based systems start at 500, while in Debian-based systems it's 1000.
Having waited a couple of hours this afternoon while the ownership of the files on my backup DVD-RAM was changed, I call it an infuriating feature: the sort of thing that gets Linux a bad name.

The really depressing thing is that, having run into yet more trouble with Debian, I can see myself having to change it all back if I take refuge with CentOS :-(
 
Old 06-14-2009, 09:39 PM   #7
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Having waited a couple of hours this afternoon while the ownership of the files on my backup DVD-RAM was changed, I call it an infuriating feature: the sort of thing that gets Linux a bad name.
That only gives linux a bad name to people who don't understand how *nix machines operate vs how windows machines operate.

One of the key differences between *nix and windows that often gets forgotten is that *nix was designed as a multi-user system, whereas windows was designed for a single user at a time. That isn't knocking on windows, its just a widely held "fact" about their design. There certainly are things that are handled "better" either way.

Since windows expects that the person in front of the screen is the one and only user on the machine, it is less picky about who "owns" what file. If the file exists, the assumption is usually that you can at the very least read the file, if not manipulate it outright. After all, since the user is the only one, why not let them own all? Obviously you can have multiple users on a windows box and keep their files secure from one another, but I'm talking the simple case here.

All *nix systems don't operate that way, they make the assumption that you are one of X users. How do you separate user F from user G? You assign a variable to the user. As mentioned above, Debian starts numbering users at 1000, The RedHat systems starts numbering at 500. Who is right or wrong in that? Nobody. You could put out a new distro tomorrow that starts numbering users at 8462, and it would be just as valid and usable.

What you could/should have done is used the terminal to change the aforementioned variable which assigns a number to your user. If you had looked up the usermod command (man usermod on every *nix system I've come across), you'd have seen how you could alter your user ID (uid) with the usermod command. Another option would be using the chown command (again, man chown) to change the ownership of everything within your home directory.

There may well be graphical tools that can do this as well in Gnome, KDE, or whatever you have on your machine, but the terminal is always available, and is by a mile the strongest part of the *nix setup. Asking google about how to move users from one system to another would have helped you too. The vast majority of things you could want to do with a system has already been done, you just need to look on the net and see how. If you had been more familiar with the tools available to you, this problem literally would have been solved in less than 30 seconds.

Peace,
JimBass
 
Old 06-15-2009, 10:49 AM   #8
DavidMcCann
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Originally Posted by JimBass View Post
That only gives linux a bad name to people who don't understand how *nix machines operate vs how windows machines operate.
Never having had a computer using Windows, I am unlikely to be confused about this.

Quote:
As mentioned above, Debian starts numbering users at 1000, The RedHat systems starts numbering at 500. Who is right or wrong in that? Nobody. You could put out a new distro tomorrow that starts numbering users at 8462, and it would be just as valid and usable.
It would also be a nuisance for anyone switching to it.

Quote:
Another option would be using the chown command (again, man chown) to change the ownership of everything within your home directory.
Exactly what I did.

Quote:
If you had been more familiar with the tools available to you, this problem literally would have been solved in less than 30 seconds.
If you had been more familiar with the glacial slowness of DVD-RAM (note the extension) you'd know why it took a couple of hours.

Quote:
Peace,
JimBass
If you are always as condescending as this, you're not likely to get much of that!
 
Old 06-16-2009, 12:51 PM   #9
JimBass
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Sorry, I read to quickly and made (incorrect) assumptions.

Is there any chance of moving the data to a different device? Like sata/ide drive over DVD-Ram?
 
Old 06-16-2009, 12:58 PM   #10
DavidMcCann
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Originally Posted by JimBass View Post
Sorry, I read to quickly and made (incorrect) assumptions.
Thanks, JimBass. That happens to us all at times.

I think DVD-RAM is one of those things that sounds good until you start using it. Apart from the speed question (3x), the UDF file system is still rather fragile under Linux. Now that USB memory is so cheap, that's the way to get removable backups.
 
Old 07-10-2009, 05:42 PM   #11
DavidMcCann
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Smile

Last word. I've just reinstalled Fedora: it asked if I was the same david as the owner of the existing /home/david, and then automatically changed all the uids. That's what I call user friendly!
 
  


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