Installing Debian Squeeze (Shallow Thoughts)

Akkana's Musings on Open Source Computing and Technology, Science, and Nature.

Tue, 22 Mar 2011

Installing Debian Squeeze

Over the weekend I tried installing Debian's new release, "Squeeze", on my Vaio TX650 laptop.

I used a "net install" CD, the one that installs only the bare minimum then goes to the net for anything else. I used Expert mode, because I needed to set a static IP address and keep it from overwriting my grub configuration.

Most of the install went smoothly -- until I got to the last big step near the end, "Select and install software", where it froze at 1%.

A little web searching (on another machine) gave me the hint that the Debian installer prints a log on the fourth console, Ctrl-Alt-F4. Checking that log made the problem clear: aptitude was complaining about packages without a proper GPG signature -- type Yes to continue without verifying signatures. But since this was running inside the installer, there's no place to type Yes -- that Ctrl-Alt-F4 console is merely displaying messages, not accepting input, and the installer doesn't accept any input for aptitude.

Fortunately, "Select and install software" isn't crucial to the net install process. I don't actually know what software it would have installed -- it never asked me to choose any -- but without it, you should still have a working minimal Debian on the disk. So I made another console on Ctrl-Alt-F2, ran ps aux, found that aptitude was the highest numbered process running, and killed it. Upon returning to the installer (Ctrl-Alt-F1), I was able to skip "Select and install software", finish the install process and reboot.

Upon rebooting, I logged in as root and ran apt-get update. It complained about GPG errors; but now I could do something about it. I ran apt-get upgrade and confirmed that I wanted to proceed even without verifying package signatures. When that was over, the problem was fixed: a subsequent apt-get update ran without errors.

This ISO was downloaded (from the mirror, I believe) a few days after the official release. I'm told that Debian changes the keys at the last minute before a release; perhaps the new keys don't make it into the ISO images on all the mirrors. Or maybe they just messed up with the Squeeze release.

Anyway, it was fairly easily solved, but seemed like a disappointing and silly problem. A web search found lots of people people hitting this problem; it's a shame that the installer can't run aptitude in a mode where it won't prompt and hang up the whole install.

Alas, it's probably all academic anyway, since suspend/resume doesn't work. It freezes on resume, with a black screen -- another common Debian problem, judging by what I see on the net. I'm a bit surprised, since every other distro I've tried has suspended the Vaio beautifully. But after hours of messing with it over the weekend, I ran out of time and conceded defeat.

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[ 22:49 Mar 22, 2011    More linux/install | permalink to this entry | ]

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