[lug] debian

Nate Duehr nate at natetech.com
Thu Sep 18 16:58:26 MDT 2003

Hugh Brown wrote:

> I'm beginning to play with debian and haven't had a whole lot of luck.
> I did a net install with the floppies and got woody installed. 
> Unfortunately, it doesn't know what to do with my video card (Nvidia Ge
> Force 2 Go) nor my wireless card.  

Yeah, this is going to be a little painful, the Dr. said...

Nvidia -- someone else pointed out that you'll have to do some messing 
around with their proprietary non-free driver... they seemed to have a 
better grasp on that one than I do, so I'll say -- "uh-huh".  :-)

> I tried dselect'ing a 2.4 kernel but every time I boot into it, the
> system won't respond to keyboard input.

First off... the default kernel isn't 2.4 if you started from woody -- 
if I remember correctly, and upgrading it in-place is kinda evil.  See 
the installation info on using the bf-2.4 installation image on the 
CD... that would have installed directly to 2.4 kernel.

Right there, that probably sets you back a bit.  I don't think the 
upgrade from 2.2 to 2.4 is very "clean" if you don't install 2.4 to 
start with... don't remember why, it's been a year or so since I went 
through that one on a new box...?  I think it had to do with the switch 
from not having devfs to having it...?  There was a FAQ out there about 
how to do it "properly"... you had to get devfs kinda set up to go 
before going up to 2.4 from a 2.2 kernel on a Debian box.

Once I learned about bf-2.4 I stopped fiddling with it completely and 
just install 2.4 right from the start.

As far as the wireless card, you have the kernel-pcmcia package 
installed (if it's pcmcia), otherwise you've run modconf and inserted 
the appropriate module into the running kernel for it, right?  What card 
is it?

If it's a Prism II chipset, same problem -- non-free software, and you 
have to go get the drivers and fiddle with them manually.  Google for 
Prism II + Debian probably would find something useful like someone's 
unofficial .debs or similar.

Speaking of that, hunting around for unofficial .deb repositories that 
are from people you "trust" is kinda fun for non-production boxes.  Some 
people are really good at creating .debs of things that can't be put in 
Debian-proper, but of course are fun to play with... (video toys with 
questionable legality on decoders, etc... you know the routine...).

> I added testing to my sources.list and did a dist-upgrade.  Booting into
> the 2.4 kernel still got my to a system that wouldn't respond to
> keyboard input.

That's really odd.  Something didn't get set up right with keymaps...

> So, my question is this:  what's the best way to get Debian installed
> with a 2.4 kernel and a recent version of Xfree86 (the laptop is working
> fine with Redhat 9 w/o the NVIDIA drivers).

Maybe an unofficial ISO of testing or unstable that installs newer stuff 
by default might be useful here... especially if you're going up to 
testing anyway.

> I've gone lightly over some of the debian documentation but haven't had
> much luck with it.  What should I be reading to get myself more familiar
> with Debian?

It's definitely a pain.  And the bummer is, once you install it, apt-get 
dist-upgrade works so well to go from version to version that you just 
avoid the installer altogether unless you're doing a brand new box.

The installation maintainers are ALWAYS in need of competant help, but 
never seem to find it for very long.  The new installer that work was 
started on a while back sure "looks" like it could fix a lot of evils, 
but who knows if it'll ever get done.

I'm finding ALL of the Linux distros to be quite lacking lately.  There 
seems to be something major wrong with all of them.

RedHat - stupid policies on older versions and no backported security 
patches for nice old stable stuff
Debian - the usual "I'm going to throw myself off a bridge" installer 
Gentoo - cool idea, but even with binary packages on two CD's now, still 
takes days to generate a newly installed box that's up to date with 
portage tree

Maybe it's time to play with SuSE again... my impression of it a super 
long time ago was good, other than the installer asking too many darn 
questions and offering so many options my head was spinning.

Also haven't looked at Mandrake in the long time.  For a laptop, I could 
see that working pretty well.

Just my $.10 (5 distros, $.02 each)...

Nate Duehr, nate at natetech.com

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