This page is permanently under construction.

This page is intended primarily to be a one stop reference before/ after a fresh installation of Linux. Similar to Quick-Ref, it is more of a web-log than a post. Almost all material is collected from various sources in public domain, and each one is tested on my PC. In fact the criteria for an entry here is if there had been some experience (good/ bad) with it. Having a one-stop reference would hopefully save time as much possible and help to get started with real work on the OS, like photography and programming in my case.

OS (based on stability, desktop):
Gnome – Debian

Dual boot install order (considering ease of partition and bootloader install priority)
1. Windows+Debian: Windows, Debian (because Windows overwrites any other bootloader)
2. Debian+SUSE (with partition edits): SUSE, Debian (beause SUSE has a friendlier partition manager)
3. Debian+SUSE (existing partitions): Debian, SUSE (because SUSE makes it easy to add manual entry of Debian in /boot/grub/menu.lst)

Real work must be saved in other partitions than where OS is installed. This is the easiest way to ensure the work is always safe at the event of an unplanned OS installation. As obvious, DO NOT touch these partitions at any instant during OS installation. See SUSE section for a typical layout of a HDD having dual-boot OS.

debian logo


Version deployed: Debian 6.0.2 Live Gnome (image location)
Full path of iso image:

For a fresh Debian installation, it is more efficient to update using synaptic (default). Run “Check for Updates” in System > Administration > Synaptic Package Manager. Once done, disable auto updates in synaptic. For a machine which has been around for a while, this can always be enabled if necessary. The main reason to disable auto updates is to prevent GRUB failures. Although Debian is much stable, experiences in Ubuntu on this can make one over-cautious.

Alternate option of system update
Debian stable is, as expected, pretty stable. Therefore except for security updates which Debian gives maximum priority to roll out, there is no major reason to update every now and then, unless there is a specific requirement to be in sync with the latest packages in Debian repository. If there is any package mentioned in the above link to have a security flaw and installed in the system, it should be upgraded at once. Most packages are clean as of Debian 6.0 versions.

Sample /etc/apt/sources.list
The main reason why Debian stands out from other distributions apart from stability, is its package manager.

# Debian Install CD/DVD
deb cdrom:[Debian GNU/Linux 6.0.0 _Squeeze_ - Official Snapshot i386 LIVE/INSTALL Binary 20110827-21:12]/ squeeze main

# deb squeeze main non-free
deb squeeze main non-free
deb-src squeeze main non-free

# deb security
deb squeeze/updates contrib non-free main
deb-src squeeze/updates contrib non-free main

# squeeze-updates, previously known as 'volatile'
deb squeeze-updates main
deb-src squeeze-updates main

The UIUC repository is just one of several mirrors found in any package info page, like Sun Java6 JDK. Any mirror can be used instead of it. Note the “non-free” and “contrib non-free” repositories in deb squeeze and deb security. These are required for some proprietary software like Sun Java6 JDK in example, and latest security updates.

Information on important Security updates can be known as soon as they come, by subscribing to the Debian Security Mailing List available at the Debian Security Page.

After any change is made to this file, run as root:

Debian-root#> apt-get update

Install KDE packages
Certain KDE applications simply don’t have a Gnome alternative of the same class, for example say digikam. However, KDE applications can easily be installed using apt-get. Further, installing one KDE application for the first time will bring along with it all common KDE libraries, so installing subsequent KDE packages would be just that package with its specific dependencies. Start with digikam:

Debian-root#> apt-get install digikam

Default Terminal Size
Add the parameter --geometry=160×40 at the end of launcher for gnome-terminal to open it always with size 160×40.

The touchpad on Debian systems may not click on tapping by default. Enable it from System > Preferences > Mouse > Touchpad. See the Debian Touchpad Wiki if it still doesn’t work.

Activate Network Manager Icon
The Network Icon in Debian remains disabled out of the box because the application it represents, Network Manager, does not manage the network connections defined in /etc/network/interfaces w.e.f Debian Squeeze (v6) even though the network connectivity is proper. To resolve this ambiguity, change the value of “managed” to true in the file /etc/NetworkManager/NetworkManager.conf:


Now restart Network Manager:

Debian-root#>/etc/init.d/network-manager restart

hugin (steps)
firefox (Debian usually comes with an older version rebranded as IceWeasel (Ice:Fire, Weasel:Fox, neat!); download and extract the latest firefox archive in a folder (say /home/apps/firefox) and create launcher to firefox-bin. This creates a portable edition of the browser without affecting the default OS version which can be updated when available. The /home/apps/ can be used for similar portables.
adobe-flash (ToDo)

apt-get install:
gxine xine-ui libxine1-gnome (xine multimedia player)
mplayer smplayer (Download mplayer codecs and extract contents to /usr/local/lib/codecs/ as root)
ufraw gimp-ufraw

