Monday, October 29, 2007

Installing sidux

As already mentioned, sidux is a pretty nice Linux distro and I'm beginning to like it a lot! I was running sidux for quite a while and thought I'd share some of my experiences. So, this is how I installed sidux on my 64bit AMD box and how it worked for me:

As ever, download the image (if you do a fresh install, always get the latest image!), check it's md5 sum and burn it. The sidux manual says it's very important to burn the image in DAO mode and not faster than 8x! Yes, they really stress on that!

Once the CD is ready, boot from it. Important: choose your desired language by pressing "F4" at the boot screen, because this will become your default language setting. If you need any extra kernel options just add them to the boot options. Then press "Enter" and watch the live CD boot. Once KDE is started the show begins. You may just click the installation icon on the desktop (here is an excellent description in the sidux manual) or - like me - get through some pre-installation tasks. They could be done from within the installer, I just prefer it this way:

The installer by default only formats the "/" partition. As I like to give "/home" its own partition (which already exists) I need to format it. So, before I start the installer I open a terminal and become root by typing "su" (no password needed). Now you may format partitions with (replace "sdaX" with the actual partition of course...):
mkfs.ext3 /dev/sdaX

You may also give that partition a name, in my case it would be "/home", but that's optional and up to you:
e2label /dev/sdaX <name>

Now everything is ready to start the sidux installer by clicking the icon on the desktop. The installer asks some very simple questions, here are some screenshots. You can leave most of the defaults. When it comes to partitioning, choose your "/" device and if you have any other partitions you like to be mounted, activate "Set mountpoints of other partitions". You can then add a separate "/home" partition if you like by clicking in the area next to that partition and adding the mountpoint. Only standard Linux mountpoints can be set here and those partitions will not be formated. That's why I formated my "/home" partition before starting the installer. You may of course start "gparted" now for a graphical interface and do what ever you like with your partitions. It is not possible though to choose mountpoints for Windows partitions, thy will be mounted automatically (if "mount partitions on boot" is checked - which I'd recommend!). OK, now that you've finished the partition layout press next.
If you don't need any special settings for the bootmanager, let grub be installed in the MBR. Any installed Windows will be added to grub so can choose at startup which OS you'd like to boot. Adjust the time zone if necessary and go on to the user and network settings which are both very self explaining again. With the final tab you may start the installation. I'd recommend checking "Install additional Metapackages", which in fact won't install anything at first, but will add the non-free repositories automatically. You may need those later. Now click "Begin Installation". On my box it took about 5 minutes. After the installer is finished, another window pops up, asking for the metapackages. You should activate this option, though you don't need to install any if you don't need them, but this way your sources.list file will have the non-free repositories added automatically. Now you're done and it's time to reboot!

Upon reboot don't get alarmed if the screen resolution doesn't fit, we'll fix this. Just login and open "/etc/X11/xorg.conf" with your favorite editor as root. (If you prefer a graphical interface, open K-Menu -> System -> More Applications -> Konqueror (root), go to /etc/X11 and click on xorg.conf)
vi /etc/X11/xorg.conf

Go to the end where you should find a "Screen" Section with some "Display" SubSections. Just add your desired resolution to those lines - in my case "1680x1050" - and save the file. It should look something like this:
Section "Screen"
Identifier "Default Screen"
Device "NVIDIA Corporation NV43 [GeForce 7600 GT]"
Monitor "Standardbildschirm"
DefaultDepth 24
SubSection "Display"
Depth 1
Modes "1680x1050" "1024x768" "800x600" "640x480"
EndSubSection
SubSection "Display"
Depth 16
Modes "1680x1050" "1024x768" "800x600" "640x480"
EndSubSection
SubSection "Display"
Depth 24
Modes "1680x1050" "1024x768" "800x600" "640x480"
EndSubSection
EndSection

You will see that all partitions are mounted under "/media/<device>" (if "mount partitions on boot" was checked during installation). If you don't like those mountpoints, you may create the desired directories now, for example (as root):
mkdir /media/windows

Then edit "/etc/fstab" and change the mountpoints to your liking (don't forget to actually create the mountpoint directories!!) or comment out every partition you don't like to be mounted at boot by putting a "#" in front of the line. Save the file and reboot. If you did everything right all partitions should now be mounted to the desired mount point and the screen resolution should be fine now. You may delete mount directories not needed anymore, but make sure there is nothing mounted, other wise you're files on that partition will go to hell!! You can check by
df -h

As we're ahead of a major update, we now need to update the special sidux scripts that come with that distribution and make managing it so simple. As root do:
apt-get update

apt-get install sidux-scripts

Now you should have a recent version of "smxi" installed, a script we'll need right now. You may invoke it as root right away, but it'll tell you that dist-upgrades should be done in runlevel 3. You may follow those instructions or log out, choose "console login" in KDM. Then login, become root by typing "su" and drop to runlevel 3 by typing
init 3

Now start "smxi" again and follow the instructions.

First it's probably updating the kernel. Just do as you're told and reboot once the script is finished with that. At start up type "3" in grub and sidux will only boot to runlevel 3. Login, become root and start "smxi" again. You will then proceed to the main "dist-upgrade" ("d-u"), the Debian way to update a whole system. There may be some warnings displayed: read them carefully. I never had troubles with doing the dist-upgrade, but watch out though. This first d-u may take a while as lot is going to be updated. Once finished, again read carefully what smxi has to tell and follow the advices given. It has options for cleaning up the system or to fix some fonts, which could be necessary after a major update. Finally smxi will opt you to install a binary driver for ATI or Nvidia cards. If there were no warnings about xorg and your desired driver, just go ahead. Speaking for the Nvidia driver I never had any troubles. (Don't know about ATI.) Once the driver is installed, I'd recommend rebooting again and not starting X directly. (VERY IMPORTANT: you need to reinstall binary drivers after each kernel update!!!) That's it, have fun!

If you like to install additional software always use "apt-get" and NOT aptitude, synaptic or adept. I installed synaptic to search for packages but did the actual installation as root via
apt-get install <package>

As sidux is based on Debian Sid (aka unstable) and the developers of sidux are very busy updating the kernel (sometimes two kernel updates a day) I'd recommend doing at least one d-u per week (via "smxi"!!)...


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