What you have to do to mail a letter these days.

Funny what passes through what I call my mind when I am reading a joke. I started to free-associate with changes and modern life and technology and I’m laughing at myself because while technology is easy for me, Printing is not.

I’ll be making up a nice new sign for the Jeep to tell people that there is nothing of value in the car and it’s not for sale, and to beg them to leave it alone.

In two languages! With Pictures! In glorious Grey Scale and Black And White!

But yes, I did end up with a Robin Williams Style Rant here. Hang on for a ride. There’s a Bounce-Bar by your knees if you need to hold on.

Anyway, I suspect that this joke way below is one of those “older” offices. Having a lot of paper around the place seems to be a bit anachronistic. While I personally “need” to be “able” to print, I think I am on the same ream of paper that we got for the house back in 2010 and I still have “Special Resume Grade Paper” from the 90s. You know, the good heavy weight stuff that isn’t pure white so it sticks out in a crowd.

Remember having to mail a resume?

Remember actually writing a Pen Pal?

I write maybe four actual letters per year. They get dropped into a box to go along with some “goodies” that I send off in a care package explaining what crap I have loaded into the thing.

In order to get ink to physical piece of paper, I had to have a printer.

Since “technology” happens, I had to have a server for that printer so I could print from any computer on my network.

Install an operating system, a version of Debian Linux, Of course.

Get it working to print something out. Share that printer across the network. Start up Libre Office because I refuse to run anything Microsoft if I can avoid both it and the spyware that they insist in putting in their software. Write the letter and save it.

 

All that? Took about a week of thrashing because there was some weird inconsistency between Raspbian on ARM and a pure Debian on X86 that I am used to…

So now to print, turn on the RaspberryPi, wait for it to boot in about 2 minutes, then turn on the printer. Rush back to the laptop and tell it to print to the printer “Tucked in a corner of Bill’s Desk Somewhere”.

Yes, I called it that.

I had to get a physical piece of paper to my financial advisor a while back and I ended up having them send me the form to sign so that I could physically carry the thing to the Post Office that is two miles away.

Get into the Jeep, hope it starts because I simply don’t drive that often.

Look around as I drive the car like a puppy out the window. Oooh! look! Moving Things! Shiny Objects! Other People!

 

Drive out into traffic and get confused by which lane to choose when at that bizarre five way intersection that everyone knows here as Five Points.

 

I truly hate driving through Five Points. It’s generally done with a horn or an extended gesture that is caused by some damn tourist using the wrong lanes or forgetting to get the hell off the phone because the light changed.

 

Then I am invisible because nobody actually follows the Uniform Vehicle Code any more and am trying to jockey for the Curb Lane because I am only going a mile which involves two stop lights on Dixie Highway, crossing a major rail corridor, and who knows what other shiny objects might be hanging out at the next intersection.

I prefer to walk.

Stand in line and hand it to the people at the Oakland Park, FL Post Office. Truly nice people there. Sure, it looks like a throwback to the early 1970s and probably has not been painted since then, but I end up with a smile on my face, even if I do have to stand in line.

 

After it gets there, lather, rinse, repeat and go home. I’ll take the back roads, I’ll need a sedative if I have to go through Five Points twice in one day!

Beep Beep! I’m a Jeep!

Careful, Nervous Driver On Board!

 

As Carl Sagan said “To make a cake, you first have to invent the universe”.

 

Anyway, all of this rant was triggered by this joke I promised you below.

 

A young manager was finishing up late at work

When he was leaving there was only one other person in the office.

He noticed it was the owner of the company standing by a Shredder with a sheet of paper looking confused.
He approached him and asked if he was alright.

The owner said “my secretary has gone home and she always does these things for me”, and asked “do you know how to work this machine”.
The manager said “yes”, turned on the Shredder and stuck the sheet in and said “all done”.
The owner said “brilliant, now I need three more copies.”

 

 

Ok I guess you had to be there!

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Debian and Raspbian – Installing a CUPS Print Server and a Proprietary P1102W Print Driver on Linux

The problem was simple.  My printer.  HP LaserJet Professional P1102W.

The solution is a Raspberry Pi Model 3B and a fair amount of configuration.

