Installing Linux

In Dutch language, see

This is part II of an ongoing journey...

One of the nice things of a Linux distro is that it is very easy to clone. Just create one workstation and, when you're happy with it, make copies. There are two platforms to consider: Ubuntu and Debian. With Debian having an accent on purity it is also less bloated. For a desktop environment, Xfce is since long somewhere at the top. For business applications, we want a work horse without any eye candy. Xfce fits the bill. There are others that come close like Cinnamon and LXDE. All have their shortcomings like Xfce, but Xfce is stable and lots of workarounds are known.

Install Debian

We use Debian 9, "Stretch". Hardware is GPU based, from AMD A8-3870 APU to AMD A10-7860K. RAM is somewehre between 8 GB up to 32 GB. To install Debian, we need proprietary drivers unfortunately.

Download a net-install and run the installer. For a workstation it is preferred to simply make one bootable partition formatted as ext4 with mount point \ and a swap of 8 GB.

At the point where software is mentioned, the Debian desktop environment is turned off, Xfce is selected, just as SSH. The rest is not changed.

Finish your install and log in for the first time. Open a terminal:

nano /etc/apt/sources.list

All six non-commented lines end with:

stretch main

Change all six endings to:

stretch main contrib non-free

by adding " contrib non-free".

Next you do

apt update
apt upgrade
apt install firmware-linux-nonfree

If your screen had limited capabilities it should be fine now, after rebooting.

Tuning Xfce

Look and feel

These steps are optional, if you're happy with the layout, don't change it.

  • Remove the panel at bottom of the screen: RMB panel > Panel > Panel Prefs > Minus sign.

  • Move panel (task bar) at the top to the bottom of the screen:
    • RMB Panel > Panel Prefs > unlock and finish.

    • Drag panel down.
    • Lock panel again.
  • Desktop: RMB, desktop settings, etc.
  • The active window without a different color for the title bar is a step back in evolution. The trick:
    • First: Settings > Window Manager > Tab Style > select a theme you like, and watch the title bar color while you do this.

    • Additionally you can do: Settings > Appearance > Tab Style > Find a style you like.

  • Text size, scale, in general: Settings > Appearance > Tab Fonts > DPI, in steps up or down and watch.

    • While there, you can fiddle around in other tabs.
  • Configuring the task bar:
    • Two instead of four workspaces: RMB on workspace area (bottom, right) > Workspace Settings... > Lower number.

    • Add some action buttons: RMB on action buttons (bottom, very right) > Panel > Add New Items > Keyboard Layouts, Screenshot, Show Desktop.

      • Rearrange icons: RMB > Move

      • Change Clock properties: RMB Clock > Properties > Format > Custom Format > Paste this: %A, %d-%m-%Y, %T

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