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Old 02-03-2005, 10:03 PM   #1
Registered: Jan 2005
Location: Australia
Distribution: Slackware Archlinux FreeBSD
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Talking Noobs perspective on install

Before I begin, I would like to say a “Thank you” to all those who contribute there time and knowledge to Without this forum....... people like me would be struggling to migrate to, understand, and use this wonderful OS called linux. Without favouritism, I wish to thank macondo for his great write up which was my reference point for install. Cheers!!!!

Print out – Worth the paper!!!!

Hi there. If you are reading this, and you are - like me - a “Newbie” or 'Noob” as I prefer, to the linux world, and wanting to install Debian Sarge onto your computer, hopefully this can help you out...... This my experience installing Sarge. I have limited linux knowledge, but this is changing due this fantastic community website. Hopefully this will be an easy to understand write up to help your install. Every system is different, so don't expect that this will solve all your issues.

Away we go!!!!

Download your distro from here

Planning your new system!!!!

Research, research, research!!!!!!! Get info like CPU processor type, sound card, audio card, monitor type, keyboard type. Also IP address, your providers DNS, POP3 and SMTP server, and yes mouse. Also it is a good idea to find out PCI card numbers and ports for your hardware, but this will only become important if your first install attempt didn't work, and your re-reading this!!! Although most hardware is auto detected, I suggest to do this for ease of mind.
You must decide on what you wish to do with your hard drive(IE: dual boot, clean install, upgrade), and then decide on a partitioning strategy. For this write up, I will assume you have a free partition or hard drive free to install on. I am using a 40G hd and have partitioned it as such:-

/boot - 90Mb -
/ - 1Gig -
/usr - 5G -
/var – 3Gig -
/home – 17Gig
/tmp – 500Mb
Swap – 1Gig
and the remaining Gig for storage, backups, etc.......

You can in fact run Sarge on about 2 Gig, but being so used to W... -- Wi... -- Win.... (see, i can't even say anymore), I added extra room just in case!! You can simplify this to

/boot – 30Mb
/ - 5Gig
/home - ??G
SWAP - 1G As long as you have these four, you should be right.

I suggest practice your partitioning (and installing) from your distro cd a few times if you are unsure of the process. The menu driven installer is fairly easy to understand. The installer tends to suggest the correct settings for your computer, but check everything carefully. Linux is a different system than what your used to. System files and program files and user files are seperated from each other, loading bits as they are needed (This is not quite accurate, but for a Noob, it is a good start). This means that when installing a program, source code is not being writing into critical system files. This behaviour leads to instability, and crashes.......and I assume that is why you are here!!

hda – stands for your primary master hard drive, usually the one booted from. hdb – is usually primary slave hard drive. hdc, hdd, are Secondary master/slave etc.
hda1 – first partition on the first drive. hda2 – second partition on the first drive, etc
hdb1 – first partition on the second drive hdb2 – second partition on the second drive, etc

I suggest you have access to, or print out

If you are stuck at a prompt after install and have some sort of xserver issue you will need this. WRITE THIS DOWN!!!!!! You will need to be logged in as root!

dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xfree86 (to configure x-server, and then to test your changes type)

Once installed (my usual is 3 attempts on a new distro – user error of course) - log on. You may not have a everything installed properly like soundcard or VGA card etc. You will need internet access to do this next part.

Open a writer (eg. officeorg) and record your commands, and the steps you took to set your computer up. As time goes on, you will be thankful especially if you do a full re-install.

Open up a command console! We are going to update “Aptitude” - a utility you'll love dearly! Switch to root:-

su (Type in root password)
apt-setup (Follow prompts and setup a mirror)
apt-get install modconf (module configuration utility – not installed by default)
apt-get install acpi (helps detect pci cards)
apt-get install discover (utility to help detect hardware)
apt-get install aumix (Sound mixer - to check your volume is not on mute)
apt-get install guarddog (firewall – easiest on to use for a Noob)

Now we have an new apt-cache, a firewall for protection, and some utilities. For me I had no sound so I needed an alsa driver. I simply

apt-cache search alsa (searches for anything with alsa in it)
apt-get install alsa-base alsa-utils (space serpating items I want – getting the idea?)

From here, it is worth reading the submission at the top of this write up. Almost everything is covered or links given to find out more.

If you are confused on what you might need, open up google, and type in your your hardware (Eg. GeForce mx 440 se, linux, driver). once found simply
apt-cache search (whatever)
apt-get install (whatever)

Or log onto and do a search. I had every desktop full of browsers researching different areas. Be specific with your search, and if results are not good enough, broaden them. There are so many answers and solutions to be too broad. Now obviously there is a heap more to do, but each system is different, so it is time to search for what you need and install. By now you should know if there is any serious issue to deal with. If not, say hello to your new OS!!!

Quick tip:- If things are not good at this point, and you have partitioned a home drive for yourself, you can always do a re-install. The trick is not to format the existing /home partition.

Once you are happy is time to poke around the menus, and open things up to see what they are. I would suggest that for the first week you learn your new environment. Try to install an updated Nvidia driver (only if you need to of course), update your kernel, try compiling something. This way you get use to your new file system and get to know your hardware on a whole new level and reconfim that you have indeed installed everything you need. you are bound to make a mistake at some point so print out your instruction list.

Hope this has been of some assistance!!

Old 02-04-2005, 12:35 AM   #2
Registered: Feb 2003
Location: 1st hop-NYC/NewJersey shore,north....2nd hop-upstate....3rd hop-texas...4th hop-southdakota(sturgis)...5th hop-san diego.....6th hop-atlantic ocean! Final hop-resting in dreamland dreamwalking and meeting new people from past' night.
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apt-get install acpi (helps detect pci cards)
ACPI (Advanced Configuration and Power Interface) is an open industry specification co-developed by Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Microsoft, Phoenix, and Toshiba.

ACPI establishes industry-standard interfaces for OS-directed configuration and power management on laptops, desktops, and servers.

ACPI evolves the existing collection of power management BIOS code, Advanced Power Management (APM) application programming interfaces (APIs, PNPBIOS APIs, Multiprocessor Specification (MPS) tables and so on into a well-defined power management and configuration interface specification.

The specification enables new power management technology to evolve independently in operating systems and hardware while ensuring that they continue to work together.

Doesnt detect pci cards at all...its power management much like but better than when you go into stand by?

apt-get install guarddog (firewall – easiest on to use for a Noob)
I found way back when I was a noob that Firestarter was easier.

Congrats on your success and nice quicky writeup.
Old 02-04-2005, 10:26 PM   #3
Registered: Jan 2005
Location: Australia
Distribution: Slackware Archlinux FreeBSD
Posts: 218

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 30
Hi Ironwalker,

Thanks for the reply. There is always so much to learn!!! Just as a query, what was your favourite reference when a noob?

I find there is a lack of good console command references that is easy to follow. I do have most of the documents from the Debian web site printed out, but when I visit this site, I am constantly surprised at the amount of little commands to get so much info, and fix things. Where is the references for these commands? Am I missing something?

Also what do you reference now? - just trying to pick your brain a little!


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