Testing Debian’s Lenny KDE beta

Aug 14, 2008

Lenny (aka “testing”) appears poised to displace Etch as the popular Linux distribution’s “stable” branch next month. To see how Lenny was coming along, I loaded the latest preview (beta 2) of its KDE system image onto an available Thinkpad, and took it for a spin.

Now, I’ve been a strong supporter of Debian on desktops, in servers, and in devices systems for the past several years, and only recently moved to Ubuntu in an effort to support the Black Tower‘s more leading-edge hardware.

Admittedly this test of Lenny is limited in its scope. After all, the Thinkpad testbed is an aging 2662-35U with a 600 MHz Pentium III CPU, 192 MB SDRAM, a 20 GB hard drive, and a CD-only optical drive. However, assuming Lenny continues to perform satisfactorily in further tests on the Thinkpad — and I am optimistic that it will — I will seriously consider substituting it for Kubuntu on the Black Tower.

What follows is a brief account of the steps I used to install Lenny KDE Beta 2 on the Thinkpad, along with a handful of hacks and fixes that helped it meet my minimum requirements. Bearing in mind that individual systems and personal preferences differ, you can be certain of one thing: your actual mileage will vary!

Installing from the KDE CD

Download the desired CD iso image from the LennyBeta2 area of Debian’s website, and burn it onto a CD (I use K3b to do this on my Linux systems). The image I grabbed a few days ago was “debian-LennyBeta2-i386-kde-CD-1.iso.”

Now, boot the system from the newly burned Debian Lenny KDE CD, and follow the relatively simple steps presented by the installer, to pre-configure and install the OS on the system. I recommend using the “graphical installer” option provided on the boot CD’s initial menu. When the screen for selecting categories of software appears, be sure to click “desktop environment” so that the KDE desktop environment gets installed.

When the installation of the OS is complete, the installer will prompt you to remove the CD and reboot. The system should boot up and present the KDM desktop manager screen, at which you enter your login name and password.

Booting up into the Lenny Beta2 KDE desktop for the first time produced a screen that looked like this:

Lenny’s pristine KDE desktop upon first-time boot
(Click each image to enlarge)

Adding basic software

NOTE: Unless otherwise stated, all of the commands below must be performed from a console window (KDE menu > System > Konsole), as root. To make it clear where each command line starts, the commands are listed with bullets; of course, the bullets are not part of the commands ;-)

Open up /etc/apt/sources.list using pico (type “pico /etc/apt/sources.list” on the command line). Add “contrib non-free” at the end of each repository line. Also, add the following two repo lines to the file:

  • deb http://www.debian-multimedia.org lenny main
  • deb http://download.skype.com/linux/repos/debian/ stable non-free

Then close the editor, saving the revised file as sources.list.

Next, add the key required for accessing the Debian multimedia repository by performing the following command line steps:

  • wget http://debian-multimedia.org/gpgkey.pub -O – | apt-key add -
  • apt-get update
  • apt-get install debian-multimedia-keyring

Now, it’s time to install a bunch of useful applications and plugins using Debian’s apt-get utility. Here’s the command line I used:

  • apt-get install synaptic rsync bzip2 wvdial dmz-cursor-theme gtk-qt-engine cupsys foomatic-filters foomatic-db-engine kdebluetooth acroread d3lphin gaim skype bluefish dillo msttcorefonts ntfsprogs amarok lame libdvdcss xine-ui

Incidentally, the cursor theme package download was needed because the Lenny beta’s KDE system lacked any cursor theme options and the plain default was — well — awfully plain.

Standard Firefox and Thunderbird

Personally, I think it’s a mistake to use non-standard versions of Mozilla’s Firefox and Thunderbird browser and email apps, as they’re probably the most popular open-source software on the desktop. For example, Firefox’s desktop marketshare is currently estimated to have reached nearly 20 percent, whereas Linux remains at a paltry 4 percent.

Due to their high level of popularity on both Linux and Windows desktops, I think it’s important to keep them consistent — including their names and their desktop icons — as opposed to propagating multiple versions modified for (or tuned to) specific OS versions. Additionally, I like to be able to promptly obtain bug- and security-fixed versions directly from Mozilla.org via the two programs’ automatic update options.

For these reasons, I always get rid of modified versions of the “dynamic duo” and install “the real thing,” obtained directly from Mozilla.org.

Here’s the process I use:

  • Remove Iceweasel, Debian’s version of Firefox, with the command:
    • apt-get remove iceweasel
  • Download Firefox and Thunderbird from mozilla.org, and put both files in /usr/lib/
  • unzip/untar each of them, resulting in directories such as “/usr/lib/firefox/” and “/usr/lib/thunderbird”
  • Standard Thunderbird requires a special library to run on Lenny; to satisfy this, do:
    • apt-get install libstdc++5
  • Create /usr/bin/ symlinks for each of the two programs, as follows:
    • ln -s /usr/lib/firefox/firefox /usr/bin/firefox
    • ln -s /usr/lib/thunderbird/thunderbird/ /usr/bin/thunderbird
  • Create a directory for mozilla plugins in /usr/lib/, create a symlink to the firefox plugins directory, and install the Adobe Flash Player plugin:
    • mkdir /usr/lib/mozilla
    • ln -s /usr/lib/firefox/plugins /usr/lib/mozilla/plugins
    • apt-get update
    • apt-get install flashplayer-mozilla
  • Now create KDE desktop icons for Firefox and Thunderbird. The icons needed are located in the icons directory within each program’s directories in /usr/lib/.
  • Test both programs. Verify that a url can be emailed from Firefox using Thunderbird using the “Send Link” function, and that clicking on a link in a Thunderbird email will open up a page in Firefox. Both programs will prompt you to tell them to be the default for each of their functions when you run them for the first time — say “yes.”

