Newbie: Debian install to existing partitions - Debian

This is a discussion on Newbie: Debian install to existing partitions - Debian ; Apologies if this is the wrong group. Having used various Live-CD Linuxes for a while (each separate LiveCD 'image' stored on disc in separate filenames and selected via Grub running under DOS), wanted to take the plunge and install a ...

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Thread: Newbie: Debian install to existing partitions

  1. Newbie: Debian install to existing partitions

    Apologies if this is the wrong group. Having used various Live-CD
    Linuxes for a while (each separate LiveCD 'image' stored on disc in
    separate filenames and selected via Grub running under DOS), wanted to
    take the plunge and install a 'proper' distro, so downloaded Deb ISOs
    1 - 5. Started with the automatic installer on ISO 1 but hit two
    problems; thought I'd solved the first, but not sure how to solve the
    second.

    Prob 1: Wanted to install to an existing partition (hdb4 ext2, 8GB),
    without overwriting a little data held there, so didn't let the
    installer repartition or reformat. It seemed to install fully into
    that partition. There are many, many files and directories there
    (inspected through a LiveCD). Assuming that's ok, for now.

    Prob 2: Didn't let the installer install a new (or overwrite my
    existing) Grub setup (just caution - I use Grub under DOS and wasn't
    sure the installer would leave that existing arrangement in place).
    But, on completion didn't know how to correctly create a Grub menulist
    entry for Debian on hdb4 and after looking at the contents of hdb4
    guessed at:

    title Debian 4 from hdb4 ext2
    kernel (hd1,3)/vmlinuz root=/dev/hdb4
    initrd (hd1,3)/initrd.img
    boot

    When selecting this grub entry, Debian does start as far as I can
    tell, but only comes up into a Linux prompt, not into a window
    manager. (Should it? - I've both Gnome and KDE ISOs and used the
    Gnome ISO.) Guessing that apart from anything else my Grub entry is
    incorrect, could anyone point me to a reference for what the Grub
    entry should be for Debian on hdb4? Though familiar-ish with Grub, I
    do not know what a 'proper' Debian boot sequence should be, and I
    couldn't see that in the installation notes.

    Grateful for any pointers,


    ______________
    regards,
    Ron

  2. Re: Newbie: Debian install to existing partitions

    On Sun, 15 Jul 2007 15:18:32 GMT,
    Ronnie wrote:

    > When selecting this grub entry, Debian does start as far as I can
    > tell, but only comes up into a Linux prompt, not into a window
    > manager. (Should it? - I've both Gnome and KDE ISOs and used the
    > Gnome ISO.) Guessing that apart from anything else my Grub entry is
    > incorrect, could anyone point me to a reference for what the Grub
    > entry should be for Debian on hdb4? Though familiar-ish with Grub, I
    > do not know what a 'proper' Debian boot sequence should be, and I
    > couldn't see that in the installation notes.


    If you get to a Linux prompt, then the problem is not with grub.

    See what happens if you type "startx".

    If you get a message that states the command wasn't found, then you're
    probably missing packages, unless you're confusing the grub prompt
    with the linux prompt.

    If startx works, you may want to try:

    sudo aptitude install gdm

    If this doesn't help, you'll probably want to post exactly what
    appears on your screen.

    HTH,

    Michael C.
    --
    mjchappell@verizon.net http://mcsuper5.freeshell.org/

    "You know, I used to think it was awful that life was so unfair.
    Then I thought, wouldn't it be much worse if life were fair,
    and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we
    actually deserve them?" - Marcus Cole

  3. Re: Newbie: Debian install to existing partitions

    [edit]
    >
    > sudo aptitude install gdm
    >
    > If this doesn't help, you'll probably want to post exactly what appears on
    > your screen.
    >
    > HTH,
    >
    > Michael C.


    Michael, does a default install of Debian put the user in the sudoers or
    are you thinking of a different distro?

