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Notes on Installation:

Debian GNU/Linux 2.1 (Slink)


Version 1.0b

The following brief notes may be helpful when installing Debian 2.1 for the first time. Note: commands to be typed in on the command line are given in italics for clarity.


Up until  Install Base System - which follows Install Operating System Kernel - the installation is usually trouble free. After that, there are some points to note.

Base Install

During the install of the base system, select the kernel modules needed - e.g. PPP and PS2 mouse support. Choose the option (e.g. net) then use the down arrow key to scroll through the list. Press the Return key to select a particular module for install. Mouse support is under the 'other' option.

After First Reboot

After the reboot you should configure PPP even if installing from CD-ROM as this will give a working dial-up connection which may be useful if updated packages are required - for example to configure the X server (see below). During PPP configuration be sure (as the install screen says) to leave the name  'provider' when prompted, as provider - do not enter the actual name of your ISP.

After the PPP configuration files have been written, you exit, without going on-line when prompted, and proceed with the install from CD-ROM.

During the package installation, you will be asked several questions and prompted to install/configure some things.

1) Accept and keep the VGA16 server as the default X server.
2) Install gpm (console mouse support). For a PS2 mouse it is necessary to change the option to /dev/psaux.

These will enable you to use XF86Setup - the graphical configuration for X. You should also configure wvdial if a modem is installed or connected. Further, select a standard Window Manager such as fvwm2 as the default.

When dselect starts, leave the first Binary CD in the CD-ROM, choose multi-CD from the Access list, then choose Update, then Install.

X Server Configuration

After the installation is completed, you will be dropped into a login prompt. Login as root, then enter either




to configure the Xserver.  If you have the default VGA16 server and your mouse is configured, the XF86Setup will work. If not, you will need to use xf86config.
After configuration, to connect to the X server, enter startx and the default window manager (which you choose during install) will load.

If, after configuration, you find the system cannot connect to the X server, try to configure it again using xf86config if you used XF86Setup. If you just have a blank screen, press Control-Alt-Backspace keys together to bring you back to the command line. If this fails - then try Control-Alt-F1. If the new configuration still does not work, then use xf86config to set the VGA16 server as the default using only 640x480 mode. This should give you a working X server.

If it does not, then it is usually necessary to update the X package using apt-get. This is what you need to do also if you can only get the X server working in VGA mode.

Updating X Server

If not already done, you should configure PPP and/or wvdial to ensure you have a working Internet connection.  This can be done on the command line (no X server running). Just enter, as root, pppconfig and wvdialconf.

Then you will need to enter the source of the latest X  .deb packages in the /etc/apt/sources.list file. Enter

vi      /etc/apt/sources.list

which will open the file using the vi editor. Note that vi starts in command mode - to enter text, press the i key. To delete text, press the Esc key, pressing the x key deletes what is under the cursor. To return to edit mode, press the i key. To quit and save, press :wq (that is, colon followed by wq).

At the time of writing (November 1999) the latest deb for X  is version 3.3.4 and is available at:  xfree86-334-slink

This (with deb before the http) is what you should enter as the source in the /etc/apt/sources.list file.

Then connect to the Net, and enter

apt-get   update

Then enter

apt-get   dist-upgrade

This will begin the download of the .deb packages.

After the download is complete, the packages will be automatically unpacked and installed (isn't Debian wonderful?). Then re-run xf86config, re-boot, and the default X server you have chosen should be up and running.


Once you have a working system with a running X server, you should run dselect from the command line. First, change the CD's so that Binary 2 is in the drive. Then choose multi-cd from Access, then Update, then Select. Then choose the additional packages you want. Be sure to run both Configure and Remove before quitting dselect. You can also run dselect again, using Binary 1, and choose more packages.  Again, run Update before selecting packages.

The installation is then complete.


Copyright 1999 by Muhammad Yusuf.
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