Firefox Addons:
Ad Block Plus
NASA Night Launch

openSUSE logo


Bootloader – Dual booting with Debian

Sample first hard disk (hd0 or sda) partitions:

/dev/sda1 / (Debian root, existing)
/dev/sda2-7 NTFS (sda2 may contain Windows, or sda1:=Windows, sda2:=Debian)
/dev/sda8 swap (common for Debian and SUSE)
/dev/sda9 / (SUSE root, new install)
/dev/sda10 /usr (SUSE usr)

Because real work must be put in partitions not touched by OS installs (in this example sda2-7 or sda3-7 depending on presence of Windows) and not at /home, it makes more sense to create a separate partition for /usr than for /home in SUSE in the event of limited partition space. Most space required in a typical / partition of linux is in /usr.

Sample /boot/grub/menu.lst

# Modified by YaST2. Last modification on Thu Oct 13 23:38:23 IST 2011
# Configure custom boot parameters for updated kernels in /etc/sysconfig/bootloader

default 0
timeout 8
##YaST - generic_mbr
gfxmenu (hd0,9)/boot/message
##YaST - activate

###Don't change this comment - YaST2 identifier: Original name: linux###
title Desktop -- openSUSE 11.4 -
    root (hd0,9)
    kernel /boot/vmlinuz- root=/dev/disk/by-id/ata-Hitachi_HT...GF-part10 resume=/dev/disk/by-id/ata-Hitachi_HT...GF-part8 splash=silent quiet showopts vga=0x317
    initrd /boot/initrd-

###Don't change this comment - YaST2 identifier: Original name: failsafe###
title Failsafe -- openSUSE 11.4 -
    root (hd0,9)
    kernel /boot/vmlinuz- root=/dev/disk/by-id/ata-Hitachi_HT...GF-part10 showopts apm=off noresume nosmp maxcpus=0 edd=off powersaved=off nohz=off highres=off processor.max_cstate=1 nomodeset x11failsafe vga=0x317
    initrd /boot/initrd-

###Don't change this comment - YaST2 identifier: Original name: debian###
title Debian 6.0
    root (hd0,0)
    kernel /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.32-5-686 root=/dev/disk/by-id/ata-Hitachi_HT...GF-part1 ro quiet splash
    initrd /boot/initrd.img-2.6.32-5-686

###Don't change this comment - YaST2 identifier: Original name: Vendor diagnostic###
title Vendor diagnostic
    rootnoverify (hd0,3)
    chainloader +1

###Don't change this comment - YaST2 identifier: Original name: hard_disk###
title Hard Disk
    rootnoverify (hd0)
    chainloader +1

Note the Debian section. It was added manually after installing SUSE. The SUSE bootloader as expected over-wrote the Debian version in MBR. Check versions of vmlinuz and initrd before adding them exactly. Also, there is nothing to worry if entries are in the form of “../disk/by-id/..”. They can be /dev/sda10, /dev/sda1 etc. Just make it consistent for Debian entry.

(Vendor Diagnostic entry is for the laptop rescue disk, hard-disk entry is for free DOS that shipped with it). There is no Windows in this PC; just dual boot Linux.

Adding fstab write entry for NTFS:
By default, NTFS drives are mounted as read-only in SUSE under /windows folder. To make a drive writable, open /etc/fstab as root and find the line corresponding to the drive (say D):

/dev/disk/by-id/ata-Hitachi_HT...GF-part3 /windows/D           ntfs-3g    users,gid=users,fmask=133,dmask=022,locale=en_US.UTF-8 0 0

Instead of “../disk/by-id/..”, the drive entry may be in the form of say “/dev/sda3”. It is not of concern; just keep as is. Change this line as

/dev/disk/by-id/ata-Hitachi_HT...GF-part3 /windows/D           ntfs-3g    uid=1000,gid=100,umask=0022 0 0


Disable Screen Auto-switch-off
OpenSUSE 11.4 is sometimes unable to restore full brightness of the screen when resumed from suspended state. To do away with this issue, enable a screensaver, and disable the “Dim Display” and “Screen Energy Saving” in Configure Desktop > Power Management > Power Profiles (do for all profiles).

SUSE Repositories

Sample Repository List:


The “Priority” is a preference number in decreasing order, taking range of values 0-99 where 0 is highest priority and 99 lowest.

Here is a pointer to some essential repositories for openSUSE 11.4.

Packages for SUSE system