[conspire] comments on LMDE

Paul Zander paulz at ieee.org
Fri Sep 9 23:24:41 PDT 2011

Executive summary: I had thought that downloading the ISO file and installing LMDE from it would be a simple / efficient way to install Linux. Instead is that I encountered a series of obstacles.  While there probably were solutions to each one, I wound up spent a lot of time and mental effort and not getting anything useful. 

A net install of Debian took about as much time as installing LMDE from the DVD. For my purposes, it was good to go after just the basic install.  Yes, I might someday revisit Gnome vs. the other choices or maybe just tweak Gnome configuration.  

I think this is consistent with Rick's opinion.

Specific details below:

--- On Thu, 9/8/11, Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com> wrote:

> From: Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com>
> Subject: Re: [conspire] comments on LMDE
> To: conspire at linuxmafia.com
> Date: Thursday, September 8, 2011, 11:01 PM
> Quoting Paul Zander (paulz at ieee.org):
> > LMDE seemed like a good solution.
> When you say 'LMDE', you're referring at this point to
> either of two
> different default desktops, either GNOME or Xfce4 (in
> either case for
> either IA32 or x86_64 CPU archs).

Sorry I was not specific.  The file used was linuxmint-debian-201101-gnome-dvd-i386.iso.  When I downloaded it a couple months ago, gnome was the only option for the "Debian" variety.  Gnome was the only option that was said to be compatible with Debian updates.  XFCE / Debian was added later.

> Personally, when I install Debian via any means -- or for
> that matter
> just about any *ix -- I don't usually let the default
> 'desktop
> environment' (if there is one) stick around for long,
> because I usually
> prefer just plain Window Maker with no DE.  I happen
> to have a Debian
> virthost with Xfce4, again, but that's an exception. 
> Anyway, the
> foregoing's relevant to your 'slab' comment, I believe:
> > 0) The “slab”.  Actually someone else pointed
> this out
> > before I started.  I could have tolerated the slab if
> it was the
> > only problem.
> After a little Web-searching, I think I've identified what
> you're
> talking about.  Linux Mint Debian Edition's _GNOME_
> variant defaults to
> a particular style of GNOME menus called 'slab-style',
> which is said to
> be similar to that of MS-Windows.  Apparently, this is
> a huge point of
> contention among bloggers and whatnot who editorialise
> about 'desktop
> environments'.  

This was also discussed by Bruce on the conspire in February.


> Anyhow, the way the GNOME DE works is amenable to
> configuration and
> change.  I consider the process a bit annoying, but

Yes. If this was the only issue, I would have lived with it until I decided to fix it.

> (And I'll also mention, again, the LMDE variant that gives
> you Xfce4 by
> default instead of their GNOME thing.)

> > 2) /home.  The install phase for mounting partitions
> gave two
> > choices: “mount as /” and “mount as
> /home  I
> > wanted to use a different partition for /home, but
> then I couldn't get
> > things to work. 
> Not sure what 'couldn't get things to work' means,
> specifically.  

After the installation with /home on a separate partion, when I logged in I get series of pop-up windows with error messages.  The slab did not appear making it "difficult" to evan open a terminal window.

I did determine that:
* install from DVD that without separate /home partition would allow me to login without the error popups.

* copying the contents of /home to another partition and editing fstab to change the mount points and re-booting got me back to set of errors. I tried several variations, such as booting from live DVD to be able to rename the original home directory.  I was operating under the illusion of ,"if I just find a fix to this problem, things will be good".

> > 3) Updates.  Synaptic appeared to be friendly...
> Meh.  ;->

Well the GUI offered a list of packages it could install.  The choices could be divided down by categories. So "looked like" it was useful to learn the names of packages I would like to consider.

> > ...but when trying to install various packages, it hit
> multiple
> > obstacles for unresolved dependencies.
> Nothing quite like apt-get for mostly intelligent
> dependency handling.
> > Using apt-get directly didn't work, but at least gave
> > error messages. I did a series of experiments with
> variations of
> > `apt-get update` and 'apt-get dist-upgrade` to no
> avail.
> Again, I have no idea what 'didn't work' means.

Depending on which package I was trying to install, apt-get listed files it could not find.

The linux mint forum had many postings of problems that suggested commands like `sudo apt-get update` would fix the problem.  I tried several different things, but did not find the magic bullet.  At least one time, Firefox got corrupted and would not run and I had to start over the the DVD.  Again, I was under the mistaken illusion that I could find a quick fix.

> Before any Debian-ish package tools on the level of apt-get
> or
> superstructures such as Synaptic can function,
> /etc/apt/sources.list
> (or /etc/apt/sources.list.d/*) needs to have useful
> contents.  That
> should get populated during installation.

forums.linuxmint.com has numerous threads from others with install problems.  Some suggested edting sources.list

The LMDE install created this sources.list:

deb http://packages.linuxmint.com/ debian main upstream import
deb http://ftp.debian.org/debian testing main contrib non-free
deb http://security.debian.org/ testing/updates main contrip non-free
deb http://www.debian-multimedia.org testing main non-free
The same file after the debian install was:

deb http://ftp.us.debian.org/debian/ squeeze main
deb-src http://ftp.us.debian.org/debian/ squeeze main

deb http://security.debian.org/ squeeze/updates main
deb-src http://security.debian.org/ squeeze/updates main

# squeeze-updates, previously known as 'volatile'
deb http://ftp.us.debian.org/debian/ squeeze-updates main
deb-src http://ftp.us.debian.org/debian/ squeeze-updates main


> > Finally I gave up.  I downloaded and burnt a CD for
> Debian
> > net-install.
> Official Debian's netinst disc images are very useful and
> reliable.  I
> nonetheless usually burn CD1 or DVD1 instead, on the theory
> that I'm
> going to end up shlepping around a disc in any event, and
> it's more
> likely to be immediately useful if it provides as many
> local package
> options as will fit on the disc.

Currently home page of www.debian.org has "Download Debian 6.0" in the upper right corner.  The resulting file was ~400M and included 32 and 64 bit installs in both terminal and GUI versions.  With hindsight, I should have looked around and found the other options, including the 180MB net-install for only 32 bit.

There is an interesting trade-off between the time of downloading and burning a large ISO file that includes many packages I might want along with some I won't want versus downloading just the installer.  With hind-sight, I had to wait for the download of netinstall flavors I didn't need at this time.

> > Next, I referred to the list of packages I wanted to
> install.  All
> > of them were already installed!  Obviously my
> thinking is more
> > closely aligned with the Debian people than the Mint
> people.
> Glad you liked it.  If you want the proprietary /
> patented codecs, AV
> stuff, and the like that Linux Mint throws into the default
> install,
> you'll be needing to take some extra steps to retrofit
> them, but, me,
> I'm always right at home on a Debian-ish system regardless
> of which
> installer was used to get it going.
> _______________________________________________
> conspire mailing list
> conspire at linuxmafia.com
> http://linuxmafia.com/mailman/listinfo/conspire

More information about the conspire mailing list