Debian Squeeze on a ThinkPad X201

Note: boot windows first and create the Rescue and Recovery Media immediately after unboxing..

Note #2: yes, there are Intel i915 video issues, but both the Debian Squeeze d-i graphical and text installers work fine with this video chipset, however, the screen is blank on first boot – either a) install the SSH Server task and log in via ssh for module and xorg.conf edits, or b) boot into single user mode on first boot with “i915.modeset=0” to make the edits.

Note #2 Update: linux-2.6 version 2.6.32-19 was uploaded to unstable 2010-08-05 – this kernel image is working well for me and none of the configuration changes to get vesa working should be necessary.

How not to start:

The very first thing I did, after opening the box, was boot the latest Debian Squeeze net install from USB and got to work – I had a heck of a time with R&R Media creation after the fact. R&R 4.3 is quite different than older versions, and I could not boot into it from the Grub bootloader – writing Grub to the master boot record, as I usually do, hosed booting to the Rescue and Recovery partition as well as using R&R fully from within Windows 7 for some reason. Attempting to reinstall R&R 4.3 fails while trying to write the MBR (which is IBM/Lenovo’s suggested fix to MBR problems..)

I finally got the media created on an 8GB USB flash disk, after some dreaded Windows MBR hacking only to find that the R&R USB key was not bootable, and I could not create the Recovery Media a second time – one attempt is all you get.. After mounting the R&R partition (label: Lenovo_Recovery) under linux and digging around, I found the simple edit of $MOUNT/factoryrecovery/service_done.ini from “DONE=1” to “DONE=0” allowed the factory reset Recovery Media to be written again. Nice. The trick to getting my USB key to be bootable was to completely zero out the boot blocks of the key, plug it in while running windows and quick format NTFS on it, and then go fire up R&R Rescue Media creation – the boot and data recovery media takes up ~6.5GB on the key. Now that I finally had bootable recovery media, the X201 got a factory reset so I could start over fresh.. all my previous day’s research and gave me some ideas on how I wanted to proceed.

Starting from unboxing the X201: 😉

Note: the goal here is to have a working ThinkVantage button to access the Lenovo Rescue and Recovery partition, as well as a fully functional Windows 7 and Debian Squeeze dual-boot. The key to this is to not touch the Windows/Lenovo MBR. Do not install Grub to the MBR!

Boot Windows 7 and run through the quick user setup stuff. 1) Create the Rescue and Recovery Factory Restore Media – I used an 8GB USB flash disk. (make sure the thing actually boots..) 2) Shrink the Windows7_OS volume from within Windows (Start – right-click on Computer – Manage, then something like storage or disks.. select the Windows partition and shrink it – the space used was about 22GB (sad as there is nothing but the OS, Lenovo tools, and an unlicensed MS Office installed..), so I gave it 40GB. (BTW, ntfsresize within d-i worked fine on my first install, but using the volume shrink within Windows to free up space was simple and certainly assured to be pleasing to windows..)

Boot the Debian Squeeze d-i installer and install as normally in the free space, but do not install Grub to the MBR. Install Grub to the /dev/sdaX device that you set up for the “/” filesystem (or “/boot” if you set up a separate boot partition). I usually use a 256MB USB flash disk with the netinst.iso and non-free firmware for installing on anything that I don’t PXE boot. This is not a d-i lesson – google how to do this.

It is probably possible to re-set the bootable bit on the Windows partition during install – d-i attempted to set the bootable bit on my “/” partition (it’s extended and actually won’t set it), removed the bootable bit from the Windows partition, and upon reboot after install, I got no bootable partitions found. A quick run back into Rescue Mode in d-i, and a toggle bootable on the Windows partition with fdisk is all that took – Windows booted back up fine as normal, the ThinkVantage button works fine, and all is well.. except no default Debian boot, yet.

