A Beginners guide to Debian

New to Debian (Or Linux in general)? Ask your questions here!

A Beginners guide to Debian

Postby oswaldkelso » 2009-11-27 19:50

As we've hit a post size limit on the forum. In the mean time at least the latest revision of the guide is here http://docs.google.com/View?id=ddq4dz3q_24cxjdstg2

Preface: following some feed back (thanks, I shall credit you if you wish) This is a revision of my original post. The original can be seen here It is mostly layout and grammatical changes with a view to making it more understandable and sequential, plus a few additions. If you have any comment or suggestions feel free to PM me. In an effort to remain transparent but allow the addition of and new material and further edits, any major updates to this section will be noted and dated. Any new material to the additional information section will be added as it is done. The "live draft" progress can be seen at any time here. http://docs.google.com/View?id=ddq4dz3q_939q5v9ck

A Beginners guide to Debian:

This is an effort to give a basic overview of the Debian system, frequently asked questions, and how people new to Debian can help themselves as much as possible.

I will explain what is expected of new users in terms of forum etiquette and effort. People here are friendly and helpful, but due to the very nature of Debian you are expected to put effort into solving any problems you encounter. This will help get you underway toward becoming a good community member and able to help others!

If after studying and trying a few things you do get stuck, or you're worried you may do damage or lose data, please post in the forum. No one here would want you to wipe out your wedding photos for fear of asking.

I will try to make this guide as sequential as possible, so new users get a basic grasp of things, in order, in a few sentences, and with more detailed answers in the links. Basically, “bite sized chunks” linking to FAQ or good how-to's that already exist. Some small how-to's will be incorporated. I shall refer to the Debian “stable branch" mostly.

Be aware that some information gets old very quickly while some can stay the same for years. Be as sure as you can it's still up to date before applying.

Something to be aware of: Debian is a core or source distribution. This means there are many Debian-based distributions. THEY ARE NOT DEBIAN. Their information may or may not be of use. Debian has no way of knowing what has been changed on these systems. Do not add their repositories or install their programs. You will break your system eventually.

Distributions built from Debian? There are too many to list!
Distrowatch (http://distrowatch.com/) wrote:"The success of Debian GNU/Linux can be illustrated by the following numbers. It is developed by over 1,000 volunteer developers, its software repositories contain more than 20,000 packages (compiled for 11 processor architectures), and it is responsible for inspiring over 120 Debian-based distributions and live CDs. These figures are unmatched by any other Linux-based operating system. The actual development of Debian takes place in three main branches (or four if one includes the bleeding-edge "experimental" branch) of increasing levels of stability: "unstable" (also known as "sid"), "testing" and "stable". This progressive integration and stabilisation of packages and features, together with the project's well-established quality control mechanisms, has earned Debian its reputation of being one of the best-tested and most bug-free distributions available today."


Finding information:

Built in to the system and available via a console or a terminal window:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_co ... -interface) quote ref:

"Usually in Linux, the first six virtual consoles provide a text terminal with a login prompt to a Unix shell. The graphical X Window System starts in the seventh virtual console. In Linux, the switching is performed with a key combination of Alt plus a function key – for example Alt+F1 to access the virtual console number 1. Alt+Left arrow changes to the previous virtual console and Alt+Right arrow to the next virtual console. To switch from the X Window System, Ctrl+Alt+function key works. (Note that users can redefine these default key combinations.)"


If you have a The graphical X Window System up and running you will normally just start your favourite or desktop default "terminal window" . Xterm is always there.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux_Virtual_Consoles
http://www.bellevuelinux.org/console.html
http://www.bellevuelinux.org/terminal_window.html

man pages:
Every time you install an application it installs its user manual on your machine. These are called “man pages” for short. The quality and style depends on the author. It may be new-user friendly, very technical, very short, or just poor. Some are excellent. To access the man page you open a terminal window and type the man command and the name of the program or command you're interested in, for example:
Code: Select all
man mplayer

This will open the mplayer man page. You can use up/down and page up/page down keys to navigate through the document. Typing the letter 'q' will quit the man page browser and return you to the prompt.

You will also find the man pages online in many places. Try “man mplayer” in your favorite search engine.

--help: Many commands have a help file. It uses the normal standard of command name followed a space followed by --help or -h with some programs. To view the copy command help e.g.
Code: Select all
cp --help

move
Code: Select all
mv --help

list
Code: Select all
ls --help

If a help page is very large you can use the pipe "|"command (The pipe command uses the output of one command as the input of the next command) This together with the "less" command (The less command displays output one screen size at a time) You can use up/down and page up/page down keys to navigate through the document. Typing the letter 'q' will quit and return you to the prompt.
Code: Select all
cp --help | less

Code: Select all
mv  --help | less

Code: Select all
ls --help | less


whatis: The "whatis" command will give you a very short description of any installed application. e.g. whatis (space) name_of_application.

