Debian Sid Desktop

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Warning: I have not maintained this document for some time now and it is here now simply as an archive, so some of the information might be old, invalid or bad, follow at your own risk.

Debian Sid Desktop is a guide covering installing and configuring Debian Sid for desktop use. It came into existence originally as a dumping ground for things I had learnt or discovered about setting up a Debian Sid desktop, After a while I realised that others may find the information useful.

It is still currently a draft until I have time to tidy it up, items are added and removed as time goes by. Don't expect the documentation to be perfect!

Debian Sid is the unstable branch of Debian and can be considered a close counterpart of Arch Linux in that it is a "rolling release".

This document isn't for everyone and unless you have medium to advanced knowledge of Debian I would probably recommend against following this guide and instead use Ubuntu or another "hand holding" distribution. CrunchBang Linux is an excellent choice if you want the stability of Debian but want exposure to the command line and uses the excellent Openbox window manager. It has friendly forums with plenty of passionate Debian/Crunchbang users to help you.

You should update any HIGHLIGHTED TEXT with your configuration where necessary.


Install Media

debootstrap is used to install Sid. Most Debian based live CD's such as Ubuntu, Aptosid, Crunchbang etc. should work to bootstrap a Sid install. Ubuntu Desktop 12.04 was used for this guide. If your happy to use Ubuntu download the desktop version of Ubuntu 12.04 and create a bootable CD or USB drive.

Install Process

Boot to your live cd, configure an internet connection, open a terminal and su to to root however your live cd allows, e.g. on Ubuntu run:

sudo su


It is assumed that you have created a standard user account and use vi as the default editor.


Update and then install an editor, pager, ssh and gpm

apt-get update
apt-get install --no-install-recommends ssh vim vim-doc vim-scripts \
vim-addon-manager less tcpd openssh-blacklist openssh-blacklist-extra

If you have another computer handy I would recommend connecting from the other computer via ssh and complete the next few tasks until you have a working desktop at which point you can complete it from the desktop there. Alternatively you could install a text based web browser such as lynx or links2 and copy and paste between consoles using gpm (apt-get install gpm).


Edit /etc/hosts substituting the computers hostname where applicable.       localhost.localdomain   localhost       sidbox.example.local  sidbox

# The following lines are desirable for IPv6 capable hosts
::1     ip6-localhost ip6-loopback
fe00::0 ip6-localnet
ff00::0 ip6-mcastprefix
ff02::1 ip6-allnodes
ff02::2 ip6-allrouters
ff02::3 ip6-allhosts

Now run...

echo sidbox.example.local > /etc/hostname
invoke-rc.d start

Afterwards check the hostname and fqdn are correct.

hostname -f

APT Configuration

The aptosid developers recommend apt-get only be used on Debian Sid, more information here.

Raphael Hertzog has a very good blog post about Debian package manager options and recommends aptitude on Debian Testing/unstable, the article can be found here.

aptitude and apt-get will keep track of each other (except for held packages) so you can use both, but you should choose one and stick to it. I use apt-get for software management and aptitude for various things such as the aptitude why command.

Disable Recommends

I don't like recommended packages installing by default so I disable it.

cat > /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/10recommends <<EOF
APT "";
APT::Install-Recommends "false";

The run update apt-get

apt-get update

You can also use the --no-install-recommends option in apt-get to avoid installing recommended packages.


Where possible I try and use pure Debian sources. Update your sources to use the closest mirrors available to you by reviewing the available Debian mirrors.

If you would like to use my sources you can add them as follows. Edit them to use your closest mirror once downloaded (if your an Internode user in Australia your in luck).

cp /etc/apt/sources.list /etc/apt/sources.list.default
wget -O /etc/apt/sources.list ""
wget -O /etc/apt/sources.list.d/unstable.list ""
wget -O /etc/apt/sources.list.d/experimental.list ""

You may be interested in using aptosid sources, don't bother trying to obtain support from aptosid if you use the sources in this way. Review and update the aptosid sources using the aptosid mirrors.

wget -O /etc/apt/sources.list.d/aptosid.list ""
Note: If you are happy with the sources you may want to remove /etc/apt/sources.list.default. You may also want to review siduction's sources

Update apt-get

apt-get update

Install the aptosid keyring if you added their repository (answer y to install without verification).

apt-get install aptosid-archive-keyring
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree       
Reading state information... Done
The following NEW packages will be installed:
0 upgraded, 1 newly installed, 0 to remove and 53 not upgraded.
Need to get 9,020 B of archives.
After this operation, 69.6 kB of additional disk space will be used.
WARNING: The following packages cannot be authenticated!
Install these packages without verification [y/N]? y

Now do an update and upgrade

apt-get update
apt-get dist-upgrade

Some other sources that may be of interest can he found here

Package Tidy Up

I don't use nano which is the default editor. Removing it should set vim as the default.

apt-get purge nano

Then run apt-get autoremove --purge to review any packages no longer required.