Thanks, Craig for the (slice of) Pi.

This is how I got it to work on Debian Linux and on the RaspberryPi using Raspbian.  It is not an exhaustive step by step, but I did take notes while doing this because like anything, I will probably need to do this Yet Again.  If So, Maybe I will republish.  Stay Tuned.

The technology starts below at “The Setting” if you just want tech support.

The Back Story.

Printers are just an annoyance at best in the Small Home Office setting, and this one is no exception.   It is a stripped down laser printer.  It comes with Wifi, and USB interface.  It has a power button, a wifi button, and an X button that I am assuming that will cancel this particular print job.

Since Printer Drivers are usually large to massive beasts that sit inside your computer and eat CPU cycles while only delivering very infrequent work, I avoid installing them.

However, this printer needs proprietary drivers.  Linux had it in the installation software asking for the blasted things, and most Linux people hate proprietary drivers.

Myself included.

So if the printer does not need the driver to find your wifi, then don’t install the driver and see if it works without.

Mine did not.  It wouldn’t see my network with wifi and password which means it had to use USB.  I didn’t want USB plugged into my computer(s) all the time which means I would have to use a print server.  I didn’t want to sacrifice a laptop to that job, so mostly it sat.

If your network has a password to get onto it, you will definitely have problems unless you have ethernet on the printer unlike mine.

It was actually easier for me to send the print file on a PDF to a friend so he could print at work.

Thanks, Kevin.

The Law Of Unintended Consequences.

If you do one thing, you often have something happen that you did not expect or want.

In my case, it’s all positive, it’s good.

That little computer will become a file server with the addition of SAMBA and a line in the fstab file.  I’ve done that a couple times and since I made the decision to have a server in the house, the RaspberryPi will function as a “Departmental Server” with its four USB 2.0 Ports, three are available.

Documentation on that to come later when I get working on it all.  I’m happy to have printing working for now.

The Setting.

I was following the Debian Wiki Guide for SystemPrinting at https://wiki.debian.org/SystemPrinting

Setting up the Pi:

Pi has Raspbian installed via noobs, and is up to date.

Pi is booted to desktop and useable via VNC.

Terminal open as root on the Pi.

Printer is not connected to USB.

Printer is HPLaserJet P1102w.

So basically I have a teeny little $35 computer running something that I installed a derviative of Debian Linux called Raspbian.  I used the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s recommended installation of Raspbian using Noobs.

Yes, I followed their steps to install Raspbian.

Yes, Raspbian was “vanilla and up to date” by the end of this process.

The Pi saw my network, and I enabled bluetooth, printing, sharing of the desktop via VNC, and that is it.

I did all my prep work on the Pi using the tools linked in the start menu and confirmed with Raspberry Pi Config.

Mind you I would not want to use it as my main machine, but it works well as a print server and allows me to do basic things like surf a few tabs and have a concurrent running game of Freeciv going.

Massive world, playing as Incas, on Easy against 5 AIs if you want to know.

The steps to get the software on the Pi:

In terminal as Root:

     apt install task-print-server

Plug printer into USB and reboot.

On the Pi, surf http:\localhost:631 to see the CUPS home page

Clicked Adding Printer

It wanted logon credentials

used pi and default password – “raspberry

I later changed the default password to something less public and generic.

It immediately said that I was not authorized in the print queue, in CUPS.

I found this exchange on Debian’s Forums https://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=616718 that said that you have to add the user in Terminal as Root.

  • adduser root lpadmin
  • adduser pi lpadmin

Refreshed the page at http://localhost:631/admin

Got the Add Printer Dialog

tick box Local Printers,

HP Printer (HPLIP)     click Continue

I discovered that my Printer was not powered on.

The printer has a nasty habit of turning itself off every couple minutes to save power.

Turn printer back on.

Returned to the Administration tab.

Clicked Add Printer

Under Local Printers,

tick box that had my printer name listed as a USB printer

Clicked Continue

Filled in the optional information for name/description/location

Clicked Share This Printer

Clicked Continue

Waited for CUPS on http://LocalHost:631 for a bit

Verified the Printer Model Number and Ignored “requires proprietary plug in

(more on this later)

Clicked Add Printer

Set Printer Options

Verified Media Size, Printout Mode, Media Type and Source

Click Set Default Options

Got a message that it was set correctly.

