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Re: now what syndrome

Jon Olsen wrote:

hi.  I'm a debian newbie in a pretty big way.

I installed potato from CD (the $9.95 price for the potato build was easier for me to swing than the $21 for woody)

If you want to upgrade to woody and have a decent net connection, edit /etc/apt/sources to point to an ftp or http source for stable, and then do two commands:

apt-get update
apt-get dist-upgrade

So there's a sort of "now what" feeling in me. I was able to use lynx to hunt around some of the file system

If you have a network connection, you can browse the web as well as the local file system with lynx. Just press "g" and type in the web site you wish to visit.

and I feel comfortable with things like changing directories and so forth. I logged on as me (instead of root) and I feel good about that.
Excellent! Keep this habit. If you need to do "root things", you can "su -" to become root temporarily, but remember to "exit" when you're finished so that you don't later accidentally do something bad, like "rm -rf /" (which will wipe the drive clean). Better yet, install sudo ("apt-get install sudo") and then use "visudo" to give yourself the ability to use the "sudo" command, which will let you do "root things" on a command-by-command basis. This command is handy if you need to give another user some elevated privileges without giving them full root access, like for doing backups, etc.

BUT I guess what I'm asking is, does anyone have suggestions vis a vis a good starting place?

Finish getting X configured, so that you can be in a more familiar GUI environment. Then install mozilla ("apt-get install mozilla") and maybe KDE and/or Gnome, and games, and and and . . . .

I mean, I can read man files all day-- although I could use a tip for generating additional workspace so I can bounce between a man file and trying out the instructions

I'm not at a Mac at the moment, but it's one of the special keys (Apple? Control?) combined with the F-keys to switch between virtual terminals (VTs). You're almost certainly logged into VT1 currently; switch to VT2 with Ctrl-F2 (or Apple-F2, or something similar), log in there, and then hotkey back and forth between your VTs all day long (and part of the night, if you're the adventurous type).

--but *which* man files should I look to first?

man pages are pretty much useless to a newbie. They're quite valuable after you've learned how to read them. For now, you're probably better off using lynx to google for information.

I'm such a GUI victim I don't know what to do-- I miss having a help window open while I work. The first time I did the install I think I screwed up X because when I entered startx after logging it, it greyed the screen and did nothing ever again.

Aw, excellent. It sounds like you have a working X server. You just need to install some clients (or invoke them). One of the most useful X clients is a window manager. I'd start with something similar but familiar, like icewm ("apt-get install icewm"). You might need to specifically tell X to start icewm when you startx; you can do this by creating a file in your home directory named ".xinitrc" (or is it ".xsession"? I forget; create them both; it won't hurt anything) and put the single line in the file:
Then "startx".

If you can't get out of X, you should be able to press "Ctrl-Alt-Backspace" to immediately kill the X server. It's not very graceful, but it's better than hitting the reset button. Alternatively, you can hotkey to a VT (but when you're in X, you have to add the other special key to the mix, so that it becomes Ctrl-Apple-F1, or F2 in this case, since F1 is where you started X from and it'll be "busy"). If you wanted, you could even start a second X session from the 2nd VT with a command like "startx -- :1" (this command starts an X server on the display numbered 1; the first startx started an X server on the display numbered 0). Then you can hotkey between Ctrl-Apple-F8 and ..F7 and ..F2 and ..F4 and and and . . . .

Once you have icewm running on top of the X server, you'll see an ICEWM button at the bottom left corner of the screen, akin to the "Start" button in Windows.

So now I'm a little gun shy and I've decided I'd like to navigate and use the command line.

It's really good to be familiar with the command line.

Also, I use my other macs and wintels for you know, the usual-- word processing, checking mail, research, spreadsheet work, and fun n' games. I just went with a "standard" install-- of course maybe I should have documented by hand what packages I loaded. So far I can't get online,

Oops; there goes a lot of my suggestions above.

Why can't you get online? Are you on a LAN? dial-up? Cable connection?

don't know how to print

Arghghgh! Printing. Arghghgh! Arghghg!

and I don't know what work I can do. For example, if this were a mac, I could go to my tcp/ip control panel and make sure I'm seeing my firewall and I could go to a browser to test if I'm getting beyond my firewall, etc.

Ah, if I'd only read. . . . Looks like you're on a LAN. Here's some things to look at:

ping localhost
ping <some IP address, preferably on your local LAN>
ping <some IP name>
/etc/init.d/networking [re]start
edit /etc/network/interfaces (see "man interfaces") and set up your connection as static or DHCP
lsmod (to see what modules are installed)
modprobe <the driver for your NIC> to add your NIC drivers to the list of loaded modules
modconf (to pick and choose modules to install)
dmesg | more to see the messages that scrolled by on startup, which might help you see if the system
 "saw" your NIC, sound card, etc

And I can go see other macs on the network. If this were a wintel machine, I could go to the start menu and open up the help files and pore over them in a window on the left while jumping from application to application in a window on the right. And in either case I could be typing poetry and stories and printing or emailing them to friends. Or retouching my photos to give myself a third eye while holding a spear of fire. That kind of thing.

So I'm at that point where I'm realizing the trade off of user friendliness for *power* is backfiring a bit. Because now I supposedly have all this power and I'm uncertain as to what to do with it. I now have enough knowledge to be dangerous. I think.

You have a system that's only minimally set up. Once you've done some more tweaking (getting your network working, getting X configured and getting some familar apps working, like email, etc) you'll find things a lot more comfortable.

I hope someone can gently prod me in the right direction. I'm glad to be here in the sense that it was easier than I thought it would be, but now I'm scared and the wolves are after me.

No worries. It's a different landscape, but you'll soon grow to love it.



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