Debian 7.5 on an Acer Aspire One D270

Date:2014-07-11 16:52:00

I own an Acer Aspire One D270 netbook. At the moment I run Debian Squeeze on it but now it is time to update it to the current stable version: Debian 7.5 "Wheezy". The hard-disk will be encrypted, further I plan to set up Fluxbox as window manager and to set up a suspend to disk system.

Prepare the Hardware

  • I will do a network installation (netinstall) of Debian. Therefore the netbook should be connected to the internet via a ethernet cable. (That makes it easier because we do not have to think about setting up wifi during installation).
  • The Aspire One has no CD or DVD drive, but Debian can be installed via USB. The images can be found here. I used the CD iso image debian-7.5.0-amd64-netinst.iso. The image can be copied to a usb stick via:
    $ su -
    Password: ***
    # cat debian-7.5.0-amd64-netinst.iso > /dev/sdb
    
    Note: Make sure to use the device the USB stick is connected to. In my case this was /dev/sdb. Would be dangerous to use the wrong one and to delete one of your harddisk.
  • Further, I need the additional firmware package, which can be found here. The content of the tar.gz archive should be copied to a (second) empy USB stick.
  • Now we check, that the Netbook is plugged into a power socket (no need to do this on battery), connected to the ethernet and the two USB sticks are plugged in.

Install a Rescue System

  • I will install a non encrypted backup system. This system has no GUI and should not be used for every day work. However it may become handy if something weird happens.
  • Boot the netbook, choose install and select your language, country, keyboard layout and then wait for Debian doing his thing.
  • Choose eth0 as network.
  • Choose a machine and domain name (or use the default).
  • Set a root password and create a new user.
  • The installer will do some stuff, just wait for it to finish.
  • Now we come to the hard disk partitioning.
    1. Choose manual
    2. delete all partitions already on the hard disk (but be careful not to erase the usb sticks)
    3. select the free disk space, create a partition of the full disk minus one or two GB, format it to get rid of old operating systems, set it as "Do not use"
    4. create a partition using the rest of the hard disk set it to ext4 and use it as "/", apply the changes, say that you do not like swap (we are installing just a small rescue system at the moment. the real system will become swap), say that you really like to apply your partitioning scheme
  • wait for the installation of the system
  • choose a country for your mirror and then the mirror itself
  • enter the proxy settings, if you need one (for a "normal" home network you can probably leave this blank)
  • wait again, this time for the installation of apt
  • decide if you like to take place at the packet tracking
  • choose what you need for your rescue system. I decided for ssh-server, laptop, and standard system tools. If you feel familiar with the command line you do not need any X window system for the rescue system
  • wait for the installation
  • install the boot loader into the master boot record
  • boot the rescue system and test if it works

Install the Main System

  • plug in the installation usb stick ons more and boot it
  • follow the installer like before until you come to the partition dialogue
  • choose "Use as: physical volume for encryption". finish this dialogue in the overview choose "Configure encrypted volumes" say yes to the next dialogue and in the next one choose "Create encrypted volume" choose your desired partition (probably /dev/sda1) and go on and in the next dialogue go on finish (the second option) and confirm your decision in the next one.
  • On my machine Debian was now working for over 12 hours to encrypt the partition.
  • Now choose a passphrase. You have to enter it each time you boot your machine.
  • You will be returned to the partitioning dialogue. Select the new partition (at the top of the dialogue) and choose "Use as: physical volume for LVM"
  • now we go back to the partitioning dialogue and choose "Configure the Logical Volume Manager", we confirm the question and create a volume group with a free choosen name and add the /dev/mapper/sda1_crypt device to the group.
  • now we create two logical volumes:
    1. one for swap (my netbook has 2 GB of RAM so I made the SWAP as large as 4GB, this is way big enough for suspend to RAM)
    2. one for "/" system. I took the rest of the harddisk. but you can also add more for /home/ or /opt/ or whatever you need
  • go back to the partitioning dialogue and configure the two new volumes for their destination (select them, goto "use as:" and follow the instructions.
  • Now we set our rescue system disk (the debian we installed at first) to be used as /boot and that it should not be reformatted.
  • We hope we did everything correct and apply the new configuration and confirm it and then we have to wait again for the partitioning and then for the installation of the main system.
  • Then we carry on like in the installation of the rescue system. Configure the mirror for apt, the proxy, the packet manager survey (popularity-contest). In the software choose dialogue I selected this time, grafical desktop environment and again ssh-server, laptop and system tools. Install the bootloader grub in the MBR. For me the installer found also the rescue system and added it correct to the bootloader.
  • We reboot the system (make sure to remove the thumbdrives before you do it) and test if our main system boots properly and if everything seems fine
  • Debian asks us first for the passphrase for the encrypted harddisk (you can ignore the warning about the missing lvm volumes, before it asks you for the passphrase. They are encrypted at this time and linux will find them later). Then the grapgical greeter should power up and you can log in with the account we created earlier. Now gnome should start.

Configuration

  • I edited the file /boot/grub/grub.cfg to make it clear which entry in the boot menu starts which system. Therefore I changed the name of the rescue system to "Rescue System: Debian GNU/Linux, mit Linux 3.2.0-4-amd64 (on /dev/sda2)"
  • Now I install the software I need:
    # aptitude install tmux rsync git-all texlive-full vim-gnome 
    python-numpy python-scipy python-matplotlib icedove iceweasel
    pidgin mpd gmpc  okular gcc make build-essential jabref gimp
    conky-all ipython ipython-notebook ipython-qtconsole vlc
    fluxbox gkrellm fbpager fbpanel eterm imagemagick wmmixer
    gcalcli radiotray gnome-terminal
To be continued...

References