Code: Select all
whatis xterm
xterm (1)            - terminal emulator for X

Code: Select all
whatis iceweasel
iceweasel (1)        - a Web browser for X11 derived from the Mozilla browser

Code: Select all
whatis man
man (7)              - macros to format man pages
man (1)              - an interface to the on-line reference manuals

Code: Select all
whatis whatis
whatis (1)           - display manual page descriptions


Docs:
More documentation is found in /usr/share/doc. Open your favorite file browser and navigate to that directory. Most installed applications will have a subdirectory of the same name that contains various text or archive files that you can click on to see more information. The package maintainers will often include a readme file that describes what they did to configure the package for the Debian system. This information tends to the technical, but often gives some useful clues.

Most GUI (graphical) applications access files here via their help menus.

Terminology:
You will likely come across some strange terminology. many a new users has asked why the foo and bar commands failed!
http://kb.iu.edu/data/aetq.html

Web sites:
http://www.debian.org/doc/user-manuals
http://www.debian.org/doc/manuals/debia ... l#contents
http://newbiedoc.berlios.de/wiki/Debian ... umentation
http://tldp.org/
http://www.linfo.org/newbies.html
http://www.linux.org/lessons/beginner/l8/lesson8a.html
Debian GNU/Linux Reference Card: The 101 most important things when using Debian GNU/Linux:
http://tangosoft.com/refcard/
http://www.debian.org/doc/user-manuals#refcard
http://www.togaware.com/linux/survivor/
http://www.aboutdebian.com/
http://www.debian.org/doc/FAQ/
http://www.linux.org/lessons/beginner/toc.html

Useful Wallpaper for beginners:
http://www.tux-planet.fr/a-linux-wallpa ... debutants/
http://www.gnome-look.org/content/show. ... tent=91961

The wiki:
Debian has a wiki, very similar to Wikipedia. This information can be edited by anyone that's registered. There is lots and lots of information there.
http://wiki.debian.org/

Debian lists:
Debian lists are archives of email correspondence. They contain may Q&A's. You can search the different archives and subscribe to the lists that interest you. Once you've subscribed you can post questions and receive updates via email and rss feeds.
http://www.debian.org/MailingLists/
http://lists.debian.org/

Debian-related forums:
Forums, like this one:
http://forums.debian.net
http://www.debianhelp.co.uk/
http://www.linuxforums.org/forum/debian-linux-help/
http://www.debian-administration.org/tag

How to search the forum and web:
Obvious places:
Beginners Questions viewforum.php?f=30
Forum FAQ faq.php
Docs, Howtos, Tips & Tricks viewforum.php?f=16

The built-in search could be better. You can use the Google site search facility to get better results. Paste these examples into a Google search to see how they work.

wifi lenny solved site:forums.debian.net

printing site:tldp.org


Note that site:domain restricts the search to just the site you want to look at.

ppc OR imac OR ibook AND Bro.Tiag AND oswaldkelso site:forums.debian.net


This one made me laugh, but offers very good advice on searching via subject and user name using the AND and OR options.

Use quotes to group words; "wifi lenny" is not the same as wifi lenny. Google will look for the phrase exactly as quoted, rather than the individual words anywhere in the document. Remember quotation marks can help and hinder your search. Be smart. You can refine your search even more by adding a users name to narrow down your search. You can also help your self and others by asking clear questions and posting with titles that contain information that can be logically found. "Blank screen on imac PPC" is much better than "blank screen" or "broken mac" If you ask for help and get a fix, mark it "solved" works wonders.

IRC:(internet relay chat):
Quote: ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_Relay_Chat

"Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is a form of real-time Internet text messaging (chat) or synchronous conferencing. It is mainly designed for group communication in discussion forums, called channels, but also allows one-to-one communication via private message as well as chat and data transfers"

1. install an irc application. There are lots: barnowl-ircii-sirc-tinyirc-barnowl-iceape-chatzilla-ii-irssi-konversation-pidgin-scrollz-sic-talksoup-weechat-xchat

A very easy to use but light GUI one is lostirc. Here's how to get it set up

As root install it with
Code: Select all
# apt-get install lostirc


Start it from a menu, or a run dialog or terminal by typing its name.