Warning: Don't just blindly run this command and remove what it suggests. Instead read about the packages being removed to ensure they are no longer necessary
apt-get autoremove --purge

Check what packages it wants to remove (if any) and investigate any packages using the following command or Google them.

apt-cache show package-name


Now that you have a clean, minimal OS lets install some useful apt tools (and recommended packages), Google them or use apt-cache show if you want to know more.

apt-get install deborphan debfoster apt-file python-apt lsb-release file iso-codes dialog cruft apt-listbugs apt-rdepends reportbug

Then update apt-file

apt-file update
Tip: If you would like apt-file to sync after each apt-get update you can add this configuration file. This only works for apt-get not aptitude.
cat > /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/90apt-file <<EOF
APT::Update::Post-Invoke {"/usr/bin/apt-file update"; };

This adds more time for apt-get update to run, but is handy if you use apt-file a lot like me. You can read more about it here.

Base Packages And Configuration


Install the latest firmware packages to support your hardware. You are free to exclude any you don't need, I just install all of the available firmware.

apt-file update
apt-get update
apt-get install firmware-linux firmware-linux-nonfree
apt-get install $(apt-file --package-only search /lib/firmware/ | tr '\n' ' ')
Note: If you receive a conflict with the libertas-firmware package run the command as follows.
apt-file --package-only search /lib/firmware/ | grep -v libertas-firmware | xargs apt-get install -y

Otherwise install the firmware specific to your computer.

Tip: Running this every so often is a good idea if you want to have all available firmware available on your system, this is in case new firmware packages are added to Debian in future


Base software to install.

apt-get install bash-completion htop build-essential module-assistant linux-headers-amd64 psmisc \
tofrodos udisks upower udev consolekit policykit-1 dosfstools fakeroot hdparm ntfs-3g rsync mlocate \
libpam-ck-connector dkms sudo python dialog console-setup-linux bzip2 p7zip rar unrar unzip zip p7zip-full lzop lzip lzma \
ntp fontconfig pciutils lshw hwdata hwinfo syslinux dnsutils sshfs screen telnet bash-doc shared-mime-info lsof

Update your file name database from the locate package. You should run this command before using locate on occasion.

Note: the mlocate package inserts a cronjob in /etc/cron.daily/mlocate to run updatedb which only runs when on AC power. You may need to update the options in /etc/updatedb.conf with something like the options in this link or you may have problems with it indexing large directories of files

Default Editor

Select vim.basic as the default editor assuming you use it.

Note: If you removed nano then vim.basic will possibly already be selected and you can skip this step
update-alternatives --config editor
There are 3 choices for the alternative editor (providing /usr/bin/editor).

  Selection    Path                Priority   Status
* 0            /bin/nano            40        auto mode
  1            /bin/nano            40        manual mode
  2            /usr/bin/vim.basic   30        manual mode
  3            /usr/bin/vim.tiny    10        manual mode

Press enter to keep the current choice[*], or type selection number: 2

As your standard user you can also export a variable in ~/.bashrc to set vim as the default.

export EDITOR=vim

Users bin folder

The default ~/.profile included with Debian looks for ~/bin and includes it in your path if it exists. This should be where you store any scripts or programs that you want for your standard user account.

su - username
mkdir ~/bin
Tip: Personally I like my bin folder hidden and alter ~/.profile to look for ~/.bin and mkdir ~/.bin instead

Bash dot files

Bash configuration I use


Configure ntp. further information on how to usage and configuration can be found here.

Edit /etc/ntp.conf and after the section # You do need to talk to an NTP server or two (or three). add some ntp servers.


