[Rule] Debian on laptop

Richard Kweskin rkwesk at hellug.gr
Sun Aug 26 04:46:04 EEST 2007

Hello All

This has been my particular method to install Etch on my laptop:

I had an older Debian install cd installing Sarge. I put an older disk in one of my desktop boxes and did a minimal install from there to the disk. At the first reboot I restarted the box with its proper disk, mounted the old disk and used exportfs so that it could be acessed by nfs from the laptop. At this point Tom's root boot disk is the crucial tool to start the laptop from absolute zero. When the Xircom nic is in the pcmcia slot of the laptop, booting with Tom's floppy brings up the network and successfully mounts the desktop's export with nfs!
going off on a tangent...

If I recall, though the latest versions of slinky can't do this, a much earlier version had an option where one could insert an extra driver floppy (and Redhat had these images on their cd) choosing the pcmcia driver disk also allowed the pcmcia nic on the laptop to be activated.

Probably Debian's net driver floppy would also achieve this, but I didn't try. My attempts with the Debian floppies were concentrated on enabling the external tray with the pcmcia interface, having installed a cd drive in the tray and having the Debian install cd in the drive. Had that worked I would consider such a method having just one extra step a newbie could do and still get the installer started in such a circumstance - but I digress.
In addition to having mounted the old disk by nfs, of course the other essential that Tom's floppy provides is fdisk. Thus I partition the laptop's disk into hda1 with just 20 MB for /boot, hda2 an extended partition covering all the rest of the disk, hda5 256MB for swap, hda6,7 8 9 10 11 12 for / /var /usr /home /opt /tmp and just for emergencies to run e2fsck from and the like - sizes are whatever I can get away with - but that's just me taking things to an extreme. The contents of the old disk are dully copied over. I boot from a grub floppy to get me in. I run grub-install hd0 and tweak menu.lst.

I purge packages at mailx exim4 exim4-base exim4-config exim4-daemon-light ed nano ipchains ppp pppconfig pppoe pppoe-conf telnet. I tweak /etc/apt/sources.list for Etch. I prefer aptitude to apt-get as the former looks after dependencies better - especially when a package is purged! I run aptitude update,
aptitude dist-upgrade, aptitude install less. I tweak /etc/locale.gen to contain two lines el_GR.UTF-8 UTF-8 and en_US.UTF-8 UTF-8. I tweak /etc/default/locale to contain 3 lines LANG="el_GR.UTF-8" and LANGUAGE="el" and LC_MESSAGES="en_US.UTF-8". I tweak /etc/console-tools/config to contain SCREEN_FONT=iso07.f16 SCREEN_FONT_vc2=SCREEN_FONT=iso07.f16 SCREEN_FONT_vc3=SCREEN_FONT=iso07.f16 SCREEN_FONT_vc4=SCREEN_FONT=iso07.f16 SCREEN_FONT_vc5=SCREEN_FONT=iso07.f16 SCREEN_FONT_vc6=SCREEN_FONT=iso07.f16.

To install a minimal xorg I run aptitude install xfonts-base xserver-xorg-input-kbd xserver-xorg-input-mouse > x just to capture the list of all the extra packages aptitude includes and then answer with n. I tweak the file x to contain just two lines #!/bin/sh and aptitude install xfonts-base xserver-xorg-input-kbd xserver-xorg-input-mouse xserver-xorg-video-vesa (together with all the names of the other packages I don't want followed by an underscore, e.g. xserver-xorg-input-all_) hoping that aptitude won't include these when I invoke x as a script. I say "hoping" because (I suspect) the order of the list has to be just right or some of (or all of) my unwanted packages get installed anyway! In which case I purge them. I run aptitude install icewm (I really like the two (or more) little windows that show cpu and nic activity since inevitably the system is slow and visual feedback is great.

Then I might add xterm, firefox or dillo (or both), elinks or lynx, abiword or writer depending on the target user and the hardware used. Any localizations (firefox and openoffice have them) and aspell-el and myspell-el-gr.

Aptitude adds any dependencies but I have found that compared to yum (in Fedora) aptitude is faster and packages are leaner and thus easier to purge to get a leaner system.


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