Skolelinux v.37 and some other Debians - comments

04.05.2003 / 23.08.2004 / 17.02.2005 / 29.06.2006

Hi :-)

Because of some family relation, I am testing the Skolelinux 37 stand-alone version and I am 
trying to make it possible to work.

Regret, later versions of stand-alone Skolelinux do not give full access
to the root system - its creators decided, our innocent user has to master
everything from the command line. Perhaps it is security, but I think, it is 
very against the Skolelinux innocent users' rights to learn gradually.

I can imagine, that an innocent user, let us say 15 years old girl, has got CD
 with Skolelinux from school and she decided to do some of her prosjekt oppgave
 partly at school machine, partly at home. Not only my personal sad experience
 says, that saving file in OpenOffice 1.0 to MSWord format does not guarantee, that
 the real MSWord will read it. Probability is 75%, that MSWord will open file in
 good condition. Later version, OO 1.1 was much better. 
Our innocent user has of course full support of her innocent
 family: one year younger brother, famous games levels hacker, mother working
with MSWord and MSExcel in her office everyday and knowing almost all secrets
 of them and father, who eagerly plays games with his son and working in Den
 Norske Bank customer service desk. As you see, I do not assume lack of computer
 literacy in the family and lack of basic understanding of English. However,
 nobody in the family has ever touched any Unix or Linux, execept the girl, who
 has got Skolelinux ready installed and configured in computer room by the
 school administrator. She knew, where to click 'K' icon, how to find some basic
 programs and she knows, how it should look like.

So, I am trying to be like the innocent user with family and install
everything from the beginning.

1. Basic installation

I was lucky to have drawer with disk, which was decided to use with Skolelinux
 experiments and nothing more. After strugling with some instalations of Debian
 and Skolelinux before, the installation went so fast, that I hardly remember,
 if I was asked for anything. Probably it was, if to install, warning about lost
 data, what profile to choose and root password. Perhaps more, but I do not

2. What I wanted to be able to do in this 'home/office' machine?
a. ability to operate disketts, CDs and another hard disks put into another
 drawer of our box.
b. reasonable work in console - Midnight Commander is my dream solution, but has
 not come with Skolelinux installation.
c. ability to print own files (HP LaserJet 1100 printer on parallel port)
d. ability to connect to internet by modem
e. ability to at least read files coming by e-mail from various people using
 various programs.
f. ability to use CD recorder
g. ability to run Windows programs (at least some).

Ability to produce more advanced sounds, than simple system 'beep', which 
 usually means complain of harmed computer, I have skipped at the moment. I do
 not like computers trying to talk to me - I am enough talkative ;-)

I have realized, that to use our AcerScan 620T Prisa scanner will be difficult -
 I could find information, that probably Linux drivers do not exist for this

3. My first adaptations.

a. I have placed icons of diskett and CD drives on the KDE desktop. Mounting and
 unmounting was easy. Perhaps in DOS/Windows machines is easier, but now is OK.
 I was very surprised to read in the "Kurs i Skolelinux", that access to
 disketts and CDs is not implemented yet. It is not too complicated for our 
 user. It is much more difficult things to be done, before computer is useable.

b. Midnight Commander

I am backward and conservative already grey-haired historical blondie and life
 without Norton Commander or any of its younger nephews is impossible for me. I
 have installed Midnight Commander. It was necessary to obtain files from either
 full Debian Woody distribution, which I have, or from internet. 3 deb files
 were needed:
Installation by KDE package manager was smooth and life became brighter.

I really have problems to understand, why the Skolelinux managers want to save
 2MB of CD space, and as result, change usually simple tasks into very
 complicated. It is always possible to switch it off to train plain shell
 commands, if somebody really needs it.

Basic instruction:

To start Midnight Commander (later I will use just MC), open console window,
and press 'enter'

You will see blue table with two main panels: left and right showing directories
 in the box. If you are root, you start inside /root, if you are normal user,
 you will start inside /home/your directory. You may travel easily between
 directories by means or mouse or arrows from keyboard. You may switch between
 panels and activate upper menu by mouse.
In the bottom line you will see short help of basic function keys meaning:
for example F3 Se på, F4 Rediger, F5 Kopier, etc

Files with slash / in front of name are directories.
Files with star * in front of name are to be executed. For any reason all files
 copied from DOS/Windows system have this mark, which sometimes can surprise at
 work. For example .zip archives were impossible to open before removing
 execution attribute. How to do it - soon.
Files with at @ in front of name are links to another existing files
Files with tilde ~ in front of name are symbolic links to another existing files

To display hidden files, go to Alternativer -> Konfigurasjon -> mark vis skjulte
 filer and lagre. They will appear with dot . in front of name.