Opera, Real Player, and Java

Next, we download, install, and test the Opera browser, Real Player multimedia player, and the browser plugin for Sun Java. They each install in a slightly different manner.

Opera browser

For Opera, the download brings you a .deb file. Use the following command to install it from that file (as root):

  • dpkg -i opera-9.51.gcc4-shared-qt3.i86.deb

The version I used was designated “Debian 4.0 (Etch), Debian Testing (Lenny), Debian Unstable (Sid)” on the download page’s drop-down menu.

Real Player

Start by downloading the Real Player installation file from Real‘s website. Using a console command line (as root), change the file’s permissions to be executable and then execute it, as follows:

  • chmod 554 RealPlayer11GOLD.bin
  • ./RealPlayer11GOLD.bin

Follow the straightforward prompts that follow to install it on the system.

Sun’s Java

Now comes the installation of Sun’s Java plug-in. From the KDE desktop (as user, not root), run Synaptic (KDE menu > System > Synaptic Package Menu); it will request your system’s root password as it loads. Once the program starts, use the program’s Search button (at the top of the screen) to locate packages with “java6.” From the results, market these two for installation: sun-java6-jre and sun-java6-plugin. Then, click the “Apply” button at the top, to install them. Exit the program when the installation is complete.

At this point, the total install occupied about 3.6 GB the system’s hard drive, and my KDE desktop looked like this:

My customized Debian Lenny KDE desktop
(Click to enlarge)

Testing key functions

In my experience there are a handful or so of key functions that don’t always come up right in Linux systems, so I test them each time I experiment with a new distribution or major version upgrade. The functions I tend check, and methods I use, and the results with this Lenny Beta2 KDE CD image install appear in the table below.

Function Test Results
Playing audio CDs and MP3s Play a CD using Amarok; rip a CD to MP3s using KAaudioCreator; play the resulting files with Amarok all worked fine
Playing movie DVDs Play a DVD using Xine n/a – the laptop doesn’t have a DVD drive :-/
Java plugin go here, and verify that the Java plugin is working worked fine
Flash plugin go here and verify that Flash is working worked fine
YouTube visit YouTube.com and play a video worked fine
Suspend/resume Try suspend-to-RAM and suspend-to-disk, and resuming from each Suspend-to-RAM works perfectly, by either right-clicking on the KPowersave icon in the taskbar tray (screenshot) or closing the lid of the laptop and then reopening it. Suspend-to-disk also seems to work OK, using the KPowersave icon to suspend and the power button to resume.
WiFi insert WiFi PCMCIA card and connect to home WLAN using knetworkmanager required installation of madwifi driver package (details below
Dialup go online using kppp required kppp hack (details below)
Printer install and test printer using KDM’s printer management tool required installation of foo2zjs driver package (details below)
Skype VoIP make a test call using Skype required audio driver kack (details below)
Bluetooth read/write files from a Bluetooth-enabled cellphone no luck so far


All in all, I’m quite pleased with this current snapshot of Debian’s Lenny KDE implementation. Other than the need for a few hacks and fixes, my main complaint with it is its inclusion of way too many of KDE’s rich set of applications, such as games, tools, etc.

Yes, I realize I could have created a more customized KDE system by starting from the net-install CD image and adding just what I want (I’ve certainly done that before, with Etch). But, I wanted to test the pre-packaged Lenny KDE version — a sort of “known good” system — first, before going about building my own. Indeed, I plan to do just that in the next month or two. And as I mentioned at the start of this post, if that process goes well I might replace Kubuntu with Lenny/KDE on the Black Tower. Stay tuned!

Please Note

Two appendices appear below: (1) fixes and hacks; (2) screenshots of the KDE desktop and a few key functions discussed above.

Appendix 1: Fixes and Hacks

kppp hack

I’ve found for years that kppp isn’t usable without making some minor adjustments to files in the /etc/ppp/ area. Here’s the process I needed to use to make my Lenny Beta2 KDE system dial out and connect to the Internet.

  • Run “wvdialconf” from the command line (as root) to find out the device name that the system has assigned to your modem card. You’ll need this to set up the modem configuration in kppp.
  • Edit the file, “/etc/ppp/options” as follows:
    • change the line, “auth” to “noauth”
    • comment out the line, “lock”
  • Edit (or create) the files “/etc/ppp/peers/kppd-options” and “/etc/ppp/peers/kppp-options” and change their contents from “auth” to “noauth” or simply enter “noauth” if the files did not already exist.
  • Place an icon on your desktop for kppp; configure it to run the command “kdesu kppp” (right-click icon > Properties > Application tab)
  • Use kppp’s “manual” configuration (not “wizard”) to set up accounts; typical parameters are:
      authentication: PAP/CHAP
      callback type: none
      IP > dynamic
      Gateway > Default, Assign the default route (X)
      DNS > Automatic
      Login Script, Execute, Accounting > all blank)

Note: On other KDE installs, it was not necessary to run kppp as root. I suspect permissions can be altered to eliminate that requirement, but I didn’t want to hack up the ppp area too much. (In case you’re wondering: yes, the user is a member of both the dialout and dip groups.)

Skype audio hack

My first Skype test is to go to the program’s Main Menu > Options > Sound Devices configuration tab, and then click the “Make a test sound” button. That should play a test sound. If it doesn’t there might be audio driver problems. If it plays sound ok, the next step is to click the “Make a test call” button.

With my Lenny Beta2 KDE install, neither sound function worked. After consulting the googacle, I settled on a somewhat crude hack, which consists of forcing the system to run the ALSA sound system and avoid OSS. So far, it works great and doesn’t seem to have caused any problems.