Then restart ntp and check it is connecting to the servers you specified.

invoke-rc.d ntp restart
ntpq -p
     remote           refid      st t when poll reach   delay   offset  jitter
 a.pool.ntp.uq.e    2 u    3   64    1   59.725  -755.40   0.004 .PPS.            1 u    2   64    1   53.822  -763.30   0.004
 cachens2.onqnet       2 u    1   64    1   55.223  -764.30   0.004
 tuppy.intrepidh    3 u    -   64    1  204.347  -761.36   0.004
 lists2.luv.asn. .INIT.          16 u    -   64    0    0.000    0.000   0.000
 web01-inovait.b .INIT.          16 u    -   64    0    0.000    0.000   0.004

X Installation

To install a minimal X server and some desirable fonts run the following.

apt-get install xorg mesa-utils xbase-clients xsel dbus-x11 xfonts-terminus xfonts-terminus-dos \
xfonts-terminus-oblique ttf-mscorefonts-installer gsfonts-x11 ttf-dejavu ttf-liberation \
ttf-freefont ttf-droid libgl1-mesa-dri



If you want to change the font configuration such as autohinting, sub pixel rendering or enable bitmap fonts run the following:

dpkg-reconfigure fontconfig-config

Make your changes and then run:

dpkg-reconfigure fontconfig

Console Font

Change the console font as follows

dpkg-reconfigure console-setup

Select: UTF-8 -> Latin1 and Latin5 -> Terminus -> 8x14

Asian Characters

by default, Asian characters are not displayed, if you desire them to be shown regardless of whether you understand any asian language you can do the following. The easiest and most lightweight solution for Chinese Simplified is adding one or both "WenQuanYi" sans serif fonts:

apt-get install ttf-wqy-zenhei ttf-wqy-microhei

Japanese has these and some more:

apt-get install ttf-vlgothic ttf-sazanami-mincho ttf-sazanami-gothic

apt-cache search ttf japanese can be used to search for more.

Korean can be added with

apt-get install ttf-unfonts-core

LCD Text Rendering

Note: This is no longer required as Debian now includes the patch as of 2.3.1-1

libxft2 in Debian does not use the lcdfilter option and therefore fonts (such as the Openbox menu) may look different when compared to GTK apps. This is how to fix that.

cd /usr/local/src
Tip: You may need to uncomment the Debian source repository in /etc/apt/sources.list.d/unstable.list
apt-get source libxft2
cd xft-2.2.0/src/
wget ""
patch -i 100-libXft-2.1.10-lcd-filter-3.patch
cd ../
apt-get build-dep libxft2

Now edit debian/changelog and insert this at the beginning - update with your details etc.

xft (2.2.0-3-lcd) unstable; urgency=low

  * lcd filter patch.

 -- Foo Bar <>  Wed, 4 Jan 2012 21:28:11 +1100

Then build the package

dpkg-buildpackage -rfakeroot -uc -b

And install it and the dev package (to avoid any apt dependancy issues).

dpkg -i ../libxft2_2.2.0-3-lcd_amd64.deb ../libxft-dev_2.2.0-3-lcd_amd64.deb 

See this link for the original information and some information about compilation errors you may experience if running i386.


As your Standard user edit ~/.fonts.conf and add the following to it. Use the file as a template to configure font rendering as desired.

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<!DOCTYPE fontconfig SYSTEM "fonts.dtd">
    <match target="font">
        <edit mode="assign" name="hinting" >
    <match target="font">
        <edit mode="assign" name="hintstyle" >
    <match target="font">
        <edit mode="assign" name="rgba" >
    <match target="font">
        <edit mode="assign" name="antialias" >
    <match target="font">
        <edit mode="assign" name="lcdfilter">

More information can be found here

Configure Alsa

Install and setup alsa.

apt-get install alsa-base alsa-utils
su - yourusername

Set your volumes, then test and store them. I would recommend muting beep at this point so it saves when you run alsactl. beep is annoying...

aplay /usr/share/sounds/alsa/Front_Center.wav
alsactl -f /var/lib/alsa/asound.state store

I get annoyed with the pc speaker beeps so I disable the module. Append the following to the file /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base-blacklist.conf

# stop pcspkr from loading
blacklist pcspkr

OSS4 Alternative

I had a go at using OSS, you can read about it here.


Window Managers

A Window_Managers article covers installation and configuration of a number of Window Managers. Choose yourself and Window Manager, install it and come back and continue to the rest of this article.

Tip: After getting a Window Manager working you may like to skip to Web Browser to install a Web Browser and continue the guide. xterm should be installed if you need a terminal.