So as not to screw up the killer ThinkPad feature of the blue ThinkVantage button, this means leaving the Lenovo-customized Windows 7 Master Boot Record intact. I decided to try to use the Windows bootloader to boot to grub on my Debian “/” partition. In my digging around on my Lenovo R&R access issues, I found a reference to EasyBCD by NeoSmart to manage dual-booting Windows versions – this little Windows utility manages the cryptic BCD (Boot Configuration Data database) to easily set up booting a multitude of operating systems. Bravo – trying to do this all by hand was miserable..

After installing EasyBCD, I added a Debian boot menu entry, set it as the default, set a timeout of 3 seconds under “Change Settings”, saved my changes, and rebooted.. Windows boot menu comes up, boots grub from my “/” partition, and everything looks great.. oh yeah, no video 🙂

Edit /etc/default/grub and set:


run (as root):


Edit /etc/modprobe.d/i915-kms.conf and set:

options i915 modeset=0

run (as root):

update-initramfs -u

Create /etc/X11/xorg.conf (as root) with:

# Minimal xorg.conf for the device driver
Section "Device"
	Identifier	"Default screen"
	Driver		"vesa"

Reboot. Perfection. (until Intel gets their video driver support sorted out..)

By the way, this X201 is the type-model 3249-CTO – here’s the lspci output:

00:00.0 Host bridge: Intel Corporation Core Processor DRAM Controller (rev 02)
00:02.0 VGA compatible controller: Intel Corporation Core Processor Integrated Graphics Controller (rev 02)
00:16.0 Communication controller: Intel Corporation 5 Series/3400 Series Chipset HECI Controller (rev 06)
00:16.3 Serial controller: Intel Corporation 5 Series/3400 Series Chipset KT Controller (rev 06)
00:19.0 Ethernet controller: Intel Corporation 82577LM Gigabit Network Connection (rev 06)
00:1a.0 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 5 Series/3400 Series Chipset USB2 Enhanced Host Controller (rev 06)
00:1b.0 Audio device: Intel Corporation 5 Series/3400 Series Chipset High Definition Audio (rev 06)
00:1c.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 5 Series/3400 Series Chipset PCI Express Root Port 1 (rev 06)
00:1c.3 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 5 Series/3400 Series Chipset PCI Express Root Port 4 (rev 06)
00:1c.4 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 5 Series/3400 Series Chipset PCI Express Root Port 5 (rev 06)
00:1d.0 USB Controller: Intel Corporation 5 Series/3400 Series Chipset USB2 Enhanced Host Controller (rev 06)
00:1e.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation 82801 Mobile PCI Bridge (rev a6)
00:1f.0 ISA bridge: Intel Corporation Mobile 5 Series Chipset LPC Interface Controller (rev 06)
00:1f.2 SATA controller: Intel Corporation 5 Series/3400 Series Chipset 6 port SATA AHCI Controller (rev 06)
00:1f.3 SMBus: Intel Corporation 5 Series/3400 Series Chipset SMBus Controller (rev 06)
00:1f.6 Signal processing controller: Intel Corporation 5 Series/3400 Series Chipset Thermal Subsystem (rev 06)
02:00.0 Network controller: Intel Corporation Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 (rev 35)
ff:00.0 Host bridge: Intel Corporation Core Processor QuickPath Architecture Generic Non-core Registers (rev 02)
ff:00.1 Host bridge: Intel Corporation Core Processor QuickPath Architecture System Address Decoder (rev 02)
ff:02.0 Host bridge: Intel Corporation Core Processor QPI Link 0 (rev 02)
ff:02.1 Host bridge: Intel Corporation Core Processor QPI Physical 0 (rev 02)
ff:02.2 Host bridge: Intel Corporation Core Processor Reserved (rev 02)
ff:02.3 Host bridge: Intel Corporation Core Processor Reserved (rev 02)

If you have 4+GB RAM and are using the i386 architecture, install linux-image-2.6-686-bigmem (I thought about installing x86_64, but I’m currently having to hack around day-to-day issues like using flash and enigmail on my 64-bit desktop install..). If you didn’t set up non-free firmware during install, then go do that. I have the Intel Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 wireless card, so d-i installed the firmware-iwlwifi package for me.

