An adventure with Debian Wheezy

I installed the new Debian testing release on my NAS, and was so impressed with it I decided to convert my main desktop from Ubuntu 11.10.  I was really unhappy with the new Ubuntu – it kept kicking me into Unity instead of GNOME, sound wouldn’t work, it felt really sluggish, it was packed with stuff I’d never use, etc.  Debian is clean, runs faster, and boots faster (possibly thanks to Linux kernel 3.0).  It automatically recognized and assembled my software RAID, so all I had to do was make a mountpoint and an entry in fstab and exports, run mount -a, then do a quick exportfs -a and everything was mounted and exported.  Brilliant!  To get samba working, all I had to do was add this to /etc/samba/smb.conf:

[vector]
   comment = Vector
   browseable = yes
   path = /vector/vector
   guest ok = yes
   read only = yes

And do a quick /etc/init.d/samba restart.  Shared!

Sound wouldn’t work at first (a common problem with Linux and the Nvidia GT210/220 HDMI audio), but after I built and installed the latest Nvidia driver, everything kinda started working like magic (I also had to unmute all the S/PDIF channels in alsamixer).  Now I only have a few problems.  The first is default window dimensions.  Here’s what it looks like when I open gnome-terminal:

Yeah, a little bit too narrow, right?  So, every single time I open one, I have to drag it out to be a usable size.  I have 80×24 set in the settings, but those are apparently being overridden by something else in GNOME 3.  Any help on this would be much appreciated.  It happens with other apps to, like KeepassX, so it seems to be something at the GNOME 3 level and not within the terminal app.

Another thing that was annoying at first was the inclusion of Music, Documents, Downloads, etc. in my nautilus favorites area (even though I never use these folders in my home directory).  The solution was simple and can be done with vim, so I was sold.  Just look in ~/.config/user-dirs.dirs and edit/delete whatever you want.  I ended up linking the folders I actually use to where they should be (on my NFS mounted RAID) and deleting things like Documents (those belong on Google Docs, obviously).

Installing wine is a bit weird.  To do it easily, go here, then download all the packages for your architecture one-by-one into /tmp, then do this:

  sudo apt-get install lib32nss-mdns
  sudo dpkg -i *wine*
  sudo apt-get install -f
  sudo dpkg -i *wine*
  sudo apt-get install -f
  winecfg

Yes, I know it’s all there twice, but that’s what I had to do.  Dependencies are weird.  Winecfg will prompt you to install some stuff.  Do it.

Update 2011-11-13

I figured out the problem with the window sizes.  If you set up TwinView with Nvidia driver version 285.05.09 x86_64 in the following way:

  • 1920×1080 monitor at absolute position 0,0
  • 1680×1050 primary monitor at absolute position 1080,0

You can’t move windows on most of the TV screen – it only lets you use about 1/4 of it.  Also, the alt-tab menu stretches out the previews horribly vertically so you can’t actually preview them.  Also, the default window size is stretched as shown above.  I have no idea why all this geometry is dependent on overall desktop size, but it should really be fixed.  After changing it so the 1920×1080 monitor is logically Right of the 1680 monitor in nvidia-settings (which is annoying since it’s hanging on the wall above the other monitor in real life), all the problems I mentioned go away.   It seems like this is a problem with GNOME3, but it could be nvidia’s problem too.  It’s hard to know which bug tracker to report it to, but this setup worked with LXDE and old GNOME, so maybe I’ll try the GNOME people first.

Another thing I did today was adjust my MTU to 9000 on both network cards.  You need a switch that supports jumbo frames for this, and I happen to have one.  If you don’t know if yours does, it probably doesn’t.  Also, I changed my fstab line for mounting the NFS share and the exports line on the NAS to the following, respectively:

/vector/vector 192.168.0.0/16(rw,async,no_subtree_check)
192.168.1.5:/vector/vector	/vector	nfs	async,noatime,rsize=32768,wsize=32768	0	1

This should improve performance.


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