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Re: A long rant on Debian 9

On Sun, May 06, 2018 at 09:51:09PM +0100, John wrote:
> After rather a long time it said it was installed so I rebooted -- a
> big mistake!  I was hoping for a computer where I could write
> programs, mainly with xterm, emacs (with elisp) and C.  I had asked
> for no gnome no kde no xfce...  I usually run fvwm on X but I got a
> screen with nothing obvious to do.  I did get icons (spit!) offering
> games and firefox but no xterm -- I was expecting to install emacs
> myself as I use a very recent system -- but it was in effect not a
> computer but some kind of toy. I do not play computer games and
> thought I had said not to install any

It looks like other people have already covered the non-free firmware
issues.  So I'll just focus on this part.

I forget the exact wording, but at the end of the installation, there
is a tasksel dialog, in which you are presented with a list of "Tasks"
that can be installed (Web server, SSH server, Debian desktop environment,
and so on).

It sounds like you un-checked the specific desktop environments (KDE,
GNOME, XFCE, etc.) but left "Debian desktop environment" selected.
I honestly have no idea what happens in that case.  I always un-check
that one.  The only Tasks I select during the install are Standard, and
SSH server.

In that configuration, when you reboot, you get a text console login
prompt.  At that point, you can login and install the specific packages
you want.  In your case, I would start with:

  build-essential xorg fvwm xterm

That should get you quite close to what you described, minus the emacs
part, which I don't use and don't know how to install.  I'm hoping you
will know that part.

This list does not include a Display Manager, so you'll still login
on the console and need to type "startx" to get into X.  This is how
I use Debian, and also how many other people use Debian.  If you want
a graphical login, you can install a Display Manager package (possibly
lightdm or xdm).  But I'd wait until "startx" is known to work, just in
case you have issues with video drivers/firmware.  Having a DM installed
and trying to start X at boot time and FAILING is a situtation you don't
want to be in.  It's a whole lot easier to work on the problem if you
know you can boot to a console and login to fix things.

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