The hack appears below, but one note: before jump through hoops to get sound working, be sure you open up kmix and turn on the various audio channels and set them to reasonable volume levels.

Here’s the hack:

  • Create a file called “.asoundrc” in your home directory (i.e. “~/.asoundrc”), containing the code that appears in the box below
  • Select “Advanced Linux Sound Architecture” (ALSA) as the sound drive for your system via the KDE Menu > Control Center > Sound & Multimedia > Sound System > Hardware tab
  • Run Skype and on its Main Menu > Options > Sound Devices configuration tab select “asymed” for Sound in, Sound Out, and Ringing

OK, did that work? It did for me. But please, don’t ask me what it does!

Contents of ~/.asoundrc
# ========== start of code ===========
#asym fun start here. we define one pcm device called "dmixed"
   pcm.dmixed {
       ipc_key 1025
       type dmix
       slave.pcm "hw:0,0"

   #one called "dsnooped" for capturing
   pcm.dsnooped {
       ipc_key 1027
       type dsnoop
       slave.pcm "hw:0,0"

   #and this is the real magic
   pcm.asymed {
       type asym
       playback.pcm "dmixed"
       capture.pcm "dsnooped"

   #a quick plug plugin for above device to do the converting magic
   pcm.pasymed {
       type plug
       slave.pcm "asymed"

   #a ctl device to keep xmms happy
   ctl.pasymed {
       type hw
       card 0

   #for aoss:
   pcm.dsp0 {
       type plug
       slave.pcm "asymed"

   ctl.mixer0 {
       type hw
       card 0
# ========== end ===========

foo2zjs printer driver download/build/install

At first, I was unable to get my HP Laserjet 1020 printer to install using the default options in KDE's Printer Management tool. To solve this problem, I downloaded, built, and installed the foo2zjs printer driver package.

The first step was to download and unpack the required build package using the following commands, and then move into the package build directory using the following commands:

  • wget -O foo2zjs.tar.gz http://foo2zjs.rkkda.com/foo2zjs.tar.gz
  • tar -zxvf foo2zjs.tar.gz
  • cd foo2zjs/

Now, carefully follow the procedure detailed in the INSTALL file contained within foo2zjs/. For my HP Laserjet 1020, the process I had to follow was (as root):

  • make uninstall
  • make
  • ./getweb 1020
  • make install
  • make install-hotplug
  • make cups

Phew! Assuming all went well in the above process, open up the KDE printer management tool (KDE menu > Control Center > Peripherals > Printers) and add a printer. I selected the "Laserjet 1020 foo2zjs" driver. Note: For some reason, the system required me use the "Administrator Mode" option of the KDE printer configuration tool to select and configure the printer.

Finally, try printing a test page. Did it work? It did for me.

Installing the madwifi driver (for atheros-based cards)

To get my Atheros chipset-based PCMCIA WiFi card working, I had to install the madwifi driver package. This is the procedure I used:

From a console window, as root, issue the following commands:

  • apt-get install madwifi-source madwifi-tools
  • m-a prepare
  • m-a a-i madwifi
  • modprobe ath_pci

If all goes well in the above string of commands, run the command following command and look for indications that the wifi card has been recognized when you plug it in and remove it. also, it should show up in ifconfig.

  • tail -f /var/log/syslog

Type Ctrl-C to exit the syslog monitoring command. The above procedure comes from the madwifi driver website.

To connect to a WLAN, use knetworkmanager (KDE Menu > Internet > KNetworkManager). It lets you view the signal strength of WLANs in your area, select one, and specify the network's security options and key.

Update: Getting rid of hundreds of MBs of KDE games

At the suggestion of a reader, I got rid of a large batch of automatically installed KDE games that I had no use for. It's easy to do, using these two console commands (as root):

  • apt-get remove kdegames
  • apt-get autoremove

Don't worry that it says it will remove kde -- that's just a "meta package" and won't remove any actual kde software (other than the requested games group). Removing any single package group from the KDE metapackage -- e.g. removing KDE PIM or KDE multimedia -- also would have removed the KDE meta package. Frankly, I think this situation is a bit weird, since, unless I'm mistaken, "apt-get install kde" has a very different effect (i.e. it installs the entire KDE KDEnchilada).

Following this step, the Debian Lenny KDE Beta2 install occupies about 2.8 GB of space on the Thinkpad's hard drive, not counting the contents of my /home/rick/ directory.

Appendix 2: Screenshots

That's it for my fixes and hacks. Below are various screenshots relating to the install and tests -- click each thumbnail for to enlarge:


45 Responses to “Testing Debian’s Lenny KDE beta”

  1. tom says:

    Wow. Thanks for all the detail. There’s enough here to keep me going for a few nights! Good Stuff.

  2. sonicfrog says:

    Dang, you beat me to the punch. I downloaded the net install iso yesterday, but haven’t gotten around to installing on my old pavilion notebook yet. Right now I’m running G-OS (ubuntu based) and it’s pretty good – just a few little bugs. But I have a soft spot for the master distro, and since I’m a distro junkie, well, it’s time to give Lenny a spin. I am a Gnome guy, and will go in that direction. I do absolutely agree that Debian needs to ditch the whole “Ice” prefixed mozilla stuff. They are not kept up to date with the real thing. I will link to your article to use as a guide to install Mozilla proper.

  3. MR T says:

    This is among the best written reviews I have read so far. Thanks for clarity and sharing good practice. I will give it a go as all these applications and configurations are according to my taste. It shows commands by example. I have read this whole review with interest, thanks.

  4. xtronics says:

    There are security fixes in iceweasel and icedove that don’t always get in the mainstream releases in a timely maner. I haven’t had any problems with them.