2. Add the server
Under "hostname" Thats the Server put: irc.oftc.net
Under "port" put: 6667
Under "password" leave that blank until you've registered your "nick"
Under "nickname" your-desired-nick

3. Join the channel : #debian-forums

4. Register Your Nick
In order to register your nick (nickname) for use on debian-forums irc channel you must notify the NicServ. You do this by typing

/msg nickserv REGISTER your-password your-email

NOTICE NickServ: Nickname "your-desired-nick" has been registered successfully and is now yours to use.

Now go and add your password to the "password" section and you can also tick the "connect automatically" box. And automatically join the forum chat by placing

/join #debian-forums

In the "commands to perform when connected" section.


http://lostirc.sourceforge.net/index.php?page=about
http://www.ircbeginner.com/ircinfo/ircc-commands.html
http://wiki.debian.org/GettingHelpOnIrc
http://www.irchelp.org/irchelp/irctutor ... quickstart

General GNU/Linux information, multimedia:
No cost media, like youtube, the Internet Archive, Podcasts, or Oggcasts:
http://www.linuxreality.com/faq.php
http://hackerpublicradio.org/

The Debian Project:

What is Debian? A little background:
Debian is an operating system, performing the same job as Microsoft windows and Mac OSX do: running your computer. It has several major differences. It's Free in terms of liberty and cost, and you are free to contribute to it. Due to the number of different architectures it runs on, it's flexibility and power, it is referred to as “The Universal Operating System.”
http://www.debian.org/intro/about
http://wiki.debian.org/DebianIntroduction
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debian
http://d-i.alioth.debian.org/manual/en. ... 01s03.html

Debian gives you the choice of several kernels, or core operating programs, the most popular being the Linux kernel. The kernel is the software that interacts with your physical hardware and passes information to your application software. Debian tweaks the vanilla kernel for you, but you can get make your own modifications with tools Debian provides or use a vanilla kernel, too.
http://www.kernel.org/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linux_kernel

Many of the programs used to write applications were created using the GNU tools. These include compilers, editors, linkers, debuggers, as well as most of the system-level commands:
http://www.gnu.org/

All the software in the Debian system is free software that complies with the Debian Free Software Guidelines.(DFSG)
http://www.debian.org/social_contract#guidelines

The Debian project recognizes the valuable input of both the GNU system and Linux kernel in the full name of the Debian OS, “Debian GNU/Linux.”

Who owns Debian?
You could say “No one” or “You do.” Unlike most other distributions, there is no company or magnanimous dictator behind it. It's users create it and share it. This is why you are encouraged to give back by what ever means you can, be it programming, graphic design, documentation, translating, or sharing your knowledge in the forum. If you can only contribute money, that's fine too.
http://www.debian.org/social_contract
http://www.debian.org/intro/help

To find out more about Debian finances see here:
http://www.debian.org/donations
http://www.spi-inc.org/

Infrastructure:
Applications that are deemed secure, stable, and free enough to be part of the Debian system are stored on servers, in “repositories” that are mirrored (duplicated) many times around the world. Here is a list of official Debian mirrors:
http://www.debian.org/mirror/list

Along with the mirrors, many additional systems are used by the developers and maintainers to support the development process. Altogether, hundreds of dedicated machines and donated space on hundreds more support the creation and distribution of Debian GNU/Linux.

There are unofficial mirrors also. These may hold, for example, software that has possible patent issues in the USA where Debian is based. These issues may not apply in your country. Some DVD and mp3 software are examples that are not in the official repository but readily available:
http://debian-multimedia.org/

The three main Debian branches:
Debian's distribution is divided into three primary branches; stable, testing, and unstable. So far in project history, they have always been named after characters from the Disney "Toy Story" movies.

Stable is currently Lenny.
Testing is currently Squeeze.
Unstable is always Sid.
See: http://wooledge.org/~greg/sidfaq.html

You can use "stable" in your sources.list and when the current version of testing becomes stable your system will upgrade. If you want to run newer versions of certain applications on a stable system you can, via the "backports" repository. This combination, stable plus backports, is a good recommendation for new users.
http://www.backports.org/

That said "squeeze," the testing branch, is more stable than many other distributions' full releases, but you will occasionally have breakages or bugs that take time to be fixed. With care and a little understanding, it can be a solid, up-to-date desktop system.

To update biotube's great post:
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=32860&start=0

Biotube wrote:
Unstable (permanently Sid): When a new version of a package(or a new package all together) gets uploaded, it usually goes here. Sid machines can be highly volatile, (giving birth to the saying "If it breaks, you get to keep both halves"), although it's calmed down in recent years thanks to experimental.