    Rodney


  4. Re: Newbie: Debian install to existing partitions

    On Mon, 16 Jul 2007 03:53:10 -0700,
    Rodney wrote:
    > [edit]
    > >
    > > sudo aptitude install gdm
    > >
    > > If this doesn't help, you'll probably want to post exactly what appears on
    > > your screen.
    > >
    > > HTH,
    > >
    > > Michael C.

    >
    > Michael, does a default install of Debian put the user in the sudoers or
    > are you thinking of a different distro?


    I don't believe debian does add a user to sudo automatically.
    "/etc/sudoers" is pretty well commented. man visudo.

    Michael C.
    --
    mjchappell@verizon.net http://mcsuper5.freeshell.org/

    We're from the government, we're here to help.

  5. Re: Newbie: Debian install to existing partitions

    On Sun, 15 Jul 2007 19:29:42 GMT, "Michael C."
    wrote:

    >If you get to a Linux prompt, then the problem is not with grub.
    >

    I guess that's true - I think I wanted to make sure that it hadn't
    needed some extra parameter to initiate the graphical argument. But
    your other advice shows that truly, Grub is not my problem.

    >See what happens if you type "startx".
    >
    >If you get a message that states the command wasn't found, then you're
    >probably missing packages

    That's just what i got. As i did trying mc (midnight commander?) and
    minicom.
    > unless you're confusing the grub prompt with the linux prompt.
    >

    No - it's a linux prompt, and I can log in with either a username or
    as root. (But I can only reboot from root).

    I guess I hadn't really solved the problem of installing to an
    existing partition. There is a large directory tree with lib and etc
    and mnt and things like that, so something got installed.

    I'd like to try again with the CD. I wonder if there's a way to
    install that keeps a log of what happens so that I could pinpoint what
    is failing?

    And thanks for the help, at least I know what's happened, even though
    unsure why.


    ______________
    regards,
    Ron

  6. Re: Newbie: Debian install to existing partitions

    On Sun, 15 Jul 2007 19:29:42 GMT, "Michael C."
    wrote:

    >If this doesn't help, you'll probably want to post exactly what
    >appears on your screen.


    Just retried, selected existing partition, it reformatted the swap and
    set off. Gets about 77% through, then fails while 'installing the
    base system'. I press alt-F4 and a text screen suggests a failure
    setting up initramfs tools, exactly at the point 'console - tools '

    This is after it asks me which kernel I want - it pre-selects 2.6 -
    486 and, with an AMD Athlon, I accept that because it is presumably
    486 compatible. (However, the AltF4 screen says at the point of
    failure is trying to build an img(?) for 2.6.18-486 which was another
    option on the screen but which I didn't accept.) If there's a way to
    get more text detail I'd happily do that, but I am a bit out of my
    depth here.

    Although it mutters about having to re-install over the existing files
    of a previous installation, I sense that there's a more fundamental
    problem than just being unable to overwrite a file. Presumably the
    installer accretes to itself enough authority to create and overwrite
    all the files and directories it needs to?

    ______________
    regards,
    Ron

  7. Re: Newbie: Debian install to existing partitions

    Government satellites recorded Michael C. saying:

    >
    > I don't believe debian does add a user to sudo automatically.
    > "/etc/sudoers" is pretty well commented. man visudo.
    >


    You are correct as far as Etch is concerned. I edited the file and
    added myself - had to logout and in again to make it affective tho'.

    I later removed my user from the list 'cause I decided to make my
    user have a limited command control but have been too busy to learn
    what I need to do to set only a few commands to a user via sudo.
    That's an aside ... you are correct tho'.
    --
    sk8r-365

    http://goodbye-microsoft.com/

  8. Re: Newbie: Debian install to existing partitions

    On Mon, 16 Jul 2007 17:53:21 +0000, Michael C. wrote:

    > On Mon, 16 Jul 2007 03:53:10 -0700,
    > Rodney wrote:
    >> [edit]
    >> >
    >> > sudo aptitude install gdm
    >> >
    >> > If this doesn't help, you'll probably want to post exactly what
    >> > appears on your screen.
    >> >
    >> > HTH,
    >> >
    >> > Michael C.