To copy files or directories: on first panel mark them either by Ins(ert) key
 from keyboard, or if all files have to be selected by * key from numeric
 keyboard. Marking by Ins(ert) key works also for whole directories, while * key
 marks only single files. On second panel display the desired destination. If
 you have to create directory, press F7 and write new directory names. After you
 are satisfied both with choice and destination, press F5 and copying will go
 on. There is no danger, that marked file will be accidentally executed or
like in Konqueror.

To unpack archive, you do simmilar as with copying files or directories. In
 first panel enter the directory and mark files to be unpacked, in second panel
 display/prepare destination directory and press F5 to copy. It might be
 reasonable to have some directories for experiments and some for important

To change attribute of file, go to upper menu Fil -> chmod -> and do, what you
 need. For example for above mentioned Windows .zip archive, I had to remove all
 x marks in front of every kjøre[...]. Afterwards unpacking was easy.

If you want to see content of any file, pressing F3 shows its content, permits
 searching for words (press F7), but does not permit to change anything inside.
To make changes in for example any /etc/something.config file, press F4.
 Searching for words works there also by pressing F7.

Sometimes Midnigt Commander protests about any access denied. It means, that you
 have to be logged as root. If root does not help - see 'unsolved problems
 -yet?' section.

Good luck :-)

c. Power management was strange - after suspending the box, there was extremely
 techno-blinking disco on the screen (graphic card S3Trio 2/3D 32MB)
 installation by means of modconf module: /kernel/arch../apm solved the problem.
 In addition box could be switched off by Linux, without pressing power switch.

d. I was tired by too dark blue standard KDE wallpaper. I have chosen from
 Control Center -> Look & feel -> Background -> Wallpaper standard set the
 'time-for-lunch', which I feel, is more convenient for me.

e. Installation program installed user 'root' only. By console command 'adduser'
 I have added two more usual users. Home computer may also have several users

In addition, some programs go on strike, or complain severely, if run by root. I
 have not found another way to add new user by means of any KDE application.
After it I could make decoration for login box by adding faces via Control
 Center -> System -> Login Manager -> Users.

First added user got everything OK, but the second one got KDE corrupted for any
 reason: there was no bottom panel with Kicker and it seemed no gentle way could
 get it back. So we have decided to use drastic methode: erase the unlucky user
 by command 'deluser unlucky' in console, then 'adduser lucky' and everything
 went smooth with new KDE.

4. Unsolved problems (yet?)

a. I have tried to do something with long stop during start of whole system,
 when network settings are searched. Our box has network card from former period
 of its history, but it was not connected to any network at the moment. Placing
 # in front of line including 'tjener' inside /etc/fstab file did not solve the
 problem. OK, it was not so terrible, just to wait a little...

b. KDE help files for user root are badly displayed: the uppermost part is cut
 by upper help logo. Increasing size of fonts helps a little, but part of text
 may still be hidden. Normal user has no such problem. Why?

c. Strange thing: I have the same font configuration in the KDE Control Center
 -> look and feel -> fonts both  as root and as normal user. However, the
standard Debian icon on KDE desktop,  starting Konqueror with links to various
Debian site, as root displays only set  of Chinese characters, but as normal
user, dispalys that, what should be. The  same is with displaying of Unix man
pages from KDE Help Center: root gets them  in 'Chinese', while normal user gets
them in English. Why?

Three months ago, I have reported simmilar problem (completely blank page at
 this time) and I have got advice from Mr. Knut Yrvin to install support of
 Polish language in KDE. However, I hope, there is another solution, more
 friendly for Norwegians :-P

Finally I have got to idea, that problems b and c are related to installed or
not ISO 10646-1 in KDE Kontrollsenter -> Personleg ->Land og språk -> Teiknsett.
This is mainly probably problem for Sami language users, or people working much
in Unicode.

Børre Gaup has written, it is known bug in Konquerror in KDE 2.2.1

d. PS/PDF Viewer does not display correctly for example OpenOffice Draw HowTo
 (downloaded from internet). There have been fragments missing. However,
 printout was correct. I have one .pdf file which is not displayed at all.
 Perhaps would be displayed by Adobe Acrobat Reader, but I have not started this
 fight yet. Adobe Acrobat Reader is not included in the Skolelinux CD.

