Configuring Debian Etch

2 minute read


As mentioned in my last post, installing Etch was very quick and easy. If you need to boot the installation CD/DVD with special kernel options, they will be added automatically to grub’s menu.lst and will be there after each kernel update when the menu.lst file is regenerated. Responsible for this is a part of /boot/grub/menu.lst which looks like this:

## default kernel options
## default kernel options for automagic boot options
## If you want special options for specific kernels use kopt_x_y_z
## where x.y.z is kernel version. Minor versions can be omitted.
## e.g. kopt=root=/dev/hda1 ro
##      kopt_2_6_8=root=/dev/hdc1 ro
##      kopt_2_6_8_2_686=root=/dev/hdc2 ro
# kopt=root=/dev/sda2 ro noapic

Leave all the “#” in place as those parts should not be read by grub but by “automagic” which runs after each kernel update. The part which really makes grub boot the kernel looks like this:

title           Debian GNU/Linux, kernel 2.6.18-4-amd64
root            (hd0,1)
kernel          /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.18-4-amd64 root=/dev/sda2 ro noapic
initrd          /boot/initrd.img-2.6.18-4-amd64

If you like to pass any additional options to the kernel, add them here:

## additional options to use with the default boot option, but not with the
## alternatives
## e.g. defoptions=vga=791 resume=/dev/hda5
# defoptions=vga=791

Those parameters will only be passed to the default boot option and not the “single-user” boot entry of grub.

OK, I just wanted to point out that great feature of Debian and now: let’s go for NVIDIA drivers.

Nvidia Drivers

Getting Nvidia drivers up and running is (almost) as easy as in Ubuntu - if you’re running a standard kernel. But if not I assume, you know what you’re doing and don’t need help with installing drivers!

When running a standard Debian kernel you need to install these packages (use synaptic or simply type as root: apt-get install <packagename>) with there dependencies:

  • nvidia-glx
  • nvidia-kernel-2.6-amd64 (or appropriate archictecture…)
  • nvidia-kernel-common
  • nvidia-settings
  • nvidia-xconfig

Then there are only three additional steps to follow. First, open a terminal, become root and type:

$ nvidia-xconfig

Second, add the nvidia module to /etc/modules so it’ll load at boot:

$ echo "nvidia" >> /etc/modules

Third: reboot and you should be greeted with a “nice” Nvidia logo the next time X starts.

CPU Powermanagement

With Ubuntu the CPU powermanagement worked out of the box so my AMD Athlon 64 would not run at full speed if not needed. Again, in Debian you need to follow some simple steps to get this feature working.

Install the powernow deamon by typing as root:

$ apt-get install powernowd

Don’t be worried if it won’t start up right now, we need to load some additional modules. Those work for AMD Athlon CPUs, I don’t know which modules you’d need for Intel CPUs.

So again type as root:

$ modprobe  cpufreq_userspace
$ modprobe  powernow-k8

You may then start the powernow deamon with

$ /etc/init.d/powernowd start

If no error’s appear, you can check CPU speed by typing:

$ cat /proc/cpuinfo

You should see something like “cpu MHz : 1000.000”. If that worked, add those two modules to /etc/modules by:

$ echo "cpufreq_userspace" >> /etc/modules
$ echo "powernow-k8" >>  /etc/modules

That’s it - have fun!