  5. Andreas Janssen says:

    * The Flash plugin is available as a package from debian-multimedia.org (called flashplayer-mozilla, but works with any browser that uses the netscape plugin format, like Opera, Konqueror and so on)

    * Opera offers a apt repository for their browser at http://deb.opera.com.

    * if you feel that the default cursor theme is too ugly/too plain, take a look at the crystalcursors package.

    * to use kppp, add your user account to the dip group. If that turns out to be unsufficient, also add your account to the dialout group, in case you need direct access to the serial ports

    Andreas Janssen

    Reply from DeviceGuru:

    Thanks for the suggestions.

    Regarding the flashplayer plugin from debian-multimedia.org, the result of apt-get install flashplayer-mozilla is that it puts the plugin in /usr/lib/mozilla/plugins/ and that doesn’t seem to work in the latest firefox. However, if you install it that way, and then move the plugin (or copy it) into /usr/lib/firefox/plugins/, it works fine. So, I think I’ll change the procedure in the article to do the install from debian-multimedia.org but create a symlink first in /usr/lib/mozilla/.

    Regarding the kppp issue, as mentioned in the article, I verified that my user account was a member of both the dialout and dip groups, yet I still required “kdesu kppp” to be able to dial out without some sort of permissions error message.

    It’s not that I didn’t like the themes; rather, the implementation of KDE had NO themes at all. Once I installed the theme package, the default suddenly became nice, without my having to select a particular theme. Odd.

  6. Rohan Dhruva says:


    The title of your review is misleading – what you tested was the Beta2 of the debian *installer*. There is no “beta” for the complete debian package archive – it’s frozen. I think you should make that clear in your review.

    Also, I wonder how you were able to install opera using
    Did it start some GUI program? Usually you get an error message saying “bash: not an executable file” or so. The proper way to install a deb file from the console is “dpkg -i opera-9.51.gcc4-shared-qt3.i86.deb” as root.

    Apart from these 2 points, your review is really good, the “Fixes and Hacks” section is especially useful. Great work!


    Reply from DeviceGuru:

    Sorry, you are correct. The command line for installing the opera .deb package should actually have been stated as: “dpkg -i opera-9.51.gcc4-shared-qt3.i86.deb” — thanks for catching that.

  7. xiando says:

    You do not seem aware WHY Iceweasel exists and/or do not care about freedom. Iceweasel is not specific to Debian, you can get versions of Firefox with the non-free portions removed (and named Iceweasel) on other distributions too. Fascism is very consistent throughout our society. That does not make it right or a good thing.

    Adobe’s flash player is also not free software, which is why I suspect you do not/can not understand why Iceweasel is important. I am personally not willing to accept Adobe’s license – and nor should you.

    Skype is also not free software and it is even worse than Adobe’s flashplayer. I tell people to install and use a SIP-client like Twinkle or Ekiga (there are hundreds of SIP-programs for Windows, and many good hardware phones) if they want to call me, I prefer not to talk to people who like the non-free closed-standard Skype.

    I do not quite understand why you are using Debian and not Windows Vista, you sure do not seem to understand why the GNU project, which Debian/Ubuntu/etc is a result of, was started by RMS in the first place. Debian is there to give you freedom. Freedom is important. You should stand up for freedom, not tell people who choose free software like Debian to go ahead and infect their systems with non-free software first thing after they install it.

  8. Cevo says:

    ‘Freedom is important’

    Yes xiano, it is. So people are free to choose if they want to install non-free software or not.

    BTW: Debian offers binary Nvidia drivers straight from its repos. Is it now ‘evil’ as well?

    Sad that you decide not to talk to people who like the non-free Skype. You must be living in one hell of a small world. But be happy, and don’t deny other’s their happiness.

    Another thing: Iceweasel does NOT have ‘non-free portions removed’. Firefox does not have ‘non-free’ portions. It is just that Mozilla has protected the Firefox brand and does not allow others to introduce patches and then still call it Firefox. After Debian’s OpenSSL fiasco, I cannot say I blame them either.

  9. paddy says:

    better to have your package sources in your sources.list

    last I looked, opera have their own repo, put it in your sources.list. see http://www.debianadmin.com/install-opera-web-browser-in-debian-sargeetch-or-sid-in-3-steps.html

    I think the adobe flash is in backports now, see http://wiki.debian.org/FlashPlayer

    I think realplayer can be found on http://www.debian-multimedia.com, see http://www.debianadmin.com/install-realplayer-in-debian-sargeetch-and-sid.html

  10. Bruce says:

    Freedom certainly is important. The freedom to choose what software and applications one will use being the most importnat of all.

    I am and have been an avid user of Linux for 10 years now, and love the freedom to be able to choose what software I will or want to use.

    I want a functioning system, that means I use proprietary drivers, codecs, and a few proprietary applications. A few, but very few. It is the freedom of choice that allows me to do this.

    The proponents of “freedom” seem to forget what freedom truly means, with “freedom” the user chooses.

    I do not quite understand why people tout freedom so much then complain when a person exercises freedom.

    Freedom most certainly is important, you should stand up for “freedom” rather then attempt to insult others for exercising their freedom of choice.

    Choice is the true freedom, anything else is just another form of limitation and restriction.

    I for one would not and will not limit my freedom to chose.

    To tell people they should not use software, or accept a license because you don’t like it is ridiculous. In fact it sounds more restrictive, limiting, and fascist then anything.

  11. Anonymous says:

    It is just that Mozilla has protected the Firefox brand and does not allow others to introduce patches and then still call it Firefox. After Debian’s OpenSSL fiasco, I cannot say I blame them either.

    That sounds like non-free to me.

  12. Cevo says:

    ‘That sounds like non-free to me.’

    Sure, same way you don’t mind someone impersonates you and then starts smashing in Windows, spraying walls with graffiti and beating up old ladies.