    >>
    >> Michael, does a default install of Debian put the user in the sudoers
    >> or are you thinking of a different distro?

    >
    > I don't believe debian does add a user to sudo automatically.
    > "/etc/sudoers" is pretty well commented. man visudo.
    >
    > Michael C.


    That was my point, you suggested something that would not have worked.


  9. Re: Newbie: Debian install to existing partitions

    On Mon, 16 Jul 2007 22:34:15 -0600, sk8r-365 wrote:

    > Government satellites recorded Michael C. saying:
    >
    >
    >> I don't believe debian does add a user to sudo automatically.
    >> "/etc/sudoers" is pretty well commented. man visudo.
    >>
    >>

    > You are correct as far as Etch is concerned. I edited the file and added
    > myself - had to logout and in again to make it affective tho'.
    >
    > I later removed my user from the list 'cause I decided to make my user
    > have a limited command control but have been too busy to learn what I need
    > to do to set only a few commands to a user via sudo. That's an aside ...
    > you are correct tho'.


    I think that is a wise choice, there is some security risk with that
    all:all stuff that some distros use for users.

    Rodney


  10. Re: Newbie: Debian install to existing partitions

    On Mon, 16 Jul 2007 20:48:19 +0000, Ronnie wrote:

    > On Sun, 15 Jul 2007 19:29:42 GMT, "Michael C."
    > wrote:
    >
    >>If this doesn't help, you'll probably want to post exactly what appears
    >>on your screen.

    >
    > Just retried, selected existing partition, it reformatted the swap and set
    > off. Gets about 77% through, then fails while 'installing the base
    > system'. I press alt-F4 and a text screen suggests a failure setting up
    > initramfs tools, exactly at the point 'console - tools '
    >
    > This is after it asks me which kernel I want - it pre-selects 2.6 - 486
    > and, with an AMD Athlon, I accept that because it is presumably 486
    > compatible. (However, the AltF4 screen says at the point of failure is
    > trying to build an img(?) for 2.6.18-486 which was another option on the
    > screen but which I didn't accept.) If there's a way to get more text
    > detail I'd happily do that, but I am a bit out of my depth here.
    >
    > Although it mutters about having to re-install over the existing files of
    > a previous installation, I sense that there's a more fundamental problem
    > than just being unable to overwrite a file. Presumably the installer
    > accretes to itself enough authority to create and overwrite all the files
    > and directories it needs to?
    >


    Ron, it might be worthwhile to just copy the data you want to save
    somewhere else and let the installer format the partition, then copy your
    data back after the install. You're not running out of room on that
    partition during the install are you?

    Rodney


  11. Re: Newbie: Debian install to existing partitions

    On Tue, 17 Jul 2007 05:59:11 -0700, Rodney wrote:

    >Ron, it might be worthwhile to just copy the data you want to save
    >somewhere else and let the installer format the partition, then copy your
    >data back after the install. You're not running out of room on that
    >partition during the install are you?
    >

    Plenty of space. I did wonder whether I might have to do that - the
    existing data is only about 400MB, so I can put it somewhere. The
    upside is that it would remove uncertainty about existing partitions
    etc - or flush out some more fundamental installation problem.

    My ultimate aim is different. After getting this going on a fairly
    biggish desktop with lots of disc space (and getting used to the
    process and using real Debian), I want to try the same thing on a
    laptop which I use heavily while out of the office. There, I will
    have less disc space and less freedom with partitions, so I genuinely
    was interested in installing to an existing Ext2 partition AND keeping
    (quite a bit of) data. But that's aspirational, for now.

    I'll take your suggestion, and thanks for the pointer.

