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Debian Sarge install report

Title: Debian Sarge install report

It cost me the equivalent of a whole weekend completing the install, but that was mainly because of time taken learning the stuff below. I offer it only to remind people what it can be like for newbies.

Anyhow the following is what I (had to) learn:

1) to overwrite Windows XP onto the serial ATA (SATA) hard drive on which I had originally had a pre-final (testing) version of Sarge. I finally figured out how to do the Windows XP install, after much time tracking down the software drivers that I needed to have available, and preparing the files in the required floppy disk configuration on account of Windows XP shipping without SATA driver support. During Windows XP installation, you cannot even offer these files on a CD, they can only be read from an A: drive floppy disk!

2) to shrink a Windows NTFS partition without having to use commercial software under Windows. I found a nice tutorial on resizing Windows XP's NTFS partitions without damage using the Gentoo-based "System Rescue Disk" at
- I tried it, and it worked :-). I mainly wanted to try this, to help assure the Windows-dependent that it is possible even for someone who has never before installed Linux to set up a dual-boot machine. I could not tell with certainly whether resizing the partition would be easy or possible with Debian. Reading online I had the impression that although Debian includes "partman" the installer may not support resizing an NTFS partition.

- Some extra time was lost learning to use the Windows software to burn the downloaded Gentoo as an ISO (which kept burning as a file until I figured out the unclear software).

3) why Sarge proved impossible to install from the business card ISO that I downloaded. Which is why I gave up preparing a dual-boot machine but think I could do it now/next time, if that should become important to me. The Sarge install kept hanging 7% of the way through the base install. It was not a matter of my not waiting long enough, for each time my progress fully died after about 5-10 minutes, with no further progress after waiting an extra *two* hours. I got excited when I learned online that conflicts between CD drivers and SATA drivers can impede a Sarge install and require reducing the selection to the bare minimum until later. But this only partly helped, I got stuck at 40% of an install. The larger netinstall CD worked, so either the more-complete CD is advisable with SATA drives, or I had a defective download/burn of the businesscard ISO.

4) when I first chose the video card driver(s) to use under Debian Linux, the closest choice for my Aopen GeForce4 seemed they should be for my VIA chipset but that choice proved not to run under xfree86. So I researched and figured out to re-run and reconfigure xfree86 to select the vesa drivers.

5) At first, I had trouble trying to run a windowing system --- maybe I failed to select "Desktop" during the install. The problem came apparent after I tried to install and run kde. When at the command line I typed startx I got complaints about "no screen".

This was fixed after I ran:
apt-get install x-window-system-core
dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xfree86
and changed my video card setting from via (chosen from my chipset) to vesa

When I next logged in, KDE would present the login prompt, but could not proceed, complaining about
 /home/<me>/ lacking an .xsession file, no session managers, window managers, or terminal emulators found; aborting.

Running "tasksel" allowed me to fix that by including (activating) the "Desktop" option. one being that in designating.

But I am "up" now and very much enjoying Debian.

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