Desktop Components

The following packages provide some useful libraries, utilities and engines.

apt-get install gtk2-engines gtk2-engines-murrine gtk2-engines-pixbuf \
gtk2-engines-aurora lxappearance librsvg2-common qt4-qtconfig  \
desktop-base sux dmz-cursor-theme xdg-user-dirs xdg-utils hicolor-icon-theme  \
libfile-mimeinfo-perl menu-l10n libgtk2.0-bin

Create your users standard home folders.

su - username

Screen Resize and Rotate

arandr is a simple but flexible xrandr manager and I honestly think it does a better job than any other utility I have used.

apt-get install arandr


It's arguable that you even need a Panel but if desired tint2 is a good choice.

apt-get install tint2
Tip: There is a graphical configuration utility available called tintwizard, see this link

To start tint2 when logging in to Openbox add the following line to your standard users ~/.config/openbox/autostart

tint2 &

Wallpaper Setter

apt-get install nitrogen

Add the following to ~/.config/openbox/autostart to have nitrogen restore your wallpaper on login.

nitrogen --restore &


apt-get install scrot

To take screenshot's of your desktop with keys PrtScn and ALT+PrtScn for the currently focused window like Microsoft Windows, you can do the following.

mkdir ~/Pictures/Screenshots

Add the following to the <keyboard> section of ~/.config/openbox/rc.xml replacing any existing configurations.

<keybind key="Print"><action name="Execute"><execute>scrot -z -e 'mv $f ~/Pictures/Screenshots/'</execute></action></keybind>
<keybind key="A-Print"><action name="Execute"><execute>scrot -z -u -b -e 'mv $f ~/Pictures/Screenshots/'</execute></action></keybind>

Desktop Notifications

Twmn (tiling window manager notification) is a fairly new project that provides a minimalist notification system and works fine on Openbox. You can compile and install it as follows:

apt-get install git
cd /usr/local/src
git clone
cd twmn/
apt-get install qt4-qmake libqt4-dev libboost1.49-dev libdbus-1-dev libxext-dev \
libboost-program-options1.49-dev libboost-system1.49-dev
make install

To start tmwnd when logging in to Openbox add the following line to your standard users ~/.config/openbox/autostart

twmnd &

You will then need to create a ~/.config/twmn/twmn.conf file with your desired settings, this thread on the Crunchbang forums has more information.

If you want more conventional desktop notications then do as follows, make sure you remove notification-daemon as it messes things up

apt-get autoremove --purge notification-daemon
apt-get install notify-osd libnotify-bin

You may like to to install notify-osd from the Crunchbang repo's as it allows for customisation. You will need to add the repository to your apt sources and then install it.

apt-get install -t statler notify-osd

You will will need to place it on hold if you decide to do this otherwise it will be upgraded. Pinning may also prove useful here...

cat > /etc/apt/preferences.d/notify-osd <<EOF
Package: notify-osd
Pin: release a=statler
Pin-Priority: 800

Screen Locking

apt-get install gnome-screensaver


apt-get install clipit

This should start automatically by means of xdg autostart.


wget -nc -O ~/.Xdefaults ""

Language Input Methods

The preferred input method application is ibus, we get it with

apt-get install ibus ibus-gtk im-config

This doesn't bring much without the (keyboard) input method itself, this is depending on the language: Chinese pinyin input (most commonly used)

apt-get install ibus-pinyin

Anthy (Japanese)

apt-get install ibus-anthy

Hangul (korean)

apt-get install ibus-hangul

There are many other input methods for tables, they are too many to mention:

apt-cache search ibus-table

After installing, iBus will run as daemon and reside in the systray. We start it with ibus-daemon and configure it: - right-click the icon, choose Properties - in the tab labelled "Input Method" we select the input method(s) and click on "Add" to add them, one after the other. - after closing the window, we need to log out and back to make iBus work.

The daemon needs to be added to the ~/.config/openbox/autostart if not started automatically

ibus-daemon &

In the past, there was another input method called SCIM. It is still available, though its configuration is not as easy as iBus.

References: Language Input by machinebacon on #! forums


If using a workstation or computer or a machine with a static IP I would recommend using Debian's standard ifupdown or ceni.

Whilst using ceni is fine, if using a laptop network-manager can be convenient.

