Maybe some of you Debian/nix hackers could help me out here... but first, my gripe.
(If you want to know about my current situation, skip ahead to Install 7)
In case anybody reading this hasn't been paying any attention to the qualms all over /. about how much of a bitchy install debian happens to be (I concur... I much prefer Drake's install... Fuck, I prefer drake over any Windows install I've seen even... Even if I'm just talking simplicity's sake...), I'm about to add my own.
First time I ever tried to install Linux after being an avid Win98 user for a good number of years courtesy my now-defunct laptop, I tried Debian.
I managed to actually install it. Problem was I had no Ethernet drivers because it didn't recognize my card off the bat and I had no clue what a chipset was at the time...
Now, I'll fill you in... It's a D-Link 538TX card with a RTL8139 chipset (in hindsight, that knowledge wouldn't have been much help as I soon learned that I needed the driver 8139too...
So, I didn't install any ethernet drivers.
And to make matters worse, debian decided to ignore me after it installed my core.
So I got my Debian hacker friend Mike to come take a look at it. Running through a series of commands I didn't understand ("I did a bash loop actually") he found my ethernet driver and got my network up and working.
Then he apt-got X and tried to run it. After a failed configuration attempt (didn't help that a POS video card and VGA Graphics monitor... so nothing really looked right...) he recommended that I say fuck it and play around with Mandrake, and only when I get a bit better at understanding Linux and the general makeup of my computer should I venture into the wonderful depths of debian.
So I go through a series of installs in order to get things running on my computer.
Install 1: Mandrake.
IT WORKED! Got everything together, and X worked fine and everything... played around on KDE for a bit and decided it was pretty nice. Then I started up Licq and used it pretty religiously for a period of about a day.
Then I started to get pissed when stuff started crashing...
I said to myself "The fuck? I though this was supposed to be able to walk and chew bubblegum at the same time?"
So I try to install a couple of packages using tarballs.
Stuff just stops working all over.
So I figure... well, let's start over.
Install 2: Mandrake, take 2.
I reinstall, this time actually flipping through packages in the package distribution... and I start looking around at ftp servers and apache... which I ultimately set up... One of the main reasons I wanted linux was its easy-to-use and ssh'ing.
I forego the actual install-setup of openssh and end up downloading the tarball. Can't get it running at all.
So Mike comes over one day, and I ask him to look at it for a sec.
He introduces me to rpmfind.net.
n00b mistake number 2 fixed courtesy Mike again.
I also switch over to GNOME, which I still use today and have zero qualms about. The walking and chewing bubblegum is zero problem with this baby of a window manager. A couple of problems with Nautilus still kicked around but I got accustomed to just enoying Galeon for my filebrowsing purposes, and for file management I got real cozy with console stuff.
Now, I buy myself a new monitor. High Quality flatscreen NEC 19" Accusync... quite the nice piece of machinery. Turns out though that my video card is just as much a bottleneck as my shitty screen was. So I end up getting a friends ATI AGP card. I make the switch and I'm still stuck with shit-for-resolution.
However, The actual install of the new agp card.
I looked through drake's video card library (albeit not very thoroughly) and my card wasn't there. Doh. So I decide "I've heard that the new Red Hat is actually better than Drake lately". and it seemed to have support for my video card.
Install 3: Red Hat
Install went about as smoothly as Mandrake's did with the exception that it didn't go looking too hard for my hardware. To the point that all it found was a hard drive, video card, and CDROM.
Which left my sound card and ethernet forgotten.
Red Hat was very pretty but I am still a fan of Drake's menu system, just because they're well organized and the configuration tools are extremely easy to use. And Drake just seemed to appreciate my hardware a lot more.
So after playing around trying to find my config files, I finally decide fuck it and give Debian another shot.
Install 4: Debian
Didn't even finish the install here before I just plain gave up and didn't want to bother with it just yet.
Install 5: Mandrake take 3.
So apparently Mandrake _did_ have support for my video card. Idiot me. Anyways. I get it all running, still problems with some of the video-based stuff, and I don't expect to ever get my divx's working on this computer, and that'll be why I install Win2k in the future, right? Xine wasn't happy, mplayer wasn't happy, fuck it.
But it basically got what I needed done... e-mail, web, icq and the like...
I also soon change video cards over to a decently sized-RAM video card (Voodoo 3 which I'm currently using) and a lot of my major problems regarding my workspace size are solved.
Now, keep in mind, to this point in time, I'd been using Mandrake 8.2. I finally managed to get a burnt copy of 9.0 together but haven't had much of an excuse to install it...
Then I get a DVD-ROM.
So, in goes the DVD-ROM and the first disk I put in it is the Mandrake 9 install disk.
Install 6: Mandrake 9!
Oh boy. Ohhhhhhhhhh boy.
Install was the same familiar install and pretty much everything else involved with it was the same as 8.2
Except Gnome 2 was actually involved here.
For those who don't know, Gnome 2 is slick. It is insanely easy to use and a shitload more stable than 1.whateverwaswith8.2 ever was.
And Xine got working easily. Ogle was a bit more difficult and required a bit more tweakage, but nothing too hard.
And before long, I was watching DVDs and divx's in no time.
I lost complete point of use for Windows short of Gaming and running Impulse Tracker (Which I might be able to do on my laptop anyways).
Anyways, now that I think I have most of this Linux stuff figured out from a very high-level user-end (If you people think that Windows is easier to use, I honestly recommend Mandrake), my friend Ryan decides to ask me to help him put together a back-end machine for serving and then use another one of his machines he was going to clear out to become a new router.
We decided: What would be a good OS to be a router. He wanted to use Red Hat as he used that for all his other Linux boxes. After recommending Debian, we both decide that we'll give it a whirl.
So we do the floppy disk install of vanilla debian (Woody 3.0r1) and everything seems to go perfectly. No issues whatsoever.
With the new confidence that being able to actually make it through the debian install gives me, I decide to try to install debian onto my computer.
Now, I figured out where things went wrong the first time around and I get all the drivers/chipsets I need to and start to work at it.
Install 7: Debian, take 2 (3? Either way...)
So I get a lot farther this time. I actually managed to set up a good solid system running on Debian. Only problems are X is a bitch to configure to the right settings (didn't want my resolution at all) and my network still didn't work despite my insistence that it had a working ethernet driver... (kept looking for a modem for some strange reason) And for some reason it just didn't want to connect automatically using dhcp or anything like that... which Mandrake does without any complaints.
So I decide to go back to Mandrake for now. Luckily, when I installed, I put it on a brand new partition and left my drake partition alone... so now I try to go back to my drake partition, but it turns out Lilo didn't like my original idea of offering a dual boot (one from hda1 and one from hda3).
So I tell it screw off and reinstall-upgrade Mandrake...
So now I'm going to leave my Debian partition alone until I can figure out generally what went horribly, horribly wrong with my debian install.. so that I can actually get it set up...
Although I don't know if I'd want debian on my main system. On a firewall, yes, on a server, yes, but Mandrake seems to be really nice about my peripherals for Multimedia... Only problems I can't resolve right now is getting Pyslsk working for drake and I'd really rather enjoy using the apt-get system.
But for now I'm happy with drake for all my computing needs. Not to mention I'm learning a shitload about Linux doing this...