Perform a few test jobs by printing out nonsense from a text editor.

Page refreshed to show the print queue for the Printer

Printer did not print with “Filter Failure” message, jobs sitting in Queue

  • Note, the proprietary plug referenced earlier is something that some printers need, that is handled after I got things configured.  I’m a bit out of order but I was successful.  If your printer does not require the proprietary plug in, you don’t have to worry about this.  This Filter Failure is how I knew it was time to get that Proprietary Plug In Installed.

To Install the Proprietary Plug In:

I ran in terminal – sudo hp-setup -i

For installing plug-in the prompts I answered were

  • 0 (zero) for USB printer
  • d for download – download had error “Unable to receive key from Keyserver”
  • y yes to install
  • Yes to accept the stupid meaningless EULA
  • Y to agree that “this PPD file appears to be the correct one”
  • Enter a location description “Tucked In A Corner Somewhere
  • Entered through “additional information for this printer
  • Y to print a test page

At this point I was finished as far as the Pi was concerned.  The Pi would work as a print server for my network.  All I had to do was to go onto the client machine and add a printer.


Adding a Printer on another computer on the network using Debian with XFCE4 looked similar to doing the same task on any other Operating System, if you have used a printer, you have done this before.  On “this” computer, it is in the Applications menu (start), Settings, Print Settings.  Sign on with your handy Root password, click Add, then find your printer.

If you get stuck, I suggest you drop me a line other than “Why are you so tall” or “Who cut your hair, man?” and I can answer some basic questions.  At this point, this document has gotten long enough for a blog article.

If it did work for you, great, let me know!

Installing a Software Defined Radio on Debian Linux 9 using RTL-SDR

So this one is so simple that it’s only three steps (as root)

  • Get the radio – and a GOOD antenna.  The one that came with the thing is crap.  www.rtl-sdr.com is a good first resource to learn about this stuff, but you should be able to get one online from $10 to $20.
  • Install the driver software – It’s in the Repository.  apt install rtl-sdr librtlsdr-dev
  • Install the tuner of your choice – gqrx is in the Repo.  apt install gqrx-sdr

Then have fun.  This was GQRX and the RTL-SDR tuned into Radio Martí En Español from my South Florida home.  Your Income Tax Dollars At Work.  I clearly need a better antenna for Shortwave.

A short description.  RTL-SDR is a Software Defined Radio built on specific set of chips including the RTL tuner as well as others.  They are thumb drive sized and work out of the box from 24MHz give or take and as high as 5GHz on some specialized models.

Some of them using a “Direct Sample” mode or an “Upconverter” will receive from 0 cycles to 29 MHz.

They receive in AM, FM (narrow, wide, and stereo), and Single Side Band.  With companion software you can receive all sorts of things like Baby Monitors, Pagers, Weather Radar, FM Broadcast, and more static and pops and clicks than you will ever figure out what to do with.

In Debian 9 Stretch, everything is found in your software repository.  It is accessible with many of the Debian Derived Distributions such as Ubuntu and Q4OS as well as others.  It’s available for Fedora, although I could not tell you a thing about that other than “I read something about that somewhere”.

With Debian 8 and earlier you had to compile some of the software.  I never got it working on Debian 7.  There were also distributions of Debian that would have a complete environment set up for you to boot from USB or DVD Rom, and they would work if a bit slow due to DVD I/O speeds.

But this way if you have a Debian Derived computer, you are almost there.

  • One thing to consider.  The Direct Sample Mode is accessed via an entry in gqrx.
  • Select “Other” for your RTL-SDR stick
  • Enter rtl=0,direct_samp=2 in “Configure I/O Devices” or File I/O devices
  • Bandwidth should be 2MHz

However to use it with gqrx

  • Start your stick by Plugging the stick in the port
  • Start gqrx, although SDRSharp works via WINE
  • Select the Device in the Configure I/O Devices prompt, and click OK.
  • Click the Play icon in the toolbar.
  • Change your frequency to test by either hitting the (WFM Stereo) FM band and scanning or in the US weather radio is at Narrow FM 162.45-162.65 MHz

Coffee and Backups don’t mix well, or how I broke and rebuilt my Debian Linux install in two hours

Maybe the universe wanted me to slow down.