Later, I have experienced, it is never sure, which .pdf file will be correctly 
displayed and printed via PS/PDF Viever or Acrobat Reader. Probably it depends 
on program, which has produced the file.

e. Access to Windows disk (FAT32)

To be able to see partitions of another DOS/Windows disk, I had to edit
/etc/fstab file (F4 in MC).
It was discovery, that second disk is hdc, not as I could expect hdb. OK, it was
 master on second tape. I could find it out by looking at content of /dev
 directory. Then I have placed icon on desktop, and I could read my files. For
 any reason writing into the DOS/Windows disk was not possible. Later, I have
 found information, that file type in /etc/fstab should be declared as vfat, not
 as auto. Result was, that I could also write into Windows disk.

For example: the line for partition F in Windows disk was:
/dev/hdc4   /disk/f  vfat   rw,user,noauto  0   0

However, there have been still problems in writing into Windows disks and
 disketts. For any reason, it is necessary to keep very specific set of
 attributes, and all operations to change it are impossible. System complains,
 that access is read-only, and I can not find any gentle way to change it.
 Neither editing /etc/fstab, nor chaotic 'chmod' and 'chown' operations could
 solve the problem for long time. I was also not able to create directories
 inside Windows disk.

Finally I have found solution: put reading and writing permissions into for
 example /dev/@hdc4 file, in the files directory /disk/f and in the mounting
 disc icon on KDE desktop (Fil -> chmod). I could copy files and even make
 directories. Next day it did not work :-((( After several attempts to copy file
 into Windows disk, suddenly it has passed. Has removing attributes of execution
 help? In fact, I still do not understand.

f. black-white gif and jpg images

Both Opera and Konqueror badly displays black/white (lineart) *.gif images in 
web pages. They appear as too small and with reduced width. In Konqueror, as
addition to distorted image, there is black shadow approximately covering
intended size of image. Saving the images as greyscale in picture editor
'solves' the problem. Why it is a problem?

g. Sami keyboard

Instead of "<" and ">" come "?" instead of both. Is it planned? OK - it
was only, if Unicode was not completely activated.

5. Installed modules by modconf

paride (perhaps useful?)
keybdev (perhaps useful?)
sg (for fight with CD recorder)
file systems: msdos, isofs, ntfs, umdos (perhaps useful?)
drivers/net: dummy, ppp_async, ppp_deflate, ppp_sync (perhaps useful for fight
 with modem?)

6. Printing setup

I had to install driver HP Laser Jet 6 series for our HP Laser Jet 1100 printer,
 and it worked well. After my former fight with printing in OpenOffice, I knew,
 it was necessary to have installed everything for Postscript in system and in
 OpenOffice Printer Administration, leave printer intact as generic. I have
 installed from Skolelinux CD:

console fonts
psfontmgr (not Postscript printer)
foomatic (option 3 - parse, command avaliable a2ps)

It worked fine - no external files were needed and printing process was correct,
 including from OpenOffice.

Printing from GIMP:

It was necessary to print from HP Laser Jet 6 series and change command line
from: 'lp -s -dHP -oraw' into:
(File -> Print -> Instillinger for skrivere -> Oppsett)

In general, printouts were blank, so blank, that even I was irritated. 
I have found, that it was known bug of the printer driver, solved already.
However, I did not want to upgrade whole system to the newest versions of 
Finally, I have started experiments with the printer's settings in the 
Conrtol Center -> System -> Printing Manager and changing the printer driver.
I have left the driver intact, but changed settings into:
brightness: 0,850
contrast:   0,850
density:    1,200
gamma:      1,000

It is good to change the settings first for root, later for all another users.
Now, printouts are much better.

7. Internet connection

I was in so lucky situation, that in our box we have traditional ISA internal
 hardware modem. It means all pleasure of configuration modem driver I could
 skip this time. However, I have passed it with another box with newly bought
 Asus modem, about which, the seller tried to convince me, that it is hardware
 modem, which works in Linux. Yes, it started to work, after some time of work
 ;-) I had to download driver from Asus web site, compile it from source and
find out, in which exactly port it has settled. It was necessary to start in
console pppconfig (just type and enter) and let it find modem. As it has turned
out, it has settled in ttyS13 port! Except this, I do not remember any exciting
problems ;-)

I have seen, there is no KDE internet dialer - it means KPPP. I have got it from
 my set of Woody CDs and installed the .deb package. Configuration went smooth -
 I knew needed Telenor phone number, DNS servers numbers, and real placement of
 modem on ttyS3. As expected, it was easy to wake up modem, but connection was
 broken fast with 'died unexpectedly' message. I had to go to /etc/ppp/options
 file and place # in front of options:


to deactivate them. (I have found it in KPPP help files).
Later, everything went smooth. I have tested telnet, ftp via Konqueror and
 Opera. At the beginning Opera complained 'fann ikkje mellomtenaren' and refused
 to connect anywhere. I went to Fil -> Hurtiginnstillingar and deactivated the
 'Aktiver mellomlagringstenarar'. It worked well.

