Getting a graphical desktop on Debian
Q I have this day installed Debian 3.1. After some mucking about I finally got the first disc installed, and all I would like now is to be able to open the system up so that I can continue. At logon I put in my username, press Enter, then password, Enter... and all that happens is that a new line with 'david@debian~$:' appears. What have I done wrong or forgotten to do, and what do I do next? What's the magic word? Obviously I am new to this system and hope I have done the right thing by bothering to install it.
A You have only installed the basic package set, which does not include a graphical desktop. During the second stage of the installation, after the reboot, you are asked to choose from a selection of software collections. The first in this list is called Desktop Environment. If you're following the installation procedure it will look like this is pre-selected, because the cursor is in the selection box to the left of the name, but it is not - package groups are only installed when there is a star in the box. You need to explicitly select the groups you want by moving the highlight bar over them and pressing Space. If you simply press Enter at this stage without selecting anything, you will end up in exactly the frustrating situation that you describe. However, there is no need to panic or reinstall.
Log in as root - using the root password you gave during installation - and type aptitude to load the Debian package manager. Highlight Tasks and press Enter; move down to End -user and press Enter; then highlight Desktop Environment and press '+' to select it. You can press G to see what will be installed and G again to begin installation. This will install both the KDE and Gnome graphical desktops; you will be able to choose which you use the first time you log in. There are a few basic configuration questions to answer (the defaults are fine if you are unsure) then you will also be asked some questions to help configure the graphical display. These questions are the same as you would have been asked during installation, had you selected the desktop option. Once the installation (which will take several minutes) has finished, your desktop should load the next time you boot up.
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