If desired install as follows:

usermod -a -G netdev youruser
cat > /etc/polkit-1/localauthority/50-local.d/10-org-freedesktop-network-manager-settings.pkla <<EOF                                                                          
[Allow members of netdev to create wireless connections for all users]

Logout and login again.

apt-get install network-manager-gnome modemmanager dnsmasq-base ppp mobile-broadband-provider-info gnome-bluetooth usb-modeswitch
vi /etc/NetworkManager/NetworkManager.conf
change managed=true in [ifupdown]
invoke-rc.d network-manager restart

check that interfaces in /etc/network/interfaces are commented out.

Add the following to openbox

(sleep 3 && nm-applet --sm-disable) &

To have networking start before the user is logged in ensure "available to all users" is selected in network-manager.

If using KDE4's plasma wigdet then read

Power Management

Install the packages required for power management (exclude any you desire if using a desktop computer).

apt-get install pm-utils cpufrequtils wireless-tools ethtool vbetool

If you have a multi-processor or multi-cored CPU's on a laptop then irqbalance can be useful for power saving.

apt-get install irqbalance

Add info about scripts avaialble from source package of pm-utils


Terminal Emulator: rxvt-unicode

My preferred terminal emulator is rxvt-unicode

apt-get install rxvt-unicode

In order to set it as the default run the following command as root and choose the entry for /usr/bin/urxvt

update-alternatives --config x-terminal-emulator

I have the following in my ~/.Xdefaults

!## urxvt
URxvt.visualBell:           false
URxvt.depth:                32      
URxvt.fading:               15%
URxvt.fadeColor:            #0c0c0c
URxvt.cursorBlink:          true
URxvt.shading:              10
URxvt.geometry:             138x40
URxvt.transparent:          false
URxvt.saveLines:            32767
URxvt.internalBorder:       5
URxvt.foreground:           #b8b8b8
URxvt.background:           [80]Black
URxvt.font:                 xft:liberation mono:pixelsize=11:antialias=true
URxvt.boldFont:             xft:liberation mono::bold:pixelsize=11:antialias=true
URxvt.scrollBar:            false
URxvt.scrollTtyKeypress:    true
URxvt.scrollWithBuffer:     false
URxvt.scrollTtyOutput:      false
URxvt.cutchars:             "()*,<>[]{}|'
URxvt.print-pipe:           cat > $(echo urxvt.dump.$(date +'%Y%M%d%H%m%S'))
URxvt.secondaryScroll:      true
URxvt.mapAlert:             true
URxvt.utmpInhibit:          true
URxvt.urlLauncher:          iceweasel
URxvt.matcher.button:       1
URxvt.perl-ext-common:      default,matcher

!## urxvt colors
URxvt*color0:               #171717
URxvt*color8:               #737373
URxvt*color1:               #FF5E5E
URxvt*color9:               #FF7878
URxvt*color2:               #9CE82B
URxvt*color10:              #9ACD32
URxvt*color3:               #F0E68C
URxvt*color11:              #EEE8AA
URxvt*color4:               #008AFF
URxvt*color12:              #4F98FF
URxvt*color5:               #E88CFF
Rxvt*color13:               #EDA6FF
URxvt*color6:               #87CEFA
URxvt*color14:              #B0E2FF
URxvt*color7:               #DCDCCC
URxvt*color15:              #FFFFFF


urxvt does not copy data to the primary selection which can a problem in certain situations, so I use a perl script created by Bert Muennich to make things feel more intuitive.

This clipboard does not automatically copy selections in urxvt, if you would like primary selections automatically copied to the clipboard then set URxvt.clipboard.autocopy: true in ~/.Xdefaults. It also has a convenient method to paste inserting escapes where necessary.

mkdir -p ~/.urxvt/perl
wget -O ~/.urxvt/perl/clipboard ""

As your normal user insert the following in ~/.Xdefaults (replace "youruser" with your user name).

URxvt.perl-lib:             /home/youruser/.urxvt/perl/
URxvt.perl-ext:             clipboard
URxvt.keysym.C-Insert:      perl:clipboard:copy
URxvt.keysym.S-Insert:      perl:clipboard:paste
URxvt.keysym.S-A-Insert:    perl:clipboard:paste_escaped
URxvt.clipboard.autocopy:   true

Then retrain yourself away from the Microsoft Windows method of using CTRL-c, CTRL-x and CTRL-v and use:

  • CTRL + Insert = Copy
  • SHIFT + Delete = Cut
  • SHIFT + Insert = Paste
  • (SHIFT + ALT + Insert = Paste with escapes into urxvt)
Note: You have the option of changing the key bindings if desired (look at the the perl clipboard script for information), but personally it made more sense to stick with the standard shortcuts. These shortcuts work in MS Windows as well.





