Thursday, February 5, 2009

Debian 'Etch' on Toshiba Libretto U100 - a minimal X-system and wireless card

I just love my good old Toshiba Libretto U100. And after some years on Windows XP I decided to go back to the roots and work with Debian GNU/Linux - a system I played a lot with in the past.

The installation process went easier than it used to be. Everything I need for the beginning is recognised on the Toshiba Libretto U100. Not the wireless card though, but this is just because the driver is inside the non-free repository!

I decided to install nothing but the core system (so said no to all the tasksel offers during the installation process). Then on the terminal I first customised the '/etc/apt/sources.list' to the following:

deb etch main contrib non-free
deb-src etch main contrib non-free

deb etch/updates main contrib
deb-src etch/updates main contrib

Then I did a 'apt-get update' and went on installing a minimal x-System:

apt-get install xorg (I chose 1600x1200 for the external monitor I plan to use and 1280x768 and 1024x768 for the tiny U100 display).

#very basic login manager
apt-get install xdm

I was hesitating between fluxbox - blackbox - openbox - jwm... but there are lots more, have a look here for a nice comparison between some desktop packages. I first stick to fluxbox.
apt-get install fluxbox

For more information to install a mininmal debian x-system see here.

Now it's time to get my wireless card working, because I hate the limitations of a cable-based internet connection! For more information on this see here.

#install the needed packages
apt-get install module-assistant wireless-tools

#build and install a madwifi-modules*-package in my system
m-a prepare
m-a a-i madwifi

There was no need for me to unload the ath5k module (you can do it anyway if you're not sure by typing: 'modprobe -r ath5k'.

#load the ath_pci module
modprobe ath_pci

#check that your device has an available interface

#raise the interface to activate the radio, for the U100 it's ath0
ifconfig ath0 up

#Because I'm using wpa encription, I needed to install wpa-supplicant package
apt-get install wpasupplicant

After this I customised my '/etc/network/interfaces' file, for more information on this, see here.

# The loopback network interface
auto lo
iface lo inet loopback

#The primary network interface (I commented-out the 'eth1'
#interface for ethernet, because
#I won't use it normally, I did not delete it, if I have to use it some day)

iface ath0 inet dhcp
#bring up wireless automatically at system start-up
auto ath0
wpa-ssid myNetworkName
wpa-psk mySecretPassPhrase
wireless-essid MyNetworkName

#allow-hotplug eth1
#iface eth1 inet dhcp

After saving the file, I brought up the interface
ifup ath0

Now, in order to use the internet, I installed iceweasel (debian's firefox):
apt-get install iceweasel

And finally, I'm going to restart my new system, pretty nervous, though :-)

And yes.... it's working!

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