    The Firefox code is completely free! You can take it, modify it and use it to create your own browser. You just cannot call it Firefox.

    All that whining about brand protection…. Get a life! Mozilla has done more for the open source community than anybody or anything else. They are trying to build a sustainable business and want to make sure that the name Firefox does not get polluted by badly patched versions. That is business my friend. People that do not understand that should stop smoking whatever it is they are smoking and try living on air for a couple of days.

  13. Oliver says:

    My question is why change back to Debian? Ok Kubuntu is not as smooth as Ubuntu but is Debian really better for Desktop usage? Where lie the advantages?

  14. mark says:

    never tried using any release of debian, but this a great read with good info. only recently did i get ubuntu 8.04 to my liking after using various other distros ( mint, pc linux, sabayon ) and i am not too anxious to make any new changes.

  15. davemc says:

    Too much FUD about the term “Freedom” as thrown about here. The term used in an RMS sense should not be confused with the term as used in politics. Software Freedom, as in the RMS sense of the word, means that the code must be free to be copied, modified, and redistributed, and not legally hindered in any way. It does NOT mean that one cannot profit from it, and nor does it mean, in ANY sense, that one cannot use non-free software with it (codecs, drivers, etc.), as the code itself remains untainted as a seperate entity from the non-free bits. Non-free code = BAD because the code is closed, and thus, beyond public scrutiny. That of course means that bugs are fixed much slower (if even at all), innovation is severely hindered/slowed, and unknowable, yet severe exploits are possible when this code is mixed into a free software environment, such as the case with non-free drivers (binary blobs). Kernel Devs use the term “kernel tainting” when speaking about loading Nvidia kernel modules, for example, because when you do that, you nest a giant question mark deep into your OS which could arguably become a time bomb – who’s to know – because legally no one (except Nvidia) knows what resides within that code, or what it is doing to your system. These are really the most valid reasons for why non-free software is so BAD, but dont confuse the meanings of the terms. Freedom as in the political sense = damn good!! Freedom as in the RMS sense is damn good too, but we live in a not so perfect world where sometimes intelligent compromises must be made.

  16. kris says:

    Iceweasel is not a “mistake”, it is the result of the rational application of the Debian Free Software Guidelines to Firefox. Debian is an important part of the free software movement and is intended to provide a complete system based on free software. The model that Debian is built on has resulted in an incredible technical accomplishment that would cost billions if done in a proprietary manner; are you seriously suggesting that debian should abandon the DFSG and it’s entire technical and social ethos merely to accomodate a popular web browser?

  17. xian says:

    On debian, the flash install can be even easier. It can be installed easily from base debian with flashplugin-nonfree. Handy because it updates with debian releases.

    Reply from DeviceGuru:

    Sorry, I don’t see that in the testing repository. However, the plugin is available via debian-multimedia.org (see comment above), so I changed the procedure in the article to do it that way. There does seem to be something called “flashplugin-nonfree-extrasound” but it sounds kind of funky from its description. Anyhow, thanks for the suggestion!

  18. Kevin Dean says:

    Am I the only one who thinks that this user’s priorities are horribly askew if he installs Debian (one of the most heavily free software based distros in existance) then takes so much time and effort turning it into a Windows clone? Seriously?

  19. Aniruddha says:

    I think the reviewer is right about mozilla. Instead of using the leverage of mozilla’s well knows brand name Dbeian’s opt for forking Mozilla products. I find this weird when even Debian uses a restricted logo:

    Although Debian can be obtained for free and will always remain that way, events such as the problem with the ownership of the term “Linux” have shown that Debian needs to protect its property from any use which could hurt its reputation.

    Debian has decided to create two logos: one logo is for official Debian use; the other logo falls under an open use type license.

    Debian Official Use Logo License

    Copyright (c) 1999 Software in the Public Interest

    1. This logo may only be used if:
    * the product it is used for is made using a documented procedure as published on http://www.debian.org (for example official CD-creation), or
    * official approval is given by Debian for its use in this purpose
    2. May be used if an official part of debian (decided using the rules in I) is part of the complete product, if it is made clear that only this part is officially approved
    3. We reserve the right to revoke a license for a product

    Permission has been given to use the official logo on clothing (shirts, hats, etc) as long as they are made by a Debian developer and not sold for profit.

    All in all I find the latest Debian a great distribution, Unfortunately the lack of so many important software packages (which are readily available in Gentoo’s portage and freebsd ports). Doesn’t make it a viable solution for everyday use.

  20. miksuh says:

    “Next, add the key required for accessing the Debian multimedia repository by performing the following command line steps:

    * wget http://debian-multimedia.org/gpgkey.pub -O – | apt-key add – ”

    You don’t need to do that. Just do this after you have changed the sources.list:

    # aptitude update
    # aptitude install debian-multimedia-keyring

  21. miksuh says:

    “Start by downloading the Real Player installation file from Real’s website.”

    No, there is no point of doing that becaise realplayer is in debian-multimedia.org. Just do this

    # apt-get install realplayer

    You also don’t need to download flash-plugin from adobes page, because flash is also in the install this from debian-multimedia.org

    # apt-get install flashplayer-mozilla

    or this from debian’s non-free repository

    # apt-get install flashplugin-non-free

    I doubt you need to install any external drivers for your hp-printer, just make sure you have installed hplip from debian repo.

    Reply from DeviceGuru:

    Thanks for the info. I just tried “apt-get install realplayer” and noticed that it brings down Real Player version 10.0, whereas the one available from the link provided in the article (direct from Real.com), is 11.0. I’ll stick with getting it direct from Real.

  22. miksuh says:

    “I do absolutely agree that Debian needs to ditch the whole “Ice” prefixed mozilla stuff. They are not kept up to date with the real thing.”