Maybe I just wanted a second mug of coffee.

Or maybe my fascination with automation went a little too far.

I never used Mac OS for long.  Their walled garden approach of curated software just wasn’t for me.  Too limited.  I don’t care for handcuffs, whether they’re steel or lined with “mink”.

I got away from Windows when the current approach of Microsoft insisting that You Are The Product with Windows 10 and putting in “Telemetry” so they can know how their software is doing.  You agreed to it when you clicked through the user license.

Spyware.  It is offensive.  They watch everything you are doing.

So here I am on Debian Linux.  Happy.

Linux does not hold your hand.  It doesn’t make happy noises at you.  It does the job extremely well if you are a casual user who just wants to surf the web.

It does not advertise at you in exchange for spying on you while you look at news, sports, or weather.  I’m looking at you Windows.

It has its own drawbacks.

Linux isn’t great with cutting edge, absolutely new out of the bleeding edge hardware.  Battery management is a bit lackluster, battery life is reduced on Linux as they work to improve the drivers.

It can run some Windows software if you know what you are doing in WINE, and it can even run Windows in its own box if you want to be fancy.   But to be fair, you can run Linux on a Windows computer using the same sort of software.  It’s called a Virtual Machine, and that’s pretty cool.

Basically “Yo dawg, I heard you like computers, so I put a computer inside your computer, so you can run computers”.

I have done the same with Windows in a Virtual Machine many times but I keep an old machine with Windows 8.1 gathering dust under the furniture for an emergency.  I also have the entire complete environment that I was using on my old Windows XP install back when I started the blog.  I can run it, virtually, on my Linux computer.

But never mind that…

All that software has to be backed up no matter what you run, right?

You are backing things up aren’t you?

You aren’t?  I will let you decide if you are being brave, or just stupid, and leave it at that.

I will put up with the quirks in Debian Linux in exchange for stability, when I don’t break it.  My one computer has been Hibernated 170 times as of last night in a little more than 180 days and is still stable.  I don’t reboot when I don’t have to.

I back things up, about twice a week.  I don’t have to do it so frequently, but I do “Author Content” like this blog, as well as Video and Audio, Graphics, and my laptop does duty as a TV/Radio/Graphics Arts studio on multiple levels.

On Linux, all that software is free.  That also includes my office software, but you go on paying for Microsoft office.

Backing up your computer on Linux is fairly painless.  When I am through, the end result is a complete clone of what I have on the computer.  Remove the hard drive, swap in the external drive, and I am back running with just one file system check “fsck /dev/sda” and a reboot.

Just like on Windows or Mac, you need an external hard drive.  USB 3 for the speed, please, and it has to be at least as large as your internal hard drive.

From that point onwards it is just technique.

Technique was what I was lacking on that Saturday.

You see, I wrote a script for the computer to follow.  The script works if everything is correct and in place.  It backs up my chip where I save my personal writings to the hard drive, then backs up the hard drive.  Then to take it one step further it updates the computer’s software, checks to see if there are any spies lurking on the hard drive by scanning for viruses and root kits.  Finally it plays a chime to tell me that it was finished and you were a good person for running it.

Well maybe not that last bit but it is complete.

I also got a little slick and simply told it to do everything without waiting.  Should not have done that.  It’s a lot to stand on its own with the stack of old hardware that I use on a daily basis.

Oh the hardware works, but the wet-ware doesn’t always.

I set the thing going, stood up and just as it started to run to backup the disk, it barfed.

The clone of the hard disk, the actual backup, failed when I bumped the cable and it fell out of the front of the “Destination” disk.

Then it went ahead and updated the operating system, and did all that other stuff.

Automatically.

When it ended I had a computer that showed me everything that I had done wrong to it over the last couple weeks by not starting up again.

I was presented with a black screen telling me that the boot process had stopped and I should try again.

I did, and it repeated itself.

Linux is one of the last refuges of the computer tinkerer.  If you like to do that sort of thing, you can tweak to your heart’s content.  Mine looks a lot like Windows 7.  I could just as easily make it into something that looks identical to a Mac, but I want speed.  It runs about twice as fast as this same computer runs under Windows, so I have it.

