Debian Day

I spent *all* day messing with a new Linux partition I put on my laptop. I bought a 120GB hard drive and USB 2.0/Firewire card to back up everything from my 40GB laptop - and then with the help of my coworker Vineet I installed Debian on 5GB of my laptop with the idea that I will eventually move off of Windows altogether.

Well, that's great, but today when I started getting my system set up at home (without anyone around to help) I was completely lost. I couldn't get my external monitor to work, or the PCMCIA Wireless network card and it was defaulting to boot into Linux, which I don't want just yet. My Toshiba has a maximum resolution of 1024x768 which Gnome 2.4 doesn't look particularly good on. Gnome is great, don't get me wrong, it's just at that resolution, the icons are too big and the menus too long, etc.

To get moving, I strung a ethernet cable over to the laptop (that device was set up and working no problem), installed Firefox and Thunderbird ("apt-get install -t unstable mozilla-firefox" *poof*) and then started in looking up stuff on Google. I spent the rest of the day doing that. I fixed the boot thing pretty quickly (/etc/grub/menu.lst). But the monitor and PCMCIA card was a completee loss. And I was thinking about getting Bluetooth working today as well... what was I thinking?

Even things like getting Java into Gnome's path was impossible. I have *no* idea where to look, but the idea is that I grabbed the latest Java and Eclipse (I want Linux to eventually be my development environment), and could use them from the command line, but if I made a "launcher" to Eclipse, Gnome would complain that it couldn't find Java in my path. I hard coded it into my .bashrc and .profile and /etc/profile and /etc/bash.bashrc but none of those places was the right place. I had this same problem at work and we switched from the gdm login manager to xdm, and then modified the .XSession file (I think), but for Gnome? No clue.

I have some fundamental gaps in my knowledge when it comes to Linux and devices. Really, I just don't understand what's going on. And I don't get window managers either, really. Basically, in the 5 years since I switched to using Linux on my server, I have a decent understanding of that side of things, but am a complete clueless n00b when it comes to using Linux on my desktop. XFree86 *always* gives me trouble (video card and monitor... okay, what happens if I want to have *two* monitors?)

Then it goes to hardware. Disks, keyboards, mice, USB ports, PCMCIA slots, etc. etc. Every time I start reading about how to install a new device like my WiFi PCMCIA card, the info out there usually starts talking about recompiling my kernel. Errr. What? Why? Isn't there a system for plugging in new devices without screwing around with recompiling? Is there just one way or is that the "fast geek way" and the plugin modules is somewhat slower and that's why there's no info on it?

Anyways, typical Linux user gripes basically. Someday they'll get all this down. :-)


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