Testing (currently "Squeeze"): After a while, a package in Sid with no really bad bugs gets moved here(the exact time depends on the urgency of the update). For this reason, it's much more stable than Sid. Since packages are updately fairly quickly, it's recommended for desktop users(don't let the name fool you - testing can be more stable than some distros' (especially the-one-that-cannot-be-named) releases).

Stable, (currently "Lenny", soon to be "Squeeze"): Every once in a blue moon, the Debian release team puts testing in what's know as "The Big Freeze". During this time, nothing but bugfixes may be moved to testing. Once all release-critical(RC) bugs are gone, testing becomes stable and a new testing branch is opened. Since only bugfixes are allowed in stable, the packages tend to get dated rapidly.



A new and really nice overview
http://pthree.org/2009/11/17/debian-the ... ng-system/

Getting Started:

Preliminaries:
As a new user your first task is to make sure you gather as much detail as you can about your system. If you are still using another OS, use that to learn as much as you can.

You'll want to know information like processor type, graphics card, motherboard or laptop make and model, hard disk type (ide, SCSI, etc.), network card, and wifi. Identify your monitor and find out what screen resolutions and refresh rates it supports. In short gather as much info as you can on your hardware and write it down or print it out.

Getting Debian:
You will usually be downloading a Debian image, burning it to CD or DVD, and using that to install Debian on your hardware. Select a mirror site to download from that is closest to your geographical area. You only need the first CD with the desktop of your choice to get up and running, The other disks provide additional programs, chosen by popularity, from disk 2 onwards. Partly through users that opt in to the "popularity contest" when installing Debian.
http://popcon.debian.org/

Start here:
http://www.debian.org/distrib/

You will need to choose which architecture you need. Many people will have i386 computers, but not all! Debian supports all the common architectures and processor chips, plus a number of older, more specialized, or uncommon systems.

If you want to be able to install offline or have a slow internet connection, you'll need to download and burn (or buy from a vendor) a set of one or more CD's or DVD's that should have almost everything you need to install Debian with the features that you want.

Installing Debian:
There are many great “how-to's” on installing Debian, but you need to consider some questions before installation. Do I want or need to dual boot with another OS? Have I backed up my data in a suitable format? Will my hardware work with Debian? Can I revert if it all goes awry? Prepare first and ask for help if you need to!

The official installation manual:
http://www.debian.org/releases/stable/installmanual

Running Debian:

The command line:
You may never want to use the command line interface (CLI). If that's the case, fine, but there will be times when you need to, and have to. It's a fundamental part of running a GNU/Linux system. Get used to the basics at least...
http://linuxcommand.org/
http://www.tuxfiles.org/linuxhelp/cli.html
http://www.linfo.org/command_index.html
http://www.linfo.org/command_line_lesson_1.html

Installing, removing and updating software:
A default desktop installation will already be set up to let you update, install, and uninstall software from the internet.

Getting software from the Debian repositories or CD's and DVD's if you have no internet or a poor connection, can be done with the command line tools, dpkg, apt, and aptitude. You can also install a GUI (Graphical user interface) application manager like synaptic.

Dpkg:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dpkg
http://www.debian.org/doc/FAQ/ch-pkgtools.en.html
Apt:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_Packaging_Tool
Aptitude:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aptitude_(program)
Synaptic: The graphical package installer remover and updater
http://www.nongnu.org/synaptic/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synaptic_Package_Manager

Adding repositories and CD's or DVD's to your system:
In order for your system to know where to get new applications, libraries, plugins, and security updates, it needs to know where to get them from. This is done by adding details of the repositories and CD's to your sources.list file. This is a text file that resides in

/etc/apt/sources.list

By editing this file you can completely change the software available to your system. On a normal desktop PC you can expect to have over 20,000 “packages,” depending on the exact version you installed, and if you chose to include the “contrib” and “non-free” sections of the repositories.

Debian is a Free system and as you saw from the “social contract” only includes, and depends upon free software in the core system. All software in the “main” section of the repositories in your sources.list is Free-software.

For the convenience of it users Debian also links to “contrib” and “non-free” repositories. The “contrib” section is free software that links to or depends on some non-free software. The “non-free” section is non-free software as in proprietary, rather than cost.

This is what my current squeeze/testing sources.list looks like with comments. You will notice a hash "#" sign in front of some lines. This "comments out" or disables it and is common practice when wanting to retain information but disable it's action. Or to add comments to any configuration file.