It still seems, dialer sometimes (not always) crashes. 
Probably, there is any wisdom there to solve this
 problem. I have to check error code 16 in the internet.

The last thing to do is to allow normal users to use KPPP for contacts from
 their account. Program KPPP is in /usr/bin directory. I have found it in MC and
 Fil -> chmod and marked all possible permissions for it, including bruker ID
 and gruppe ID.

Then permission to use modem by user, which for any reason was reserved for root
 only. In MC i have found file /dev/@ttyS3 and in Fil -> chmod I have permited
 others to read and write. Perhaps it was not top elegant solution, but it
 worked. Without it, the Internet Dialer could not find modem.
To be sure, that everything would work in future, I have made symbolic link by
ln -s /dev/ttyS3 /dev/modem

In general, normal user could use modem to connect with internet.

8. Reading and writing files from and for the surrounding environment.

a. Fonts from Monotype / Microsoft (MS core fonts)
I have downloaded from internet:


Additionally, from my Woody CDs I have installed following packages:


During installation of msttcorefonts, all downloaded fonts automatically became
 installed in /usr/share/fonts/TrueType. I have added them to OpenOffice
 collection by OpenOffice Printer Administration -> Skrifter
It is possible to copy another important TrueType fonts *.ttf into the
 /usr/share/fonts/TrueType and add them to OpenOffice collection. For example
 Levi fonts for North Sami language

b. Wine

It is possible to expect, that both schools and private people would like to use
 previously bought useful and known programs, which were designed for Windows.
Therefore easy and reasonable way to activate emulation of Windows is important.

Wine can be configured from normal user level - it refuses to work, if root is
 logged in. Does it mean, that an innocent user is left with the task alone?

Wine will not install majority of Windows programs, if MS core fonts and
 freetype (do not mix with libfreetype) are not installed. Skolelinux CD
 contains wine, libfreetype, but not freetype. MS core fonts have to be
 downloaded from internet anyhow - from any legal reasons, they are not boundled
 with any Linux, even in the non-free section.

Initial configuration of Wine was easy - just to accept everything. Installation
 of MS core fonts was also no problem - the easiest was to use Run Command from
 KDE and type
wine /full/path/tofirst/fontname32.exe.
If there is no error message and first font gets installed, it is easy to repeat
 the operation by just replacing font name.

After this it comes the freetype. I have not found any .deb package in the
 Debian Woody distribution, because of some paent questions, so it was necessary
 to download source from and pass compilation and installation
 ritual. It means: end of copying and clicking only.

c. Compilation of the freetype.

I have checked version of libfreetype in KDE Package Manager (File -> Find
 Package) It was 2.0.9-1, so it was necessary to download from
 the same version of freetype and related files.

ftdocs-2.0.9.tar.gz  (all together 1 MB of compressed archives files)

First to unpack archive freetype-2.0.9.tar.gz. In MC it is simple: in left panel
 enter the archive, and you will see directory freetype-2.0.9. Mark it for
 copying. In the right panel display the desired destination for unpacked
 directories, click the left panel, press F5 (Copy) and files will be unpacked
 into the wished place.

I have made directory (in MC press F7) /home/free for this task and after
 unpacking, new directory /freetype-2.0.9 has appeared. Detailed instruction of
 installation is in file README.UNX. You may read it (press F3 in MC), but below
 is simplified instruction

Enter the directory and type:

and press 'enter'. You will see lot of messages on the screen, with question, if
 system is detected correctly. Just press any key to go back to MC panel.

Then type:
press 'enter' and bigger flood of messages will come on screen again. All is OK,
 system talks to itself and to user. It takes some minutes.

After it finishes, press any key to go back to MC panel again.

Then type:
make install
Press 'enter' and you will see messages from system installing various files
 into various places.

Installing documentation of freetype:

In MC left panel enter the archive ftdocs-2.0.9.tar.gz. There is directory
 freetype-2.0.9 with subdirectory docs. Enter the docs and mark its whole
 content for copying. In the right panel go to directory /usr/share/doc and
 create new directory freetype2 (press F7 in MC). Copy previously marked content
 of archive into the new directory.

d. Last configuration of Wine

It has to be done for each single user separately with help of MC.
Let us say, our innocent user's name is Anne.

Inside directory /home/anne/.wine/fake_windows there are directories similar to
 those, known from Windows, for example:
Program Files
My Documents

Linux hardly tolerates spaces in files names, however, sometimes, Windows might
 requires exact such names.