When I went to enable the second video chip inside the computer, I followed an old guide on how to do it and predictably it had failed.  That was what showed when I booted the computer.

So Linux kiddies like myself, don’t go and over-automate.   Step by step.  Sure, your machine CAN do it, but if you’re sitting at a desk, wanting another mug of coffee, be certain not to knock the cable out of your backup drive because if the next step is a full upgrade of your computer, you may just be stuffed.

However annoying as all that is… it’s a fast fix.

I reinstalled the operating system, Debian Linux 9, in about 15 minutes.

Brought it up to date in another 30 minutes.

Copied over my “home directories” in another 90 minutes.  It was massive.

Computer back to normal from a bare bones install in about 2 hours.

A few more tweaks to get file sharing working, and making it able to play DVDs.

Lesson learned, slow down.

Oh and if you’re following along and wondering, the specifics are here since I use this as a scratch pad for my memory.

My computer’s C Drive shows up on /dev/sda with operating system on /dev/sda1, swap on /dev/sda5

The backup D Drive shows up on /dev/sdb and will be a perfect clone of the computer.

The syntax of the clone is one line run as root (administrator for windows people)

dd if=/dev/sda of=/dev/sdb conv=noerror,sync status=progress

Just copy the chip to a place on the hard drive manually first.

*sigh*  And don’t get a mug of coffee by putting your hand on your back up drive when you get out of the chair!

If you will excuse me, now, I have a mug of coffee to make.  Some home roasted Guatemala Huehuetenango that I roasted last week.  Should be just perfect this morning.

Ahhhh.

Debian Linux Stretch – Backup or Restore Your Blog or Website Into Your New Server Using Blogger or WordPress

Writers will understand this.

Have you ever meant to write something but had no idea what to call it?  This is where I am at.

Basically these instructions will work with Blogger or WordPress.

It will work with any operating system because both of those are Cloud based.

WordPress may be “local” or on the cloud.

I tagged this with Debian because it’s a logical endpoint for a series of articles that I wrote here about how to create a Debian Web Server with WordPress so that you can muck about with your systems.

Blogger is only blogs, but these instructions for WordPress may be used for entire websites if you are working with WordPress only.

First: Export your Blog or Website

Blogger:

  1. Log in,
  2. Go to the Settings page
  3. Select Other
  4. Click on the button to “Back up content”
  5. Click on “Save to Computer”
  6. Tell the browser where to save the file.
  7. Success!

WordPress:

  1. Log in to your wp-admin page
  2. Click on “Tools”
  3. Click on “Export”
  4. Click on “Start Export” button
  5. Choose What To Export.  “All Content” is most likely.
  6. Click on “Download Export”
  7. Go to your email account that is specified in the message and follow the link to download your blog’s content.

Second: Import your Blog or Website

Blogger:

  1. Log in,
  2. Go to the Settings page
  3. Select Other
  4. Click on the button to “Import content”
  5. Check the box saying “I am not a Robot”
  6. Check the box saying “Automatically Publish”
  7. Answer the annoying Capcha and click the appropriate pictures
  8. Click on “Import from Computer”
  9. Tell the browser where to find the file.
  10. Success!

WordPress:

  1. Log in to your wp-admin page
  2. Click on “Tools”
  3. Click on “Import”
  4. Click on the link for the kind of blog you want to “Run Importer
  5. Click on “Browse” to Choose File to import.
  6. Find your file on your computer.
  7. Assign Author, Click the box saying to “Download and Import File Attachments”
  8. Click on “Submit”
  9. Success!  But note that the information will be in which ever template that you had chosen for the install of the WordPress software.  You will probably want to adjust that as needed since it probably does not match the original blog.

All this will take a while, go pet your dog, or make coffee.

 

At this point your server will have your blog or website.

In my case, it’s local so I can make changes to my look and feel without harming my “production” website.

That new site can be anywhere, it could be on WordPress on the cloud.

Debian Linux Stretch – Installing WordPress

Ok, earlier I installed Debian Linux Stretch using this guide.

