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Old 08-23-2007, 01:38 PM   #16
Registered: Mar 2007
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I can see starting out with just the core and then checking out some how-to's and tips around to find out what to add.

I can't see a new user who already has the desktop task installed going ahead and removing that just to start clean. Then again, I like stuff to be already there and then exploring around.

Let the guy check out the various things installed by tasksel's desktop task and see for himself the various choices available. It really isn't all that bloated.

Heck, I installed by installgui --tasks=standard, gnome-desktop, kde-desktop and don't find my system bloated or filled with "garbage." It installs a very nice default scheme which can later be dpkg-reconfigure to whatever choices he wants, added to, whatever.

Of course with a limited space situation I would also tend to prefer the standard experienced user method of just installing what is desired. But on a 120GB or 250GB installation, I say fill her up and then explore!

Of course a guide like you offer is wonderful and you make some nice choices as to what packages to install, but those are your favorites just as use of tasksel gives whatever the Debian tasksel maintainers have decided are their choices. One can say that blindly following a guide such as yours installs your "garbage" instead of the tasksel designers "garbage."

It's really only "garbage" once a user has decided that a certain package is not the one he prefers for a specific function. Why not let a new user simply be greeted by a nice standard software selection with many GUI tools pre-installed? He'll have plenty of opportunity for exploration that way, without being immediately frustrated by needing to get started deciding for himself which tools (all completely foreign to him) he should choose to install to get the system usable.

With the defaults installed by tasksel he/she can immediately sample getting some stuff done, play a game, browse about using a browser, and of course make his/her way into reading and learning about the KDE/Gnome environments, Debian, Linux, using the terminal, etc, etc.

This fellow now has a GUI desktop and a Help button to push which will bring up the Gnome guides and stuff. Why remove it all? He already has gone through a couple of installs so we wouldn't want something to go wrong (quite possible) with the process of removing all that software and just installing the base. I'd bet there'd be plenty of crap (configuration files, etc) left over that might interfere with new package installs that would use those files and be expecting other removed software to still be there. Maybe not, but I wouldn't tempt fate.
Old 08-23-2007, 06:38 PM   #17
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Hey Rickh and Dahveed3

Thanx for the commands. Do I type this into the root shell? I think I will stay with the desktop environment for right now and get a better feel for it. But I do appreciate the advice because when I get a better feel for linux I will know how start changing things.

If I could just ask one question. I wanted to pick up a couple books. I was thinking the Linux cook book second edition, and The Debian System comes recommended but one of the reviews for it said it was aimed for intermediate users. If this is the wrong place to post this I apologize.

Last edited by cartman_85; 08-23-2007 at 06:49 PM.
Old 08-23-2007, 09:53 PM   #18
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No it's fine since it relates to installing Debian.

The Debian forums can be a textbook by itself! Besides that there is the "Debian GNU/Linux 3.1 Bible" and "The Debian System" that you mentioned. Don't worry, just by using Debian you're already an intermediate user. Don't let it go to your head though! Also don't be concerned that the Bible book refers to Debian 3.1 (Sarge). Nearly all of it still applies. Working with the Debian package management, use of Apt or the recommended front end Aptitude, info about setting up printing, tours of the Gnome and KDE GUI environments, etc. all remain appropriate for Etch or Lenny.

And "The Debian System" is a real help. I've yet to get it but will next month (I don't get money often, so need to spread out stuff).

Sure, keep what you've already got since as I've said you'd be likely to install much of it anyway and this way it was automatically done for you.

Read the HTML manual for Aptitude. Aptitude from the command line is really the way to update and install stuff. But learning how to use the GUI for it is nice since you can use it to browse through the available software. You can also use Synaptic for that but when you've decided what you want to install, close Synaptic and let aptitude handle the actual install. It keeps track of automatically installed packages and installs recommended software for each package automatically. It will also, when you remove software, automatically remove software that was only installed because that piece of software was installed. Synaptic doesn't do that, only removing dependencies of that program, and some prefer not to actually. However those folks depend upon knowing what should be installed along with the software they choose. I'm not so smart to know that and would rather trust the Debian package maintainers and their recommendations than my needing to find out by stumbling around. Aptitude cleans up better when uninstalling because of that auto remove of automatically installed additional software. I install many of the suggested packages as well. Read the whole thing from entering aptitude show "package name." You'll see what the recommends are (what aptitude will automatically install with it) and see the suggested packages (what you can decide on your own to add if you want to). Synaptec or apt will not automatically install recommends unless you alter its settings or specify you want it to do so. Aptitude just keeps better track of that kind of thing and does it automatically.

Setup your /etc/apt/sources.list before any of this. If you want to upgrade to Testing (Lenny), it's best to do that before adding too many things. You just change what's stable in the list to testing. And add contrib and non-free following the word main at the ends of the lines. You can edit the file yourself or use Settings/Software Properties, or the same tool within Synaptic to do it with a GUI. Follow one of the how-to's over at the forum to help you out.