To solve possible problems, I have decided new names, acceptable by Linux, for

Afterwards I have made symbolic links between names by typing in command line:

ln -s /home/anne/.wine/fake_windows/Program\ Files ProgramFiles
ln -s /home/anne/.wine/fake_windows/My\ Documents MyDocuments

It is possible to see inside directory /home/anne/.wine/fake_windows new
 directories, with new names with tilde ~ in front.

e. test installation of Windows program

I have in old CD collection of programs IPhoto Plus for Windows 3.1 - small,
 nice graphic program coming with my old scanner, and I like it up to now. In
 addition, it is able to make simple GIF files, which ability because of some
 patents (again!) was removed from GIMP

To start installation program, after mounting the CD, I have typed:

wine /cdrom/IPHOTO/SETUP.EXE

After process was finished, regret, nothing has entered the Kicker start menu,
 so, it is necessary to do something manually: either use KDE System -> Menu
 Editor or place icon with shortcut on desktop.

command to execute is:
wine /home/anne/.wine/fake_windows/IPPLUS/ipplus.exe

To find right comand it is best to use the Run Command function from start menu,
 because, in case of errors it is easy to correct command.

Regret, the Wine icon in start menu only starts configuration program, nothing
 more... I would change it for my use by means of Menu Editor.

f. Installation of MS Word Viewer for Windows 9x or newer

Regret, OpenOffice (at least up to v. 1.0.2) is not able to read all possible 
files from MS Word or Excel.
I have experienced problems with scanned A4 pictures pasted into MSWord
documents and shown as blank page in OO, or severly distorted. Also problem is
with Excel tables pasted into Word: OpenOffice reads them as graphics, not as
spreadsheet. Manual retyping? Few lines - no problem, but what about some
hundreds? Brrr...

It is easy to get MS Word and MS Excel Viewers for Windows 9x from internet or 
computer magazines - it is freeware. I have it in my CD collection. 
After mounting CD I could type:

wine /cdrom/WORD/WORD97UT/W95VIEW/WD97VW.EXE

Installation went quite smooth, in KDE Start Menu has appeared group Wine ->
 Programs -> Microsoft Word Viewer. It seemed all was OK, but attempt to start
 it produced message:

err:module:PE_fixup_imports Module (file) WINSPOOL.DRV (which is needed by
 C:\Program Files\WordView\WORDVIEW.EXE) not found

In another box I have little newer version of wine, but compiled from sources 
(from March 2003) and there everything with MS Word Viewer works well.

Sad story for our innocent user?...

Simmilar installation of MSExcel97 viewer went smooth and the viewer worked

The main unsolved problem: up to now (19.11.2003) I have not solved how to print
files via Wine.

g. Word files opening in Linux

KWord does not open MSWord with spaces in names.
OpenOoffice Writer tolerates spaces in names, but does not open files with
 Norwegian letters in names.

Non-ASCII charcters are very badly operated by search / replace functions in 
OpenOffice. Text is correctly displayed on screen, but attempt to do something 
are hopeless: question marks or blanks are displayed in operation boxes. 
For me it is serious problem with both in Calc and Writer. 

Good people in the pl.comp.ogonki newsgroup advised solution: it is necessary to
replace OpenOffice system fonts into any containing all needed Unicode characters,
for example Unifont.

Tools -> Options -> Fonts 
Mark "use replacement table" and add fonts:
Andale Sans UI (it is not listed) replace with Unifont
Always "yes"
Screen "yes"

And it works even with Russian cyrilic letters with English OpenOffice :-)

9. Making possible to record CDs under Linux.

Story from our another computer.

To install IDE CD recorder in Debian 3.0 (recorder is slave on second connecting
you have to be root - (I think...)
installed Midnight Commander simplifies the job extremely. I can
not imagine to do it blind or in Konqueror. I have done everything in KDE, using
  Mozilla to read instructions and advices from internet,
up to 4 console windows to read different files at the same time and Package
 Manager to install lacking libraries.


1. Start modconf and install IDE - SCSI emulation, however it is
called, if is not installed already. At least check it, it will not hurt.

2. Make modifications:

in /etc/lilo.conf:

label=Linux          (was)

append="hdd=ide-scsi" (added)

in /etc/modules.conf

options ... (was)
options ide-cd ignore='hdd' (added)

change CD-ROM type from IDE to SCSI after emulation

cd /dev
rm cdrom
ln -s scd0 cdrom

Then will be necessary to modify /etc/fstab to get new CD drive association and
 modify properties of CDRom device icon on desktop.

3. reboot computer

4. try command:
cdrecord -scanbus

If file not found, install cdrecord. I had any version from Debian
Woody distribution.
If can not open SCSI driver, check above procedures 1-3
If it lists drives, including one labelled as RW, or simmilar, it is nice. One
 chapter (evening?) has passed.