What I Think About the iPad

Yesterday, a friend asked my opinion of the iPad (“If it can’t print what’s the point..?”), and this morning, Michelle asked me about whether it would be a good device for teaching, working on documents and presentations, etc. My answer to both is: It depends.

For one, it’s difficult for me to provide a completely objective review – this device is intended to evoke emotion and that’s exactly what Steve Jobs wants – you are *supposed* to fall in love with the iPad. Secondly, I do not own an iPhone nor an iPad – I’ve played with other people’s iPhones quite a bit and have not seen an iPad in person, yet. So, if you absolutely adore your iPhone, compare every other handheld device to it, and within 30 seconds declare that all other handhelds are bred of lesser mobile genes, sleep with it not just on the nightstand, but perhaps under the pillow, then you may wish to stop reading.. I have an opinion or two.

First and foremost, Apple is crazy brilliant at marketing. Everyone is iPad-caffeinated right now because deliveries have started and people now have these devices in their hands and flooding the twitterverse with their excitement – same has happened with each iPhone hardware and software release. There is love in the air, and Apple loves you for loving them. People do not do the same with ThinkPad hardware releases and Windows updates (unless MS breaks shit, which happens..)

There is a lot to love with the iPad! I don’t want to be a party-pooper, far from it – I want an iPad, too! The form factor is killer – this type of device will definitely change the way people interact with the web, social media, medical patient rounds, watch movies, etc. The physical hardware engineering – the beautiful touchscreen, the weight, the *feel* (yeah.. when I actually get to feel one), the applications – these type of devices *will* change the Internet world, so I would like one, too, please.

Will I buy one? Should you? That depends.

I probably won’t – not unless Apple comes out with a compelling Gen2 iPad.. Look around at some of the (non-iFanBoy) reviews in the last couple days: no camera (the chassis has the identical insert as iPhone’s camera CCD, so it will eventually get one), no multi-tasking, difficult data transfer, etc. For me to be compelled, at the very least, Apple needs to allow me to run more than one application at a time, if I would consider it anything more than a browsing toy. I think the #1 design failure of iPad was basing the OS off the iPhone OS, as opposed to a mobile port of OS-X, but I understand the business decision. The iPad is a fantastically gorgeous toy and if that’s your thing, it is something you should absolutely have! Go get one! Just don’t expect to do any actual work on it, unless your work is directly related to the social media arena – even then, I would almost guarantee that you will still do most of your *real* work on a laptop or desktop. After all, Apple doesn’t want to kill their laptop business, do they?

“If it can’t print what’s the point..?” – Can your iPhone print? Yeah, that’s what I thought. With the Gen1 iPad, you get essentially a neutered iPhone (it can’t make calls and no camera) with a big screen and a few extras like a very, very cool eReader and the potential to run iWork. You can absolutely work on documents, presentations, etc., but you can do that efficiently only if you do it the Apple way. If you have existing documents you wish to load up on the iPad, I understand from second-hand knowledge that it is rather difficult. Things will get better, and people will figure out how to do some work on the iPad (do you *work* on your iPhone?) – there will be some cool apps that make interesting use of the screen real estate, for sure, but..

The apps.. you really only get one choice of where to shop for your applications. And the iTunes App Store has full control over the extent of your freedoms. If you keep your entire music and video media collection in iTunes, and if you are fine with paying for almost every song and every piece of software you use (some are free), and if you either you don’t know anything about, nor understand, nor really care about software freedom, then by all means keep doing what you are doing – it is a system that really does work well. Apple does this very well – the Apple ecosystem is very functional, very pretty – even sexy, but you are bound to it by design. This ecosystem (and that’s really what it is – a technological island environment with a wonderful array of cohabitating hardwares and softwares that compliment one another – if you have the ability to build your own boat and can brave the waters, you can do some cool things outside of Apple Island) does not go well with my philosophy and beliefs in Open Source Software (google it, non-techies..) and the extreme idiocy of a great deal of software patents granted in the last 10-ish years. (sidenote: New Zealand is considering a patent reform bill that bans some forms of software patents)

So where I am going with this.. buy an iPad, but don’t expect it to be something that it is not. You might want to wait until they come out with the next version – the iPhone 3G kicks the pants off the original.

