Starting a New Debian Installation

There are a whole bunch of Debian Linux distros that are available.

On an EeeBox I bought some years ago that was using the out-of-date (and not being updated) Eeebuntu, I managed to get a Debian-based distro called SalineOS to work. After some adjustments, quite a few actually, as well adding new packages, I was pretty happy with the result. I still am. I even sent them some money (apparently sending a thanks is not important, but, well, then I never got a thanks from Bill G or Steve J either).

I bought a new (refurbished) Dell D430 laptop on which to install Linux – the originally installed M$ Vista never had a chance. I decided to try some various distros tho’ I assumed that SalineOS was going to be the final choice. I’m not crazy about Ubuntu (anymore)… anyway, I like Debian but I find it to be amazingly (annoying) primitive to install so I use distros that are based on Debian and have a lightweight desktop (Xfce or Openbox, for example – SalineOS uses Xfce).

In the process, I discovered some things that I want to remember for later and maybe someone else’ll find a use for them as well.

There is much to be said for doing an install twice: the first time to find out what options you have and second to choose the options you actually want. That said, before starting, make sure you know what and how your networking situation is going to be. Know the encryption, the password, and the other wireless info (if you’re just using wired, none of this is quite as important). If you use MAC address filtering, tell the router about the new MAC address before starting the install. Likewise, if you’re going to use Manual networking setup instead of DHCP, know what addresses etc, you’re going to use.

The reason for all this is that once you start the install and come to the networking portion, you will be root and you won’t be later when you restart after an ostensibly successful install. The Network Manager Applet (nm-applet) needs to run as root when being configured. If it doesn’t, you can’t change anything (like Manual config instead of DHCP or unchecking the Connect Automatically box on wired) and hope the change is retained. There is no feedback indicating so.

If, however, you don’t want to reinstall, the alternative is to become root, kill the applet (“pkill nm-applet” or “kill “), and re-start it (“nm-applet &” from a terminal window). By the way, “become root”: ignore sudo. As root, set up the config you want – make sure to check the Applies To All Users checkbox where appropriate – and save it all away. As root, your changes will take, and everyone (like your non-root account) will be happy.

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