1. go to web page and download the
actual version in tar.gz format (source), read and save FAQ file,
and hope the best. Ready made .deb file of the same version
demands already revolution in system - installation new set of
new libraries, which are in unstable branch of Debian.

2. copy the downloaded file to any reasonable directory and
unpack it:

tar zxvf xcdroast-098alpha13.tar.gz or in Midnight Commander.

It will create new sub directory, which, among many various
files contains some further instructions (install, readme, etc)

3. Go to newly unpacked directory and type
If everything is OK - no error messages, you may go to next
point 4.
I had problems: messages about not found glib-config script and advise to
 include path to it into any PREFIX. At first, indeed, there was no such file in
 the system at all. I thought, I would find anything in distribution disks by
 package manager. I have installed libglib1.2 and libglib2.0 but it did not help
 - there were the same errors and configuration was not done.

After some searching in internet among simmilar not answered problems, I have
 found advice: install development .dev libraries, if you want to compile
 programs from source.
It helped. After passing this step, there were similar messages about missing
 gtk-config and gdm-config, but I knew procedure to
solve it.

4. It is easy, just type:
make all (wait for all messages)
make install (and wait for end of messages)

5. you may try to start XCDRoast by typing:

There are 2 possibilities:
a. you will see start of typical graphic program, so you may
concentrate on it and ignore the next chapter
b. you will see error message about missing or too low version
of cdrecord.

XCDroast wants to have these files exactly in path, as it is
displayed in the error message. Just copying cdrecord and some other files
 demanded by program could satisfy it and you could see start window. It works,
 if existing version is enough high.
To find files, I used Options -> FindFile in Midnight Commander

If not, so, read the next chapter.

In fact whole chapter (evening) is gone.


1. I was lucky - I had CD from fresh Linux magazine with the actual source
 version of Cdrtools in .tar.gz format.

After unpacking it:
tar zxvf cdrtools-2.0.tar.gz

attempts to follow procedure with the "./configure" command gave long message,
 containing one usefull advise: use "make" command instead. After few minutes of
 flooding messages, there are many new files and subdirectories created.

3. Try to type xcdroast and see, what it wants. If cdrecord - find it inside
 (sub)directories created during unpacking and compiling of Cdrtools. I used
 Midnight Commander for searching. So copy the requested file exactly into the
 requested directory. Probably next cycle, it will be mkisofs, and some other

Earlier, or later you will see XCDroast start window
Third chapter (evening) is gone.

Result is amazing: recording is fast and many advanced options, as overburning,
 multisession CDs are possible. Moreover: recording may go on in the computer
 and at the same time it is possible to do another things without destroying
That is better, than I have experienced in Windows.


Notes: no version of XCDRoast, CDRtools nor necessary libraries for compilation
 are included in Skolelinux. At least, there is no .dev libraries, no gdm and no
 gtk. I have not checked yet, what more exactly is lacking, but it seems, that
 recording CDs is decided to be not provided in Skolelinux.

It is great pity for our innocent user...


Story of another box with old Cirrus Logic graphic card and XFree86 4.1.0
 (Standard for Debian Woody)

It was traditional Debian installation, so I had choice.
After first attempt to install Xserver and accidental acceptance KDE as
default windows manager, I have got extreme disco on screen: only waving and
 blinking horizontal bands. Ctrl+Alt+F1 helped me to go to another console,
 login as root start Midnight Commander and disable
Later I have used long time for experiments and searching in internet. Result
 was poor: my grafic card was among not supported by this X server. Some manual
 operations in /etc/X11/XF86Config-4 liquidated disco, but computer after
 opening several windows had to get several minutes to rest, after very hard
 work. Finally I have found advise, which was best for my needs at that time: go
 down with x-server to version 3.x. My Debian distribution had all needed
 packages, so, everything went smooth and problems were almost forgotten.

Probably newer x-server would also not solve problem of historic graphic cards, 
as maintainers rather try to follow progress, not use energy for old hardware,
so it is easier to go down with version. However, perhaps new programs would
 require new x-server. Skolelinux installs KDE as default, 
and it might happen to test installation in older box.

Another chapter of old graphic card problems - the same box.

I have decided to upgrade x-server to XFree88 4.2, and even decided to upgrade
graphic card to Tseng 4,5MB memory and problem of freezing mouse cursor was back
again. Manual operations in XFree86-4.config have improved quality of dispay, but 
mouse... The most irritating was, while using scroll bars, mouse pointer was 
frozen and screen was frozen for some minutes.

