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Re: [vox-tech] Installing a desktop upon my laptop
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Re: [vox-tech] Installing a desktop upon my laptop

Quoting Jay Strauss (me@heyjay.com):

> What I find when I install Sarge, and pick the desktop option is:
> 1) It installs a ton of stuff, that I just don't need now.  For example,
> I don't need 10 different console and terminal apps, 5 different web
> browsers, sound recording/mixing..., games, HTML editors, both KDE and
> Gnome...

Well, you _did_ pick the big, all-one-piece metapackage.  That's what
you get when you do that.  I personally prefer the a la carte approach.
In fact, I do a really minimal initial install, and then, whenever I
decide I really need some application, I just "sudo apt-get install foo".

So, don't pick the desktop option.  ;->

> 2) it doesn't do a good job of identifying and configuring components.
> Examples:
>     a) doesnt identify my video card as ATI
>     b) doesn't setup my XFConfig-4 correctly

"apt-get install read-edid discover" before X11 configuration would no
doubt help a lot, in making X11 setup "smarter".

If the thing hassles you, anyway, sometimes the lazy man's way around
the problem is to boot a Knoppix CD, if necessary fiddle with boot-time
options to get the video perfect, and then copy the XF86Config-4 file
(and boot options, if any) off to some other media for reuse in your
long-term Linux distribution (Debian 3.1/sarge or whatever).

>     c) Sound only works if I use KDE first.  That is if I log into Gnome
> after boot I have no sound, if I log into KDE then Gnome I get sound.
> But even then the sound volume controls doesn't work

I'm guessing that, some time during your installation ordeal ;-> , you 
enabled KDE sound support, which is apparently via something called the
"arts" daemon.  Thus, your currently-configured sound support is
KDE-dependent, which is probably not really what you had in mind.

I can guess how this happened -- and, please, don't think I'm being
critical of you at all, in saying this:  I crashed and burned on Debian
desktop setup a few times before learning a couple of hard lessons.

You were in tasksel (the metapackage selector), and picked the
aforementioned "desktop option" and probably a whole lot of other
things.  It's very tempting to do this:  You have access to something
like 13,000 packages in a few nice little checkboxes, and one is tempted
to say "Yeah, give me the whole candy store."

When you do that, the package tools grind through figuring out the
dependencies, then mass-fetch the necessary .deb files into
/var/cache/apt/archives, then does initial, basic installation ("dpkg -i")
of all of them, en-masse, and then does the package-configuration 
step ("dpkg --configure") on all of them, en masse.

If you selected 800 packages for initial installation, or 2000, or some
number like that, then, by the time you reach the final stage
(configuration), above, your brain will have overloaded from the sheer
quantity of stuff that's scrolled by the installation screen.  Most of
that will be of no lasting importance, and will have been mostly the
background muttering of installation tools, but some pop-up messages 
will have been important -- but, like most people, you'll not have
stopped to take notes, because you weren't expecting such things.

Moreover, the configuration step, itself, involves the system asking you
fairly significant questions for each of a significant fraction of the
n-hundred packages you said to install.  Most other distributions would 
give you default, generic configurations for installed packages; the
Debian method, instead, is to ask you a couple of focussed questions for 
any package needing custom configuration, and constructing a
site-appropriate configuration based on your answers.

In consequence, it's usually a really bad idea to pick 800-2000 or so 
packages for initial installation, _unless_ you're seriously prepared to
deal with this sort of computer interrogation and devote the attention
to it that's necessary.

(You probably realised all of that, but I'm saying this for the benefit
of newcomers, mostly.)

Anyhow, my takeaway lesson from my own encounters was:  Install a
smallish system, and incrementally add packages only as you want and
need them.  (This is a different habit from what one gets in many other
distributions, so I thought it worth mentioning.)

>     d) The wireless card can't be picked during the install because the
> settings don't last/work after that initial install reboot

I'm mystified as to why almost all Linux installers still flub this,
according to reviews.  Me, I just rolled up my sleeves and edited
/etc/pcmcia/wireless.opts with a text editor and reference to a few
manpages.  You're right; this should be easier.  There may be some tool
to do it automagically; I just don't know what it is.

I haven't even tried to tackle infrared-port networking (IrDA), yet.
That's the one significant thing missing from my page about Linux
generically on Dell Inspiron 7000 laptops
(http://linuxmafia.com/~rick/inspiron7000.html) .  Soon, I hope to fix
that, just to complete the page.  (Well, I should also figure out
kflushd / kupdate tuning to keep the damned disk from spinning up every
minute or so.  Apparently, it's a complex matter.)

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