Run Command

apt-get install gmrun
cp /usr/share/gmrun/gmrunrc > ~/.gmrunrc
sed -i 's/Terminal = x-terminal-emulator/Terminal = eval x-terminal-emulator/' ~/.gmrunrc
Further information about the use of eval here

File Management

After trying just about all the different file managers I found Nautilus to be my favourite, use your preferred one if desired.

Install base file management components which is basically a file manager, disk burner and image viewer

apt-get install nautilus policykit-1-gnome gvfs-backends gnome-keyring gvfs-bin gvfs gvfs-fuse nautilus-open-terminal \
libpam-gnome-keyring gconf-editor gnome-session-common gnome-user-guide yelp nautilus-actions nautilus-image-converter

CD/DVD Management

apt-get install brasero genisoimage cdrdao cdrskin xorriso

Image Viewer


apt-get install gthumb

Then enable any extensions you desire in the interface

Add the following lines to the end of /etc/pam.d/login to unlock the keyring when you login through tty. gnome-keyring-daemon should start automatically.

auth            optional
session         optional  auto_start

Reboot after adding them.

Add user to fuse group (mainly for gvfs although this may no longer be required... seems to work now even if I was not a member of the fuse group)

usermod -a -G fuse youruser

Configure Nautilus to stop hijacking the desktop

su - youruser
gconftool-2 -s -t bool /apps/nautilus/preferences/show_desktop false
gconftool-2 -s -t bool /desktop/gnome/background/draw_background false

File Associations

The package gnome-session-common provides us with our defaults.list application file which can be used to set default applications. In order to utilise them you should do something similar to this.

Note: I found that having the file .local/share/applications/mimeapps.list caused xdg-open to fail to adhere to my associations. I moved it to .local/share/applications/defaults.list and edited that instead.

mv ~/.local/share/applications/mimeapps.list ~/.local/share/applications/defaults.list

As and example I ran the following to setup my default image viewer options.

If your defaults.list did not previously exist run this command.

echo "[Default Applications]" > ~/.local/share/applications/defaults.list
grep image /usr/share/gnome/applications/defaults.list | sed 's/eog.desktop/viewnior.desktop/' >> ~/.local/share/applications/defaults.list

Make sure after editing the file as above that you move the "[Added Associations]" if it exists below the redirected list created from the above comamnd... e.g.

[Added Associations]

Setup sharing via samba to windows clients

As root do the following.

apt-get install nautilus-share samba

Answer any debconf questions...

cp /etc/samba/smb.conf /etc/samba/smb.conf.default
vi /etc/samba/smb.conf

add the following to the global section

map to guest = bad user
usershare allow guests = yes

Add your user as a smb user

smbpasswd -a youruser
usermod -a -G sambashare youruser

Restart Samba

invoke-rc.d samba restart

You should

Miscellaneous Apps

apt-get install gcalctool remmina remmina-plugin-rdp remmina-plugin-vnc smbclient cifs-utils conky transmission

Web Browser

apt-get install iceweasel flashplugin-nonfree default-jre icedtea-plugin aspell-en \

If you like Chromium (chromium-browser chromium-browser-l10n) then install that instead of or as well as Iceweasel.

Google talk plugin

Now that MS owns Skype and support for Skype was never that great anyway google talk is a good option, presuming you have a Google account.

wget -O /etc/apt/sources.list.d/google-talkplugin.list ""
wget -O /tmp/apt_google-key.asc "" && apt-key add /tmp/apt_google-key.asc
apt-get update
apt-get install google-talkplugin

Text and Documents

apt-get install evince abiword gnumeric

Optionals: if you want a gui version of vim or openoffice

apt-get install vim-gtk vim-doc

To be able to view windows world docuements you can install.

apt-get install \

Other options are gnumeric and abiword if you want something lighter.

Or just use google docs, I believe openoffice has support for google docs sync now also.

