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Re: Not a query, but an observation.

On Mon, 2006-06-19 at 10:05 -0500, DonDashGuitar wrote:
> I attempted to report a problem with my video resolution following the
> outlined protocol I found in the support files as best I could.  Given a
> space for commentary, and a stomach full of suppressed frustration I
> couldn't resist the urge to do some venting.  It all went for nothing
> however because I made an error in protocol that prevented my complaint from
> ever being viewed by a human being.

Did you use reportbug?

> The official "Debian Bug Tracking System" notified me that "Message with no
> Package: tag cannot be processed!".  So, it turns out that even complaining
> about Debian is an unnecessarily complicated process.  I suppose I should
> have expected that.  This post will, no doubt, also be lost in cyberspace
> due to some error on my part but I feel better for having at least
> complained to an uncaring machine.  That is in keeping with "the way things
> are" much of the time these days and it's not nearly so important that
> anyone "hear" me whining as it is for me to get it out of my system.
> Still, given the remote possibility that this will be viewed by someone who
> will chuckle aloud and quickly jot down detailed instructions for resolving
> my principal problem, I will reproduce my "defective" bug report here.
> As follows:
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ahhhh, you were doing an "installation report"

> Boot method:  Net install.  I've done four of them so far.
> Image version: 31R2i386netinst
> Date:  The last was today (6-18) and the others over the last week or so.
> 1.    IBM, Aptiva, 266 MHz, AMD-K6tm with 128 MB RAM
> 2.    Dell, OptiPlex G1, 333 MHz, Intel, Celeron, 192 MB RAM
> 3.    Generic (white box), 500 MHz, P3, 192 MB RAM
> 4.    Generic (white box) 500 MHz, P3, 256 MB RAM
> These computers have either a 4.0 or 4.3 GB hard drive with two partitions,
> swap and hda1
> Output of lspci and lspci -n:    I don't understand this question.

What it want is the results from the "lspci" and "lspci -n" commands,
which I provide a sample from my machine.

        [greg@king:~]$ lspci
        0000:00:00.0 Host bridge: VIA Technologies, Inc. VT8363/8365 [KT133/KM133] (rev 03)
        0000:00:01.0 PCI bridge: VIA Technologies, Inc. VT8363/8365 [KT133/KM133 AGP]
        0000:00:04.0 ISA bridge: VIA Technologies, Inc. VT82C686 [Apollo Super South] (rev 40)
        0000:00:04.1 IDE interface: VIA Technologies, Inc. VT82C586A/B/VT82C686/A/B/VT823x/A/C PIPC Bus Master IDE (rev 06)
        0000:00:04.2 USB Controller: VIA Technologies, Inc. VT82xxxxx UHCI USB 1.1 Controller (rev 16)
        0000:00:04.3 USB Controller: VIA Technologies, Inc. VT82xxxxx UHCI USB 1.1 Controller (rev 16)
        0000:00:04.4 Bridge: VIA Technologies, Inc. VT82C686 [Apollo Super ACPI] (rev 40)
        0000:00:0a.0 Multimedia audio controller: Ensoniq ES1371 [AudioPCI-97] (rev 02)
        0000:00:0c.0 Ethernet controller: Intel Corporation 82557/8/9 [Ethernet Pro 100] (rev 08)
        0000:00:11.0 Mass storage controller: Promise Technology, Inc. PDC20265 (FastTrak100 Lite/Ultra100) (rev 02)
        0000:01:00.0 VGA compatible controller: nVidia Corporation NV18 [GeForce4 MX 4000 AGP 8x] (rev c1)
        [greg@king:~]$ lspci -n
        0000:00:00.0 0600: 1106:0305 (rev 03)
        0000:00:01.0 0604: 1106:8305
        0000:00:04.0 0601: 1106:0686 (rev 40)
        0000:00:04.1 0101: 1106:0571 (rev 06)
        0000:00:04.2 0c03: 1106:3038 (rev 16)
        0000:00:04.3 0c03: 1106:3038 (rev 16)
        0000:00:04.4 0680: 1106:3057 (rev 40)
        0000:00:0a.0 0401: 1274:1371 (rev 02)
        0000:00:0c.0 0200: 8086:1229 (rev 08)
        0000:00:11.0 0180: 105a:0d30 (rev 02)
        0000:01:00.0 0300: 10de:0185 (rev c1)

That would be the answer of those.

