Dell OptiPlex GL5100
200Mhz Pentium MMX
Built-in S3 Trio64 Video
8G hard drive
3C509TPC ISA network card
Really Cheap monitor
The PC in question would not boot from CD, so I used the boot disk provided.
The system booted, and once it saw the CD, it loaded the graphical install screen.
The first question is where to install. You are given three options:
I used the entire drive option. This warned me that it would erase the entire
drive and did I want to continue?
- The entire drive.
- Free space.
This will attempt to find free space and install there. I didn't use this as I wanted to wipe the WindowsNT installation that I didn't have the
passwords for anyway.
Lets you create the partitions manually. I've used this on other installs,
but not this one. It has a rather nice graphical tool to create and name partitions.
It has a few known bugs, though. These are documented in the README files, so read them.
This created two partitions on the drive. hda1 for swap, 130M and hda2 the rest
for everything else. I prefer to create extra partitions, but this was the default.
It then created the filesystem and installed the base installation. After this
you re-boot the system from the hard drive and the install continues.
The system correctly detected my ISA network card and even the S3 Trio64 video,
though XFree86 4.0 failed to start correctly. I had to loop through the 3.3.6 xservers
to configure the video. This still failed twice before it ran properly.
The monitor selection gives three options as well:
Select the size of your monitor and it will guess the rest for you.
Select the best resolution your monitor can do.
This is the one everyone is used to. You specify the specs for your monitor directly.
I chose medium and had to try twice. I used 1024X768@70Hz, but I only got
800X600. I suppose that is the best I could get.
The install never asked my what keyboard I use, but then it only supports
American systems at the moment, though it did let me set the right time zone
via a Windows-like control. It asked me for a root password and to set up a user.
This screen also has an option for 'strong' passwords or 'UNIX' compatible
I selected 'strong', but when everything was finished, the passwords for both
root and the user I created were blank!!!
After configuring a few more things like network info and such, it installs
the 'Minimum' system, which is quite complete. Once this was installed and
configured, it then gives you a rather nice GUI for installing extra packages
You can select things like:
- Gnome desktop
- Debian development packages
and many other options. You just tick the box next to the packages you want
installed and then click the install button. This calls dpkg with a variety of
options to install each group.
Once everything is installed, you can re-boot one last time and log in.
As I said, because I used the 'strong' passwords option, the root and user
passwords were blank. A simple passwd fixed this, but it should never
Finally I logged into the system via gdm. The gdm login gives you the option
to select the desktop as either Gnome, xsession, default or last. The boxed
set also contains an extras CD, but I could not get the add/remove software
tool to recognise the CD.
I used apt-cdrom add to add the second CD. I then used dselect to install
task-kde, which properly installed the majority of KDE2.0 onto my system.
By loggin out of the Gnome session, gdm then gave the the added option of KDE.
kdm, on the other hand, does not recognise other desktops/window managers
without manual intervention, which is why I still use gdm.
After this, I've got a fully working Progeny Debian Linux system running. Even
with the low spec of the PC, it's still rather snappy. Being Debian-based, a
simple apt-get update, apt-get dist-upgrade will update the system on-line with
I've also got this system running on my Dual PII350, though
this was installed from the first BETA and updated incrementally. I also used
The boxed set to install this on my Daughters PC, which is shared with Windows95.
To avoid any troubles between grub and Windows, I created a bootdisk and she uses
this to boot Linux when she wants to, which is much more than Windows.
This system is also fully compatible with the KDE2.1 .deb's available from
kde.debian.net A simple apt-get update, apt-get dist-upgrade will update KDE
automagically. Or you can just not install KDE2.0 and just
apt-get install task-kde to get everything. Though it is recommended to use
dselect to be sure of getting all the recommends and suggests.
The only other down-side to using Progeny was that it didn't detect my ISA
Crystal sound card. It took me a while to figure it out, as I am useless with
kernel modules. I know that the RedHat soundconfig tool works, but as Debian is
very different to RedHat in regards to config file locations it could not be
I've had very few problems with any of my systems. The only difficulty lately
was getting mp3 ripping support due to the copy-right problems. I was able to
get grip, but I had to fetch and install bladeenc manually.
To properly support CD-Rewriters, ALL cdroms use the ide-scsi module. My
CD-Rewriter worked flawlessly with xcdroast without any interventions on my
This is a rather nice and professional GUI-based install and it's Debian too!
There are a few small problems/glitches to be carefull of, but nothing worse than
trying to install Windows. Even though I did the BETA testing and got the boxed
set free, I will try to be impartial.
For Linux Beginners:
I can not really recommend this install for the complete beginner. There are a
few things that can go wrong during install, so you would want to know a bit
about Linux before installing this. Aside from the install, once the system is
set-up, you have a full Debian-based system running Gnome that anyone can use.
If you add KDE2.1 from kde.debian.net, you can have KDE2.1 running that any
former Windows user will feel at home with, but still have the full power of Linux!
For the rest of you:
This is a full Debian-based system. The Debian package management is, IMHO, far
superior to RedHat and apt-get is the greatest tool. Just point a source.list file
to any Debian mirror and just install anything. All dependencies are taken care
of for you. I actually installed a base system, I.E. console-only, did
apt-get update, apt-get install task-kde and the system installed ALL the X
packages and everything, then configured it up and a re-boot started kdm and I
could log into KDE directly! The only non-debian system I've used was Mandrake.
I found this to be quite condensending compared to Debian. Even my Daughter
thought this was only a child's distribution!
I hope this is helpfull to anyone looking for a Linux system.
About the author, John Gay.