Python Docs

apt-get install diveintopython3 python3-doc python3-examples

Located at

file:///usr/share/doc/diveintopython3/html/index.html file:///usr/share/doc/python3.2/html/index.html

Media and Music

apt-get install vlc vlc-plugin-notify libmtp-runtime


apt-get installgimp gimp-help-en videolan-doc gimp-data-extras inkscape imagemagick thewidgetfactory


apt-get install virtualbox virtualbox-dkms virtualbox-source virtualbox-qt libqt4-opengl virtualbox-guest-additions-iso

Add info about skype

Wine (Play on Linux)

apt-get install playonlinux smbclient samba-common-bin ttf-liberation

Laptop Packages

Seriously.... power management on Linux WTF is going on... I just spent a few hours trying to understand what packages I did and didn't need, ended up removing acpi-support, acpid, acpi-support-base, acpi-fakey, hibernate. For my Lenovo R500 I also had to this to get some media keys such as mute working.

vi /etc/default/grub

Added "acpi_osi=Linux" to the boot arguments

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet acpi_osi=Linux"



If running a laptop install these

apt-get install vbetool bluez python-dbus ceni cpufrequtils pm-utils wireless-tools iw hdparm \
sdparm ethtool powertop rfkill lm-sensors smartmontools ibam

If you need to manage your wireless vs wired then install

apt-get install ifplugd ifmetric

perhaps use either laptop-mode-tools or xfce4-power-manager

apt-get install gnome-power-manager

Fix for resume on LVM - This bug is now resolved but you should be aware of this if you ever rename your volume groups.

echo "RESUME=/dev/mapper/vg00-swap" > /etc/initramfs-tools/conf.d/resume
update-initramfs -u

(The following is only really useful if you do not use network manager) Add the following to restart wireless after suspend/hibernate.

vi /etc/pm/sleep.d/
case "$1" in
       ifdown wlan0
       ifup wlan0
exit $?
chmod +x /etc/pm/sleep.d/

Xgamma can be used alter the RGB values

detect other modules to load

As per bug power saving for wireless does not work from pm-utils on recent Debian Kernels. until a proper fix is made I just commented out line 21 in /usr/lib/pm-utils/power.d/wireless

#[ -d "/sys/class/net/$1/wireless" ] || return 1

I also enable sata link power management On line 5 in /usr/lib/pm-utils/power.d/sata_alpm update the value from false to true


I then added this script with some customisations:

# A script to enable laptop power saving features for #! & Debian GNU+linux.

# List of modules to unload, space seperated. Edit depending on your hardware and preferences.
# Bus list for runtime pm. Probably shouldn't touch this.
buslist="pci spi i2c"

case "$1" in
   # Enable some power saving settings while on battery
      # Intel power saving
       echo Y > /sys/module/snd_hda_intel/parameters/power_save_controller
      # USB powersaving
       for i in /sys/bus/usb/devices/*/power/autosuspend; do
           echo 1 > $i
      # Disable hardware modules to save power
       for mod in $modlist; do
           grep $mod /proc/modules >/dev/null || continue
           modprobe -r $mod 2>/dev/null
      # Enable runtime power management. Suggested by powertop.
       for bus in $buslist; do
           for i in /sys/bus/$bus/devices/*/power/control; do
               echo auto > $i
       echo 0 > /proc/sys/kernel/nmi_watchdog
       echo 0 > /sys/devices/platform/thinkpad_acpi/bluetooth_enable
      #Return settings to default on AC power
       echo N > /sys/module/snd_hda_intel/parameters/power_save_controller
       for i in /sys/bus/usb/devices/*/power/autosuspend; do
           echo 2 > $i
       for mod in $modlist; do
           if ! lsmod | grep $mod; then
               modprobe $mod 2>/dev/null
       for bus in $buslist; do
           for i in /sys/bus/$bus/devices/*/power/control; do
               echo on > $i
       echo 1 > /proc/sys/kernel/nmi_watchdog
       echo 1 > /sys/devices/platform/thinkpad_acpi/bluetooth_enable

exit 0

I use a thinkpad r500 and use thinkfan for more savings plus quiet operation:

apt-get install thinkfan

Change start to yes

add the following to this file /etc/modprobe.d/thinkpad_acpi.conf

options thinkpad_acpi fan_control=1


sensors && cat /proc/acpi/ibm/thermal && smartctl -A -d ata /dev/sda | grep Temperature

read the config file in /etc/thinkfan.conf and if possible identify you laptops sensors.

My sensors line from my R500 looks like this.

sensor /proc/acpi/ibm/thermal (2, 0, 0, 0, 5, 0, 5, 0, 10, 2, 2, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0)


Bluetooth Keyboard and Mouse

apt-get install bluez bluetooth bluez-firmware

Check your bluetooth adapter is available

hcitool dev

Scan for bluetooth devices and note their addresses

hcitool scan

Initiate connection

bluez-simple-agent hci0 00:00:00:00:00:00

Trust the device

bluez-test-device trusted 00:07:61:37:D5:60 yet

Test connection or reboot to see if device connects once the bluetooth daemon starts.

bluez-test-input connect 00:07:61:37:D5:60

Visual Tweaks

QT Theming

Run qtconfig and select GUI Style to GTK+ so KDE/QT apps look the same.

