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Re: frustration with debian installation

On Sat, Oct 07, 2000 at 09:55:35AM -0500, Bob Edwards wrote:
> Greetings from a very frustrated "newbie." After numerous attempts, I
> finally got the base system and packages installed, but I now have what
> seems like the overwhelming task of configuring everything so I can
> actually use the new system I saved for months to purchase.

What'd you get? (just out of curiosity)

> (1) What all do I have to configure if I want to use gnome as my gui ?

First of all I would suggest using Helix if you're wanting to use GNOME.
The easy way to do this is to add the following line to your sources.list
file (located at /etc/apt/sources.list)

   deb http://spidermonkey.helixcode.com/distributions/debian unstable main

After you do that, type apt-get update as root (assuming you're connected
to the internet). Don't worry about the "unstable" mention up there. 
Helix works very well with Debian 2.2.

Then type apt-get install task-helix-gnome. This will begin a massive 
download of all the stuff you need to run GNOME. After this is done, simply
add the line 
   exec gnome-session

to your ~/.xinitrc file and you'll be off to the races.

> (2) Am I correct in my understanding that the x-windows system is the
> standard debian gui, and I can choose to use gnome instead?

Well, it really doesn't work that way. First of all I'd warn against going
around calling it X-Windows .... some folks get mighty irate, as that is not
a valid name for XFree86. If you refer to it just as X, or XFree86, or the
X Windowing System people will know what you mean, and it might save you some
needless ridicule.

With that out of the way, X is a software application that enables graphical
display output. That's extremely simplified, but that's about all it does. To
make that output useful ... i.e. allow things like bordered windows, desktop
environments, etc ... you need some more software to manage the display output
that X produces. Typically this is where your window manager comes in. Some 
simple window managers include Window Maker, Blackbox, Sawfish, etc. These
different window managers provide different ways of managing the output 
generated by X, or rather they handle the framing and manipulation of raw 
windowed applications.

These days you can go one step further and use something like KDE or GNOME. 
These things are Desktop Environments. The difference betwen a simple window 
manager and  a desktop environment is the former doesn't attempt to create a 
unifiying interface accross all X applications, while the latter does. Using
a desktop environment makes it easier to accomplish things like dragging a link
from Netscape onto your desktop and having this turn into a clickable icon,
etc. Of course you do have Enlightenment which as far as I can tell is more 
than a window manager but less than a desktop environment. Anyway, if you're 
curious you can install and play with whatever graphical environment you want.

This is fairly easy to do. Lets say for instance you wanted to check out
Window Maker ... you would just do apt-get install wmaker to download and 
install the program. Then you would edit your ~/.xinitrc file. Putting a #
in front of the current "exec gnome-session" line (effectively commenting it
out) and adding the line exec wmaker. Ta Da, when you fire up X you'll be using
Window Maker. If you decide you don't like it, simply remove the # from the 
"exec gnome-session" line and put in it in front of the "exec wmaker" line.

If you're wondering what this Helix nonsense is ... Helix is simply an effort
to package up and unify GNOME. Personally I think the improvements that are
coming out of this are very nice.

> (3) how do I configure gnome?

Once you get GNOME running (see above), simply open the Gnome Control Center.
You'll find this by clicking on the little Gnome foot, going to settings and
then Gnome Control Center. A window will pop up that will allow you to change
things to your liking.

> (4) I have read"Linux system commands" by Volkerding and Reichard, and
> got some help there, but at the moment I'm extraordinarily frustrated.

And will probably remain so for a while. Linux takes a bit of getting used to,
and certainly requires a significant degree of effort on the part of the user.
But unlike those "other" operating system environments, when you figure out 
how to do something you've actually _learned_ something, as opposed to figuring
out how to trick the system into doing something close to what you want.

It may taste bad now, but you'll be better off "in the long run". Heh ... 
couldn't resist.

> (5) I hate windows so bad, that I will never go back.

Why do you hate windows so bad? (just out of curiosity)

> (6) please guide me through the jungle of configring my new debian OS so
> I can use this wonderful computer and debian to accomplish my long-held
> dream of establishing a publishing company.

Well you will certainly want to look into LaTeX ... I don't know much about
it, but from the little I've dabbled with it it looks to be a very powerful
thing. I believe there are some Oreilly books on the subject ... you might 
want to check those out. Also don't forget to install the GIMP so you can
play around with a world class graphics editor. My suggestion would be to
apt-get install gimp1.1 ... This is the developmental version, but it seems
quite stable to me and has a _ton_ of more useful features than the 1.0 

Hope this rambling proves to be useful.

Welcome to Debian.


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