After several years spent with Fedora I've decided to try another Linux distribution. My choice fell on Debian that I need to learn because of my work project. The tutorial describes installation of common user applications on Debian. It also offers solution to problems I encountered after Debian Wheezy installation. Please have in mind that is written from a newbie's point of view.
- Laptop Compaq 8510w
- ATI RV630 [Mobility Radeon HD 2600]
- Intel Corporation 82566MM Gigabit Network Connection
- Intel Corporation PRO/Wireless 4965 AG or AGN
1. Creating a Bootable USB Stick with Debian
In this step we are going to create Debian USB installation stick. I am going to use Debian netinstall ISO image for installation as my connection to the Internet is reliable and fast.
1.1 Download Debian Wheezy neinstall ISO image
$ wget http://cdimage.debian.org/debian-cd/7.2.0/i386/iso-cd/debian-7.2.0-i386-netinst.iso
1.2 Copy ISO image to USB stick
Use command df -h to check if your USB stick is not mounted. Then you can copy the image with the command below where device /dev/sdb is your USB stick.
$ sudo dd if=debian-7.2.0-i386-netinst.iso of=/dev/sdb
1.3 Start installation process
Enter BIOS and Enable option boot from the USB hard drive. Put USB stick in to a USB slot and start installation.
2. Loading Proprietary Firmware During Installation
Once Debian is being installed, installation process may stopped with the following message:
Detected network hardware.
Some of your hardware needs non-free firmware files to operate.
The missing firmware files are: iwlwifi-4965-2.ucode.
If you have such media available now insert it and continue installation.
This basically means that Debian non-free firmware is not included in Debian Installation image. Downloading and inserting USB stick with particular firmware we make our wireless network ready to operate during Debian installation.
2.1 Download non-free firmware
Use another computer to download tarball that contains firmware.
$ wget http://cdimage.debian.org/cdimage/unofficial/non-free/firmware/wheezy/current/firmware.tar.gz
2.2 Extract tarball and copy a directory with extracted firmware to the root of USB stick
$ mkdir firmware
$ cd firmware
$ tar zxvf firmware.tar.gz
$ mv ../firmware /media/my_usb/
Insert the USB stick to a computer where Debian installation is in progress. Select yes and continue installation.
3. Vim Editor Installation and Sudo User Configuration
Once the Debian installation is completed, make two after install steps that makes Debian tuning easier.
3.1 Install Vim editor
The vi editor is installed by default. As I prefer vim editor to old-style vi editor, we are going to install vim with the command:
$ sudo apt-get install vim
From now even we invoke vi command, vim editor is used instead of it.
3.2 Configure sudo user
From the security perspective it is recommended to use sudo command instead of working under root account permanently. We will edit file /etc/sudoers and add a user to the file. User will have configured a set of commands that can start with sudo command.
Search for terminal in the menu on the left corner of the desktop. Open terminal and switch to a root account with su command. Type the password for root user that you chose during installation.
File /etc/sudoers should be edited only with the command /usr/bin/visudo. Issue the command and substitute word your_username with your real username. This user is configured to use all available commands.
your_username ALL=(ALL:ALL) ALL
4. Gnome 3 Forced in Fall Back Mode after Install
If your screen looks similar to mine, Gnome 3 is probably forced in fall back mode.
Picture 1 Gnome 3 in fall back mode
4.1 Check dmesg for error
$ sudo dmesg | grep radeon
[ 6.400344] [drm] radeon kernel modesetting enabled.
[ 6.421271] [drm:radeon_pci_probe] *ERROR* radeon kernel modesetting for R600 or later requires firmware-linux-nonfree.
Output is self explanatory, firmware for graphic card is missing. Get info about installed graphic card using lspci command.
$ lspci -v | grep VGA
01:00.0 VGA compatible controller: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] nee ATI RV630 [Mobility Radeon HD 2600] (prog-if 00 [VGA controller])
As you can see graphic card GPU ATI RV630 - Radeon HD 2600 is presented. To download required non-free firmware we must enable non-free repository.
4.2 Enable non-free repository
Edit file /etc/apt/sources.list and add the following line.
$ vi /etc/apt/sources.list
deb http://ftp.us.debian.org/debian/ wheezy-updates main contrib non-free
Update the list of available packages with the command.
$ sudo apt-get update
4.3 Get info about Radeon binaries
Get info about Radeon binaries that are available in package firmware-linux-nonfree uploaded in Debian repository.
$ apt-cache show firmware-linux-nonfree | grep RV630
* Radeon RV630 ME microcode (radeon/RV630_me.bin)
* Radeon RV630 PFP microcode (radeon/RV630_pfp.bin
4.4 Install package firmware-linux-nonfree and reboot your computer
$ sudo apt-get install firmware-linux-nonfree
Reboot computer with the command.