#####sources.list-start######
#deb cdrom:[Debian GNU/Linux testing _Squeeze_ - Official Snapshot powerpc xfce+lxde-CD Binary-1 20091123-11:38]/ squeeze main

deb http://ftp.uk.debian.org/debian/ squeeze main
#comment: A short explanation: the deb part refers to the native Debian pre-compiled binary file. A deb. Similar to a Microsoft .exe file or Mac OSX .dmg. Cdrom can point to any cdrom(s) from the package list that you may have down loaded. Then we have the mirror URL address. I'm in the UK so that's my closest. Next we have "squeeze" the version of Debian I'm running, followed by main the offical free repository. If you need or choose to add contrib or non-free these would be added after main. e.g. deb http://ftp.uk.debian.org/debian/ squeeze main contrib non-free

deb-src http://ftp.uk.debian.org/debian/ squeeze main
#comment: This deb-src indicates that this is linking to a source file. You can down load the source file modify the code and build your own software or .deb with the other tools on in the repository.

deb http://security.debian.org/ squeeze/updates main
deb-src http://security.debian.org/ squeeze/updates main
#comment: Security updates are automatic by default.

deb http://www.debian-multimedia.org/ squeeze main
deb-src http://www.debian-multimedia.org/ squeeze main
#comment: This is a third party repository. It contains possibly patent encombered code that is not inclueded in Debian by default. Even though if may be free-software. (Were talking patens here not copyright) You will also note that like many third party repositories, it does not respect the main, contrib, non-free protocol even though I've not included them. With all third party repositories it is up to you to check their status as to free-software vs non-free, (There is an application in the repositories called "vrms" that can aid you in this) It's up to you to check the licence, security, and quality etc.

#####sources.list-end######

The graphical display (referred to as "X" or as "X Windows") :

The X Window System is a Free (Mit licenced), cross-platform, system for managing a windowed GUI (graphical user interface). If you don't want to be looking at a blank screen with a flashing cursor. You will need this. Some times, now rarely “X” can fail to be configured correctly on installation. It may fail completely (blank screen and said cursor) Or for example not offer the highest resolution that your monitor supports. This is why it's so useful to gather information on your graphics card and monitor first. Debian has tools to help you configure X from the command line interface (CLI).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X_Window_System
http://www.x.org/wiki/
http://wiki.debian.org/XStrikeForce
http://wiki.debian.org/XStrikeForce/HowToRandR12

The basic system file structure:
If you come from Microsoft Windows You may well be wondering where the C and D,E etc drive is! It's gone. If you come from Mac OSX, being based on BSD the file structure may be more familiar. In Debian there is a single / root directory (folder) with everything placed in it. You can see a general view of how the subsequent directories are organised in the links below.
http://www.tuxfiles.org/linuxhelp/linuxdir.html
http://www.freeos.com/articles/3102/
http://www.comptechdoc.org/os/linux/use ... truct.html
http://www.comptechdoc.org/os/linux/com ... ilest.html

The concept of Root and user:
"root is the user name or account that by default has access to all commands and files on a Linux or other Unix-like operating system. It is also referred to as the root account, root user and the superuser. "
Ref: http://www.linfo.org/root.html
An ordinary user only has control over files in his/her own "home" directory. Though may be "allowed access" to other files and applications.

Desktop environments:

Under Windows and Mac OS you have a very limited choice as to your desktop environment.(the actual interface displayed on the screen). DE for short. You get what your given. A Monoculture based on their file manager. Windows explorer in Micosoft Windows, and the Finder in Mac OSX.
Under Debian you get choices of several Desktop environments, each with their own idea of what a good DE should be. Your choice maybe influenced by which one you've used before. What your friends are familiar with. Which is most similar to your current OS. What you want to do, and your PC's capabilities. You can forgo a DE altogether, if for example you want to create a server, or use a window manager.

Desktop environments: available repackaged on CD:

If you downloaded the first Debian CD. You will get the default Gnome Desktop. It uses the GTK libraries. Others DE's include KDE. This uses QT libraries. There is also the XFCE (GTK) desktop. That is slightly lighter than Gnome and KDE. The LXDE (GTK) that is a very light DE. XFCE and LXDE are present on the same CD. Check their prospective sites before you decide which one you think is for you. You only need the first CD to get up and running. Just choose the Desktop you want. Don't download all 20 odd unless you need them. If your computer is powerful enough and has enough space you can install more then one DE. Then your get to choose which one you want to run at login.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison ... vironments

GNOME:
From the Gnome site.

