<solved> Installing non-free without a DE?

Help with issues regarding installation of Debian

<solved> Installing non-free without a DE?

Postby Huecuva » 2020-03-15 18:59

So as some of you might be aware I'm trying to get Debian working headless with wifi on a fit-PC device using a 4GB SD card. I've tried the netinstaller and it lets me install the OS without a DE but getting my wifi to work is a massive pain in the ass. So I'm trying to use the non-free installer in hopes that it will install the wifi packages I need. However, it keeps failing to install on the 4GB SD card. I think this is because it's trying to install the GUI since it never asks me if I want to install it or not. Especially since it takes way longer to install than the netinst and it successfully installed on a 16GB SD card. Is there some way to use the non-free installer without installing a DE since it won't fit on my 4GB SD card and I don't need it?

Maybe Ubuntu server would cause me fewer headaches.

EDIT: Also, it seems that for some reason the installer can't seem to access the repository to configure the package manager even though when I execute a shell it can ping google just fine so there's nothing wrong with my network. And GRUB just failed to install. It doesn't even ask me which drive to install it on like the netinst does, it just fails.

If it's not one thing, it's another. Why is this such a pain in the ass?

EDIT AGAIN: Managed to get the "non-free" netinst installed without a DE, though I still had to manually find the same files the other netinst couldn't find, which makes me wonder what the point of the non-free netinst is in the first place. But at least it works now.
Last edited by Huecuva on 2020-03-15 21:43, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Installing non-free without a DE?

Postby arochester » 2020-03-15 19:17

1) Which fit-PC device?
2) When you do the netinstall what is the output of
Code: Select all
lspci |grep Network

3) Which non-free image did you download?
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Re: Installing non-free without a DE?

Postby Huecuva » 2020-03-15 19:37

arochester wrote:1) Which fit-PC device?
Excellent question. It is a Fit-PC3 Pro Barebone that I have upgraded to 8GB of RAM and installed a miniPCIe SD card reader, which is what it will be booting from.
arochester wrote:2) When you do the netinstall what is the output of
Code: Select all
lspci |grep Network
I would have to reinstall the netinst to find out. I can do that, I guess.
arochester wrote:3) Which non-free image did you download?
debian-live-10.3.0-amd64-standard+nonfree.iso, but the minimum requirements for debian with a DE just say 10GB without specifying which DE. There isn't a non-free image that doesn't include a DE. At least, not where I'm downloading it from, anyway.
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Re: Installing non-free without a DE?

Postby Head_on_a_Stick » 2020-03-15 19:59

Huecuva wrote:There isn't a non-free image that doesn't include a DE

Yes there is.

Huecuva wrote:Also, it seems that for some reason the installer can't seem to access the repository to configure the package manager even though when I execute a shell it can ping google just fine so there's nothing wrong with my network. And GRUB just failed to install. It doesn't even ask me which drive to install it on like the netinst does, it just fails.

Switch to TTY4 to see the actual error messages. Or check /var/log/syslog

If the installer doesn't ask for a device for the bootloader then it's trying to install a UEFI system, see viewtopic.php?p=716767#p716767 for a possible reason for the failure (and a potential solution as well).

Huecuva wrote:Why is this such a pain in the ass?

Nothing that's worthwhile is ever easy :mrgreen:
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Re: Installing non-free without a DE?

Postby Huecuva » 2020-03-15 20:12

Head_on_a_Stick wrote:Yes there is.
Well shit. That should make my life a whole lot easier. Now the question is what is the difference between firmware-10.3.0-amd64-netinst.iso and firmware-edu-10.3.0-amd64-netinst.iso and which one should I download? Also, why couldn't I find that? *EDIT: Turns out I probably don't need the edu one.

Head_on_a_Stick wrote:Switch to TTY4 to see the actual error messages. Or check /var/log/syslog.
Eh. If I'm going to nuke this installation and reinstall the netinst without a DE then this doesn't really matter anyway.

Head_on_a_Stick wrote:If the installer doesn't ask for a device for the bootloader then it's trying to install a UEFI system, see viewtopic.php?p=716767#p716767 for a possible reason for the failure (and a potential solution as well).
Fascinating, but again if I'm going to reinstall anyway (which I am) this is irrelevant now. I had booted into Puppy to try and chroot into the debian filesystem and manually install GRUB but for some reason it wasn't letting me mount the SD card, saying it couldn't read the superblock. Meh.

Head_on_a_Stick wrote:Nothing that's worthwhile is ever easy :mrgreen:
Heh.

EDIT: Well, I've downloaded the firmware-10.3.0-amd64-netinst.iso and it's gotten to detecting network hardware. It says the missing firmware files are rtlwifi/rtl8723fw_B.bin. I thought the non-free image was supposed to have all the firmware already included? I tried looking at the firmware list on the debian website and the file I need is not listed there. This is the same problem I had with the other netinst I used and it wouldn't continue the installation until I ignored it and continued without it.

EDIT #2: Managed to find that particular file on github. Now I need another file, which is listed on the debian firmware list. However, when I download it gives me a .deb. file. Does this mean I could just skip it in the installer and run the deb file afterwards? I will keep trying to find all these files individually.

EDIT #3: I managed to find that file on github as well. It seems like those were the only two files it needed and the installer has proceeded now. Though for some reason it's having trouble connecting to my wifi network. I was having that same problem with every other installer, for that matter. The weird part is it will connect to my room mate's wifi just fine.
Last edited by Huecuva on 2020-03-15 20:59, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Installing non-free without a DE?

Postby sunrat » 2020-03-15 20:58

Huecuva wrote:It says the missing firmware files are rtlwifi/rtl8723fw_B.bin. I thought the non-free image was supposed to have all the firmware already included?

Did it say "missing firmware" or "possible missing firmware". Boot sequence will usually go through a list of firmware it can use until it finds one that is present. The relevant package is "firmware-realtek" which may be included on the nonfree installer image.
Unfortunately it appears the driver for your Realtek wifi chip is not included in the kernel (driver and firmware are not the same thing) so you will have to build it after installing Debian. Catch-22 huh? - most of us have been there. Best option is to find an ethernet connection and use that if possible to install. Then search for "linux rtl8723" and you will find a GitHub repository for the driver.
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Re: Installing non-free without a DE?

Postby Huecuva » 2020-03-15 21:15

@sunrat Yeah, see my edits on my last post. It said missing firmware. I managed to find both files it needed on github and put them on a USB and it was able to find them. For some reason it was having issues connecting to my wifi though it would connect to my room mate's just fine (my phone is connected to my wifi so I know it works) but whatever. I'll use his to install. No biggie.
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