    ______________
    regards,
    Ron

  12. Re: Newbie: Debian install to existing partitions

    On Tue, 17 Jul 2007 15:48:56 +0000, Ronnie wrote:

    > On Tue, 17 Jul 2007 05:59:11 -0700, Rodney wrote:
    >
    >>Ron, it might be worthwhile to just copy the data you want to save
    >>somewhere else and let the installer format the partition, then copy your
    >>data back after the install. You're not running out of room on that
    >>partition during the install are you?
    >>

    > Plenty of space. I did wonder whether I might have to do that - the
    > existing data is only about 400MB, so I can put it somewhere. The upside
    > is that it would remove uncertainty about existing partitions etc - or
    > flush out some more fundamental installation problem.
    >
    > My ultimate aim is different. After getting this going on a fairly
    > biggish desktop with lots of disc space (and getting used to the process
    > and using real Debian), I want to try the same thing on a laptop which I
    > use heavily while out of the office. There, I will have less disc space
    > and less freedom with partitions, so I genuinely was interested in
    > installing to an existing Ext2 partition AND keeping (quite a bit of)
    > data. But that's aspirational, for now.
    >
    > I'll take your suggestion, and thanks for the pointer.
    >
    > ______________
    > regards,
    > Ron


    I think this is a good reason to keep your data and probably /home also on
    a different partition from the one your operating system is on, it gives
    you the freedom to muck-with, or even totally muck-up the install, yet
    retain the data for when you get things working the way you want. I didn't
    start out that way but now I understand why people recommend it and I
    now keep home separate. Might also make backing up a bit easier, depending
    on your method. You approach the problem similiar to the way I would, test
    on something expendable before working on your mission-critical system.
    I'm glad if this did help you a tiny bit and I wish you good luck. Let us
    know how the install goes with a format.

    Rodney

  13. Re: Newbie: Debian install to existing partitions

    On Tue, 17 Jul 2007 09:42:20 -0700, Rodney wrote:

    >Let us know how the install goes with a format.


    Well ...

    It installed with Gnome. Good! Thanks for that advice. But ......

    Along the way Grub didn't install to either fd0, or to /dev/hda2 -
    both options were offered by installer, both tried one after the
    other, neither worked. So I declined its Grub offer, and used the
    menu.lst entry I gave earlier in the thread.

    And substantially more seriously .....

    On statup it asks you to log in but then I couldn't mount ANY discs or
    partitions. During the partition selection, it asked for options. I
    selected 'mount as root' and 'make bootable' for the new hdb4
    partition, though I don't know what this 2nd option does - the machine
    boots off hda into DOS normally. Does having the partition bootable
    mean you couldn't mount any other partitions on hda or hdb?

    I must say I found this setback unexpected.

    ______________
    regards,
    Ron

  14. Re: Newbie: Debian install to existing partitions

    On Wed, 18 Jul 2007 09:35:53 +0000, Ronnie wrote:

    > On Tue, 17 Jul 2007 09:42:20 -0700, Rodney wrote:
    >
    >>Let us know how the install goes with a format.

    >
    > Well ...
    >
    > It installed with Gnome. Good! Thanks for that advice. But ......
    >
    > Along the way Grub didn't install to either fd0, or to /dev/hda2 - both
    > options were offered by installer, both tried one after the other,
    > neither worked. So I declined its Grub offer, and used the menu.lst
    > entry I gave earlier in the thread.
    >


    I don't have a clue why grub wouldn't install for you. So, you are saying
    that you use partition hda2 as /boot. Rather than just not "work" one
    usually gets some error message or point of failure that could suggest
    what the problem was but this is academic since you managed to find
    another way to boot Debian which worked for you and *nix's provide choices. :-)


    > And substantially more seriously .....
    >
    > On statup it asks you to log in but then I couldn't mount ANY discs or
    > partitions. During the partition selection, it asked for options. I
    > selected 'mount as root' and 'make bootable' for the new hdb4 partition,
    > though I don't know what this 2nd option does - the machine boots off
    > hda into DOS normally. Does having the partition bootable mean you
    > couldn't mount any other partitions on hda or hdb?
    >

    [edit]

    As far as I know The answer to your question is no. I am by no means an
    expert on the boot process but I think that bootable just means that it is
    identified as a bootable partition in the partition's boot sector. Perhaps
    someone else can jump in here with a better explanation. We don't need the
    hex code and address, just something better than I've stated.

