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Re: No X configuration offered during install of Woody (30r1)

Andrew Borland wrote:

[New User Alert]
I've just, sort of, completed my first installation of Debian and I'm ready to start asking questions.

Installation is Woody 30r1 from the .iso images with apt-get configured to use CDs and also http, so I ended up with quite a bit of stuff automatically fetched from the security site.


1) Can anybody suggest any obvious reasons why I was not offered any of the X setup screens during the original installation?
The installer has issues?

Seriously, it's been a while since I've done a newbie-ish install of Woody, so I'm not familiar with what you've seen during the install. But I tend to quit the installer as soon as I have a bare minimum setup, and then work from there. I've had better results that way.

First off, if this is a server, you want to stick with Woody (but then why X on a sever?). If it's a desktop workstation, and it won't hurt you too bad to have some breakages here and there along the way in exchange for newer more recent versions of a lot of the software, I'd suggest you upgrade to testing or unstable. I have all my boxes on unstable, and aside from one serious breakage a year or so ago for about a week when something was broken in PAM preventing logins, and a host of little stuff like some little program not being installable for a couple of weeks or etc, it's been quite usable as a desktop environment. Much better than stable would have been, with its older versions of all the good stuff, like Mozilla.

Also, you probably have a 2.2 kernel; I'd upgrade to 2.4.

Following advice read elsewhere on this list, I attempted:
dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xfree86

but this complained about X not being fully installed - not that I'd seen any message to this effect during base installation. I'd have expected a fairly prominent warning about something as fundamental as X not installing.

So, in accordance with further instructions on this list, I installed X manually:
apt-get install xserver-xfree86  followed by
apt-get install kdm
(not sure if kdm was essential but it was recommended)
Nah; KDM is just a graphical login screen. Not essential.

After that, when I rebooted, KDE started but I couldn't do anything with it. The mouse couldn't get more than about an inch away from the bottom left hand corner

Sounds like you have an issue with your mouse. See the "mouse" thread earlier today.

and none of the keyboard shortcuts listed at kde.org were being actioned.
Hmm; keyboard shortcuts. I need to look into those.

2) When faced with such a fatal problem in X, how does one persuade Debian to boot to a console display given that you obviously can't edit any of the configuration files.

Uninstall or disable in some manner (several ways to do it) KDE. Or alternatively, just switch from the graphic console (usually on VT7) to a text console on the first virtual terminal, by pressing something like Ctrl-Alt-F1 to switch to VT1. If you want to get back to the currently running graphical session on VT7, press [Ctrl-]Alt-F7 (the Ctrl is necessary when going from a graphic session, but optional when going from a text session).

3) I played with Mandrake a couple of years ago, and I seem to recall there being separate entries in LILO for KDE or TEXT sessions, can anything similar be achieved in Debian? I think it was something to do with runlevels.
This was most certainly in /etc/inittab, although LILO may have had some hooks to call the different runlevels. It's pretty trivial to do once you understand the basics of LILO and runlevels.

Yes, you could tweak your run-levels to accomplish this, but most Debian users find it easier to leave them at the Debian defaults and instead use tricks like the above Ctrl-Alt-F1 technique to manuever around. Once in a text VT, you can kill KDE with the command "/etc/init.d/kdm stop", and then start it again later with "/etc/init.d/kdm start" (or you could reboot, but why?). About the only time the Debian defaults cause problems is when you have a session manager that automatically loads on boot-up and X has something wrong that causes the machine to freeze; in that situation, rather than having different options in LILO, we just run "linux single" at the "boot:" prompt to start up in single-user mode, and then fix the problem.

I managed to sidestep the problem on this occasion by SSH'ing in from a Windows PC (3 cheers for the installation routines configuring the network) then running dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xfree86 and trying a different set of keyboard/mouse options. Interestingly I was asked a slightly different series of questions than I was when I first configured X.
I believe the installer's routines for setting mouse/etc up are a bit different than the routines in the relevant packages that were installed and/or configured after the installer's routines ran. As you update to newer packages in the future, you may find that process changes again.

4) Does anyone know which driver I should be selecting to support a MS Trackball Explorer. At present I have it as a basic PS2 mouse so I lose the use of the wheel, the extra buttons etc. I originally tried the iexplore driver but that clearly wasn't what I wanted and, given the mess it got me into, I'm kind of reluctant to apply trial-and-error to any of the others.
Not sure, but you might try "imps2" as the protocol rather than "ps2". Experimentation with mice is one of the reasons I like to run gpm in addition to the standard X mouse driver; it's easier/quicker to get results with gpm than with X. See the "mouse" thread earlier today.

5) Unrelated to the foregoing, is there an apt-get command (or any other command) that basically says "go and get all the security patches applicable to anything I've got installed" such that I can keep the system up to date?
Make sure you have the "security" line in /etc/apt/sources.list, then run:
   apt-get update
   apt-get upgrade

This will update any new packages, including security-related packages. If you stay with stable, you'll mostly get only security updates. If you upgrade to testing or stable, you'll get lots of new stuff often, so you might want to tweak your commands above to just get the stuff from "security"; I've never played much with limiting the downloads/upgrades that way, but others can probably guide you on this.

You'll have to run this every so often (daily, weekly, whatever you're comfortable with). You can even set up a cron job to do it for you automatically, or with a bit of work, set up a cron to download the packages, but not install them until you decide to install them manually.


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