Clear the screen after boot.

cp /etc/issue /etc/issue.old
clear > /etc/issue 
cat /etc/issue.old >> /etc/issue

Improve Boot Visuals

By Default the Debian boot sequence is a little dull. Sure you can add things like usplash but I would rather stick with the console output instead of using packages to "make things purdy".

First I install the Terminus Font and reconfigure the console-setup package to make use of it.

Ensure the packages are installed and then reconfigure console-setup

apt-get install console-terminus console-setup kbd
dpkg-reconfigure console-setup

Answer the debconf questions, the first 2 are typically default.

Encoding to use on the console: (hit Enter)
Character set to support: (hit Enter)
Font for the console: Terminus
Font size: 12x6 (or choose your desired size)

Your console font should now be using Terminus at the desired size. Reboot to see the new font upon boot.

Make it Quiet

Adding "quiet" to grub's arguments will mean less information is spewed onto the console at bootup. This is important to making the boot bootiful :)

vi /etc/default/grub

Find the following line and edit it as follows


Save and exit the file, then update grub


You can reboot again if you would like to see the result.

Update initrd with graphics drivers

Upon boot you may have noticed the font changes halfway through the boot sequence which looks a little odd. So lets fix that.

Firstly we need to get our graphics card module loaded as soon as possible at boot by loading it into initrd. initramfs-tools should be installed already unless you have a unusual install.

For The Intel graphics on my Lenovo R61 laptop I did:

echo i915 >> /etc/initramfs-tools/modules

For The ATI Radeon card in my Desktop I did:

echo radeon >> /etc/initramfs-tools/modules

Plus you need to ensure the "firmware-linux-nonfree" package is installed for the radeon firmware.

You will need to google other graphics cards modules and I have no idea how or if this works with proprietary drivers. I don't use them so don't bother asking.

With the Radeon I also had to turn on kernel mode setting by parsing it from grub (The Intel used it by default), This may have changed by the time you read this and might not be required. Try with without first of all.

vi /etc/default/grub

Find the following line and edit it as follows

GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet radeon.modeset=1"

Save and exit the file, then update grub


Once done, regenerate your initrd by running:

update-initramfs -u -v

Loading Fonts into initrd

So the Boot sequence is a seemless as possible we need to load the fonts into the initrd

wget -O /usr/share/initramfs-tools/hooks/console_setup ""
wget -O /usr/share/initramfs-tools/scripts/init-top/console_setup ""
chmod +x /usr/share/initramfs-tools/hooks/console_setup
chmod +x /usr/share/initramfs-tools/scripts/init-top/console_setup

Then regenerate your initrd:

update-initramfs -u -v

You should notice the hook for console_setup being run (as long as you used the -v argument). Again... if you want to see the result... reboot.

LSB Logging

Debian supports the Linux Standard Base Logging Script for most services init runs. To make these console messages bootiful create the following file:

wget -O /etc/ ""

Lastly reboot to see the effect.


Power Management Scripts

OpenBox menus

sudo updatedb sudo apt-file update

Upload bash dot files

Preconfigured Desktop

If you would like to use a config I have made up to give you a nice basic desktop, then do the following. WARNING this overwrites existing files.

wget -O xfiles.tar.gz ""
tar --no-same-permissions --no-same-owner -xvzf xfiles.tar.gz
rm xfiles.tar.gz

There is a bug with consolekit at the time of writing so if you cannot mount disks, reboot, shutdown etc. then install this (older) version of consolekit and place consolekit on hold.

cd /var/cache/apt/archives/
wget ""
dpkg -i consolekit_0.4.1-4_i386.deb
echo "consolekit hold" | dpkg --set-selections

If you have an ntfs volume you want to easily access via nautuilus from your normal user (perhaps a multiboot partition) do the following.

vi /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/org.freedesktop.udisks.policy

Edit the section

<action id="org.freedesktop.udisks.filesystem-mount-system-internal">





Reboot for it to take affect.

At this point if you wish you can start using your GUI. Simply reboot and then login to the first console as you normal user and startx will be invoked if you have used my bash config files.

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