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By macondo at 2004-08-30 21:23
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 at and respectively, googlings, and answers from other contributors to the Debian forum at, 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 even though it seems like a PITA. Go to > 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 questions 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, please HELP, this never happened to me with <name of no-brainier 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? :)

"No Screens Found" mans 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 laziness. 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:

The Very Verbose Debian Installation Walk through

Debian - Not Just Another Pretty Face Part 1

Part 2

On kernel 2.6, read this wiki:

Unofficial #debian channel FAQ on freenode (

You will save yourself a lot of headaches by reading all this.

Usually a well done:

#dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xfree86

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 My favorite firewalls are Guarddog and Firestarter, they are easy to configure. After installing Sarge the first thing i do is:

#apt-get update
#apt-get dist-upgrade

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
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 with Mozilla.

Firestarter is as easy, take your pick.

Mozilla is downloaded, configure it, and go to

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 word processor for my every day chores. Of course, you can also:

#apt-get update
#apt-get install mozilla-firefox mozilla-thunderbird

If you like Opera, go to 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 for auto-completing the opera long file name and then pressing the key ENTER, it will install the .deb file.

In order to this, you always have to be in the directory where the file is. Thus, i always 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


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

apm power_off=1

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


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

#apt-get install locales localepurge deborphan debfoster

I need to install locales, then:

#dpkg-reconfigure locales

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 "furreners" 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

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

will give a long list of apps and plugins which you can choose.
I choose what i need and install them.

#apt-get install 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 in Graphic Cache > For

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

vim /home/your_user_name/.Xresources

and copy/paste this:

xterm*background: black
xterm*foreground: white
xterm*font: 10x20
xterm*scrollBar: true
xterm*rightScrollBar: true
xterm*saveLines: 20000
xterm*cursorColor: yellow


as user:

$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:

vim /home/macondo/.xsession

and adding this:


xhost +localhost
exec icewm
#exec openbox

then save and exit, logout/login and voil

by suguru on Wed, 2004-11-17 15:29
Great information in a small article.
I only used this to try to install a printer.
Everything went like knoppix until I named the
printer. Then it wanted a password.
Before I came here my Sarge k7 2004 Nov filled
in the name of my current username and asked
for a password. But it wouldn't take the password
for that user nor the pw for root.

localhost:631 asked for username and pw.
I didn't think this was safe.

Does anyone know why it wouldn't take the
debian pw for the user it filled in when I tried
to printing manager > add printer?

Why would we want to use localhost:631
instead of printing manager > add printer?

Thanks for any insight,

by denniz on Sun, 2005-01-02 18:48
A great, comprehensive and down to earth list of good tips!
Even for the not-so-newbie I think (unless I still AM a newbie ofcourse).
Well, anyway I found a few good things that I didn't know about.
Made life easier!

More of this!
More I beg thee!


by akbar14 on Tue, 2005-02-15 17:33
excellent contribution, thank you -- i've used the printout to guide me through successful installation of 3 debian systems this far. you can be proud

by sridhar11 on Tue, 2006-02-21 04:04
if you want more clear debian tutorials,articles and how to's check this very good one

debian tutorials,articles and how to's

by twwwater on Thu, 2008-12-11 23:21
but,I do not know why,I did it just as you said,but there is still a problem,can you help me ?

I removed my locales and installed it one more time,but there is always a error or should named it warnings,here are those errors:

locale: Cannot set LC_CTYPE to default locale: No such file or directory
locale: Cannot set LC_MESSAGES to default locale: No such file or directory
locale: Cannot set LC_ALL to default locale: No such file or directory

so ,could you help me solve this bothersome problem?
thank you so much!


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