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Re: [vox-tech] Installing a desktop upon my laptop
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Re: [vox-tech] Installing a desktop upon my laptop

on Sat, Sep 25, 2004 at 12:06:55PM -0500, Jay Strauss (me@heyjay.com) wrote:
> Hi,
> I want to preface this, I'm not whinning :)
> Since replacing my failed hard drive on my laptop (IBM thinkpad A30,
> model 2652 3CU), I'm really trying to make the switch to a linux destop.
> I've always run Debian for my servers and am most comfortable with that.
> I've never had to worry about sound cards, IR ports, wireless cards...
> What I find when I install Sarge, and pick the desktop option is:

OK.  Well, at least Sarge is current.  Which installer did you use?  The
new d-i is supposed to be good.  I have to admit I'm partial to
debootstrap under Knoppix, myself.
> 1) It installs a ton of stuff, that I just don't need now.  

Then remove it.

The virtual packages exist to install a lot of stuff.  If you don't want
a lot of stuff, either install things manually, or remove what you don't

FWIW, pretty much any RPM distro kitchen-sinks you, *and* makes it
virtually impossible to remove stuff given dependency hell and poor deps

> 2) it doesn't do a good job of identifying and configuring components.

Rick covered this well, but basically:  traditional Debian installers
*don't* autodetect HW.  Use one that does.

> Examples:
>     a) doesnt identify my video card as ATI

You'd specify this yourself when running 'dpkg-reconfigure

>     b) doesn't setup my XFConfig-4 correctly

See above.

>     c) Sound only works if I use KDE first.  That is if I log into Gnome
> after boot I have no sound, if I log into KDE then Gnome I get sound.
> But even then the sound volume controls doesn't work

Sounds like you've got a sound daemon configured but not running.  Have
to admit that sound is one of several areas in which GNU/Linux remains a
black art (the others are fonts and printers).

>     d) The wireless card can't be picked during the install because the
> settings don't last/work after that initial install reboot

Sounds like you're getting different kernel(s) and/or module(s)
configured at boot and later.

Note in general:  getting devices configured is _largely_ just a matter
of listing the appropriate kernel module in /etc/modules.

I have to admit I usually cheat by booting Knoppix, catting 'lsof' to a
file, and making appropriate changes to my system's /etc/modules.  I say
"appropriate" as Knoppix loads a few modules of its own (say, cloop),
which aren't necessary for an installed desktop.

> 3) Its kinda slow.  I'm running a 1Ghz pentium III, 384 MB ram, 5400 rpm
> drive.  It takes something like 10 seconds after I enter my userid into
> GDM before I get my desktop

First question, of course, is:  Compared to what?

GNOME and KDE are kicking off a lot of stuff at startup.  I'd say ten
seconds is pretty quick.  For comparison:

  - WinXP Pro roaming profile login is ~40 seconds to show desktop,
    uncontended, and a couple of minutes if the network's slammed, on
    Toshiba Satellite M10 / A10 systems.

  - WinXP local login is 21 seconds to show desktop, and 40 seconds
    before login-time processes have all launched.

  - XFCE4 time-to-desktop is roughly 10-15 seconds on a 1.7 GHz 1 GiB
    4200 RPM system.

I think you need to learn patience, my boy.

> Maybe I'm picking the wrong distribution to run as a desktop (or I
> hate to say it, maybe I'm spoiled because M$ stuff does all this so
> well).

I'd be interested in what your expectations are.

The other question is:  how often are you logging in?  My current uptime
is ~140+ days, and I think I've restarted X less than a handful of times
in that interval.  Incidentally, APM restore's going to take > 10
seconds in all likelihood, though less time than a full boot.

> So my question is:
> Can anyone suggest a route for installing on my laptop that will help
> me detect/identify all the components on my laptop (network card,
> wireless card, ir port, monitor, sound card...), give me a nice slim
> install, and ideally use APT for software administration

I'll refer again to Rick Moen's detailed post in this regard.

Note that installation is a one-time hassle.  Maintenance and upgrades
are a far greater long-term concern, and it's here that Debian shines.
Additionally, a reinstallation is *NOT* necessary for you to get the
system you want.  Asking a few well-placed questions such as "what
drivers do I need for...", "how do I find...", or "is there a
post-installation hardware autodetection tool I can use for Debian",
might get you a lot of mileage.

Actually, I'll ask that last question, because it would be really nice
if there were, and I'm not currently aware of one.  Anyone?


Karsten M. Self <kmself@ix.netcom.com>        http://kmself.home.netcom.com/
 What Part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?
    It is better to give than to receive.

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