(This page belongs to the K40-homepage)

Short Manual on How to Install Debian (updated 2007-11-11)


I had been using SuSE Linux for more than five years when I read that they have introduced a compulsory registration (in SuSE 10.1) for everyone who is doing an online update. At that point I decided to give Debian a try, because I wanted to go on using a FREE operating system.

I always thought that Debian was an absolutely difficult operating system which does not support any hardware at all out of the box. That was a mistake! After installing Debian, menus guided me through network and graphic card configuration. Sound card and TV card were detected automatically. I was surprised.

Unfortunately, the difficulty with Debian is, that you need to read a lot of HOWTOs, internet forums and usenet groups to collect the information you need. Even if it is only to find out how to add a printer to your system :-(. So I decided to share some information about the most important steps you need to go through in order to get your system working without the need to dispair and to read thousands of HOWTO pages.

All commands described below need to be run as root.

Check out webmin (it is not included in debian anymore, you need to get it from the internet) with a browser at https://localhost:10000. That's a good configuration tool!

stable or unstable/testing?

I first installed the stable version, because I thought that testing would be very buggy. It isn't! If you plan to use Debian on a server or office environment, you should consider to install the stable version. Otherwise, for personal use only, unstable is more interesting, has a greater variety of programmes and is newer. Testing is maybe a bit too risky, because there are some bugs that have not been solved yet. For example I was not able to use hal/dbus for weeks until there was an update available.

To switch between stable and unstable or testing, change /etc/apt/sources.list. Replace stable with unstable main contrib non-free everywhere except of the security thing. Then do dist-upgrade (see below).

Install software / Update distribution

The programme used for installing and updating software is apt-get.

Syntax: apt-get install xbill
This will install xbill on your system.

apt-get -f -u dist-upgrade
This will upgrade your system to the latest version of all installed programmes via the debian servers.

If you want to install a .deb-package that you have downloaded somewhere, you need:
dpkg -i xbill.deb
This will install xbill from a .deb package on your system.

To update the list of programmes apt-get knows use
apt-get update

There is also a menu programme that manages the packages. It is called aptitude. And synaptic is the same thing as an X11 graphical programme. Check it out!

Configure Sound Card / Scanner / (Postscript) Printer

To reconfigure the sound card, use alsaconf

To configure a scanner, use sane-find-scanner. If you have success with an USB scanner, remember to set the options rw,devmode=0666,devuid=1000,devgid=99 in /etc/fstab at /proc/bus/usb.

To configure a printer with cups, use
lpadmin -p my_printer -E -v parallel:/dev/lp0 -P /usr/share/ppd/linuxprinting.org-gs-builtin/Kyocera/Kyocera-FS-1800plus-Postscript.ppd.gz.
You should install some of the ppd files before (the best for me was the package linuxprinting-stuff). I saw that Gnome and KDE (kprinter) have a graphical interface for printing setup: kprinter and gnome-cups-manager. This is much easier!

Configure X

To reconfigure the graphic card and xorg, use dpkg-reconfigure xorg after you have installed the xserver-xorg package. My prefered window manager is WindowMaker. It can be installed with the packages wmaker and wmakerconf.
(In case you need it: To disable dead keys, insert into /etc/X11/xorg.conf in Section "InputDevice" / Identifier "Generic Keyboard" at the end Option "XkbOptions" "nodeadkeys"
Option "XkbdVariant" "nodeadkeys" .)

Blank screens after a certain timeout can be avoided by using the xset command, e.g. xset s off to turn off the screensaver.

Configure Encrypted Partitions

In a time, in which common security seems to be more important than personal freedom, it is (in my opinion) inevitable to encrypt all personal data. Maybe only because you fear that the music industry one day will ring at your doorbell...

First step: Create a partition with cfdisk to be encrypted (you may instead create a file with dd, as well. Syntax is dd if=/dev/zero of=.systembackup bs=1024k count=10 for a file of 10 MB).

Second step: losetup -e aes256 /dev/loop/0 /dev/hdc1 is the programme that handles the encryption. aes256 is the encryption mode, /dev/loop/0 is actually the the same as /dev/hdc1 (the original partition), but it's the unencrypted access to your partition, so that it can be mounted or formatted...

Third step: mkfs.reiserfs /dev/loop/0 creates a filesystem.

Forth step: mount /dev/loop/0 /mnt mounts the encrypted device.

Detaching ist done with: umount /dev/loop/0 and losetup -d /dev/loop/0

For later mounts you can use mount /dev/hdc1 /mnt -o encryption=aes256. This will do everything for you in one command.

If you want to mount the partition on boot, just write the following line into your /etc/fstab (of course, change the partition names):
/dev/sda6 /sic reiserfs encryption=aes256,user,auto,exec 0 0
Keep in mind that there needs to be 0 0 at the end, because otherwise a file system would be checked which can't be checked because it is encrypted. This could damage your data.

Bluetooth Dial-Up Connection

First, you need to install all packages that seem to have something to do with bluez or bluetooth.

If you have a bluetooth USB stick that is supported by Linux and a mobile phone in which bluetooth connection is switched on you might want to let the computer try to find it, for example if you want to establish an internet connection via GPRS or UMTS. Therefor you need:

hcitool scan

This should output the name and the MAC address of the mobile phone. Now sdptool can give you more information. You need to know which channel the dial-up connection is at (okay, usually it's channel 1). Then use rfcomm to connect the dial-up network of the phone to your computer:

rfcomm connect 0 00:11:22:33:44:55 1

connect 0 refers to the "channel" on which the modem should be configured, it is the number behind the /dev/rfcomm* device. The 1 at the end of the line is the port, on which the telephone offers a modem. This can be found out with sdptool. The telephone will ask for a pin. This is the pin which can be found in the files on /etc/bluetooth/. rfcomm will now connect channel 1 to port 0 of the computer. Port 0 actually is /dev/rfcomm0. This will work like every other modem. You can try minicom on this port with e.g. commands like atz or ati, or you can use wvdial or pppd to establish a connection. Actually pppconf will help you to configure a connection, then pon and poff will do the rest for you. But I have never tried this, I use wvdial.

Setting up a Firewall

To set up a simple firewall that blocks all incoming connection (or if requested excluding some ports where you offer services), install arno-iptables-firewall. After the installation process, a menu will come up to let you configure what you need. If you want to reconfigure it later, please use dpkg-reconfigure arno-iptables-firewall.