The Perfect Desktop - Debian Etch (Debian 4.0)

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Submitted by falko (Contact Author) (Forums) on Sun, 2007-04-29 18:05. :: Debian | Desktop

The Perfect Desktop - Debian Etch (Debian 4.0)

Version 1.0
Author: Falko Timme <ft [at] falkotimme [dot] com>
Last edited 04/27/2007

With the release of Microsoft's new Windows operating system (Vista), more and more people are looking for alternatives to Windows for various reasons. In this tutorial I will show people who are willing to switch to Linux how they can set up a Linux desktop (Debian Etch in this article) that fully replaces their Windows desktop, i.e. that has all software that people need to do the things they do on their Windows desktops. The advantages are clear: you get a secure system without DRM restrictions that runs also on older hardware, and the best thing is: all software comes free of charge.

I want to say first that this is not the only way of setting up such a system. There are many ways of achieving this goal but this is the way I take. I do not issue any guarantee that this will work for you!

 

1 Preliminary Note

To fully replace a Windows desktop, I want the Debian Etch desktop to have the following software installed:

Graphics:

  • The GIMP - free software replacement for Adobe Photoshop
  • F-Spot - full-featured personal photo management application for the GNOME desktop
  • Google Picasa - application for organizing and editing digital photos

Internet:

  • Iceweasel (Debian's name for Firefox)
  • Opera
  • Flash Player 9
  • gFTP - multithreaded FTP client
  • Icedove (Debian's name for Thunderbird) - email and news client
  • Evolution - combines e-mail, calendar, address book, and task list management functions
  • aMule - P2P file sharing application
  • Bittorrent client
  • Azureus - Java Bittorrent client
  • Gaim - multi-platform instant messaging client
  • Skype
  • Google Earth
  • Xchat IRC - IRC client

Office:

  • OpenOffice Writer - replacement for Microsoft Word
  • OpenOffice Calc - replacement for Microsoft Excel
  • Adobe Reader
  • GnuCash - double-entry book-keeping personal finance system, similar to Quicken
  • Scribus - open source desktop publishing (DTP) application

Sound & Video:

  • Amarok - audio player
  • Audacity - free, open source, cross platform digital audio editor
  • Banshee - audio player, can encode/decode various formats and synchronize music with Apple iPods
  • MPlayer - media player (video/audio), supports WMA
  • Rhythmbox Music Player - audio player, similar to Apple's iTunes, with support for iPods
  • gtkPod - software similar to Apple's iTunes, supports iPod, iPod nano, iPod shuffle, iPod photo, and iPod mini
  • XMMS - audio player similar to Winamp
  • dvd::rip - full featured DVD copy program
  • Kino - free digital video editor
  • Sound Juicer CD Extractor - CD ripping tool, supports various audio codecs
  • VLC Media Player - media player (video/audio)
  • Real Player
  • Totem - media player (video/audio)
  • Xine - media player, supports various formats; can play DVDs
  • GnomeBaker - CD/DVD burning program
  • K3B - CD/DVD burning program
  • Multimedia-Codecs

Programming:

  • Nvu- WYSIWYG HTML editor, similar to Macromedia Dreamweaver, but not as feature-rich (yet)
  • Bluefish - text editor, suitable for many programming and markup languages
  • Quanta Plus - web development environment, including a WYSIWYG editor

Other:

  • VMware Server - lets you run your old Windows desktop as a virtual machine under your Linux desktop, so you don't have to entirely abandon Windows
  • TrueType fonts
  • Java
  • Read/Write support for NTFS partitions

Debian automatically installs the GNOME desktop.

Lots of our desired applications are available in the Debian repositories, and some of these applications have been contributed by the Debian community. The rest (except for VMware Server) can be obtained by using Automatix. This makes it very easy to achieve our goal.

I will use the username falko in this tutorial, and I will download all necessary files to falko's desktop which is equivalent to the directory /home/falko/Desktop. If you use another username (which you most probably do ;-)), please replace falko with your own username. So when I use a command like

cd /home/falko/Desktop

you must replace falko.

 

2 Installing The Base System

The installation of the base system is easy as 1-2-3 because the Debian installer doesn't offer a lot of options to choose from, so you cannot go wrong.

Download the Debian Etch Netinstall CD (the list of mirrors is available here: http://www.debian.org/CD/http-ftp/ - I downloaded this one: http://ftp.de.debian.org/debian-cd/4.0_r0/i386/iso-cd/debian-40r0-i386-netinst.iso), burn it onto a CD, and boot your computer from it. At the boot prompt, press ENTER:

The installation starts, and first you have to choose your language:

Then select your location:

Choose a keyboard layout:

The installer checks the installation CD, your hardware, and configures the network with DHCP if there is a DHCP server in the network:

You can accept the default hostname:

This is a desktop system, so you don't have to type in a domain name:

Now you have to partition your hard disk. For simplicity's sake I will create one big partition (with the mount point /) and a little swap partition so I select Guided - use entire disk (of course, the partitioning is totally up to you - if you like, you can create more than just one big partition, and you can also use LVM):

Select the disk that you want to partition:

Then select the partitioning scheme. As mentioned before, I select All files in one partition (recommended for new users) for simplicity's sake - it's up to your likings what you choose here:

When you're finished, select Finish partitioning and write changes to disk:

Select Yes when you're asked Write changes to disks?:

Afterwards, your new partitions are created and formatted:

Afterwards, give the root user a password:

Confirm that password to avoid typos:

Create a normal user account:


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Submitted by fonok (not registered) on Tue, 2008-10-14 13:27.

and of course:

say: install tasks="no-desktop"

if you do not want to have any desktop - e.g. server setup

Submitted by fonok (not registered) on Tue, 2008-10-14 13:24.

Usefull things at boot prompt:

DO NOT press Enter !

say: install tasks="kde-desktop" - if you want KDE instead of Gnome

sometimes acpi makes problems (I had with netinstall CD on a 'barebone' type PC):

say: install acpi=off

Submitted by floppyflop (registered user) on Wed, 2007-11-21 12:47.
I didn't know about automagix before reading your howto. It looks promising. Unfortunately I found out that this tutorial only works for i386, not amd64, since automagix2 is not supporting amd64 on debian etch (yet). Perhaps it's good to mention this in the howto.
I assume that it's not a good idea to point to the gutsy sources for automagix2 (which do support amd64), or do you think there is no harm in trying that, i.e. mixing distributions?
Submitted by southernman (registered user) on Mon, 2007-08-13 12:03.

Personally, I feel you should have added a third partition of /home. It's one of the good qualities of Linux that should not be left out for simplicity sake... It takes a little more work during the installation process but the end result is an easier to upgrade system.
No windows nor gates, yet complete freedom! 

Submitted by factotum218 (registered user) on Sat, 2007-05-19 19:39.
Do you really need 9 seperate media players, 2 mail clients, 3 cd-burning apps, 4 web browsers, and 4 bittorrent clients (including opera and gtorrent)? No.
Submitted by admin (registered user) on Sun, 2007-05-20 10:16.
This is just for demonstration purposes. Of course, you can install all the software, but you can also pick only the software that you need. The tutorial just shows how to install all software, but it's up to you which software you install.
Submitted by factotum218 (registered user) on Sun, 2007-05-20 20:42.
I came to that conclusion. Kind of made me snicker though. It is a great write up, dont get me wrong! But it just seemed like it could have been summed up with "Install Debian then get Automatix."
Submitted by AdamC (registered user) on Thu, 2007-05-03 05:55.
finally...a great walkthrough to get the Deb OS up and running..not being familiar with apt-get and options this proved invaluable in getting an system up and running.. ..thx again.