[lug] debian

Paul E Condon pecondon at peakpeak.com
Thu Sep 18 23:15:59 MDT 2003

On Thu, Sep 18, 2003 at 09:39:40PM -0400, Hugh Brown wrote:
> On Thu, 2003-09-18 at 18:57, Paul E Condon wrote:
> > On Thu, Sep 18, 2003 at 03:40:18PM -0400, 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.  
> > > 
> > > I tried dselect'ing a 2.4 kernel but every time I boot into it, the
> > > system won't respond to keyboard input.
> > > 
> > 
> > When you transition to 2.4 kernel in woody, you need to hand edit your
> > lilo.conf. Did you?
> I have Redhat 9, Windows XP (for when I'm forced to use windows),
> Debian, and a spare partition for another Linux or a BSD when I get
> around to it.
> Right now I am using grub under Redhat 9 to do the boot loading.  I
> added an entry for the 2.4 kernel, similar to what I had for the 2.2
> kernel.
Some of the 2.4 kernel images _require_ a ram disk image be loaded first.
I don't know how this is done under grub, but it is an issue. And then again,
some do not. 
> > 
> > > 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.
> > > 
> > 
> > Don't use testing for beginning your debian experience. Don't use Sid.
> > Stick with Woody (stable). You can't directly install testing because of
> > known issues. It is being tested with a view to fixing its known problems.
> > Maybe by the end of the year it will be ready for learners, maybe not.
> > There is active support for Woody on the debian-user list. Look at
> > www.debian.org for how to sign up and to look at the archives.
> > 
> My reasons for getting Sid was to have more recent versions of most of
> the software since Woody is getting a bit old (based on nothing but
> hearsay).
Security bugs get fixed in Woody. Debian is not a version of RedHat. You
should spend some time with the stable version, before going for the 
bleeding edge stuff. And always use official packages for any software
that you install, at least until you become somewhat adept at Debian.
The organization of the files is different. You cannot use RPMs. Don't try.

> I'm reluctant to subscribe to another mailing list that is higher volume
> than this one (I surmise).  I've seen how much Debian love there is
> flowing on this list and figured I could get away with just this one :)
> > > 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).
> > 
> > Laptops usually need pcmcia support. Is your wireless card pcmcia? If yes,
> > you need to install the pcmcia package that matches the kernel that you
> > installed. If you did a net install, maybe you didn't get pcmcia with 2.2.
> > Maybe you don't need 2.4 kernel.
> > 
> I can only assume that pcmcia support was installed since /etc/pcmcia/
> was full of config files.

In Debian, it is easy to have something present on disk but not installed.
Did you see a successful start of the deamon in the syslog or dmesg? Especially
after installing 2.4, where it seems you initially installed 2.2. They have
different pcmcia modules, and the different modules reside in different places
on disk. Look in /lib/modules/. You should see subdirectories for a version of
2.2 and a version of 2.4. Make sure there is pcmcia stuff in the 2.4 subdirectory.

> > > 
> > > 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?
> > > 
> > 
> > For reasons to get to know Debian, look at the Debian Policy Manual. It
> > tells where every file should be located on the system and why. It discusses
> > all sorts of issues about how a computer should be set up and why. The 
> > reasoning is very 'professional'. It is a good system, because the people
> > are good at what they do.
> > 
> I was hoping to avoid going over that (laziness being a virtue, right?
> :)  I was hoping (perhaps in vain) that there was a "Debian for long
> time RedHat users' guide"  But that may not be.  I'm guessing that the
> policy manual may be on the computer already and if it isn't there's
> probably a .deb package that is just an apt-get away.

The policy manual is available at www.debian.org in html. RedHat is not so
stable that it makes sense to have a detailed transition HOWTO (IMHO).

> > For details about howto, look near where you find the policy manual on their
> > web site.
> > 
> > HTH
> So, I should probably go back to stable and then selectively upgrade
> from testing?

NO. There are backports of packages that really matter. A backport is
a package specifically built to work with woody, but of a newer piece
of software that is a significant improvement over what was available
when woody was released.  People often create these after the new
software has been made to conform to debian policy and made to work in
testing.  Use the backports, or build your own backport from
source. In which case, use the source from debian. It contains patches
that put things where they belong on a debian system. Mixing packages
from different distributions is dangerous. Often it works, but not

And testing is not sid. Sid is more bleeding edge than testing. The
current testing version is Sarge. Someday Sarge will become stable,
and Woody will fade away. Sid will always be Sid. Even more bleeding
edge than Sid is Experimental. I have never had mention of
experimental in my sources.list file, and probably never will. I'm
not good at debugging other peoples' software. 

A peculiarity of debian that explains a lot of the differences from
other distributions is that there is no central location where all
the important work is done. You can see it all coming together on the
web, and sometimes it isn't pretty. But mostly it is very reassuring.
When something is a long time coming, you can get a straight answer
as to what is the technical problem causing the delay by looking at
the change logs, or by just asking.

If you do start posting on the debian-user list, be warned. There is
a convention that replys the include the original message should have
the original on top and the reply at the bottom. There are regulars
on the list who flame over not doing this.

Paul E Condon           
pecondon at peakpeak.com    

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