It was wordy because I wrote it, and it had 26 steps because I wanted to make it absolutely as easy as making breakfast.

It worked because this is being written on that machine.

Next I installed the LAMP stack using this guide.

Not so wordy, and again, that’s this machine.  LAMP is a web server, and if you’re coming here to find out how to install WordPress, you already knew that.

Now I am getting ready to install WordPress.  I’m doing it as I am writing, so assuming I have the right information to guide me, I’ll have success.  I am using this guide to help me.  Also if I haven’t made a thorough hash of installing LAMP, it should “Just Work”.

WordPress is a pretty easy install, I’ve done it before on a Cloud Server, and I’ve done it before on a machine here, and a couple of random places in the past.

My install here expects a few basic things.

  • You followed my guides to build the server and it is running.
  • You have physical access to the server to simplify the process.
  • Commands will be run from the terminal as root.

Creating the database for WordPress:

A) Log In as Root to Mysql or MariaDB

  • mysql -u root -p

B) Create a regular user for WordPress – replace userpassword with a much better password!

  • CREATE USER ‘wpuser’@’localhost’ IDENTIFIED BY ‘userpassword’;

C)  Create wp_database

  • CREATE DATABASE wp_database;

D) Grant the WordPress User full access to the wp_database

  • GRANT ALL ON `wp_database`.* TO `wpuser`@`localhost`;

E) Flush your privileges and exit MySQL/MariaDB

  • FLUSH PRIVILEGES;
  • exit;

Get WordPress and Unpack it

A) Download the package into your ~/Downloads directory

B) Unpack the package into the WordPress directory

  • tar xpf latest.tar.gz

C)  Remove everything in your web server’s html directory and copy the WordPress package to it.

  • REMEMBER:  If you have anything important in that /var/www/html directory it will be gone so back it up if you need it
  • rm -rf /var/www/html
  • cp -r wordpress /var/www/html

D) Set permissions and ownership for the WordPress install to function as designed.

  • chown -R www-data:www-data /var/www/html
  • find /var/www/html -type d -exec chmod 755 {} \;
  • find /var/www/html -type f -exec chmod 644 {} \;

Set Up WordPress

A) Access the process.  The WordPress setup is Browser Driven.  Surf to your localhost, or the correct web address URL to get to it.  In my case it is in Firefox:

B) Supply wp-admin the correct information.  In my case:

  • Language: English
  • (OK)
  • (Let’s Go)
  • Database: wp_database
  • Username: wpuser
  • Password: userpassword (Yes, Literally ‘userpassword’)
  • Database Host: localhost
  • Table Prefix: wp_
  • Click Submit

 

C) Run The Install by clicking the button.

The Five Minute WordPress Install Process

At this point, you launch into an install to create the basics for your WordPress website.

A) Information Needed:

  • Site Title – This is the name of the site you wish to create.
  • Username
  • Password
  • Confirm use of weak password if this box appears.
  • Your Email
  • Search Engine Visibility (Click the check box if you do not want to show in searches)
  • Click (Install WordPress) button

B) The Success page will show you your WordPress username and indicate your chosen password for you to proceed.

  • Click Log In

Now you can do a happy dance.  You’re done.  Go create a site.

WordPress will put a red button up for each thing that it needs to have updated.

At this point you may be creative and make a site.  You may want to explore templates, but a basic site can be slapped together quickly.

The results are that if you are on that machine, and surf http://localhost you will get a basic page with the information that you put in.

On the other hand, this is not perfect.  I surfed it from my phone and another computer here, and I got all the text but not the template.  So you will probably have some configuration to do.

But… This is good enough to get started.

Debian Linux Stretch – Installing the Operating System

This process took me all of 20 minutes.  It will take you longer to read this blog article.

I have made this into a “recipe” format where you can follow things step by step since I wrote this as I was doing it.

It is wordy, but complete – and it worked for me, step by step.

I need a new server.   I had an old netbook that I used for a couple years to move files around.  It’s too slow for me now, I will eventually be updating this new install to include a file server and a web server.

The blog sits on Blogger and WordPress.  Two places.  I need to make the WordPress side look “better”.  I have a client that I had developed a website for and I am not happy with the way it looks.  So I want a playground to see how tough it will be to get it where I think it needs to be.