"GNOME is easy to use and easy to learn: the usability project team makes sure of it. GNOME has all the software you need every day: games, browser, email, office suite, and more. In addition, excellent Windows file compatibility means you can work with files that Windows users send you, and extensive manuals and help systems mean you're never without resources. "

http://www.gnome.org/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNOME

KDE:
From the KDE site.

"KDE or the K Desktop Environment, is a network transparent contemporary desktop environment for UNIX workstations. KDE seeks to fulfill the need for an easy to use desktop for UNIX workstations, similar to desktop environments found on Macintosh and Microsoft Windows operating systems."

http://www.kde.org/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KDE
http://wiki.kde.org/

XFCE:
From the XFCE site.

"About Xfce
"Xfce is a lightweight desktop environment for various *NIX systems. Designed for productivity, it loads and executes applications fast, while conserving system resources." - Olivier Fourdan, creator of Xfce
Xfce 4.6 embodies the traditional UNIX philosophy of modularity and re-usability. It consists of a number of components that together provide the full functionality of the desktop environment. They are packaged separately and you can pick and choose from the available packages to create the best personal working environment. "

http://www.xfce.org/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xfce
http://wiki.xfce.org/

LXDE:
From the LXDE site.

"The "Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment" is an extremely fast-performing and energy-saving desktop environment. Maintained by an international community of developers, it comes with a beautiful interface, multi-language support, standard keyboard short cuts and additional features like tabbed file browsing. LXDE uses less CPU and less RAM than other environments. It is especially designed for cloud computers with low hardware specifications, such as, netbooks, mobile devices (e.g. MIDs) or older computers. "

http://lxde.org/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LXDE
http://wiki.lxde.org/en/Main_Page

GTK + QT:
Are tool kits used to create GUI's, for applications. Because these tools kits offer a slightly different look and feel. Many people try to stick to one or the other when choosing applications. Some popular applications are availible built with either tool kit. There are also "themes" that are avalible to make them look similar.

GTK:
http://www.gtk.org/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gtk
GTK+ is a highly usable, feature rich toolkit for creating graphical user interfaces which boasts cross platform compatibility and an easy to use API. GTK+ it is written in C, but has bindings to many other popular programming languages such as C++, Python and C# among others. GTK+ is licensed under the GNU LGPL 2.1 allowing development of both free and proprietary software with GTK+ without any license fees or royalties.

QT:
http://qt.nokia.com/products
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qt_(toolkit)
Qt is a cross-platform application and UI framework. Using Qt, you can write web-enabled applications once and deploy them across desktop, mobile and embedded operating systems without rewriting the source code.

Features

* Intuitive C++ class library
* Portability across desktop and embedded operating systems
* Integrated development tools
with cross-platform IDE
* High runtime performance and small footprint on embedded

Building your own system with a net install:

With Debian you have the choice of doing a net install a from a minimalistic CD. http://www.debian.org/CD/netinst/
You may want to do a net install if you have a poor internet connection or old hardware that would struggle with a full DE. You could then build your own lighter system using a window manager and a file manager of your choice.


Window mangers:
A window manager controls the window your GUI applications run in. How you Move ,expand, hide, shrink, them, and how they inter-react with each other.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Window_managers
http://xwinman.org/

File managers:
Quote ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File_manager

"A file manager or file browser is a computer program that provides a user interface to work with file systems. The most common operations used are create, open, edit, view, print, play, rename, move, copy, delete, attributes, properties, search/find, and permissions. Files are typically displayed in a hierarchy. Some file managers contain features inspired by web browsers, including forward and back navigational buttons."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison ... e_managers
http://www.linuxlinks.com/article/20081 ... agers.html

Additional information:

Learning more: Common tasks: I may add to the sections below as and when. If anyone wants to contribute any of the below or sugget new section's in the same or similar "bite sized chunks" feel free to PM me on the debian.forums. If I can add it with out destroying the flow for new users I shall. If you find your addition is growing to big please post in into the "tips from our members" section or try and break it down. If it becomes overly technical please post to the how to section instead. I see this as an over view of facts, with each section linking to tips and solutions for the "stable" release in as few words a possible. Not a huge list of detailed tips and solutions, they should be in suitable sections of the forum in their own right. Due to the too many cooks rule. I shall edit at my own discretion. :) Please report any errors or typos, you happen to spot.

SU and SUDO:

The su and sudo commands are used in a terminal to give you root access to the system. You can of course log on as root but this is not generally a good idea; once logged on in a particular identity, you tend to continue in that identity until you log off again, and it is bad practice to work as root for long periods.

Instead you should use su to become root "for the duration". You will need to give the root password which you set when you installed Debian. Your prompt will change to show that you are now root. When you have done what you need to do as root, type exit to get back to your own identity.

