Re: newbie intro

Tom Poe wrote:
OK. So, for starters, I'd like to know which version to use.

Since you are asking then I highly recommend that you install and run
the Debian Stable version. That is the most well known and well
tested release. (That is why it is called Stable. :-) The current
Stable release is called Lenny. Since you are asking then I recommend
using the i386 architecture for the same reasons.

The other releases are Testing and Unstable. Unstable is where active
development occurs. That is the bleeding edge. The Unstable
distribution is always named Sid. (Sid is the mean kid in Toy Story
who tortures toys.) You can upgrade from Stable to Unstable but for
the most part that is a one-way street. It isn't supported to
downgrade from Unstable to Stable or Testing.

Testing is the staging area for the next Stable. The currently
Testing release is Squeeze. Squeeze is getting close to release and
hopefully very soon it will be promoted to Stable but it hasn't
happened yet.

These really are not different distributions. These are stages in the
overall pipeline of packages. Packages enter in Unstable. After a
few days of aging if too many problems are not found then they are
promoted into Testing. At major release events Testing is promoted to
become the new Stable.

Here is some documentation on Debian release tracks.

When you start learning and using Debian it is recommended that you
start with Stable.

Looks like I can contribute to debian if I purchase CD/DVD, right?

No. That is incorrect. Debian is a free operating system and you may
always contribute to it. Also Debian does not sell CDs or DVDs at all
so it is not possible to purchase one from Debian. There are many
third party vendors who do sell CDs and DVDs. This is encouraged
because it makes Debian available to a wider user base. You may
choose to purchase a CD with an official Debian install image from a
third party but it is not required.

I'm on fixed income, so would have to send money order. Any

I assume you have network access. You posted this question using a
network! :-) In which case I recommend a network install. Can you
download and burn your own CD? This is probably the most popular
method for obtaining and installing Debian.

Extremely popular are the netinst images. These are smaller at
between 135-175 MB and install more of the system directly from the
network. This makes it the fastest to download and burn to a disk.
If I need an installation image and really just need it once or twice
then I always use the netinst image. You would be good to start with
the netinst image.

You may also download a CD containing a full system image. I like
using CD #1 because for me it is most versatile. DO NOT TRY TO
DOWNLOAD ALL OF THE CD OR DVD IMAGES! I emphasize this because this
is an often confused topic and people sometimes think they need to
download the entire Debian archive which is gigabytes of data. Let me
curb that early and say that only one bootable image is needed. All
of the others are provided for use WITHOUT A NETWORK and also for
archival purposes. The #1 image is a full disk and longer to download
and burn but I like it when I am going to use it a zillion times for
many installs.

My wish list: I'd like to install debian on desktop that serves as
workstation/server. The desktop has two hard drives, 80GB and
160GB. Would like to use both drives as one. Not sure how to
prepare drive settings to install with reformatting both when
inserting CD/DVD. Any suggestions appreciated (really limited
computer skills, here).

Using two disk drives together is a more complicated topic. I can't
recommend this for someone who claims limited computer skills. It
isn't that difficult. But it isn't that simple either. Also note
that if you join together two disk drives then if either disk drive
fails you will lose all of the data on both disk drives. I don't use
that type of configuration myself. (I almost exclusively use two disk
drives of similar size in a RAID configuration so that one drive can
fail without data loss to the system.)

Instead let me recommend to you that you pick one of the drives and
install the system upon it. Use the guided installation with LVM.
LVM is the logical volume manager. Later that will give you
flexibility to do what you ask if you so choose. Working with LVM
this way is a little more complicated than without but the guided
installer helps make it easier.

Be sure to read the installation guide.


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