    Iceweasel is nothing but renamed Firefox, Icedowe is just renmed Thunderbird. there is now Iceweasel 3 in Lenny which is same as firefox 3.

  23. miksuh says:

    “Sorry, I don’t see that in the testing repository. However, the plugin is available via debian-multimedia.org ”

    Looks like it is temporarily removed from lenny because it has RC-bugs. Anyway i’m sure it will be back soon.

  24. Wolfen69 says:

    @Kevin Dean:

    you really should take off your tin foil hat and get out of your parents basement once in a while. you think Device Guru is “askew” for making his computer the way he wants it? is it OK for someone to want different things than you? you really need to get a life and stop caring what people do to their computers.

  25. elashish says:

    Why in god’s name do you put Word, Excel, Powerpoint, WMP, IE, Adobe Reader, iTunes, Skype, Opera, Gaim (it was still Gaim in Etch, but I’m praying that they’ve caught up to Pidgin by now)? Is it cause you can’t find any alternatives or something?

  26. Cevo says:

    ‘Why in god’s name do you put Word, Excel, Powerpoint, WMP, IE, Adobe Reader, iTunes, Skype, Opera, Gaim (it was still Gaim in Etch, but I’m praying that they’ve caught up to Pidgin by now)? Is it cause you can’t find any alternatives or something?’

    Helloooooo… GNU Nazis.. Lemme tell you why people may choose to install these apps.

    If you, like me, use Linux in a corporate environment (that’s right: I use Linux in the office, and I am the only one. Talk about promotion, huh?), you may need to open MS Office files that cannot be handled properly by Openoffice (sad but true). Same goes for PDF. I try to use KPDF, but sometimes Adobe just renders better.

    IE: maybe someone designs web sites, and wants to check them out in IE. Or maybe their Intranet has IE specific features.

    Skype: need I explain?? Some business contacts use Skype. So what do you do?

    In short: I have the option to either use closed apps on my Linux laptop, or I move to Windows altogether? What would you do, smartass?

  27. Spanky says:

    LOL, That last post was amusing true, if not a bit angry. Hey, anger has is apropraite purposes. It’s what you do about is that matters; faithful vs. fearful.

    Let us not forget that theses issues are indeed disappearing (literally ever day) as more people discover freedom, security, flexibility and yes, now better user ease, for the newbie and guru alike. Who doesn’t benefit from time saved?

    Just please remember, MOST folks have trouble using a MOUSE. This all about a point of view. The developers know that a bundle built on a shaky foundation will fall. We have an excellent and ever improving foundation folks! This is what the OLD “Linux is hard” stuff was all about. Now, overall (still faster improving than any close software could) we actually have an OVERALL better total bundle/distribution of software packages (See Kubuntu current for example) than Windows or OS-X.

    The problem is perspective. It’s a point of view. MOST peoples perspective is based on TV commercials and differs hugely from the technically well experienced. We can see the dirty tricks that are actually and in fact, going on in the technical minutia. MOST people, the average person, can not.

    People do NOT like change. We have (us) a real battle going on and it’s in the mind of the general and NONTECHNICAL populace. It’s not religion. It’s current reality. The real world propaganda war is a fact. Here and in the minds of MOST people. People who are (again) mostly (approximately 75%) nontechnical and nor are they supposed to be. The thing is, once one gets into actually living with open software for a while, one tends to lose the gravity of most peoples, complete computer illiteracy. This is why I am over emphasizing it.

    If you for get anything I’m writing here, please remember this. People expect absolute perfection from open software, as it challenges the status quo. Mainly, people (in general) want absolute zero effort or risk. While that perfection may not be possible. Nothing less is our goal. That is the deal folks. Take it or leave it. Nothing but excellence will do. Education is what’s needed and nothing will educate people better than actually using (for months) something easier, like Kubuntu (or the latest best bundle for a given hardware set.) I name Kubuntu, solely for simplification purposes.

    Now is the time for all good computer people to come to the aide of their fellow man. What’s at stake is our (everyone’s) information freedom, unfettered free market competition, our savings from hardware “economies of scale”; that keep hardware prices low, zero software cost and real information standards, unlike we have never enjoyed before.

    Ironically, the general population (most; please notice) is under the current reality distortion marketing push, which infers Windows is the standard; because of it’s past install base. What we have here, is the tired old idea that is inferring things will not change, because things haven’t changed. That’s not even logical. At one point is history Windows was new and not dominate. Windows today (and OS-X) is diminishing at an astounding rate. Today, open software installs, many that are not even counted (it’s free to try) are multiplying at an astounding rate. Windows has (ironically) become the anti-standard, in their sad bid to control the “market” and lock you in. Whole nations have taken to the tax saving and better experience that only comes from open software. It should make you wonder how much of YOUR tax money is WASTED on Windows “license fees”! I hope you fully realize that ALL of that tax money (100%) goes to zero, when governments, schools and such simply utilize BETTER open software solutions. What are we thinking?

    The things is, people have to use open software a while before they will see. This is the current problem. The live CD was a great leap but we need more. To back this up we (of course) need to leave NO Win or OS-X benefit behind and then provide even more and greater benefits that are exclusive to open software. In effect, we have to shock people. We have to “market” this free gift (paid for by the hard work of developers) in a manner that spreads quickly to the nontechnical populace and then, we will see people stating they don’t want Windows because is can’t do what they need. We will see hardware developers not even bothering to make their product “Windows compatible” and this will even lower costs (to you) and increase OEM profits because the driver work will be largely done for them! All this is already started, well on it’s way today and inevitable, if you take part.

