Re: Keyboard and locale problems

From: Bob Proulx (
Date: 05/17/04

  • Next message: David Baron: "Re: addressbook recommendations?0"
    Date: Mon, 17 May 2004 09:44:54 -0600
    To: "David W.E. Roberts" <>

    David W.E. Roberts wrote:
    > Bob,
    > thanks for all the useful info.
    > I had been led to beleive that if you did a HD install of Knoppix then you
    > had a Debian installation which could then be updated to the latest version
    > by using 'apt-get update'.

    (read with me making puzzled faces about how to explain it) Not quite.
    KNOPPIX is a very tricked out hot rod car. It has many non-standard
    components making it a one-off. But it is really cool. The packages
    installed on it are a combination of Debian unstable plus many other
    sources of packges plus custom packages. I don't know if anyone other
    than the author really knows the combination to be able to update it.
    One of the problems I have run into is that it is assembled from
    bleeding edge locations which change often. By the time I go to
    update it the world around it has changed. Sources will have dried up
    and new ones created. Those need to be tracked.

    That "interesting" combination of installed software means that things
    won't be completely consistent. It is not a pure Debian system. It
    appears to have pieces of RH and pieces of this and pieces of that.
    So if you know the heritage of those components you would say it all
    makes sense. But if you don't then you have to figure it out. Asking
    in the debian-user makes sense but it is not really a Debian system
    and so we who are running Debian go "/etc/sysconfig"? What's that?
    If you ask in a RH forum they would go "/etc/network/interfaces"?
    What's that?

    Don't get me wrong. KNOPPIX is a fine system. I wish I had created
    it and would be proud of it if I had done so. But the goal of KNOPPIX
    is not to install Debian. The goal of KNOPPIX is to boot a highly
    functional system as a *live-cd* boot. It does that admirably. And
    Klaus Knopper is an expert. Therefore some expert tricks were used
    assemble those high functioning pieces into the system. I read in an
    interview once that Klaus had created the system for his own purposes
    but that everyone who saw it wanted it and so eventually he released
    it. I don't think his original intention was create a new distro.

    > To compund my problems, when using 'dpkg-reconfigure' on the text console or
    > via a remote 'xterm' I get a GUI which is reminiscent of VGA utilities under
    > DOS but which will not recognise arrow keys.

    Being non-graphical, non-X, they can almost always be run no matter
    what state the system is in. Life is good.

    > So I can select the first option with the space bar, tab to OK or Cancel and
    > hit Return, but nothing more.
    > Udders and bulls springs to mind.
    > This has me puzzled because arrow keys are common between US and UK (and I
    > guess most other) keyboards.

    This is why mailing list resonses should be kept on the mailing list.
    Please don't take the discussion offlist. I have no idea about why
    the cursor keys would not be working for you. But someone else on the
    list will have an idea about it.

    Makes me think your TERM veriable is not set right. What term setting
    are you using? I am assuming you have 'ncurses-term' installed to get
    the terminfo database /usr/share/terminfo/* installed.

    > I have sorted out my 'locale' problems; I am now GB not UKraine. However
    > this has not sorted my keyboard problems - will try the 'install-keymap
    > uk.kmap.gz'.

    Or one of the other keymaps under /usr/share/keymaps/i386/qwert[yz]/*.

    > The reason I went with Knoppix was because of the superb hardware
    > recognition - my previous attempt with RH 7.3 didn't pick up the USB card,
    > the floppy tape, or the ISA sound card.
    > Does a 'vanilla' Debian install have the same quality of hardware
    > recognition?

    The current released Debian 'woody' does not feature any automatic
    hardware detection. None. Instead the user is expected to state the
    drivers needed using 'modconf' or other utility or by hand in the
    /etc/modules file. This is the way all distros used to be 'back in
    the day. Since Debian is upgradable in place there is never a need to
    reinstall. Only rarely do people install Debian for the first time.
    Once installed one just upgrades it forever. This means that having
    automatic hardware detection has not been an itch for developers to
    scratch. For me personally I used to disable another automatic
    hardware detection program of another well known distro because it
    would cause me trouble. So personally I never missed not having it.

    However, because of the natural movement of users from distro to
    distro there has been a lot of pressure to add knoppix style automatic
    hardware detection to Debian. It is one of the frequently asked
    questions on the debian user list. The next Debian release 'sarge'
    will have automatic hardware detection using the same mechanism that
    knoppix uses. With 'sarge' I am going to need to relearn how to drive
    things since the system will start to automatically do things that I
    won't expect of it. :-)

    Unfortunately Debian has not made a new release since the previous
    'woody'. This is a very highly debated and flamed topic on the debian
    lists. It is getting a lot of exposure.

    > Oh, and on the subject of 'building character' - I started on AT&T System IV
    > Unix in the mid '80s and have been using variants ever since.
    > I also used to drive an ex-GPO Morris Minor van (non-UK people may not
    > understand this reference).
    > However graphical configuration tools (and Volvo estates with auto
    > gearboxes) do make life a deal easier and I don't have many hankerings to go
    > back :-)


    You might test out the new debian-installer which will install the
    current (very early) release candidate for sarge. It has known bugs.
    But still worked quite nicely for me.

    This is actually one of the problems with Debian not making a new
    release in so long. People start to propose that new and
    inexperienced people use the beta installer with the beta system in
    order to mollify them with features that the old system does not have.
    Being beta all around causes a different set of problems. Sigh.
    Really the beta releases should only be for the expert user. So
    working the problem this way is exactly the wrong way to do it. I
    hate myself for suggesting it.


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