Anytime you add or change a source do

su -
aptitude update

so it will have an updated list. On Etch, it won't change that much except for security updates but if you use testing you should aptitude update daily as Lenny is constantly getting updated software. Once the list is updated do

aptitude upgrade

and after that's done do

aptitude dist-upgrade

and if you upgrade to testing that language changes to

aptitude safe-upgrade


aptitude full-upgrade

don't know why, but they changed what they call that stuff in the newer aptitude.

I also recommend that when the software updater applet announces that there are updates available, just open a terminal and

su -
aptitude update
aptitude safe-upgrade
aptitude full-upgrade

instead of using the GUI updater or Synaptic to install the upgrades it announced. Only use Aptitude for any actual package installs or removals. Otherwise it will not keep things in synch as far as auto installing recommends and then remembering that they were included only because of that software and so remove them when you choose to aptitude remove or aptitude purge something.

What's great about Debian is you won't need to wait 6 months for a new distro version to be released. With Debian Testing you'll be upgrading every day if you desire to! So within a couple of months after a new Ubuntu is released Debian is already way more current with software and fixes than is Ubuntu, or any other distro. As soon as a package is checked out within the unstable distro and is patched up to install properly into testing, it is released into testing and an aptitude safe-upgrade and then aptitude full-upgrade will get you the latest Linux software.

And guess what. In a couple of years when a new stable version of Debian comes out you still will not need to go through the whole process of replacing what you've got. You'll already have it! And if you have your sources labeled testing, you'll continue along being upgraded continuously.

So you install Debian once and that's it, forever! (Unless things get broken of course.)

A good way NOT to break things is not to add unstable to your sources. Whatever's in their is raw, before Debian has patched things up. Lot's of folks love it, but if you have a bit of patience things will trickle down into testing without the risk of an unstable package breaking things.

That's about it. Good luck!

Last edited by dahveed3; 08-23-2007 at 10:01 PM.
Old 08-23-2007, 10:17 PM   #19
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Geez! Far be it from me to try adding anything to that. Quickly, You are probably right to go with the Desktop you have for now. If you did not put /home on a separate partition, you'll want to reinstall sometime soon to do that. There are many other reasons that can arise for a new user to reinstall as well. I probably reinstalled 3 or 4 times in the first year before I discovered the best scheme for me.

As far as books go. I do not recommend The Debian Bible. I have never found the answer to any question I had in there. The Apt-Howto & the Aptitude User's Manual are required reading. For Books to buy, My recommended library is; Running Linux, The Linux Phrasebook, and The Debian System. I go back to those three again and again.

I also recommend that you disable the Update Notifier as soon as you can figure out how to do so. I run Lenny and Sid systems, and I do # aptitude dist-upgrade every week. I don't need that childish prompter to remind me. Since I start with gnome-core, it never becomes an issue for me because the update-notifier only comes with the full Gnome system.

Last edited by rickh; 08-24-2007 at 12:29 AM.
Old 08-24-2007, 12:12 AM   #20
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Ooh! New books to get and read. Thanks!

Yeah, the Bible isn't the greatest but for a first timer it's not bad at giving a tour of some of the Debian specific things in a non-technical way. (That Debian Bible, not the real one, heh heh.)

Oh, I think you have plenty you could add! But then again you already typed out all that stuff at the forum. Let him find his way over there and help himself if he wants the teachings.

I'm back in KDE now, but you know that updater applet, although pesky, nicely hides itself and puts up an "another package manager is running" if you hover over it while you start Aptitude and do things with it. Aptitude conveniently ignored the presence of the sleeping updater applet and just goes about its business doing whatever you tell it to do.

Since it only automatically checked once a day, usually as soon as I first booted up the computer (yeah, I turn mine off at night) I didn't mind it. If there weren't updates it wouldn't appear and if it found any I would start up aptitude and get them. Worked out pretty well. No need to run aptitude to check updates if that updater applet didn't appear so it actually saved me a useless trip into aptitude.

I can see it being a nuisance on Sid, where you likely give updates a few days to make sure it'll work first and all the needed files will actually be available (note to newbie: Gotta be more careful like that in Sid) or even just do it once a week and you'd have that stupid thing flashing at you constantly. Heh. I'd get rid of that thing pretty quickly!

I did all my "Crips, I messed everything up so let me format and start over" on OpenSUSE 10.2. Thankfully, this is still my single install of Debian on this computer. I would have preferred the separate home partition (SUSE did it by default) but I didn't want the root to be the tiny size that the Debian Installer wanted to make it and couldn't figure out how to increase it while I was doing the installation. I had wanted to increase root on SUSE as well but back then I knew absolutely nothing. So, in Debian, I just went back and selected one big partition for the whole thing (except swap of course).

Now I have sort of a clue that I should have deleted the home partition, increased the size of root, and then recreated the home partition. Maybe I'll be able to figure that through the next time. Gonna break out my other computer soon (possibly, if I want to mess around a bit with changing my choice of Windows and get rid of Vista -yecch!) so I may get the chance to test that out on that one.
Old 08-24-2007, 11:30 AM   #21
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The Debian quick reference card is nice to have on hand.. it's due for an update, but still very useful
Old 08-31-2007, 07:49 PM   #22
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thanx guys for all your advice, it's appreciated.


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