Debian 5.0 Quirks

I just started using Debian for real now and am finding that some things do not work as expected. No, they work, just not as I expected they would and there is nothing definitive in the docs explaining these ‘quirks’. It could very well be that these things have always been this way and that I am just now discovering them for myself. I guess 30 years of computer savy may not count when trying to use Linux.

You can’t log on as root (they call it administrator at times) from the console. I guess that is to differentiate from being able to log on as root remotely. I say I guess because that does not make sense to me. The remote logon is far more dangerous. Then I may be making a wrong assumption. To correct this problem you have to reconfigure the log-in feature to allow the ‘administrator’ to log-in from the console. I am sure there are situations where this degree of security is needed but it just gets in the way of this single user in a secure office.

You can’t format a mounted floppy. It should be obvious why this is. Obviously to prevent formatting a floppy by mistake. DOS and Windows does not require mounting and unmounting of storage meda. It allows you to screw up everything at once if you don’t know what you are doing. Debian is a little more secure in that it anticipates your mistakes. Of course you can always unmount the floppy and then format it by mistake too. In that case you should probably no be allowed near a computer.

More quirks to come as they are discovered.

Here is one for you. Debian does not do NTFS. No reason why it should but it would make life a lot easier for me. I have over 600gig of media movies stored on NTFS. I would eventually like to have Debian be my sole operating system but first I have to learn how to make it do everything I have gotten used to doing with XP. Not being able to mount and read NTFS is not a very promising way to start. Guess I am going to have to see if there is anything RELIABLE that will allow Debian to talk to NTFS. It will talk to FAT16, Not sure about FAT32. I would hate to have to convert all my stuff to some format that windows cant read or write.

We have a solution!!

(The best solution would have been to dump XP as well as NTFS, but we are not yet ready to cut ties.)

apt-get install libfuse2
apt-get install ntfs-3g
apt-get install disk-manager

Now log on as root, go to the first drop down to the right, second entry on the dropped down menu is disk-manager, select it and activate (mount) the new partitions you find. Under ‘file’ be sure and save before quiting disk-manager. Might want to make sure the permissions are set the way you want. Re-boot and log-on as a user other than root. Double click on the new drive icon and load some movie files if you have them.

My Lenny installation worked flawlessly. No fooling with codecs, command line aggrevations, custom compiling, or asking permission from the Microsoft robot to use the software. No bull shit, just results. Almost like using an Apple.

Got everything covered except for mpg editing software. Once that is found and I learn to use it, I can give XP the boot.


I now have 1.1 tbytes of hard disk storage. Some of the disks are external. One external drive enclosure supprts NSA, USB, and FIREWIRE interfaces. All external drives support USB interfaces. External drives have both FAT32 and NTFS partions. All external drives are IDE. Three internal drives are IDE with one using FAT16, one using EXT3, and the other using NTFS. Two of the internal drives are SATA. All the SATA drives are NTFS.

The setup does not have to be this way. This is just the way it ended up. I use the external drives to transfer files (large video files) between various computers and devices one of which is an iBook. I have had bad experiences resulting in data loss trying to run NTFS on the iBook. So, I no longer do that. The iBook gets to talk to FAT32 now. That gets to be problematic when the file size gets to be more than 4gig but that seldon happens.

Bear with me, I do have a point to make.

I run Debian and XP on the machine that has the 1.1 terabytes of storage. This presents me with several problems. XP does not read the SATA drives because the motherboard does not support SATA. I bought an add-on card to support the SATA drives but XP will malfunction when the SATA cards drivers are loaded. Debian has no problem accessing the SATA drives now that I have installed the software that allows Debina to read and write NTFS.

This large machine does support Firewire and USB. Unfortunately the USB is version 1.x something and not really suitable for data transfer among hard drives. ( or anything else for that matter). The motherboard does have claims of a 2.0 capability but no drivers for it. It is a Gigabyte (giglebyte?) board. It is an old board and recommends the user apply SP1 to XP to get the drivers for USB 2.0. I just hope that the external USB board I just bought has drivers that work with XP. If not, I am pretty confident they will work with Debian. Then I can disable the defective USB features on the motherboard and use the external board and a four port USB 2.0 hub to solve my USB problems.

Getting back to the drives, I find that I can access the FAT16 drives just fine when running XP. When running Debian without root privledges, I can read the FAT16 drives but I cannot write to them. Have to be root to write to them. I tired to change the permissions several times and was unable to make that work. Finally I realized that FAT16 does not know anything about permissions because it was designed by morons.

If you have kept up with this to this point, you will notice that all of these problems are being casued by XP. Right now I still need to use XP because I use some software that was designed to run under XP and have not yet figured out how to make it run on Debian using wine. As soon as that happens XP is going to be a faint and unpleasent memory.

If you are new to computers, stay away from any Microsoft software. Start with something like Debian. If that does not do what you need done, try a MAC. Whatever you do stay away from PCs running Microsoft stuff.

When you hear people say, ‘but they know how to use windows’, remember that they really mean that the user can find and click on a familiar icon to access the desired program. They really do not know anything about windows and don’t need to. So, configure the desktop to look familiar, set it up with the familiar icon, have it bring up a software application that does the same thing, and BINGO you find you cant tell the difference.

Who needs Windows? Microsoft needs windows!


Seems that the problem of accessing SATA drives because of not being able to load the SATA add-on board driver has been sidestepped. I had a new problem with XP that required another re-installation. This time I did a clean install from a version that indicated it included SP2. After the installation the SATA driver loaded without incident and we now have access to ALL drives under XP. The only difficulty now is that we need to be logged in as root in order to write to the FAT16 partitions. All the more reason to work to get rid of windows.

Still not sure what happened to make the SATA thing work with XP. I do know that it quit working after one of those stupid Microsoft ‘updates’. No more updates here. No more am I going to serve as a Microsoft beta test site for free. Access to the network will only take place under Debian in the future.

Now I have to figgure out how to turn of those clownish ballons that keep poping up.

Got those clownish balloons turned off. Still have the explorer hang problem. The only difference is that this time it did not warn me I was getting screwed. No problem. I will get to screw it back before long.

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