[NBLUG/talk] Jumping in with debian..

Jeremy Turner jeremy at linuxwebguy.com
Tue Sep 30 13:01:01 PDT 2003

On Tue, 2003-09-30 at 12:18, Mitch Patenaude wrote:
> I used dselect, but I think that is just a front-end for apt-get, right?

I used dselect once.  I hated it.  When I do a Debian install, I now
just do apt-get install ...

> I didn't use apt-get.. maybe that would explain the problems... but It 
> was a 36 hour oddessy, which I'm not eager to repeat unless I know what 
> failed and why.  Several packages failed.. usually because it was 
> claiming that the config files had been modified since the install (I 
> don't understand how.. I hadn't done anything except fire up deselect.. 
> how did a bunch of pam config files get modified?

Apt-get is a really a front-end for dpkg, the Debian package management
system.  Apt-get downloads lists of available packages for you, and
figures out the dependencies.  Once you get X installed, I really would
recommend Synaptic.

> The kernel failed for reasons that weren't clear.. but appears to have 
> something to do with dependency problems.

I once had a problem with ash/dash for compiling a kernel or kernel
modules.  I think the bug has been fixed, tho.  Could you post the error
if you come across it again?

> Which would be great if I were running an unattended server, but I'm 
> trying to put together a laptop for development/general use.  Straight 
> woody had an X so old that it doesn't support any chipset newer than 
> 1998, no sound, a 2.2 kernel, quirky pcmcia support, etc.  It just 
> wasn't useful.  I don't need 3 years of uptime, but I do need Gnome/KDE 
> and USB/pcmcia support.

When booting off of the mini-cd at the LILO prompt, type in 'bf24'.  It
will give you a 2.4.18bf (boot floppy) kernel which will help things a
lot until you can get a new kernel setup.  I've done a few kernel
compiles, but I usually go with the stock Debian kernels.

You can list multiple sources in your /etc/apt/sources.list (stable,
testing, unstable), and then set a default level (e.g., stable) in your
/etc/apt/apt.conf file along with a cache limit value.  After that, you
can do the following:

apt-get -t unstable install gnome

or whatever and pull in gnome from unstable and all of it's unstable
dependencies.  This isn't quite an exact science, and packages could
break.  It's worked for me, but YMMV.  As someone also mentioned, check
apt-get.org for backports of testing/unstable packages for stable.  Most
of the popular packages (gnome 2.2, mozilla 1.4, etc) are listed there.

> >> I'm tempted to go with Mandrake or RedHat.
> >
> > You're not a quitter are ya? :-) :-)
> Yep.... I have trouble selling my mom (a programmer) on linux when I 
> tell her that it takes 3 days to install and nothing works afterward. 
> :-)

When trying something new, it might take a little bit to get it right. 
However, once you install Debian, you probably won't need to install it
again (atleast on the same box).  I used one Debian installation in 3
different pieces of hardware (motherboard/video card, etc) and they
worked well (with the approperate changes in config files).  I couldn't
say the same for my WinXP partition.  Hey, gotta play Battlefield 1942
sometime. :-)

> > Except on an idealogical level, I don't think it makes as much
> > difference as it used to.  You have apt for redhat now, and
> > freshrpms.net.
> So far.. the Redhat is much easier.. 3 hours invested and I have a 
> usable system.

Just for kicks, I installed the latest (well this was back in March)
version of Redhat on a laptop.  The first thing I tried to do was
install cups so I could print, and it would not install, claiming cups
was a dependency of cups, and it wouldn't install cups until after I'd
installed cups. *whew*.  With the exception of the dash/ash problem, I
haven't had a dependency problem in Debian.  The only reason I've
absolutely _had_ to reinstall is when my hard drive died. *sniff sniff*

I can have Debian up and running on a reasonable machine in 30 mins, but
I've had the practice of installing it on 9-10 machines (some multiple
times as I was learning).

> I keep hoping for that kind of ease-of-use, but so far what I get is 
> dependency hell.. for instance.. (I may have some of the details wrong 
> here.. I wasn't taking notes.)  bison had 4 different packages, the 
> oldest was 1.4, and was labeled "bison".  There were separate packages 
> for bison-1.5,-1.6 and -1.7.  I wanted the latest bison so I selected 
> 1.7, but other dependent packages "recommended" bison, and kept 
> helpfully unselecting bison-1.7 and selecting bison, and telling me of 
> the conflict.  After 5 times going back and reselecting what I wanted, 
> and trying to install, it would just revert.  This happened with dozens 
> of packages, which is one of the reasons I've been fighting with the 
> install for 3 days.

Automatically installing packages based on 'recommended' settings is
probably a 'feature' of dselect.  The newest version of apt-get (the one
for unstable) lists 'recommended' packages, but does not force you to
install them.  Maybe a better solution for you from the command-line is
'apt-cache search <package_name>' and then 'apt-get install

> Sorry for the grumpy tone, but I want to play with these cool toys, but 
> what I get it days and days of frustrating, poorly-documented failures.

I agree that dselect is a poorly-documented, confusing, frustrating
tool.  I don't use it.  I wouldn't recommend any new users use it out of
fear of frustration.

Linux is based on the principle of small utilities doing small tasks,
and I think the apt-get command-line utils fulfill that very nicely.

Let me know if you have any questions if you want to try to install
Debian again.

Okay, time to watch the Giants. :-)


Jeremy Turner <jeremy at linuxwebguy.com>
The LinuxWebGuy
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: not available
Type: application/pgp-signature
Size: 189 bytes
Desc: This is a digitally signed message part
Url : http://nblug.org/pipermail/talk/attachments/20030930/2ccbfc94/attachment.pgp

More information about the talk mailing list