> Base System Installation Checklist:
> [O] = OK, [E] = Error (please elaborate below), [ ] = didn't try it
> Initial boot worked:    [o]
> Configure network HW:   [o]
> Config network:         [o]
> Detect CD:              [o]
> Load installer modules: [o]
> Detect hard drives:     [o]
> Partition hard drives:  [o]
> Create file systems:    [o]
> Mount partitions:       [o]
> Install base system:    [o]
> Install boot loader:    [o]
> Reboot:                 [o]

This means you were successful with installations and restarting the
machine \o/ YEA!

> Comments/Problems:
> Three of them booted into Gnome after installation and one booted into KDE.
> Why is that?

There is a dialog on the initial login screen, if you chose a
environment by accident, IOW checking out all the clicky pointy things
(as I call them) you may have inadvertently chose KDE.

> Each of these computers was able to operate with a screen resolution of 1024
> by 768 with DSL installed (or, for that matter, with their original Windows
> operating systems).  The first three will now do no better than 800 by 600
> and the fourth is 640 by 480.   All were installed and tested using the same
> 17" monitor.  Additionally, none of them seem to have any sound.

Now, let me ask you, did you install Sarge or Etch? You can check by
doing "cat /etc/debian_version". Here is what mine says:

        [greg@king:~]$ cat /etc/debian_version

> <Description of the install, in prose, and any thoughts, comments and ideas
> you had during the initial install.>
> I was astonished and pleased that a pure Debian install has such an
> incredible amount of software.

Currently I count 19,947 packages in Sid and experimental. That includes
Joey Hess' and Christian Marrilat's "external" archives. 19,158 without

> I am frustrated and disappointed that while there's a wealth of
> documentation it is so incredibly difficult to find any
> specific information.

Debian has a documentation project. I believe a wiki and actually a
working installation manual. For Sarge there is a Full install manual
for any of the supported architectures here:

For x86 (i386) here:

Specifically you should read the section:
        Chapter 3. Before Installing Debian GNU/Linux

> Before I finally resolved a problem with the bios recognizing the CD
> drive on one of these units I decided to try using a boot floppy.  I
> learned how to create the boot floppy from documentation I found
> on the RedHat site (I am highly skilled in the use of google) and
> learned by inference, from the available files, that it takes three
> floppies (instead of one), and spent most of a frustrating hour
> learning that Windows XP will not (repeat not) create a floppy from a
> file named "cd-drivers.img", nor will XP create a floppy if the file
> is renamed "cddrivers.img" but it created the file with no problems if
> it was named "cddr.img" and, happily enough, the Linux installer
> wasn't picky about the name assigned to the third floppy..

you need to use a dos/windows executable called rawwrite.exe but water
under the bridge. Not that this is an insult... but your Google-Fu is
not as good as you believe. The reason I say this, I found more than 200
hits on floppies for installing Debian Sarge. about 20 of them describe
the process fine. The problems you were experiencing, RedHat is Not
Debian, period. Not that the ideals cannot be applied, but the process
you were following lead you down a path of not being able to go forward
past booting off the floppies. No installation or rescue of the system
could have been accomplished.

Not to say it is impossible, mainly because I have done it... using a
pre setup NFS/FTP/HTTP installation server to get a bare bones machine
running manually... far to complicate for someone not intimately
involved with Linux or any *NIX on a daily basis.

> Forgive me a momentary loss of "cool", but....

No problems, we all have them. So more pronounced than yours, some (I
have seen or been involved with) may even make yours look like a Bible
study lesson.

> Why the hell wasn't there a readme text file in the /install/floppy/
> folder with some basic instructions for creating the boot floppies?
> That would have made the CD less than one (1) KB larger.  Adding a 
> copy of rawrite.exe would only add an additional 14 KB. Why is the
> oldest and most respected Linux distro so incredibly difficult to
> install?

You think it is bad now? How about trying to install slink... yeah
buddy, you'd love the Sarge Installer like it was a swimming pool of
Nicely Chilled Perrier Watre after you were in the desert for 2 weeks
and on minimal rations. It is significantly easier to install than any
previous incarnation of Debian. The Debian-Installer group made gigantic
leaps and bounds in usability and understandability

> Honestly, I would be thrilled to write the installation manual
> myself if I could just find the answers to my questions somewhere.

See answers to the above questions.

> When I decided to learn Linux I spent months scrounging to get four
> computers to use for learning tools.  Along with the first three
> computers listed above, I have an HP Pavilion, Model 503W, 1.7 GHz,
> 512 MB RAM.

