Re: why linux?
> For months now I have been trying to make Debian behave like a real
> OS. However, I still cannot print, format/initialize a new cd or use
> one to back up files, get the sound working, watch a movie or read
> images from my digital camera. With Windows all this was simple. I
> downloaded the relevant program, set it up and it worked. Windows is
> supposed to be devilspawn and doomed, and maybe it is. It does,
> however, have one saving grace; it works. It works without expecting
> me to become a systems engineer.
I've had that feeling in the past. Now, however, my computer does all
of what you mentioned, and also is a webserver, a photo gallery server,
and an ftp server as well.
Do you have Etch installed (the current stable release)? Or do you
have an older release installed? If you have an older release, then
reinstall with Etch (aka Debian 4.0).
Anyway, I'll assume you have Etch installed. I'll assume that
you've got a high speed internet connection going. And I'll assume you
chose the full default desktop when you installed (if not, install
the meta-package gnome-desktop-environment). The default desktop is
Gnome (unless you used the KDE, or the xfce install disks). I suggest
sticking with Gnome. At the bottom of this letter, I'll include some
stuff about KDE, if that's the desktop environment you have (though I'm
less familiar with it).
Assuming you have Gnome, from the default desktop:
> I still cannot .. format/initialize a new cd
This should work automatically. As soon as you put a blank disk in, a
message should pop up asking what you want to do with it (see
selecting, from the Menu Bar at the top left corner,
Desktop/Preferences/Removable Drives and Media. See
If you still cannot get blank CDs working, then make sure
you've got nautilus-cd-burner installed (open the program synaptic,
which is under the "Desktop" menu in the top left corner of your screen.
From here, press on it, and go to "Administration". Now, go over and
select "Synaptic Package Manager", and search for "nautilus-cd-burner"
-- see http://www.opseu540.info/pictures/wl/whylinux4.png). Also
make sure that gnome-volume-manager is installed. If not, I strongly
recommend installing it, and installing the package
gnome-desktop-environment. This is a meta-package that will give you
most everything. Check the Removable Drives and Media program again.
If the preceding fails, you could also install gnomebaker, which is
another application for cd burning. Use synaptic to install it.
> I still cannot .. get the sound working
This should also just work. However, sometimes some extra twigging is
necessary. So, try opening the terminal (under accessories, or, press
Alt+F2, and type in the run application box "gnome-terminal" --without
quotes-- see http://www.opseu540.info/pictures/wl/whylinux2.png).
In the terminal, enter the following commands (I'll show you what it
looks like in my terminal -- my user is "mark"; hence, "mark@debian",
whereas your's will be something else, like perhaps ojieurojsc@debian,
or, basically, "user@host", with the root being "host:/home/user" --
After the command "su" (which stands for "superuser"), enter your root
password. Then, enter the command alsaconf. If there is a soundcard
that Debian Linux will recognize, then this command will set up the
If you get "bash: alsaconf: command not found" as a response, then
install alsa-base, alsa-tools, and alsa-utils, and alsa-oss.
If alsaconf does not work, well, you're outta luck for sound.
> I still cannot .. watch a movie
You probably need the Debian multimedia repositories. So, first, copy
the following two lines:
deb http://www.debian-multimedia.org etch main
Now, still signed in as root, in your terminal, enter the following
command (just type the stuff AFTER the number sign, which is
debian:/home/mark# nano /etc/apt/sources.list
At the bottom of this file, paste what you had copied (right click
your mouse, and select "paste"). Now, after pasting, exit this file by
pressing Ctrl-x (hold down the Ctrl key, and press the X key). You'll
be asked if you wish to save this file. Yes you do, so save it.
If the dos-like interface of the text editor nano scares you, then press
Alt+F2, and enter "gksu gedit /etc/apt/sources.list" (without quotes),
and you'll have a more WordPad like text editor with which you can
paste the multimedia repository in the sources.list file. You may be
asked to enter the root password.
Open synaptic (see http://www.opseu540.info/pictures/wl/whylinux4.png).
Press Reload. Then, press "Mark All Upgrades". Now, search for the
package w32codecs. Select this to install. Search for mplayer, and
select this to install. Search for mozplugger, and select this to
install. While you're at it, you can also select realplayer, acroread
(with acroread-plugins), flashplugin-nonfree, sun-java5-jre with
sun-java5-plugin, and debian-multimedia-keyring. Now press Apply.
Note: this will take a while, and you'll be asked some questions about
accepting user licenses for the nonfree software (like sun-java).
After this, you should be able to play games at java.com, watch
flash movies at youtube, download movies (wmv, mpg, avi, etc) and
watch them, read acrobat files, watch embedded and/or streaming movies
at most sites, listen to music, etc.
> I still cannot .. read images from my digital camera
This should have happened automatically (I would have included a
screenshot, but my camera is out of batteries). With the package
gnome-volume-manager, digital cameras, connected via a usb cord, should
just automatically show up on your desktop when you connect the camera,
turning it on.
However, if not, you can try gtkam. Install this, and run it (Alt+F2,
gtkam), and perhaps this will work. Still, with the automounting
facility of gnome-volume-manager, I'm surprised that you've had any
trouble with this what-so-ever.
> I still cannot print
Printing too should be automatically set up, but, if it wasn't, I'm not
surprised (printers are still a bit tricky to set up in Linux, from my
experience.) Hopefully you have a printer that works with Linux (if
you have a Canon, you're outta luck, I'm afraid).
First, as root in the terminal, try the following command:
This should set up your printer. You may need to reboot with the
printer on). If printing still is not working, try opening your browser
(Epiphany, or Firefox, or whatever) and enter the following address:
Try to add your printer. See if it will print a test page.
If you still can't get your printer working, go to synaptic and install
foomatic-filters-ppds. This will install almost every driver for most
every printer known to work on Linux. Then, go back to
http://localhost:631/, and try to set up your printer.
If your printer still won't work, try a Google search with the name of
your printer, and linux, and perhaps it'll mention something that might
give you a clue.
So, that's it. Hopefully, this will help. I even set up a
gallery/slideshow for you, at
If you're using KDE, much of this is the same. Cameras, blank disks,
etc, should be recognized (though with a different utility than
gnome-volume-manager). Various other people have mentioned K3B for
burning CDs, which is a good choice if you're using KDE (it's a good
choice even if you're using Gnome, too, but I prefer to use either
gnomebaker, or nautilus-cd-burner). For finding a digital camera, in
KDE, you could try digikam instead of gtkam. For package management,
KDE has a program called adept (or an awful program called kpackage,
which should be avoided....you could also just use synaptic)
KDE looks a bit more like Windows, in that the panel set up, and start
button location, are similar. KDE works well, too. I still would
stick with Gnome (I feel it's easier -- though I currently use ion3).