I truly believe that this type of device is the perfect (although not yet perfected) device for non-technical users – I’m fairly convinced that my mom would learn to love it. You really don’t have to think much, once you figure it out; the UI and the UX are wonderful; the hardware/software island leads to little (I hope) in the way of trouble from trojans and other exploits.

As a good schizophrenic, yeah, I would love to have an iPad. I love computing devices and I could certainly find ways to use an iPad that suit it’s design very well and it would be fun. Most likely I would hack it – I’ll build my boat (using boat plans of more talented boat designers than I), see how far I can travel off the island, and wave back at the curious looks from the sheep on the beach.

I’d guess that more likely, if I decide to spend money on a keyboardless tablet, I will get something in the same form factor, but one that allows me to have the ability to use Open Source Software, one that allows me to run an email client *and* browse the web at the same time(!), and most definitely one that has a kick-ass SSH client (is there a good one for iPad?) – much of what I do is on remote servers, so SSH is an absolute must.

Update: I understand there are a couple really good SSH apps – this alone might be the “killer app” for me.

I’m a bit of a nutcase when it comes to free software (free as in speech, not beer) – just ask my mom how fired up I get in conversations about technology.. I breath it. I tattooed it on myself. So take my words with a grain of salt, if you wish – these are only the opinions of a highly opinionated technology advocate.

Debian Tattoo

What’s (not) in my bag..

I have a flight in the morning, so thought I would clean out my backpack a bit and lighten the load, and it dawned on me after unloading that I should take a picture to embarrass remind myself to keep it minimal.. Lifehacker has been running a “What’s in our bags” series, and the crap in my backpack is quite opposite from the sparse contents of most of the Lifehacker staff posts..

The contents of the Swiss Army Ishouldreallygetasmallerone backpack:
(only things on the table that weren’t in the bag were keys, wallet, and Roxane..)
ThinkPad T60
power supply (plugged in the wall)
lens wipes
Band Aids
baggie with 2 travel toothbrushes, 2 half-empty little tooth paste tubes, Advil, Advil PM, ear plugs, mobile phone ear piece, and emergency nicotine gum
a new toothbrush
Blackberry and USB cable
multi-size memory card reader and USB cable
2 external drives and USB cables – one for music and one for encrypted machine backups
iPod Classic, ear buds, and cable
2 USB flash drives
travel document case
mini stereo cable for iPod2RentalCar
trusty Olympus XA
more emergency nic-fit-fix-gum
two black bracelets (SEP and HTFU)
library card
large and small nail clippers
old iPod Shuffle
Olympus FE-115 and case with extra batteries and media cards
ear buds
..and another pair of ear buds
wireless mouse
Sharpie and mechanical pencil
SD/MMC USB media card reader with media card in it
MicroSD adapter
a couple empty media card holders
Barnes and Noble gift card from Xmas
sticky note pad
Debian Lenny Netinst mini CD, a blank CDR, and a flip case of Microsoft Windows crap (for helping others, not for me..)
AT&T mobile broadband dongle goodness
key for my office lappy lock
lappy screen wipe
Mini-Mag light
office access card lanyard
spare crackberry battery
mini-to-1/4″ stereo adapter
2 ethernet cables
yet another USB cable
the take-with-me lappy lock
travel itinerary printout
last year’s Debconf Proceedings
very important mail that needed to be looked into (unread for months..)

um, yeah.. all that..

Clean Debian Lenny KDE Install (cont.)