The sudo command is a more selective alternative to su, particularly useful if there are several users of your system. By editing, as root, the file /etc/sudoers, you can give root access to a specific individual for specific commands only. This is much safer than letting them know the root password. The man page for sudoers gives details of the syntax for this file.

To use sudo, simply preface the command you wish to execute as root with the word sudo. You will be asked to enter your own password to prove your identity. The system will then check whether you have been given permission to execute this particular command as root; if so, it will be executed. Sudo "remembers" you for a short time so that you can give a group of sudo commands without entering your password each time.

Both the Gnome and the KDE desktops include graphical front-ends for su. The Gnome version is called gksu and the KDE version kdesu. Gnome also has a front-end for sudo, gksudo.

I may add to this section. You may want to....

File permissions:

In Linux, every file and folder belongs to some user who can, in principle, control other users' access to it. Access rights are known as "permissions" and there are three types: read, write and execute. Read allows you access to the file on a read-only basis; applied to a directory (folder), it allows you access to the files within. Write allows you to modify a file or to create, remove or rename files within a directory. Execute allows you to run a program or script contained in a file or to explore the contents of a directory.

Separate permissions are granted to the file's owner, to other members of the owner's group, and to the rest of the world. The full permissions can be seen if you use the command ls -l to list the contents of a directory in "long" form, i.e. full details.The file permissions then appear on the left-hand side of the output as a string of nine characters. The first three are the read, write and execute rights for the owner, the next three are for the group, and the final three for the world. A hyphen indicates that the corresponding right has not been granted.

So rw-r----- means that the owner has read and write access, the group read access only and the rest of the world no access at all. These would be suitable permissions for a data file. rwxr-xr-x means that the owner has read,write and execute access, and everyone else (group and world) has read and execute access only. These are typical permissions for a data directory or a Linux command.

All files that you create belong to you but you do not have to set the file permissions explicitly. New files are given sensible default permissions controlled by your user mask or "umask". You can use the chmod command to change the permissions on particular files from their default values; you can also use the umask command to change the defaults permanently if you do not like them.

Note that, as a security precaution, new files do not have execute access set, although directories may. Execute access to a directory is harmless; it merely allows you to browse the contents. Execute access to a file allows any program or script contained in the file to be run, which is potentially dangerous. So if you download something from the Internet, it will not be executable unless you explicitly make it so by using chmod.

I may add to this section. You may want to....

The Terminal window:
I may add to this section. You may want to....

The kernel:
I may add to this section. You may want to....

Compiling software:
I may add to this section. You may want to....

Printing:
I may add to this section. You may want to....

Fonts:
I may add to this section. You may want to.....

Networking:

Ethernet:
I may add to this section. You may want to.....

Wifi:
I may add to this section. You may want to.....

Samba:
I may add to this section. You may want to.....

NFS:
I may add to this section. You may want to.....

SSH:
I may add to this section. You may want to.....

FTP:
I may add to this section. You may want to.....

RSS:
I may add to this section. You may want to.....

Graphics drivers:
I may add to this section. You may want to.....

Free:
I may add to this section. You may want to.....

Non Free:
I may add to this section. You may want to.....

ATI:
I may add to this section. You may want to.....
http://wiki.debian.org/ATIProprietary

Nvidia:
I may add to this section. You may want to.....
http://wiki.debian.org/NvidiaGraphicsDrivers

Sound:
I may add to this section. You may want to.....

alsa:
I may add to this section. You may want to.....

oss:
I may add to this section. You may want to.....

pulse-audio:
I may add to this section. You may want to.....

Multimedia:
I may add to this section. You may want to.....

mplayer:
I may add to this section. You may want to.....

xine:
I may add to this section. You may want to.....

vlc:
I may add to this section. You may want to.....

ffmpeg:
I may add to this section. You may want to.....

gnash:
I may add to this section. You may want to.....

Non Free:
I may add to this section. You may want to.....

Adobe-flash:
I may add to this section. You may want to.....

Applications:
I may add to this section. You may want to.....

etc....
Last edited by oswaldkelso on 2010-01-19 16:21, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: A Beginners guide to Debian

Postby TristanDee » 2009-11-29 06:02

Lots of useful links. Thanks oswaldkelso.
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Re: A Beginners guide to Debian

Postby Jackiebrown » 2009-11-29 08:54

Next we need a wiki to combine this stuff with the how-tos :D
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Re: A Beginners guide to Debian

Postby craigevil » 2009-11-29 13:24

Things to be aware of: Debian is a core or source distribution. This means there are many Debian based distributions. "THEY ARE NOT DEBIAN". Their information may or may not be of use. Debian has no way of knowing what has been changed on these systems. Do not add their repositories, or install their programs. You will break your system eventually


Not quite true , although the gurus in #debian would want you to believe this.

