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If your a major newbie, why are you using Debian? I know its a great distro, but come on...not a lot of fun to learn on. To start out on, you may want an easier distro, with a little more hardware autodetection. Like, Suse (if you have some money), RedHat( I personally don't like consolidated desktop), or my favorite, Mandrake (fonts not the best, but it usually works out of the box).
If you insist on debian, and are willing to use proprietary binaries in your X, go to nvidia's website and download their drivers. They worked pretty good for me. Not the most stable, but i had 3D support. Else, it sounds like a XF86Config-4 problem, and you should use something like xf86config to set that up.
The place I work is running Debian.
I am in charge of setting up some new computers we have for research, they want linux installed, I got the job of getting the video drivers installed.
I have downloaded the drivers from nvidia.com, I believe I have followed the documentation correctly, I have looked at XF86Config-4, but I'm not sure what else to do with it besided the driver = nvidia (not nv) and to comment out the modules or whatever.
I would agree with peter72, you should d/l the source tarballs and compile them. However, the instructions from NVidia are incomplete. I have added two steps ( shown with the --->'s ) that worked for me:
Instructions for the Impatient:
$ tar xvzf NVIDIA_kernel.tar.gz
$ tar xvzf NVIDIA_GLX.tar.gz
$ cd NVIDIA_kernel
---> $ make
$ make install
$ cd ../NVIDIA_GLX
---> $ make
$ make install
Also, if you still have problems, you may find more clues in /var/log/XFree86.0.log
Solve all your X and other problems with Debian - say hello to Knoppix!
Those of you who really want to go Debian but have been put off by the horrific install of this Distro, I have some good news.. actually a few people have been talking about it for awhile but I only came across it recently...
OK so I tried all the others..RH, Mandrake, Caldera, Suse.. (actually to be fair haven't really tried Suse that much but installed it on another machine yesterday and have to say YaST is very good at detecting hardware and getting a system going.. but everyone is talking about Debian and how great it is. I dont know how good it is yet but I believe the hype. But what I do know is that the install procedure sucks. How such a great product (free as it may be) can have such a contorted installation mechanism is beyond me. You'd think if Debian could do such wonderful things with the build (which Im sure they can) then why not make a logical method for the install, text based is fine but at least make the ENTER key mean go forward a step and the ESCAPE key go back a step! But no, with Debian, hit Escape at your peril when installing.. it will skip parts and you'll end up with a half baked installation sitting on your box. Tasksel the package picking part of the Debian install is easy enough on the eyes, but God Help you if you choose to run DSelect afterwards to finetune your install. Partitioning drives, the bit everyone goes on about as being way too difficult is actually pretty easy. For a home setup you dont need anything complicated. Just create 2 partitions (logical ones if you already have an OS on the same box) one linux and the other linux swap. But by far, the most annoying thing is getting X to work. Either your screen doesn't work or your mouse doesn't and sometimes both. I tried installing Debian about 6 times, each with differing results. Then I gave up. Then I went back to it again. And then I gave up agian. And then when I thought about giving up and just settling with Windoze (!) I came across the Greatest thing since Debian... Knoppix!
You can download Knoppix from their webiste - KNOPPIX-3.1-23-10-2002-EN.iso is the file you need. Burn it onto a CDROM, put it into your machine and reboot it.
Knoppix is designed to run from a CD and its a great distro based on Debian, except it will auto detect everything and you dont have to a thing unless it cant detect what resolution is best for you in which case you have to tell it. Choos 800x600 and it will sort out if you can cope with 1024x768 automatically. It will then carry on loading and you will soon have a KDE session running smoothly on your desktop.
Now for installing Debian using the Knoppix cd install that you have just booted. Just open a terminal window and type:
It will start the Knoppix install to hard drive procedure. Its a breeze to do, just answer the simple questions. Your hardware will be accurately detected and although it says it will take 40 minutes to complete, you'll be up and running in 20. And because its a Debian build, you can update and install whatever you want using apt-get, just like you would with regular Debian.
Knoppix is a superb distro of linux and its built with Debian so you get the best of both worlds - all the good of Debian without the hassle and frustration of a pre-historic install procedure..
I just got a reply a few hours ago on the forums at www.knoppix.net and it seems that knoppix does install debian, but the latest "unstable" release, so if you are like me, and get annoyed when progs crash and are looking for a stable server environment, i dont think knoppix is the way to go, but since it runs from the CD it couldnt hurt to test it...
Yeah that might be the case.. however I haven't had any problems so far but then I've only had it running a few days and not had much time to experiment. However, once you've installed it, you have full access to the wonders of apt-get which means you can downgrade with a few keystrokes if you find a problem!
Debian is an advanced users distribution. Advanced users like the installation system because it gives us control. We like our systems configured exactly the way we want, bit by bit, which is what that scary installer (at first) allows us to do. We like the installer. It doesn't auto-screw our installations. You really will come to appreciate it.
If you really want a hybrid between the two worlds, then knoppix is OK, but you'll probably be better off with Libranet because it installs with a much better set of administration tools (particularly for a newbie) including some that aren't available in Debian proper. It's kernel is also a little less oversised (than knoppix), so you'll have a bit better performance until you learn to roll your own (which is also pretty easy on Debian).