    I'm not sure what you mean by "it asks you to log in", are you using GDM
    as a desktop manager or logging in from a terminal prompt? Did you end up
    in Gnome? Those aren't going to affect mounting but it isn't completely
    clear from what you wrote. Remember that we can't see over your shoulder,
    so try to describe a bit better, especially for someone like me who
    doesn't use Gnome and has to build the image in my mind from your words.
    Basically, I'm assuming you're getting to the Gnome desktop environment as
    some username, so everything booted OK.

    How (method) did you try to mount those other partitions? Did you try to
    mount those partitions as root or as the logged in user? It could be
    helpful to see any error messages you were given, as they often point one
    in the right direction. ;-) What does your /etc/fstab file look like?

    Rodney

  15. Re: Newbie: Debian install to existing partitions

    On Wed, 18 Jul 2007 05:55:50 -0700, Rodney wrote:

    >I'm not sure what you mean by "it asks you to log in", are you using GDM
    >as a desktop manager or logging in from a terminal prompt? Did you end up
    >in Gnome?


    Yes, Gnome comes up with a login window - it's the first interaction
    opportunity I get with the machine once I select Debian 4 from my Grub
    list
    >
    >How (method) did you try to mount those other partitions?


    Gnome has a 'places' menu which you can open - it lists all the discs
    and partitions, and if you rightclick on them it lets you choose
    mount. Or you can doubleclick. I get a failure message with an
    option for more detail which offers:

    libhal-storage.c 1401 : info: called libhal_free_dbus_error but
    dbuserror was not set.
    process 2716: applications must not close shared connections - see
    dbus_connection_close() docs. this is a bug in the application.
    error: device /dev/hdb2 is not removable
    error: could not execute pmount

    >as root or as the logged in user?


    Same in both, which did surprise me.

    > What does your /etc/fstab file look like?


    (it exceeds wrap, I think):
    #
    proc /proc proc defaults 0 0
    /dev/hdb4 / ext2 defaults,errors=remount-ro 0
    1
    /dev/hdb3 none swap sw 0 0
    /dev/hdc /media/cdrom0 udf,iso9660 user,noauto 0 0
    /dev/fd0 /media/floppy0 auto rw,user,noauto 0 0

    (on a subsequent reboot fsck fixed some errors on hdb4 caused when I
    could not find a way to logout and shutdown - after hitting the
    problem, though. Same mount failures continue to occur.)

    No hda x are listed (hda1, hda2, hda3, hda4 - also swap)
    No hdb1 or hdb2

    And thanks for the help, by the way. Depending what you suggest, I
    was going to reinstall with the KDE CD - I'm a bit more familiar with
    it. I don't expect KDE to mount the discs either - unless a
    re-install fixes some other problem as well.


    ______________
    regards,
    Ron

  16. Re: Newbie: Debian install to existing partitions

    Ronnie wrote:
    > On Wed, 18 Jul 2007 05:55:50 -0700, Rodney wrote:
    >
    >>What does your /etc/fstab file look like?

    >
    >
    > (it exceeds wrap, I think):
    > #
    > proc /proc proc defaults 0 0
    > /dev/hdb4 / ext2 defaults,errors=remount-ro 0
    > 1
    > /dev/hdb3 none swap sw 0 0
    > /dev/hdc /media/cdrom0 udf,iso9660 user,noauto 0 0
    > /dev/fd0 /media/floppy0 auto rw,user,noauto 0 0
    >
    > (on a subsequent reboot fsck fixed some errors on hdb4 caused when I
    > could not find a way to logout and shutdown - after hitting the
    > problem, though. Same mount failures continue to occur.)
    >
    > No hda x are listed (hda1, hda2, hda3, hda4 - also swap)
    > No hdb1 or hdb2


    How about just adding the partitions you want to access?

    >
    > And thanks for the help, by the way. Depending what you suggest, I
    > was going to reinstall with the KDE CD - I'm a bit more familiar with
    > it. I don't expect KDE to mount the discs either - unless a
    > re-install fixes some other problem as well.


