Debian's path is already lit by the Luddite

A couple readers have asked me to write a Debian Install guide, but there is no need.  There is already a great guide in existence from our close friend Dan the PPC Luddite.  Dan is a Debian chef of master class levels, and his guide can help you turn your install into a gourmet dish.

If you just want Debian as the only OS on the hardware in question, then you can easily install it without help in most situations.  You don't need to know any commands unless you tell it not to install a GUI.  If you want to tinker with other OS and such on the same machine, and other more specific things, then Dan's guide is for you.

The best reason to use Dan's guide is all the PowerPC-specific configuration help it gives.  Proper configuration is key to having a great Linux install when you're done.

Here are all five parts of his install guide, which he updates continually:

Part I - Pre-Installation

Part II - Installing the Base System

Part III - Installing the GUI 

Part IV - Configuring Stuff 

Part V - Bugs & Quirks 

The only real thing I would change is installing LXDE, rather than just Openbox as Dan does.  With LXDE you still get Openbox, along with all the added LXDE greatness.  Openbox comes totally raw out of the box.  It takes a lot of config to get it just right.  LXDE is more of a personal choice, but I can promise that a lot of Linux newbies will adapt far better to it.  I also recommend Fluxbox.  It's kind of a middle ground between LXDE and Openbox in terms of pre-configured things. 

I am working on more Debian content of my own, but I don't like redundancy in the community, so there will be no Debian install guide here, at least for now.  The Luddite's guide is very well done, and has a very capable user with legitimate experience behind every word.  You can trust Dan as much as us to look out for your computing well-being.


  1. Wow, thanks for the compliments! Just to elaborate on why I chose Openbox, basically I hate taskbars. That's probably the sum of it. Though it's also fun to learn by necessity how things like mounting and logging out and suspend work behind the scenes.

    I'll leave you with a quick Jessie update. Everything's good except for two big regressions in the 3.9 kernel which break sound and suspend. I left two bug reports to check out if anybody gets hit with the same thing:

    1. The compliments are deserved.

      I totally get the value of Openbox and often prefer more of a challenge myself. My point is that with LXDE you get the best of both worlds. Openbox is not only included with LXDE but it's also integrated.

      If you don't like the taskbar then just remove it. I typically have it hidden myself. All you need is Kupfer to launch everything.

  2. How about a short guide for a very minimal install? I have a G4 with a very small hard drive. Don't need all the extra stuff. All I want is the base debian with a low resource graphic interface and a browser for internet use.

    If you could do that you would be my personal hero.


    1. Sure, I could do that when I have time. Maybe in the next 2-3 days.

      It's pretty simple. Wheezy netinstall + LXDE would be the way to go. The Debian LXDE iso includes a lot of extra software like Libreoffice, GIMP etc.

      Debian netinstall + LXDE is actually lighter than Puppy Linux.

      Check back soon.

  3. As you mentioned, installing Debian 7.01 by itself on a Power Mac G4 is a snap. There are no outstanding issues that I have found. You just get a fast, up-to-date OS with everything working great right out of the box. Ho-hmm.

    I needed the Jessie challenge to keep it interesting. Seems like whether or not I choose LXDE as the default GUI or install it over a base system, it always installs GNOME too. Has LXDE become dependent on GNOME in Jessie? Just having it on my machine slows down everything. It's a CPU hog and doesn't like my graphics card. This wasn't the case with Wheezy.

    1. Use the Jessie netinstall which installs no GUI. Once the install is done and it reboots you login as root and then enter:

      apt-get install lxde

      Then just logout and into LXDE or Openbox. I can guarantee that you won't get GNOME that way. I have Jessie running also but have hardly booted to it so far.

    2. I forgot that you can still choose a GUI on the netinstall for a sec but I prefer to install debian without anything but the base and then add the GUI.

      Deselect desktop environment and print server (unless you want to use it as a print server) and then do what I listed above.

    3. This all got me thinking as to how you got GNOME when you didn't want it. If you're using the LXDE image then you would have to manually install GNOME afterward.

      GNOME is the default on the image with no GUI name and it turns out on the netinstall also. I had never done a netinstall where I installed the GUI which is why I guess I thought it didn't install one. Today for curiosity sake I threw an old HD into my linux machine and tried a test install with installing the GUI during install for the first time. It installed GNOME which makes sense as it is the default Debian GUI.

      So to be 100% sure you get LXDE either use that image or don't install a GUI until afterward.

      Break it down like this:

      For Internet, office, GIMP and full computing use choose the LXDE image

      For just internet or a very minimal small footprint for a small drive install, use the netinstall and deselect the desktop environment and everything other than utilities at the bottom and then add LXDE via apt-get.

    4. I keep forgetting to mention things I know perfectly...

      You can also enter the following at install to choose your desktop:

      desktop=< your choice >

      In place of "your choice" you simply enter lxde, gnome, xfce or kde.

      My brain is lost on a cluster project over the last couple weeks. Hence the 4 comment response.

    5. I can confirm the issue that Thomas had with GNOME installing with lxde. Used the netinst yesterday (18-Oct) and deselected Desktop Environment on install - as I always have. When I tried "apt-get install lxde" (or task-lxde-desktop or anything involving lxde) gnome was also installed. This is a problem as I want lxde w/o gnome - as most lxde users would I expect? I kept stopping the install to verify, as I was surprised at the number of packages to be installed - most of them gnome. Argh! On a side note, when I tried to install lxpolkit, lxde was uninstalled? Hmm....

    6. I have no idea how this is happening to you guys, because when I doi the same things I NEVER get GNOME. Whether I use the LXDE image or the netinstall and don't install the default, which would be GNOME.

      There must be something that you're fundamentally doing wrong. I have never had GNOME install unless I intended to.

    7. I have never had this happen before Jessie... Didn't happen with Wheezy, Squeeze or earlier. It was quite a surprise...

    8. A bit more info here - again, it's only in testing/jessie where there is a problem. Looks as though someone has narrowed it down:

  4. Thanks for all your responses. After playing around with this at length yesterday, I have come to the conclusion that while under Wheezy one could install the base system and then install LXDE over it... and not get GNOME, too, it doesn't work the same way with Jessie. I have installed LXDE by using the latest weekly build, debian-testing-powerpc-lxde-CD-1.iso, and by installing it over a base system as per your instruction. In either case, GNOME is also installed and is available as an option at login. My Quicksilver idles using about 10% of CPU with GNOME installed, vs. 1%-2% with just LXDE installed.

  5. I am in love with Debian 7 and LXDE, even on a 1 Ghz powerbook with just 512 MB of RAM it runs like hell!

    BTW anyone knows any manual for Kupfer, i am using it everyday more and more.. but i would like to use advaced tasks like send mails, etc..

    1. How about here?

      I'll agree on your statement about running Debian 7. Much better than I had even anticipated!

  6. I can assure you that LXDE as it exists now will be around for a long long long time. It has far too many loyalists to ever fade away.

    I know people with top of the line quad core x86 chips that still use LXDE. It has it's own very deeply dug niche.

    While it may not be as big as GNOME or KDE in terms of users, the ones that do use it are more dedicated to it.