$ sudo /sbin/reboot
5. Gnome 3 Environment Tweaking
5.1 Add Minimize/Maximize Buttons to Gnome 3 desktop windows
By default, only Close button is presented in the right corner of Gnome 3 windows. To add minimize and maximize button to windows issue the following command.
$ dconf write /org/gnome/shell/overrides/button-layout '":minimize,maximize,close"'
5.2 Install tool for adding icons to Gnome 3 menus
$ sudo apt-get install alacarte
Picture 2 Alacarte - tool for editing Gnome menu
6. Samba File Server Installation and Configuration
Samba file server is required for accesing Linux directories from Windows.
6.1 Samba server installation
$ sudo apt-get install samba samba-common libcups2
6.2 Samba server configuration
We will configure Samba server to allow access of all Debian users to their home directories using SMB protocol. Users can read directories and have write access to directories from a remote Windows machine.
6.3 Edit Samba configuration file
Add following lines to Samba configuration file.
$ sudo su
# vi /etc/samba/smb.conf
#"security = user" is always a good idea. This will require a Unix account
# in this server for every user accessing the server.
security = user
comment = Home Directories
browseable = no
read only = no
6.4 Create a samba user
The following command will add user brezular to smbpasswd file and ask for a new password type for the user. User brezular should be also a valid Linux user thus presented in /etc/passwd file.
$ smbpasswd -a brezular
6.5 Restart samba services
$ sudo /etc/init.d/samba restart
7. Instant Messaging Clients Installation
7.1 Install Pidgin
Pidgin is an easy to use and free chat client used by millions.
$ apt-get install pidgin-otr
7.2 Install Skype
Donwload and install Skype.
$ wget http://www.skype.com/go/getskype-linux-deb-32
$ sudo dpkg -i getskype-linux-deb-32
7.3 Install Konversation
Konversation is a user-friendly Internet Relay Chat (IRC) client built on the KDE Platform.
$ apt-get install konversation
8. Google Chrome Installation
8.1 Download and install Google Public key
$ wget -q -O - https://dl-ssl.google.com/linux/linux_signing_key.pub
$ sudo apt-key add linux_signing_key.pub
8.2 Add Google Chrome repository to the list of repositories
$ sudo su
# echo "deb http://dl.google.com/linux/chrome/deb/ stable main" >> /etc/apt/sources.list
8.3 Install Google Chrome
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install google-chrome-stable
8.4 Remove Firefox
$ sudo apt-get remove icewease
9. Audio, Video and Burning Software Installation
This part shows installation of multimedia applications, libraries and codecs.
9.1 Install Flash plugin
Adobe Flash Player is a multimedia platform used to add animation, video, and interactivity to Web pages. Flash is frequently used for advertisements and games.
$ sudo apt-get install flashplugin-nonfree
9.2 Install lame, mencoder and ffmpeg
$ sudo apt-get install lame mencoder ffmpeg
9.3 Install audio player Amarok
Amarok is opensource audio media player.
$ sudo apt-get install amarok
Note VLC video and audio player is automatically installed together with Amarok.
9.4 Install CD and DVD burning application K3b
K3b was created to be a feature-rich and easy to handle CD burning application.
$ sudo apt-get install k3b
10. Office Applications Installation
10.1 Install Acrobat Reader
Acrobat Reader lets you view, print, search, and share Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF).
$ wget ftp://ftp.adobe.com/pub/adobe/reader/unix/9.x/9.5.5/enu/AdbeRdr9.5.5-1_i386linux_enu.deb
$ sudo dpkg -i AdbeRdr9.5.5-1_i386linux_enu.deb
10.2 Install Text Editor Kwrite
Kwrite is KDE text editor.
$ sudo apt-get install kwrite
10.3 Install File manager Krusader
Krusader is an advanced twin panel (commander style) file manager similar to Midnight or Total Commander.
$ sudo apt-get install krusader
11. Other Applications Installation
11.1 Install Wine
Wine allows to run Windows applications on Linux.
$ sudo apt-get install wine
11.2 Install Minicom
Minicom is a text-based modem control and terminal emulation program for Unix-like operating systems,
$ sudo apt-get install minicom
12. GNS3 and Associated Applications Installation
GNS3 is based on Dynamips and Dynagen (a text-based front-end for Dynamips) to create a complete virtual Cisco network, adding many additional features and most importantly making it easy to create, change and save your network topologies. It was also extended for Qemu virtualizer/emulator and VirtualBox support.
The tutorial about GNS3 and associated software installation on Debian is here.