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Sunday, October 25, 2020

Installation of Debian 10.5.0

Miscellaneous tips

This week I finally got around to removing the last copy of Suse from my computers. All of them are now running Debian 10.5.0. I am now 100% Suse-free! It's a vast improvement, but on one computer there were a few quirks. Here are the problems I encountered, along with solutions.

  1. Problem: Could not log in on Cinnamon. Symptoms: There was no problem logging in on Gnome (click on Not the User or whatever it says, a gear icon shows up, and you can select a different desktop). Also, there was no problem logging in remotely via Putty.

    Solution: 1. Changed .bashrc to a single line saying login_cmd exec /bin/bash -login % session. 2. Restored the original /etc/profile (which I had modified). 3. Reboot.

    Comments: I could not find a safe way to exit the display manager in Gnome. In Enlightenment, the middle mouse key logged you out. It's not known why changing the two files allowed me to log in. Linux seems to be becoming more like Windows, where you have to reboot when there's a problem.

  2. Problem: Booting up appears to hang, screen blank with message about KVM not being supported in BIOS.

    Solution: OS is doing a filesystem check. This takes about 30 min for a reasonable sized disk. It would help if it could print a message saying this.

  3. Problem: Wireless network card is not recognized.

    Solution: Installation tells you that you need a firmware file during installation. At this point, insert a USB stick containing the non-free driver, e.g. isci_firmware.bin. Installation doesn't acknowledge that it's installing anything, but it seems to be installed. After installation this can be verified by checking in /usr/lib/firmware.

    Be sure to remove the USB stick as soon as possible; otherwise, the software will think it's one of your drives. It will offer to format it for you and your drive numbers will be forever screwed up. This isn't really a big problem, but it looks weird for the machine to have sda, sdc, and sdd but no sdb.

  4. Problem: Windows access denied over Samba.

    Solution: tail -f /var/log/samba/log.smbd and tail -f /var/log/samba/log.nmbd to identify the problem. The Windows PC was on a domain that required a different username than the Linux one. The easiest solution was to change the Linux username and password and reassign all the files recursively to the new name. It is possible in principle to get Windows to ask for the username instead of just assuming that you use the same name and password on every computer, but it's much easier just to appease Windows.

  5. Problem: Hard drive names are reassigned randomly during installation.

    Solution: Before installing, look at dmesg and write down the name of each hard drive, its size, and mount point. Example: scsi 3:0:0:0: Direct-Access ATA WDC WD30EZRX-00M 0A80 PQ: 0 ANSI: 5. The scsi ID (3:0:0:0) and the assigned drive name (sda1) will change at random. For example, one drive was originally scsi 8:0:0:0 and /dev/sdc but after booting it became 2:0:0:0 and /dev/sda1. It's important to go by the Drive Name (WD30EZRX-00M) during installation to avoid accidentally formatting an important disk.

    If you have more than one network interface, it's also important to write down their MAC addresses and other identifying information before installing Linux, because some setups give your network card a bizarre name. I've even seen the name change after you configure them. And some drivers change the MAC address randomly, which creates even more problems.

  6. Problem: Mysql Workbench will not compile.

    sql/mysql-workbench-community-8.0.22-src/wb-build$ cmake ..
    CMake Error at /usr/share/cmake-3.13/Modules/FindPackage-\
    HandleStandardArgs.cmake:137 (message):
      Could NOT find ANTLR4 (missing: ANTLR4_LIBRARY ANTLR4_INCLUDE_DIR)
    

    Solution: Antlr4 looks to be tricky to install. This is not yet fixed.

  7. Problem: DVD tray does not open during installation.

    Solution: Click Continue until it errors out, then it is sometimes possible to open the tray. If not, click Back or Cancel. This can cause a bogus error about installing Grub, but it still installs correctly.

  8. Problem: LPR-NG is not available. We're now forced to use CUPS.

    (moved to here)

  9. Problem: 32-bit static binaries will not run.

    Symptom: typing ls on a file gives the message No such file or directory. The actual problem is that even though it's a static binary, it still requires shared libraries that are not present.

    Solution: install the libc6-i386 package. Once this is done, the program can now be found by typing ls, and ldd [filename] now shows three libraries (linux-gate.so.1, libc.so.6, and /lib/ld-linux.so.2).

    It's a reminder never to become dependent on software in Linux continuing to work. In Linux if you don't have the source code, you don't have the program.

  10. Problem: colord spewing error messages to syslog. Deactivating colord has no effect.

    Solution: Colord is being reactivated by some other service. In my case, it was CUPS. Deactivating CUPS stopped the error messages. It is more systemd weirdness where "services" are allowed to start each other.

  11. Libre Office Libre Office puts more text in the /var/log/messages file than it puts on the screen. It was able to open a Windows .doc file. It's improving but it didn't render it correctly and the kerning needs work.

  12. Bash problems Closing an X terminal window while in bash by clicking on the 'x' in the upper right corner closes all its child processes. Example: in an xterm, type nedit & and start typing a document, or just start xclock & . If the xterm is closed by the window manager, the nedit session (or clock) disappears and all your edits are lost. If you type 'exit' in the xterm, the xterm closes but the child windows stay open as expected.

    Solution: This is a problem with bash. It can be avoided by typing (nedit &) but it is easier to switch to csh or tcsh, which doesn't have this behavior. zsh also has the bug. Oddly it doesn't happen if you open a new xterm.

    I hadn't used tcsh since I used it remotely on a DEC running VMS in 1986 or 1987. You could get into unix with a tcsh shell just by typing unix. I forgot how great it is.


On the Internet, no one can tell whether you're a dolphin or a porpoise
oct 25 2020. updated nov 04 2020

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