Part 2

Following on from Part One of this series, I now have Debian Etch installed. I have spent most of today tweaking it to act the way I want. And here is an obligatory screenshot:
Debian Desktop

Now, it will strike the more observant/astute of you that this desktop is almost exactly the same as my Slackware desktop. This is where Linux is funny that way – beyond prettying up the desktop, the differences are all under the bonnet. Yes, there are a few Debian logos around, but otherwise it’s exactly the same as any other KDE desktop.

Anyway, some initial thoughts on Debian. Coming from a Slackware background, a lot of things are not intuitive. For example: in Slackware, when I install Ndiswrapper, it’s a simple case of ./configure, etc etc and then a bit of modprobe-ing and there you have it. It’s a wee bit different under Debian. In fact, it’s a lot more different. A couple of times I came close to giving up altogether, but I persevered and it all works fine.

Something I will happily say to anyone, Apt, Aptitude, Synaptic, all those tools are fantastic. Even if you normally eschew the GUI when installing software, Synaptic takes a lot of hassle out of simply looking to see what’s available. The big challenge is knowing when to stop installing.

Anyway, that’s day one accounted for.

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Posted on 10 March, 2007, in Computer Stuff, Distro Reviews, Idiot's Journey. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. A lot of things done the “Debian” way might be confusing, actually. But in fact, you can use the regular compilation and installation using ./configure; make; make install; you do in Slackware under Debian too. The only thing is that it will not be integrated with the existing package management system and *can* cause conflicts in the future.

    Actually doing some things the Debian way can be a lot cleaner than using the “regular” way. However, I myself have not yet discovered a few Debian tricks like module-assistant in spite of using Debian for a good part of 3 years – I simply didn’t need to. 😛

    Be ware of kernel upgrades though. While most things will work properly when you use apt-get to upgrade kernels, it *might* break a few things like 3d acceleration or any custom drivers you might have installed.

    In that case, the best thing is to just install the main package like linux-image-2.6.18-3-386 and so on and not the meta-package which might be linux-image-2.6-3-386 which depends on the latest version available.

  2. Yeah, the whle module-assistant thing isn’t obvious, but is logical if you know you are dealing with kernel modules. It’s one of those things that you need a lot early on and then rarely ever again.

    The updating the kernel breaks things isn’t unique to Debian, but any package manager makes it ever more likely that it will happen 🙂

    Thanks Hari

  3. It’s good to hear that you’re enjoying using Debian, despite a few differences… I never, ever thought I would hear of you using a distro which relies (to a certain extent) on a package manager – Lent must be getting to you (drop some stuff, take on others) 😀

    By the way, with ndiswrapper, have you managed to get WPA support working? It probably depends on the card and driver, but my desktop (with a RT2500-based card) is the last Linux-running computer to get onto my wireless network and I had little success the last time I tried it! Hehe!

    Keep us updated 😉

  4. It’s a distro challenge to myself – use another distro in much the same way I’d use Slack. I still don’t like using a package manager – what I’d like is a Synaptic digest in Slackware. Basically, open SynSlacktic (a name I just invented) which will give you a list of software and links to the home page. Then you go get it.

    After the initial culture shock, it’s less painful than I thought. But then Debian is still quite bare bones….. Mandriva may be too much to bear 😆

  5. I’m on plain old WEP, btw – no WPA for me right now. May move to it later.

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