Well, since I didn’t have a whole lot of time invested in my install as in the previous post, and since I did not quickly sort out why the heck I could not suspend/lock with the KDE power manager widget, I thought I would give the weekly build of the Lenny KDE install disk a try to see if I got any decent results. As it turns out, the install is a nice selection of default KDE software, and suspend with desktop locking works out of the box – this is definitely the way to go 🙂

As for any KDE issues I’ve found, the only one that I can think of is that KDE v3.5 does not support URL link opening in a browser from Konsole (this is new in KDE v4.1) – seems it can be done, but it might be rather messy, so copy/paste for now.

Amarok simply rocks for managing the data on my new iPod – music and cover art sync work perfectly (with the gtk-linked libgpod3 (not the -nogtk package)), .m4v MPEG4 video file uploads work well (transcoded from XviD .avi’s using mkipod from the mp4tools package, and id tags updated using mp4tags from the mpeg4ip-utils package). The new iPod Classic 120G Gen6 and amarok are the big reasons for giving KDE a try (yeah, I could have just installed amarok under Gnome, along with the necessary libs, but I needed an excuse to give KDE an evaluation)


Clean Debian Lenny KDE Install

(and quite a bit of biography..)

Over the years, I have had a lot of fun with highly customized Linux installs for my desktop and laptop computing, but in the last 3-4 years, I have grown to enjoy the simplicity of sticking as close to the default configuration of ${MY_CAREFULLY_SELECTED_DESKTOP_ENVIRONMENT}, only making a few minor changes in software and configuration choices to a) pull it all together for a relatively uniform user experience, b) have all the toys at my fingertips to sysadmin all the servers I take care of, and c) attempt to muddle my way through code to help out the developers and admins I work with.

I started using Linux in late 1997, I think, and have been through all the major Linux distributions, starting with Debian Bo, if I recall, then trying out all kinds of different distro flavors including all the *BSD’s, fresh installs sometimes monthly or more so I could get a feel for all the possibilities. I have fond memories of hour upon hour of configuration tweaking, various software and kernel compiling to get everything working right, and how quickly a borked X11 configuration could “smoke” a monitor.. At some point I stuck with Red Hat (pre-RHEL) for a good amount of time, while doing some “Lotus Notes for Linux” beta testing while at IBM as a contractor, then dabbling with Linux apps on AIX and some s390 Linux LPAR’s, after someone noticed I was using Linux on my desktop – “Are you using Linux? Would you like to have a little mainframe fun?” A sincere thanks to Greg Icantrememberyourlastname – right then, my path began to follow a new fork.. 🙂

Red Hat was what most people were using, but there was some Caldera and SuSE around the office, but since I settled with Red Hat as my primary desktop distro vendor for a while, I started learning a whole lot more about the internals of Linux systems, branching out from my intimate knowledge of the various installers. I found Smoothwall early on, too – a really slick, custom built distro for a firewall/router – I needed something to route all my thrift store hardware (most of which I still have and use..). I started working through the old “Securing and Optimizing Red Hat Linux” documentation, building everything from source on a crazy small initial install of about 20 packages.. as well as some Linux From Scratch (Gentoo didn’t exist yet, or I probably would have tried it..). Oh, the hours/days of fun!

I tried all the default desktop environments that the various distros provided, installed and played with all the big and little names, but mostly found that because of the lack of up-to-date hardware on most of my machines, that Window Maker, Blackbox, and Fluxbox were always the best performers, and that usually meant lots of tinkering time to get them “just right”. Many of my ancient boxen were purely console machines, so no GUI was necessary. I dumped Red Hat for good after 7.3 – even though I was the guy maintaining all our Red Hat / RHEL kickstart systems at work (as well as all our other Linux, FreeBSD, and Solaris network installers, but Red Hat was/is our primary “supported” OS, so I spent a lot of time in it’s bowels.. and grew to dislike it more and more for personal use..).