So why not build a server.   You can skip to the break if you want Just The Steps.

The background is that I use Debian Linux here for almost everything I do.  I have a Windows computer that I almost never use.  Microsoft has turned Windows into an unpleasant operating system where you are sending data back at every turn of what you are doing.  Who ever made the decision to grant themselves that should be fired, mocked, pilloried, set in the stocks, and …

Never mind, there’s Debian.  It’s stable, it is predictable, and because it isn’t spying on you, it runs faster and is much more secure.

Oh and it’s free.

And there is so much information about how to use it that it is insane!

And it’s secure.

And it lets me do everything I want.

And it has a long list of software that has everything I need.

And I can use it for web development, audio and video authoring, file servers, surfing, document processing, …

Get the picture?

Ok.  Surf https://www.debian.org and do a little reading.  Come on back when you’re done.  I’ll be here.

The philosophy is to give you (the user) what you need to get your things done, be stable, and stay out of the way.  It is a bit “spare” or “lightweight”.  The base operating system is familiar but a bit retro or stodgy looking.  It is also intensely configurable.

I mean INTENSELY.  You can change just about anything which is good because I am tailoring this for a moderate speed boost by using a display manager called XFCE.  My choice, you can choose anything else you want.  KDE, Gnome, XFCE, Mate, or Cinnamon.  Others are available and you can end up with something looking like a Mac, Windows 2000, or even just a blank command prompt for slower computers.

Some background info to be aware of:

Debian is a distribution of Linux that does its best to be as open and secure as possible.  The theory is that if you can modify the actual source code, it will be secure because thousands of eyes will be reviewing the program.  That also means that Debian does not include software that is not “open” and is Proprietary and “Non-Free”.  Wifi drivers are the worst offenders, and it is notorious that a Thinkpad will demand a Wifi driver.

The suggestion is that when you move to start the install process, you do so with the computer plugged in, and plugged into an ethernet connection so that it can find whatever drivers it needs.

If the install errors or “fails” it will put up a large notification saying it needs the driver.  That error message will tell you what driver you need, and you can do a search online to find it.  The drivers are always there, I have found, with mainstream hardware.  It means that I have to find the proper package and put it on a second memory stick or chip and let the install program find it.  Since all my computers are Thinkpad laptops, I have the drivers I need on an SDHC chip and an install just grabs it from there.


tl;dr – know your hardware and get the drivers before you start.  Look at Non-Free ISOs first.


Enough blather.  Just the steps.

1) Get the Live DVD Image.  It will allow you to burn the “ISO” to a DVD and boot from it directly or you can use a program to “burn” it to a USB stick and you can boot from that.

Direct Link: https://cdimage.debian.org/images/unofficial/non-free/images-including-firmware/9.1.0-live+nonfree/amd64/iso-hybrid/debian-live-9.1.0-amd64-xfce+nonfree.iso

Link to find “Non Free” versions with many more drivers installed:  https://cdimage.debian.org/images/unofficial/non-free/images-including-firmware/

Link For Other Versions:   https://cdimage.debian.org/debian-cd/current-live/amd64/iso-hybrid/

Select the file that ends in “ISO” that you want.


2) Put the data onto your DVD or Memory Stick:

DVD – use your favorite burner software to write the DVD.

unetbootin – will write the ISO you just downloaded to a memory stick.  Make sure your stick is 2GB or larger.  Follow the specific instructions for your operating system for the program.

DD – for Linux and Mac, you can dd the ISO to the USB stick.  If that usb is on /dev/sdb and the ISO is renamed to debian.iso :

dd if=debian.iso of=/dev/sdb conv=noerror,sync

Once that is done, safely detatch your stick, or dismount your DVD and begin.

3) Boot from your media:

You will probably have to hit a key, typically F2 or F12 or Esc to get into the bios to tell the computer to boot from the external media.  I typically set my medias to prefer to boot from the stick or DVD drive so this happens automatically.  Since everybody has different computers, I’ll tell you to look for a way to set that up, a way to boot from media, or just say go for it.