I have found way to solve the problem by trying to observe system resource monitor 
(called by Ctrl+Esc keys) while trying to freeze mouse. I have noticed, process 
of X-server takes much resources. There was listed some parameters, which I could 
more or less understand and mysterious (for me) "nice". I have typed "man nice" 
understood, it sets process priority. OK, so how to change it for x-server only? 
It has taken some time, before I discovered file /etc/X11/Xwrapper.config, but 
afterwards, everything was fine: no freezing screen, no stopped mouse pointer.

Story from another box and Plustek Scanner 12000PT (parallel port).
It has little older kernel and sane driver, than Skolelinux, but perhaps there
 might be simmilar experience.

Plustek belongs to those companies, who help Linux users to use their products
 with mutual satisfaction: company has customers and income, Linux users have
 good and cheap scanners.
First, I have read the Newbie Plustek Parallel Port Scanner HowTo (try a Google
 search) and tried to follow these and some other advices.

I have installed Sane 1.0.7 from the original Debian distribution, so I had to
 download and put into work the Plustek driver only.

Everything went in fact smooth, but...

After executing commands:
make all
make install

and attempt to load pt_drv:

modprobe pt_drv

I have got result:

/lib/modules/2.4.18-bf2.4/misc/pt_drv.o: kernel module version mismatch
it is compiled for kernel version 2.4.18, while this kernel is version

I could read in FAQ file in the directory plustek_driver, that it is problem of
 wrongly defined files headlines. Skolelinux does not contain kernel headers
and I have also not installed them at this time. Workaround instruction
was made for SUSE Linux, just in this place could not conform my Debian - whole
subdirectories were lacking. (In fact it is standard experience for Debian user,
but Debian user has to be hardshipsproof user...)

In an instruction about new kernel compilation in my book about Debian, I have
 found advice, what manual job is needed for correct compilation. I decided,
 that driver and kernel it is almost the same, so I did it:

cd /usr/src
mkdir linux-2.4.18-bf2.4
ln -s linux-2.4.18-bf2.4 linux

Then, I have erased all remains of former compilation of the Plustek driver,
 restarted computer (habit from another system?) and started compilation again.

This time command:
 modprobe pt_drv
has not produced any error.

Later, I have started modconf in console and in the bottom of the modules list,
 in misc section, I have found module pt_drv, descripted as "no description
 availiable", which was easy to install to get it started automatically together
 with each start of the box.

After all these operations, most probably, I will soon forget all details of the
 Plustek in Debian story. I can scan images in GIMP without any more effort,
 than is needed to find an "Acquire" command in "File" menu. In addition,
 scanning results are in general better, than those, which are possible to get
 under Windows.

The same box: story with additional PCI multiport card NetMos MNONM 9835 (1xLPT 
2xCOM) and HP laser printer.

I have seen in any discussion list, there are problems between printing and 
scanning, while using the same parallel port, especially, if scanner and printer 
are connected in chain: scanning can invoke printer. Solution, which seemed the 
easiest, it was to add extra LPT port. 
The card was bought, inserted into the box and was almost forgotten for some time. 
New, impossible to understand problem has come: the Plustek
12000 T scanner stopped to work. Removing the additional card has not solved the 
problem. As I have "outsorced" the scanner to the neighbouring youth, the problem
could also be forgotten for longer time. 

We have bought used HP Laser Jet 1100A printer and it would be fine to get it 

Nice to say: it was easy to invoke printer to print endless garbage, but it was 
difficult to stop it. No restart could stop it. No easy help to find in internet...

I had to learn console commands:

lpq -a (display printing jobs running with identification number)
lprm id (remove printing job with id number)

After removing everything, it was enough to switch off the printer and on again, 
and printer was not swallowing paper.

At first I have decided to make order with the (in fact) two parallel ports. I had 
an impression, there is the main problem. Inside web site of the producer, I have 
found installation instruction for the card. In general it was OK, only my 
knowledge needed something extra. 
The extra, it was discovery, that before removing parport_pc module 
from kernel, it was necessary to remove module lp - without it, I could only get 
message "resource busy". After understanding this fact I used the Debian's modconf
program to pass parallel port parameters to the kernel. I had to try some 
combinations, suggested by producer, as long as installation gave no error 
messages and no IRQ conflicts.

Result for my card was: lp0: IRQ7 polling and lp1 none (IRQ) interrupt driven.

The printer slowly seemed to show will to cooperate with us. First I have pressed
out from it the CUPS test page in good quality and in controlled quantity. I have
used standard CUPS + GIMP driver for the HP LJ 1100A printer.

Problems came out, while trying to print from programs. Result was: endless 
printing of small amount garbage. It was necessary to modify print command line 
in Mozilla and Open Office to "lp" only, while in GIMP it was necessary to set 
printer as HP LASERJET 6 SERIES. Well, it seems, the worst is done.