Nice machine, better machine than I have been using for near 5 years. I
used a 1.4GHz Thunderbird FSB-266MHz with 1.5GB of RAM and an 80GB Hard
Drive (used to be an 8.4GB). I have about 30 machines at my disposal,
all of which are hugely faster and have 2-5 times the RAM, multi-TB of
disk space. etc...

The point is, experimenting with Linux, versus Using Linux is a serious
change. It is hard to ween off the Crack Windows is.

> Using these four computers I've experimented with live CDs and in some
> cases, installed versions of Beatrix, caos, DSL, DSL-N, elive,
> feather, Kanotix, Knoppix, Kubuntu, PCLinuxOS, Puppy, Slax, STX,
> Ubuntu, Vectorlinux, and Xubuntu.  Insofar as I can recall, all of
> these were less complicated to install than Debian; all of them were
> able to produce 1024 by 768 monitor resolution with no special effort
> on my part and none of them had anything remotely like the sheer
> volume of software I found in Debian.  On our "flagship" Linux box
> (the HP) Gnome and KDE both ran slowly on 128 MB of RAM so we expanded
> it to 512 MB but i386 Debian runs very nicely on our Aptiva with only
> 128 MB of RAM.  This is an amazing distro.  Having seen it, I don't
> know how I could even consider using anything else.

Well, these LiveCDs are simple to install, no... really install.
Basically most of them have only one setup as far as partitioning goes.
The copy from the Compressed ROM Image to the New Filesystem.

One reason LiveCDs function so well, most of them are using rather
aggressive hardware detection method. You see, Debian is an 11 (actually
12 now) Platform Operating System. Everything available on i386 is
available on MK68K or MIPS-EL or S390 or PPC... etc. The same Debian
Installer and Hardware detection methods are used on all of them. Some
pretty unique requirements to do that. Imagine doing aggressive hardware
detection (as hard we know we can on x86 machines) on a... ummm say a
sparc-station 5 or an early G3 (PPC) or how about an EV4/5 (Alpha). I
can guarantee we would still be waiting for Sarge. You have to remember,
Debian is a Multi-Platform OS. In order for soemthing to have made it
into Testing before the Freeze, it had to at least compile on all 11
platforms (and a big positive was running on them as well). 

> My friend Bill Chambers, who's a very skilled programmer and web
> developer, asked me to install Linux on his old computer (the fourth
> one I initially listed) and I showed him several distros.  He took one
> look at Debian and said "Well, that's what I want!".

Sometimes Debian is picked because it is the (in my not so humble
opinion) Elite Distro of those distributing pre-compiled biaries. I use
it all the time. In fact I choose Debian over Ubuntu. It being the
Distro I suggest to MOST new Linux users. 

> I'm still knocked out by how awesome Debian is but I really wish it
> weren't quite so difficult and frustrating to install.

Well, now to actually fix you problem of you screen resolution. Most 17"
CRT monitors made in the last 3-4 years have been able to do 1280x1024.

The fix varies from Sarge to Etch/Sid so lets just make it generic for
both of them. (I'll highlight the parts the need specifics)

First off, as the root user, do this command:

        dpkg-reconfigure debconf
                answer Dialog, then low

This just changed Debian so it will ask you everything, even if low
priority. Then next as the root user:

        lspic -X | grep VGA
                (writing down the PCI: sequence of the card)
        dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg
                Answer Yes to try to attempt auto-detect
                Select the one it highlights (or if you know exactly
                what it is,
                        pick that)
                Typically accept the default identifier
                Type in or verify the PCI: address
                Leave the memory amount blank it is only needed for
                Answer No to Use FrameBuffer. Special effort is needed
                for it.
                Autodetect Keyboard == YES
                Answer defaults to: keyboard layout, XKB ruleset,
                Keyboard Model,
                        Keyboard Variant and Keyboard Options
                Answer ImPS/2 for most mice
                Emulate 3 button Mouse? Yes if you have only 2 buttons,
                no if you
                        have three or more.
                select all the modules (most are needed in this day and
                Write Default files section? answer Yes.

Now you should be able to start X (or GDM if installed)

Also make sure you install "gnome-randr-applet" it'll help you get the
right resolution too.

If you have Sarge the package is called "xserver-xfree86" instead of
"xserver-xorg", the questions are similar, but a bit more "you have to
know about your hardware", but most things are similar.

Now, if this doesn't fix most of your problems... then we gotta see
more. Otherwise you should be good to go.
greg, greg@gregfolkert.net

The technology that is 
Stronger, Better, Faster: Linux

Use Debian GNU/Linux, its a bazaar thing

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