4) Optional – Test your computer:

A Live DVD or USB Stick is a cool invention.  You basically are booting from the media and are able to run from it.  You have full control, if you know how to do anything in Linux, so you should be able to connect to the network, test your hardware, and even surf to a music site.   While that all sounds like it’s optional, it also makes sure that Linux understands your hardware.  That is not completely optional, but I’ll leave that to you.

5) Graphical Debian Installer:  

You tested the machine, or not and are committed to install.  Select this from the original Main Menu

6) Steps to Install: Steps A to Z will get you where you want to be!

Hit enter on the Graphical Debian Installer prompt.  It will present you with the following questions:

A) Select a Language – English is the default.  Change it to your preferred language

B) Select your Location – United States is the Default.  Change to your preferred area or “other” wherever that is.

C) Keyboard map to use:  Based on your language, American English is the default.

D) Detect and Mount CD Rom:  I don’t have one

E) Load installer components from CD:  Well, I have a stick but it works just the same

F) Configure the Network:  Choose your preferred connection.  Ethernet or Wireless

G) Configure the Network: Select your router if on Wireless, Select protocol (WPA) and give it your wireless passphrase.  It will connect to the internet and configure the network so it can grab software as needed.

H) Host Name.  Name the computer something meaningful like “server” or “debian”.  I always choose a moose related name like moose or rudolph, it doesn’t have to be anything serious.

I) Domain Name: For a home network, this is not needed, leave it blank.

J) Set Up Users and Passwords: Since they changed the way they use Root on debian with this version, leave the root password blank.  You can add the password later once you are up and running from a command prompt.

K) User account:  This will be your main user name.  Typically your own name, however debian will accept anything.  This will also be the only user that will be able to gain Root access because we purposely skipped the last step.  For this install I will be using bill.

L) User Name:  This will be who this person logs in at the login prompt.  Again, you can use anything.  I always have matched it up with the User Account name, so I will use bill again.

M) User Password:  The password you use here will be your user password plus your Root password.  Choose wisely, grasshopper, and do not forget.

N) Configure the Clock: Time Zone (Eastern for me)

O) Partition Disks: You can select “Guided – Use Entire Disk” and not have to calculate anything.  It is a little lazy, and there are other ways to configure it, however this is a basic tutorial and it saves me having to do some math.

P) Partition Disks – Select disk to partition:  You will be presented with a list of drives that are connected to the computer at this moment.  This will include the existing internal hard drive, your USB stick, and any other chips or disks that are connected.  My main hard drive came up called SCSI1.

Q) Partition Disks – Partitioning Scheme: It used to be that every separate tree had to have its own partition.  Then they realized “Math is hard, Barbie” and allowed you to select “All files in one partition”.  I do that.

R) Finish partitioning and write changes to disk:  Like the man says, this will configure the disk via a program behind the scenes and make the changes needed to install to the hard drive.

S) Write the changes to disks: Select Yes to make the changes live.  It will format your hard drive now to the partition scheme you selected before.

Following all that, it will install the system.  Get yourself a drink, it only takes me no more than 20 minutes, on a bad day.  Your mileage may vary.

T) Configure Package Manager: Use a Network Mirror – Yes.  Makes your life easier.

U) Configure Package Manager: Debian Archive Mirror Country: Select your country, United States was my default.

V) Configure the package manager – Debian archive mirror: Select a mirror that “looks” like it is close to where you are.  You can change it within the operating system later.

W) Configure the package manager – Proxy information: if you do not use one, leave blank.  I don’t so if you do, you’ll have to figure it out at this point.

X) Install the GRUB Boot loader on a hard disk: Select yes.  It will allow you to boot from your hard drive.

Y) Install the GRUB boot loader on a hard disk: Select the disk that you will be using to boot from, and that you installed to.  Typically this will be called /dev/sda and be the first disk on the list.


Z) Finish the installation:  You are done.  Remove your USB Stick or your DVD and hit enter.  The next thing you see will be the Debian boot sequence

This trip through the alphabet is brought to you by the number 6 and the letters debian.  Happy computing.  You now have a happily installed computer.

Relax!  And watch the boot process.  Or sip your drink.

When you finally get to the operating system, on XFCE Select “Use Default Configuration” for your desktop.  If you don’t then you have to hand configure everything instead of using the Default as a starting place.