Debian minimal install of a base system (Lenny aka 5.0).

In this post I’m going to describe how to do a very basic no-frills Debian install that I quite often use for the basis or foundation of my other installs. Begining with a Net Install image (available from http://www.debian.org/CD/netinst/) I install the bare (ish) minimum without much fuss and little fluff.

Disclaimer:- This install should be considered a destructive process. If you follow these directions you will completely and irretrievably erase any data you have on the hard drive your select to install Debian onto. Do not come crying to me if you lost information from following this procedure. To be safe backup all data prior to starting (verify the backup ;O ) or install to a new hard drive.
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Musing: A Linux based wireless access point

I currently run a Belkin Wireless N+ ADSL modem/switch/wireless AP. It works well enough but given my nature to want to try things I’ve found the capability of the Belkin box to be limited. If it were a book it would have a yellow and black cover (Home network for dummies). It’s great for it’s designated audience but I want the ability to play.

I’ve also been toying with the idea of a home server for various things and am wondering if I can combine the two. So a NAS/Wireless router.

Requirements:

At the moment I’m leaning towards hacking an old laptop, putting in a 500Gb drive and a D-Link DWA-642. Gives me all sorts of options I can play with till my heart is content.

I’ll need to pair it up with a good ADSL 2+ Modem (Billion 7300RA perhaps, seems they are Linux based too 😀 ).
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Make it look nice, aka fonts in Linux

Now that I have the Toshiba setup with SliTaz it’s time for tweaks.  Since this machine is mainly for surfing the web I want web pages to render nicely.  A lot of Linux distributions don’t tend to address this well and it can make a big difference without much effort.

Installing the Microsoft core web fonts (Verdana, Tahoma, Times New Roman, Arial, Trebuchet, Comic Sans, Impact etc.). See if you can track down a .tar.gz of all the Web Core fonts.  Google to the rescue also while you are there grab the Droid font from Google’s Android SDK.

Now unzip the fonts into /usr/share/fonts/truetype
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Kernel 2.6.33.1 on SliTaz

As mentioned in my previous post I was having trouble with Kernel 2.6.30.4 shipped by default with SliTaz 3.0 so here is a procedure to compile a recent kernel 2.6.33.1 which seemed to work better for me.

First we need to get the build dependencies
tux@slitaz:~/kernel/linux-2.6.33.1$ su -
Password:
root@slitaz:~# tazpkg get-install slitaz-toolchain
root@slitaz:~# tazpkg get-install ncurses-dev
root@slitaz:~# tazpkg get-install perl
root@slitaz:~# exit

Now get the kernel source
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SliTaz continues

Well, here is my second issue. I needed the kernel module for a Prism chipset WiFi card for a friend under SliTaz. Unfortunately it not included out of the box. No problems I think I’ll just build a new kernel with one in and either pass along directions or a .tar.gz of the relevant modules built on the same spec.

Break out the trusty VM and see how we go. Well not as good as I would like. A couple of issues to resolve but then I got into a tight spot where there seemed to be a few issues with the make files for 2.6.30-4-slitaz that was installed from the package manager. A bit of browsing/Googling seemed to indicate there were a few patches around lzma and the make files of various modules. In short it looked horrible and I decided to go with the latest and greatest kernel source from http://kernel.org. After I did a headstand to read the page I downloaded and built kernel 2.6.33-1 and turned on the necessary module bits for the Prism chipset (hostap).

I’ll post details of the process a little later

SliTaz and the Toshiba

So I’ve been laid up for a couple of weeks now post an op (ACDF) and have some spare time on my hands:-

SliTaz recently hit 3.0 and based on that, comments by K.Mandla in the post “Greetings from SliTaz 3.0” and some enthusiasm from a friend (Shouts to Liddy :D) I decided to give it a go.

As I’m want to do these days I fire up the ISO in VirtualBox to see how well it is put together and was pleased with the initial presentation. SliTaz bring a basic desktop that is light weight enough for the old Toshiba (PIII 500MHz, 192Mb RAM).

Doing a basic install to a spare partition I had left over from playing with Google OS (which aint ready yet 😦 ) I was up and running in no time. Pleased to see that X worked straight out the box which seems to fail on most other recent Distros out there.

Wireless is the first issue that needed to be resolved. Using the configuration dialogs seemed to scramble my WPA key and I had to manually edit the file /etc/network.conf to set the WPA key with some “special” characters esacped. e.g. “$l!T@z” would need to become “\$l\!T\@z” or some such.

Setting to fastboot in /etc/rcS.conf and installing Google Chrome via the package manager and the trusty old Toshiba boots to the desktop in 23 seconds (with me typing in the credentials) and runs Chrome like a charm.

I think I may have found the O/S for the Toshiba. Boots fast, has enough apps to make it very workable, they are all lightweight so it runs well on the old machine, Wireless works well now that I got the WPA key entered correctly and last but not least the included packages seem to be well thought out too.

The old Toshiba?

Well the Toshiba is proving to be a bit of a problem. It’s an old Toshiba Portege 7140, Pentium III 500Mhz, 192 MHz RAM. I like the machine even though it’s underpowered, it’s a poor mans Netbook if you like.

The problem with it at the moment is the current crop of Distros and the XOrg platform and drivers. It seems to have broken the framebuffer driver for me. I used to get by with the xorg-server-video-fbdev frame buffer device. The Trident driver has never seem to work for me and the same goes for the VESA driver so I’m left with the lowest common denominator in the vanilla frame buffer driver.

So with no luck on the current distros (Debian Lenny, Gentoo 2010ish, Arch and Ubuntu Karmic) I’ve gone back to Ubuntu 8.04 LTS Hardy and did a CLI install from the Alternate CD (one of the F? key options at the first install screen). So with a minimal install I grabbed U-Lite and dropped that on along with an install of Google Chrome unstable. It’s not as fast as I’d like to boot but it’s reliable and gets me to a browser session within a minute or so and it’s lightweight enough so it’s practical to use.

Happy again 😉