Debian 4.0 (Etch i386) netinst

I made the mistake of downloading and installing the netinst version of Etch.

I’d setup MEPIS 6.0 on my sister’s laptop previously, so I imagined it would’ve been a breeze for Debian.

The installation went successfully, except for the network detection part, but I dismissed it thinking that I’d be able to setup once everything was complete. I was so wrong. I had no IP address, so I was bumbling around without network connectivity, and horrors of horrors, it was commandline-only.

I Google-d around looking for some solutions; thankfully there was a spare laptop for use. It turns out that my (new) company’s sysadmin setup the router to NOT assign IP addressed by DHCP. It also happened that he was not around during the time that I was fumbling around, so there was no one to answer my queries.

In the end, the solution was to add entries to:

/etc/network/interfaces
/etc/resolv.conf

These settings are initalized upon each boot, since I am afterall using it as a workstation, not a server.

I found there was this apt package manager that was supposed to let me get X, KDE and all those fancy GUI bells and whistles. But it wouldn’t work. My /etc/apt/sources.list looked like this:

deb cdrom:[Debian GNU/Linux 4.0 r0 _Etch_ - Official i386 NETINST Binary-1 20$

#deb http://security.debian.org/ etch/updates main contrib
#deb-src http://security.debian.org/ etch/updates main contrib

I was supposed to use the command:

# apt-get install kde

So that I could get KDE up and running. It turns out that you need to comment out the line with the CD-ROM,

and getting the message that there was no such package. Hmmm. To cut the long story short, you have to comment out the cdrom line and add in:

deb http://ftp.tw.debian.org/debian/ etch main non-free contrib

So we get our package listing for wherever is good for you:

# apt-get update
# apt-get install x-window-system x-window-system-core kde kdm kdebase --fix-missing

If you get errors like “md5 checksum mismatch”, it was probably a network issue, so repeat.

# startx

There’s a lengthy wait, but no worries, KDE will come up fine. You won’t be needing to use the wizard since you are currently logged in as ‘root’. Just log out, and then reboot:

# telinit 6

It took me two(!) days to get my desktop up to scratch (aptitude, automatix, gaim, iceweasel, katapult, skype, synaptic, openoffice.org, wine, ..) because of the initial network problem and my inept-ness with apt-*.

My advice? Download the 4GB+ ISO for your installs instead.

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