    The only question now, is how fast will this happen? Well, that is solely up to you. What I do is present open software as the (far) “lesser of evils”. I explain, people want many, MANY things (in reality) from a desktop and that level of complexity is high and getting higher. What we need is a better way to manage this dynamic change. Clearly, open software (namely Kubuntu to simply for most boxes) manages all this absolutely better. While we may know a single OS system is easier to deal with, for newbies I wholly recommend a “dual boot” system. In this way a newbie has zero risk; in that they do not erase their Windows. What actually happens is both systems annoy users and they bounce back and forth over time. In the end, they realize that Kubuntu is better, IF they continue to give it a chance. They see this on their, same set of hardware devices(some poorly supported devices may need to be SIMPLY replaced for maximum time and money savings). Therefore, one can see for themselves and stop letting other people make their decisions for them. I’m will to let open software sink or swim on it’s own merit. Are you?

    Don’t overwhelm people with all this. Just take it one step at a time. Be patient (and concise) when the many myths and misdirections (FUD) raise their ugly head (personally I abhor misinformation). The better job you do, the faster we will all get the benefits. Run the race to win!

  28. Mike says:

    if you want a fast Debian install try Sidux ,4 min install on my core 2 lapy,Full featured kde desktop and excellent irc support forum,enough said :) .

  29. uri says:

    This review is very misleading. Not only “Word, Excel, Powerpoint, WMP, IE, Adobe Reader, iTunes, Skype, Opera, Gaim ” ?!?!?! are not needed, the existing software shipping with the Debian, or any Linux, is superior, well integrated with the desktop, and free. It’s easier to install, and remove, and you are guaranteed to receive security updates.
    As for “Standard Firefox and Thunderbird”, you are even further from the truth. It’s a trademark issue, nothing else. It’s the same software.

  30. kristizz says:

    Couple of points in relation to above which should be obvious to anyone with the analytical abiilities of a normally developed 6 year old.

    Lets say you have an nvidia gpu and you need 3d acceleration-the only option is to install the binary driver. In this case the end user is not exercising choice, as there is only one option available to fully run the hardware; choice implies having more than one option.

    Of course, with a binary driver that machine is now running a tainted kernel-so you have a security issue on your machine. Why would anyone who was genuinely exercising free choice elect to render their machine insecure?

    It may be the nvidia driver does’t cause any vulnerablity on your machine, it may be that it does-the thing is that nvidia think that that entire issue is none of your business. I disagree with them; I think that you have a right and a duty to be interested in whether your server/desktop is secure. A right because it is your machine, a duty because your insecure machine poses a threat to mine if it is connected to the web; why should my email server be constantly spammed because you don’t take the security of your machine seriously?

    I won’t comment on the comparision of gnu advocates to ultra right wing racist mass murderers, save to say that it typifies the profoundly unanalytical approach of those who advocate non-free software usage.

  31. John says:

    I have tried Sidux and for me it will not install. Debian beta 2 does install on my machine so I use this. If Sidux ever does fix it so that I can install on my PC then I will give it a try.

  32. jag1506 says:

    Guys guys this is a really useful guide for newbies and is actually a good work, instead of criticism you should show newbies how to do things without fighting the blogger as this is not a good example of collaboration, how do you think win users will want to test linux if we always try to fight how knows more, I think is a good guide and the blogger should make a new version with all the advise from other experienced linux users who told him some things he should or shouldn’t do and in this way do a finest work for our newcomers to the linux world. another thing you should take in mind when re-writing the blog or the guide is that atheros chipset is supported by default in lenny and madwifi is not needed, my ath chipset was detected without problems in the instalation without any tweak or fix.

    regards and keep doing so good guides.

  33. Andr[e says:

    Without pppoeconf is not possible to connect to internet.

    Linux without internet is almost impossible for newcomers.

    Debian provides a way to connect or it is only for experts?


  34. jag1506 says:

    the best and easy to configure linux distro I’ve ever seen is debian, the answer could be yes is for experts if you never ever had the chance to play with linux before as the configuration although is easy the first time you see it will be confused as it is not graphical but with the newer releases you can start the graphical installation so there is no problem anymore and lets say that everyone can install it without problems.

  35. NSK says:

    Nice review, thanks for it. I run Lenny with a few hacks on the desktop and etch (again with a few hacks) on the server, and both work great. Debian is the best distro out there :)

  36. neighborlee says:

    Xiando says its Fascism to use anything but IceWeasel, , and that if anyone would use Skype or flash, that those people aren’t somehow ‘worthy’ of his time ; talk about Fascism, you are not one to talk Im afraid . Practice what you preach.

    It is true we need to worry about our freedoms , or lose them which is why I support debian and not ubuntu due to the mono issue because I too value my freedoms, and realize if I am not willing to stick up for them then I may indeed lose them and anyone else that relies on them.

    good day.

  37. CJ says:

    As has been stated by others, Linux is all about the freedom to do with your system what you want to do. How the reviewer went about getting his system to work the way he wants it to work is his prerogative. How I go about setting up my system is mine and how you go about setting up yours is your prerogative. For some people nothing but free software will do and for others adding proprietary software helps them get the functionality they want. In the end isn’t the goal to have a computer that meets your particular needs? This silly bickering back and forth is pointless and a total distraction from the review.

  38. Darkman says:

    Damn fine HOWTO! (Some of the commentors need to get a life.)

