If you are new to Unix, you probably should go out and buy some books and do
some reading. The
FAQ contains a number of references to books and Usenet news groups
which should help you out. You can also take a look at the
Linux is an implementation of Unix. The
Linux Documentation Project (LDP)
collects a number of HOWTOs and online books relating to Linux. Most of these
documents can be installed locally; just install the
doc-linux-html package (HTML versions) or the
doc-linux-text package (ASCII versions), then look in
/usr/doc/HOWTO. International versions of the LDP HOWTOs are also
available as Debian packages.
Information specific to Debian can be found below.
Debian is a little different from other distributions. Even if you're familiar with Linux in other distributions, there are things you should know about Debian to help you to keep your system in a good, clean state. This chapter contains material to help you get oriented; it is not intended to be a tutorial for how to use Debian, but just a very brief glimpse of the system for the very rushed.
The most important concept to grasp is the Debian packaging system. In essence, large parts of your system should be considered under the control of the packaging system. These include:
/var(you could make
/var/localand be safe in there)
For instance, if you replace
/usr/bin/perl, that will work, but
then if you upgrade your
perl package, the file you put there will
be replaced. Experts can get around this by putting packages on ``hold'' in
After installing the base system and writing to the Master Boot Record, you will be able boot Linux, but probably nothing else. This depends what you have chosen during the installation. This chapter will describe how you can reactivate your old systems so that you can also boot your DOS or Windows again.
LILO is a boot manager with which you can also boot other
operating systems than Linux, which complies to PC conventions. The boot
manager is configured via
/etc/lilo.conf file. Whenever you
edited this file you have to run
lilo afterwards. The reason for
this is that the changes will take place only when you call the program.
Important parts of the
lilo.conf file are the lines containing the
image and other keywords, as well as the lines
following those. They can be used to describe a system which can be booted by
LILO. Such a system can include a kernel (image), a
root partition, additional kernel parameters, etc. as well as a configuration
to boot another, non-Linux (other) operating system. These
keywords can also be used more than once. The ordering of these systems within
the configuration file is important because it determines which system will be
booted automatically after, for instance, a timeout (delay)
LILO wasn't stopped by pressing the shift-key.
After a fresh install of Debian, just the current system is configured for
LILO. If you want to boot another Linux kernel, you
have to edit the configuration file
/etc/lilo.conf to add the
image=/boot/vmlinuz.new label=new append="mcd=0x320,11" read-only
For a basic setup just the first two lines are necessary. If you want to know
more about the other two options please have a look at the
documentation. This can be found in
file which should be read is
Manual.txt. To have a quicker start
into the world of booting a system you can also look at the
lilo.conf(5) for an overview of configuration keywords
lilo(8) for description of the installation of the new
configuration into the boot sector.
Notice that there are other boot loaders available in Debian GNU/Linux, such as
grub package), CHOS (in
extipl package), loadlin (in
If you need information about a particular program, you should first try man program, or info program.
There is lots of useful documentation in
/usr/doc as well. In
lots of interesting information.
Debian web site contains
a large quantity of documentation about Debian. In particular, see the
Debian FAQ and the
Debian Mailing List
Archives. The Debian community is self-supporting; to subscribe to
one or more of the Debian mailing lists, see the
Why would someone want to compile a new kernel? It is often not necessary since the default kernel shipped with Debian handles most configurations. However, it is useful to compile a new kernel in order to:
Don't be afraid to try compiling the kernel. It's fun and profitable.
To compile a kernel the Debian way, you need some packages:
kernel-source-2.2.19 (the most recent
version at the time of this writing),
fakeroot and a few others
which are probably already installed (see
/usr/share/doc/kernel-package/README.gz for the complete list).
Note that you don't have to compile your kernel the ``Debian way'';
but we find that using the packaging system to manage your kernel is actually
safer and easier. In fact, you can get your kernel sources right from Linus
kernel-source-2.2.19, yet still use the
kernel-package compilation method.
Note that you'll find complete documentation on using
This section just contains a brief tutorial.
Hereafter, we'll assume your kernel source will be located in
/usr/local/src and that your kernel version is 2.2.19. As root,
create a directory under
/usr/local/src and change the owner of
that directory to your normal non-root account. As your normal non-root
account, change your directory to where you want to unpack the kernel sources
(cd /usr/local/src), extract the kernel sources (tar xIf
/usr/src/kernel-source-2.2.19.tar.bz2), change your directory to it
(cd kernel-source-2.2.19/). Now, you can configure your kernel.
Run make xconfig if X11 is installed, configured and being run,
make menuconfig otherwise (you'll need
installed). Take the time to read the online help and choose carefully. When
in doubt, it is typically better to include the device driver (the software
which manages hardware peripherals, such as Ethernet cards, SCSI controllers,
and so on) you are unsure about. Be careful: other options, not related to a
specific hardware, should be left at the default value if you do not understand
them. Do not forget to select ``Kernel module loader'' in ``Loadable module
support'' (it is not selected by default). If not included, your Debian
installation will experience problems.
Clean the source tree and reset the
kernel-package parameters. To
do that, do make-kpkg clean.
Now, compile the kernel: fakeroot make-kpkg --revision=custom.1.0 kernel_image. The version number of ``1.0'' can be changed at will; this is just a version number that you will use to track your kernel builds. Likewise, you can put any word you like in place of ``custom'' (e.g., a host name). Kernel compilation may take quite a while, depending on the power of your machine.
If you require PCMCIA support, you'll also need to install the
pcmcia-source package. Unpack the gzipped tar file as root in the
/usr/src (it's important that modules are found where
they are expected to be found, namely,
as root, do make-kpkg modules_image.
Once the compilation is complete, you can install your custom kernel like any
package. As root, do dpkg -i
subarch part is an optional sub-architecture, such as ``i586'',
depending on what kernel options you set. dpkg -i kernel-image...
will install the kernel, along with some other nice supporting files. For
System.map will be properly installed (helpful for
debugging kernel problems), and
/boot/config-2.2.19 will be
installed, containing your current configuration set. Your new
kernel-image-2.2.19 package is also clever enough to automatically
use you're platform's boot-loader to run an update on the booting, allowing you
to boot without re-running the boot loader. If you have created a modules
package, e.g., if you have PCMCIA, you'll need to install that package as well.
It is time to reboot the system: read carefully any warning that the above step may have produced, then shutdown -r now.
For more information on
kernel-package, read documentation in
Installing Debian GNU/Linux 2.2 For Intel x86version 2.2.27, 14 Listopad, 2001