Slackware. I am to this day, and probably always will be a huge supporter and advocate Pat’s most excellent OS. Slackware, hands down, won my eternal favor by being the most stable Linux distribution over a long period of use on my servers and workstations through many version upgrades. When Pat became ill a few years ago, I donated a server in one of our data centers for the (now defunct) guys who wanted to help maintain security updates. I spent quite a few years Slack’ing, primarily with Fluxbox for my desktop, but eventually moved into a position of playing with lots of various obscure softwares, and grew tired of continuously maintaining my own tgz packages.

My friend and co-worker, Eric, is a Debian Developer, and convinced me to rediscover my fondness for Debian. I had always had at least one or two Debian servers at the house, dist-upgraded through the years. D-I had come a long way since my last floppy install of Slink, and I booted a Debian install CD for the first time – pretty sure it was Woody. I immediately dist-upgraded to Sid, and about a month later, I remember struggling thru a nasty C++ soname change that severely broke lots of software, including many desktop apps – I think that was my last blind, trusting, “it will just work” ‘apt-get dist-upgrade’ – I still had Slackware with Fluxbox running on my laptop, so at least I could continue to work 😉

The Ubuntu craze hit a while later, and someone at the office ordered literally hundreds of CD’s, passing them out like candy. It was nice – Debian underneath, a decent selection of default software, and non-free software for 3D video support out of the box. My sub-par hardware selection still suffered a bit under Gnome, and I subsequently found XFCE fit my needs very well – XFCE became my desktop environment of choice for the next few years. I didn’t last very long with Ubuntu because of some of their meta-package choices in there somewhere and a completely hosed “stable” (quoted purposefully) version dist-upgrade – wtf? I never had a Debian stable version dist-upgrade need anything more than a little (usually well documented) config file fiddling. At that point, I started to install Debian with XFCE on just about everything – there was no software that I needed to build myself, unless I was just testing something out, most everything I need is in the major apt repos, all the XFCE goodies I like are there, and to top if all off, I discovered many helpful Debian Developers that care, mailing lists that are informative and entertaining, and a great way to get my feet wet with a couple perl packages I could contribute.. I love it. I have a big Debian swirl tattoo to prove it.

Once I had a some relatively current hardware to use for desktops, and a nice new Lenovo T60, I continued to use XFCE, but I wanted to get a little better user experience – things like plugging a USB drive in and it auto-mounting – so I started using a default install of Debian testing with Gnome on my T60 about a year ago and liked it, although it has some annoyances, and about 6 months ago did fresh installs of testing with Gnome on my work and home desktops. After this amount of time, Gnome is ok – better than XFCE or any of the smaller-footprint window managers at integrating all the apps nicely, automating a lot of once manual tasks like auto-mounting just about anything plugged in, network-manager is cool, cut/paste between all applications (I remember this was a headache in Fluxbox), and general consistency of look and feel. Resource-wise, Gnome has been a non-issue with the beefier boxen.

About those Gnome annoyances..

Gnome’s terminal application has no single-line scrolling with the keyboard (shift+up/down). Eric has told me a number of times that this seems trivial, but I use it constantly, so it’s important. There have been numerous requests by other Gnome users upstream to incorporate this rather simple, mundane, but highly useful feature. Every other terminal I have used can do this by default, or with a simple .Xresources one-liner. Gnome terminal ignores the .Xresources file and it simply will not scroll one line at a time with the keyboard – you get full page scroll (shift+pgup/pgdown), or you have to use the mouse wheel or click on the scroll bar – that’s crap. Plain-jane xterm and roxterm for tabbed terminals have gotten lots of use – they work as expected, although roxterm has a couple of weird character renderings while using irssi, but it might be because of running in screen – I never cared that much to look into it fully.

