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Note that the following steps assume that you're logged in as a regular user, hence most privileged commands need to be prefixed with “sudo”. Alternatively, you can switch to su with:

sudo su

What graphic card is installed?

To identify the system's video chipset (assuming its a PCI/PCIexpress based video HW)

sudo lspci

Look for spew similar to:

00:02.0 VGA compatible controller

Your actual bus address will be different; to get more details for the specific video device, rerun the command with the address:

sud lspci -vv -s 00:02.0

Basic X Window installation

The basic installation of an X server is nowadays amazingly simple:

sudo apt-get install xorg alsa
sudo X -configure

This will download, install and configure the bare X Window system. X Window could be launched by simply running “startx”, but I do like a graphical login screen, e.g. gdm. For a useful system, this box also needs a window manager. I've been playing a bit with CrunchBang Linux, it sports a simple appearance and is using OpenBox as its window manager. Its very simple look (user needs to right-click to launch a app or Alt-Tab to bring back minimized app), I'm also adding as a taskbar and conky as a system monitor:

sudo apt-get install gnome-core gdm
sudo apt-get install openbox tint2 conky

Should your X Window end up messed up, it's easy to reconfigure the X Window:

sudo dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg

After a reboot of the system, you should be presented with the graphical login screen of GDM. Note that you can still login with a text-mode session by hitting Ctrl+Alt+F1, F2 etc. To switch back to the graphic session, pick screen 7 or 8: Ctrl+Alt+F7

From the gdm login screen, click on “Sessions” and select “OpenBox” and make it your default. Time to login!

Web browser

The basic Debian system has a no-thrills browser “Epiphany”. But I prefer running Google's Chrome.

To easily manage the Chrome debian installer, it's necessary to add its software repository to APT:

  • add google's publisher key to APT:
wget -q -O – | apt-key add -
  • add the repository to the end of /etc/apt/sources.list:
# Google software repository
deb stable non-free main
  • rebuild the cache and install Chrome
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install google-chrome-stable

Add basic editors and tools

sudo apt-get install vim vim-gnome emacs

File manager:

sudo apt-get install thunar

PostScript & PDF support:

sudo apt-get install gv xpdf okular

Source repository helpers

sudo apt-get install gitg mercurial-git tortoisehg kdiff3-qt

Configure OpenBox

To add a taskbar or a system monitor to the otherwise empty desktop, add:

vi ~/.config/openbox/
# Run the system-wide support stuff

# Programs to launch at startup
#hsetroot ~/wallpaper.png &
# make sure command lines end with '&'
(sleep 2s && tint2) &
conky &
xscreensaver -nosplash &

General OpenBox config

if the file rc.xml doesn't yet in your home directory:

cp /etc/xdg/openbox/rc.xml ~/.config/openbox/rc.xml

Besides general UI configuration like titlebars, it also allows to manage key bindings like Super+W to launch a web browser

obconf is a utility to edit appearance, themes etc, but not keybindings or menus. Edit rc.xml and menu.xml directly.

if the file menu.xml doesn't yet in your home directory:

cp /etc/xdg/openbox/menu.xml ~/.config/openbox/menu.xml

After changes to menu.xml or rc.xml, right-click on desktop and click “Reconfigure”

Time to upgrade the system with any patches

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

Next step: Develop yourself

The next chapter adds the tools necessary for compiling a Linux kernel, create your own applications or even to compile Android

add_xwindow.txt · Last modified: 2014/11/01 14:13 (external edit)