    You _can_ install in expert mode and specify those partitions and the
    corresponding mount points during the installation. Make sure NOT to
    format the partitions!
    But reinstalling just for a few missing fstab lines is a little
    overkill.

    On the other hand -as a beginner- you might want to learn by playing
    and experimenting with your system, screwing things up and reinstalling
    a few times anyway. :-)

    Regards,

    Kees

    --
    Kees Theunissen.

  17. Re: Newbie: Debian install to existing partitions

    On Wed, 18 Jul 2007 21:02:54 +0200, Kees Theunissen
    wrote:

    >How about just adding the partitions you want to access?

    That straightforward?

    >You _can_ install in expert mode and specify those partitions and the
    >corresponding mount points

    Hmm... What would a mount point be? RTFM, I think.
    I expect I'll have to put a mount point in the fstab file, too. More
    reading!

    >But reinstalling just for a few missing fstab lines is a little
    >overkill.

    True, but I'm happier in KDE anyway. I may still do that after seeing
    what happens when I change fstab. I wonder why the installer chose
    not to do it anyway? And why no-one else seems to have experienced
    it.
    >
    >On the other hand -as a beginner- you might want to learn by playing
    >and experimenting with your system, screwing things up and reinstalling
    >a few times anyway. :-)

    Now that's true, but this is a production machine which is why I'm on
    hdb. So I need to keep my enthusiasm on a leash.

    Very helpful, Kees, thanks

    ______________
    regards,
    Ron

  18. Re: Newbie: Debian install to existing partitions

    On Wed, 18 Jul 2007 19:37:00 +0000, Ronnie wrote:

    >>But reinstalling just for a few missing fstab lines is a little
    >>overkill.

    > True, but I'm happier in KDE anyway.


    But reinstalling just for an extra desktop environment is also
    overkill.

  19. Re: Newbie: Debian install to existing partitions

    On 18 Jul 2007 22:45:51 +0200, msm wrote:

    >But reinstalling just for an extra desktop environment is also
    >overkill.

    Oh. Can I run KDE 'and' Gnome, then? And somehow select them or
    switch between them. Gosh, I hadn't realised that.

    I'm on dial up. I'll have to find out, if I've understood this idea
    correctly, whether I can get the KDE stuff of the KDE install CD, or
    whether the only way is over a 19200 phone line. More reading!

    Thanks for the hint.

    ______________
    regards,
    Ron

  20. Re: Newbie: Debian install to existing partitions

    On 07/18/2007 04:23 PM, Ronnie wrote:
    > On 18 Jul 2007 22:45:51 +0200, msm wrote:
    >
    >> But reinstalling just for an extra desktop environment is also
    >> overkill.

    > Oh. Can I run KDE 'and' Gnome, then? And somehow select them or
    > switch between them. Gosh, I hadn't realised that.
    >
    > I'm on dial up. I'll have to find out, if I've understood this idea
    > correctly, whether I can get the KDE stuff of the KDE install CD, or
    > whether the only way is over a 19200 phone line. More reading!
    >
    > Thanks for the hint.
    >


    You can install KDE through aptitude or synaptic or apt-get.

    There's no need to use the CD's any more. If you set up your
    /etc/apt/sources.list properly, you can let aptitude install KDE by
    downloading it from a Debian software repository.

    Refer to this page:
    http://www.debian.org/doc/manuals/reference/

    Much information you'll need while using Debian is there.

    Also install some documentation packages: doc-debian and
    debian-reference-en:

    aptitude install doc-debian debian-reference-en

    The files should show up in /usr/share/doc/debian and
    /usr/share/doc/Debian/reference/.

    You've probably already seen the Debian Installation Guide which is on
    the CD-ROM.

    After you have an installation of Debian going, it's very unlikely
    you'll ever need the Debian installation disks ever again. This is not
    Windows. You don't have to put the CD in the drive whenever you change
    printer drivers, and there is no product activation :-)



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