Why in the hell does every single window, except the first one, opened in Gnome get forced to the top left of the desktop? Every one. Neatly piled up on top of one another. No concept of tiling and nowhere to change that behavior. Umm.. fail. This is likely my biggest bitch. Window tiling in most every window manager is sane by default, and many times is quite configurable. Gnome’s window placement is just brain dead and completely unconfigurable. In some window managers like awesome, tiling is the key to it’s appeal. I tried awesome a couple months ago, since it is a newish fad – very cool ideas, but wow.. awesome is like driving a car with your feet – I could probably get good at it, but it would take a long time to learn.

Gnome session management sucks – window size and placement are brain dead (guess where they all go?), firefox/iceweasel thunderbird/icedove are never started up. I tried all kinds of juju to save some relatively simple saved sessions – 4 terminals on desktop1, and one on desktop4 – never worked right.

Gnome is good – don’t get me wrong, here – I might end up going back to Gnome if my affair with KDE doesn’t work out. The default Debian desktop install of Gnome has a lot of the integration I was looking for, has really nicely tied together login manager and screensaver locking with thinkfinger support for my T60, app look and feel consistency, suspend with desktop locked on resume – all kinds of things that just work out of the box.

So this was going to be a KDE install post…

I can’t even remember the last time I tried KDE, but I do recall that whatever box I was running it on did not have half the hardware I needed to run it, and it was far too much software for the poor little thing.. But my friend Brandon loves it 😉 I did a quick ‘apt-get install kde’ on my existing Lenny Gnome laptop, and about ran myself out of disk space on the root partition, but it was a good test. Konsole works the way it should, kmail looks pretty sweet and I might try it out, and sessions! Sessions actually work! The stuff is right where I had it when I logged out, and firefox and thunderbird start! And the windows – they tile all by themselves! OK, enough of that – what the hell, let’s do a fresh install of Lenny with KDE – the menus in both KDE and GNOME were a mess of crap with two huge desktop environments installed, and besides, i have no disk left.. I decided to give KDE a good turn at trying to win me over. Remember, I like to stick with the defaults – change a few hot-key bindings, maybe a stock theme or two, select a screensaver, and that’s about it.

Dang, now I have some KDE annoyances, mainly related to installation.. to start with the Debian installer evidently should support an install of kde-desktop as a task at boot – well, it didn’t.. Using the RC1 Lenny netinst CD, I booted with:

install tasks="kde-desktop,standard"

and I got only a minimal install – not even standard. Something is wrong with netinst and tasks. Umm… ok, I’ll just log in and run tasksel..

tasksel install standard # installed ~90 packages
tasksel install laptop # installed ~30 packages
tasksel install kde-desktop # installed ~1000 packages (?! mkay..)

I walked away for a bit and came back to see evolution, gnome-this, gnome-that being installed – wtf? I let it finish and logged in to find all of Gnome and all of KDE installed.. which was exactly what I did not want.. Arrgg! Something is wrong with tasks!

The base OS of Debian is so fast to install, I just installed again, selected only standard and laptop in tasksel, and in 5 minutes I was done. And without getting into my to-do list of fglrx, fingerprint reader, suspend with desktop locking – here’s my fresh start with KDE:

aptitude install openssh-server sudo vim
update-alternatives --set editor /usr/bin/vim.basic
aptitude install xorg kdm kde desktop-base gtk-qt-engine
aptitude install iceweasel icedove pidgin pidgin-otr x2x
aptitude install openvpn vpnc network-manager network-manager-kde
aptitude install ipython git-core etckeeper ntpdate psmisc rsync screen tcpdump

The fonts in konsole look way better than they did with KDE installed over top of Gnome – this is reason enough to have started from scratch. Besides I keep good backups of my stuff, so a fresh install with a fresh outlook for a good evaluation of a desktop environment that I have not tried in years, nor really ever spent any amount of time using, sounds like fun! We’ll see if it meets my needs after I get over the little bumps of finding things and getting my to-do list complete.


fglrx (so I can play Enemy Territory)
fprint (which seems to support KDE well, where thinkfinger causes problems)
package building environment for Debian packages
python goodies for working with Cloud Files code
other things as I think of them – offlineimap, gimp, try out kflickr maybe