At least one positive thing has happened as result: from the beginning of the 
computer's existence I could see often coming message: "spurious IRQ7 interrupt", 
especially, if console was active without X-server in background. After all this 
fight with extra multiport card, this message has never came back.

Some weeks later, after attempt to stop printing from Open Office, 
the printer started endless printing of garbage. No lpq, lprm 
command worked. Switching off neither computer, nor printer did not solve the 
problem: printer each time started printing garbage again after switching on.
Finally, I have solved the problem in manual way:
/var/spool/ and subdirectories were full of various files with strange names -
temporary files, which should be deactivated by printer driver, but...
Removing all garbage and restart of everything again has solved the problem.

Reinstallation of the "outsourced" scanner is waiting...

The same box and Twinhead laptop: how to transfer files using crossover cable.

Situation: the laptop hard disk contained hundreds of digital photos, while 
CD-Recorder was in stationary box. Both computers have been running Debian: 
Woody in stationary one, Sid in laptop.

Network configuration script:

/sbin/ifconfig eth0 inet down
/sbin/ifconfig eth0 inet up netmask

the second computer had replaced IP number into

I have got contact between machines by means of ping, but I could not make any 
real contact between the boxes: "connection refused". After long experiments and 
searching, I have found solution: there has been not installed any server program 
in any of the boxes. Simple, isn't it?

Some adventures with the "Sarge" - testing version of Debian.

I have two installations around me: one on PC with processor intel PentiumII 266MMX with kernel 2.6.8 and another one in box with processor P4 1,2 GHz, but with kernel 2.4.24. This first one works perhaps slow, however, it still works with KDE or Gnome, according to the user's wish. The another one is office machine, with idea to use it for half automatic backup. Both have broadband connection to the internet via DHCP router, which except providing extra sockets for extra boxes, it works as firewall.

CD recording with XCDRoast on the older machine, with newer kernel it was a story...

Simple - just - installation, so effective in newer machine with old kernel, was not successful. Simply: CD recorder refused to record CDs. So, I thought to install SCSI emulation, as was needed with older kerners (described above).

In general, it was good idea, however, still no recording. Googling gave one effect: just in this version of kernel there is no possibility to use cdrecord as normal user, because of security problems. The only solution was to start XCDRoast from konsole, after logging as root or su and just typing command: xcdroast.

Time for research, experiments and installation for me was one day.

After everything was set, it was possible to use the 8x CD burner with average speed 5-6x. It was better result, than with Windows driver, where speed 2x did not produce any error. I have to say, the Windows driver was not updated, perhaps it would be better now. However, it is not bad...

How to avoid this problem: use older or newer kernel. If I knew...
The another machine with older kernel only complains, it would like to have the SCSI emulation, but burns discs without problems.

Samba-3, CUPS and printing

Tons of gigabytes are written in the internet about Samba, CUPS, networks and printing.

My problem was strange: I can connect to the another Windows 3.11 computer in another room, mount shared drive, copy files, but I can not print to printer connected to the another.

Whatever I did, there was always message:
Process dying with "error closing *main::STDOUT", etc...
in the /var/log/cups/error_log.

The problem was in Sarge with Samba-3 only, while in Woody and Samba 2.2 everything went perfect - just to follow instruction.

I was sure, the main problem was based in not perfect NetBios name resolution in the Sarge box, but I was not able to find solution. Ping by bame does not work, but nmblookup name shows actual IP of the remote box with printer. I have printed out almost 2 cm thick paper stack about CUPS, Samba and printing, but still no solution.

One day I have decided to upgrade Samba and Samba-client in the Sarge box. Nothing to loose, perhaps something to gain. Samba's installer came up with advice to use dhcp3-client instead of dhcp-client. I did it and... CUPS test page was printed across the wall for the first time!

Time for research and experiments for me, it was 2 months.

Debian Sarge, already stable, black screen after logout both from KDE and Gnome. Video card integrated with motherboard Intel845* series. Originally I have used vesa driver for XF86Config-4 and no framebuffer driver in kernel - probably it was reason of the problem.

Finally I have got irritated, got some Google and time for experiments and got solution. It was necessary to use "i810" video driver instead of "vesa". In fact kernel framebuffer driver was not very important.

dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xfree86 did not change /etc/X11/XF86Config-4 and I do not know why. I had to edit this file manually (as root of course).

Best greetings + good luck :-)

Basia Glowacka (anywhere between Gdansk in Poland and Kautokeino in Norway) e-mail:jastra@

============================== Great Seal of
Gdansk with mediewian ship

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