Distros like sidux and antix work just fine with debian, same goes for the liquorix kernel,

Other than the above and being a rather long post that mot people aren't going to read all the way through, nice post.
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Re: A Beginners guide to Debian

Postby Absent Minded » 2009-11-29 21:01

Unless you can say that about the other 100 and some other Debian based distros I say what he has said holds plenty of water.
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Re: A Beginners guide to Debian

Postby JohnDeere630 » 2009-11-29 21:43

oswaldkelso wrote:
Things to be aware of: Debian is a core or source distribution. This means there are many Debian based distributions. "THEY ARE NOT DEBIAN". Their information may or may not be of use. Debian has no way of knowing what has been changed on these systems. Do not add their repositories, or install their programs. You will break your system eventually



From personal experience, I can say that oswaldkelso is 100% correct. Craigevil, I think you are doing a tremendous disservice to the purpose of his post, which I found to be well thought and well laid out. Now, true, an experienced Debian user MAY get away with mixing in non-debian repositories, but to even remotely suggest that a beginner do so is irresponsible, IMHO.

@oswaldkelso...that post represents a lot of really good information. Were I able, I would sticky it. I can't praise it much more than that.
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Re: A Beginners guide to Debian

Postby Absent Minded » 2009-11-29 23:08

Here is just one good example of what happens when you mix distros: viewtopic.php?f=5&t=47284
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Re: A Beginners guide to Debian

Postby craigevil » 2009-11-30 00:27

Absent Minded wrote:Here is just one good example of what happens when you mix distros: viewtopic.php?f=5&t=47284

That was from mixing debian and ubuntu, which is like trying to mix oil and water.
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Re: A Beginners guide to Debian

Postby Absent Minded » 2009-11-30 00:44

There is over 120 Debian based Linux distros are you going to make a list for us so we know which ones are usable? I think 5 distros is not worth telling a new person that it is okay to mix them. Even seasoned users have trouble mixing distros.
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Re: A Beginners guide to Debian

Postby Absent Minded » 2009-11-30 00:47

I would like to make a correction you only listed 3 of them not 5.
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Re: A Beginners guide to Debian

Postby anticapitalista » 2009-11-30 01:13

There are Debian-based distros that do stick to Debian as Craigevil pointed out. Not the Ubuntu variants, but the genuine Debian ones, of which antiX is one (and MEPIS to a lesser degree I would admit).
For example, for a while, several Debian Lenny users (and before that Etch) added the MEPIS repos in order to install the latest openoffice. No problems at all (and there are still no problems).

Personally, if I installed Debian then I would stick to the Debian repos as suggested in the original post.
That would be the best way to go.
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Re: A Beginners guide to Debian

Postby julianb » 2009-11-30 22:08

As a suggestion for the original post - when you teach someone about man pages, teach them how to quit a man page. (press the "q" key)

I tried "control c," i tried escape, i tried "control q", i tried alt-F4, i tried control-w, then i searched google. It wasn't even easy to find the answer on google!

Also, beginners can benefit from --help pages, for example

Code: Select all
mv --help
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Re: A Beginners guide to Debian

Postby oswaldkelso » 2009-12-01 04:14

julianb wrote:As a suggestion for the original post - when you teach someone about man pages, teach them how to quit a man page. (press the "q" key)

I tried "control c," i tried escape, i tried "control q", i tried alt-F4, i tried control-w, then i searched google. It wasn't even easy to find the answer on google!

Also, beginners can benefit from --help pages, for example

Code: Select all
mv --help


Thanks see:
viewtopic.php?f=12&t=47332
I'll add the --help tip
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Re: A Beginners guide to Debian

Postby secdroid » 2009-12-22 14:11

Very helpful document.

One nit: The link labeled "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aptitude_(program)" is missing the closing ")" which gets the user to a Wikipedia "Do you mean" page, rather than http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aptitude_%28program%29

Suggestion: Mention the Debian ref card -- http://tangosoft.com/refcard/

Suggestion: Point out the numerous ref cards that can help new Debian (or Linux users) -- http://www.google.com/search?q=linux+refcards
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Re: A Beginners guide to Debian

Postby oswaldkelso » 2009-12-23 01:09

Thanks for the feed back. The first two have been updated already in the soon to be updated rev2. The third I'll add. cheers.
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