  39. Randy says:

    Nice write-up, thanks. Another option is to use the netinstall iso image and install only the base system. Then from there you can add whatever you want. I use this method to build a minimal KDE because there’s a ton of apps in the full kde installation that I don’t use. So I install the base system, then install xorg, kde-core, and whatever apps I want. Here’s my apps list for anyone interested:

    xorg kde-core desktop-base synaptic openssh-server sudo msttcorefonts konq-plugins kdeaddons-kfile-plugins kicker-applets alsa-base alsa-tools alsa-utils alsa-oss iceweasel icedove openoffice.org openoffice.org-kde kuickshow ksnapshot kamera kdeartwork kdemultimedia-kio-plugins kaffeine kpdf kget ktorrent2.2 rtorrent wget curl rsync k3b libk3b3-extracodecs htop rxvt-unicode kgpg kdf ark kwalletmanager kcalc kchmviewer krename keepassx kuser cfv par2 kpar2 dvd+rw-tools sshfs build-essential mozplugger menu xfonts-terminus ttf-inconsolata x-ttcidfont-conf rss-glx kscreensaver kscreensaver-xsavers xscreensaver xscreensaver-gl xscreensaver-gl-extra xscreensaver-data-extra kmix gtk-qt-engine unrar rar unzip kwin-style-crystal kde-icons-crystalproject vlc mplayer libxine1-ffmpeg libxine1-misc-plugins screen kget knemo kde-guidance sysv-rc-conf

    Here’s some themes/icons/cursors/etc:

    themes (window decorations?):
    kwin-style-crystal kwin-style-powder kwin-style-blended kwin-style-serenity

    kde-style-comix kde-style-polyester kde-style-klearlook kde-style-lipstik kde-style-serenity kwin-baghira kde-style-qtcurve kde-style-domino

    kde-icons-crystal kde-icons-gorilla kde-icons-mono kde-icons-nuovext kde-icons-crystalclear kde-icons-crystalproject kde-icons-korilla kde-icons-noia kde-icons-nuvola

    crystalcursors chameleon-cursor-theme comixcursors industrial-cursor-theme oxygencursors

    Here’s the apps on my “optional app” list:

    ksim knetworkconf kio-apt kio-locate kdegraphics-kfile-plugins kdeaddons-kfile-plugins kdeadmin-kfile-plugins kdemultimedia-kfile-plugins kdenetwork-kfile-plugins filelight fusesmb audacious kde-kdm-themes (will also install kdm) kdmtheme (will also install kdm) kde-guidance-powermanager neverball kpat frozen-bubble fusesmb (or smbnetfs – also uses fuse and is more recently updated) smbfs p7zip-full p7zip

    There are a couple packages that I want that are not available for lenny: xmms and easytag
    For easytag, the etch version installs and runs OK
    For xmms, I found a deb package on the net that seems to work fine, or I can build it from source.
    Other than these 2 apps, everything I wanted was available either from debian or from debian-multimedia repos.

    You can look up package descriptions here: http://www.debian.org/distrib/packages
    Here’s where to get the lenny netinstall images: http://www.debian.org/devel/debian-installer/

    A previous commentor asked why use lenny instead of kubuntu. My reason is that the latest kubuntu comes with kde 4 and I don’t want to run that yet. With debian I can run my trusty kde 3.5. I’ve found that the lenny installation I outlined above runs much faster than my previous kubuntu 8.04 installation.

  40. Randy says:

    I have some more info for anyone wanting xmms in lenny. I did this last night and it worked well.

    Grab xmms deb file from http://www.pvv.ntnu.no/~knuta/xmms/lenny (xmms_1.2.11-1_i386.deb)
    Install dependencies: aptitude install libglib1.2ldbl libgtk1.2 libmikmod2
    Install deb package: dpkg -i xmms_1.2.11-1_i386.deb
    this did not put an xmms entry in any menu, so you’ll have to do that manually

    Note that the above website also has directions for putting his private repo in your sources.list file. If you did that, the package manager should automagically take care of the dependencies. I did not bother with that since this repo would only be used once – http://www.pvv.ntnu.no/~knuta/xmms/

    The other option is to install from source, if you’d rather not use someone else’s package:

    I did not install from source, but it looks like a standard ./configure, make, make install

    On my system, xmms defaulted to OSS for the output plugin. No sound was output on that setting. I changed it to Alsa and then I had sound output:
    right click anywhere in xmms > Options > Preferences > Output Plugin dropbox

    Next up is installing easytag. I’ll post back when that is done.


  41. Randy says:

    Lenny Easytag installation.

    Easytag is not in the lenny repos.
    The latest easytag from their sourceforge page is 2.1.6.
    I downloaded the tarball and tried to compile it. The compile fails with an error:
    GLIB >= 2.8.0 not installed

    It looks like lenny comes with v2.7 and therefore the compile fails. I don’t want to mess around with upgrading glib, so I’m going to install the easytag from sid, v2.1.4:


    First install dependencies. These were the only ones I needed to install. If you need anything else, the output from the dpkg -i command will say what is needed.
    #aptitude install libid3-3.8.3c2a libid3tag0

    Install deb package:
    # dpkg -i easytag_2.1.4-1.1_i386.deb

    This installed easytag with no errors ans it loads and runs perfectly.

  42. Robert says:


    xmms is no more in Lenny but it is replaced by xmms2 according to


  43. Randy says:

    Thanks Robert. I have heard of xmms2 before, but I have not tried it. It’s a completely different app than xmms is. It looks to be a command line player. I like the command line and all, but not for a music player. Their website says:

    List of features currently offered by XMMS2:

    Client-server model

    * Allows XMMS2 to have various multiple interfaces (as clients).
    o Command line interfaces
    o GTK clients (matching GNOME & Xfce4 look and feel)
    o KDE clients (matching KDE look and feel)

    But I could find no such interfaces on their site. Confusing…

  44. goran says:

    you really make me happy and easy my life with this tutorial, and i’m very happy with my debian-lenny.

  45. Anonymous says:

    “Lenny (aka “testing”) appears poised to displace Etch as the popular Linux distribution’s “stable” branch next month.” In August 2008. Funny. :)