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A Linux Desktop With Devuan GNU/Linux

Overview

I have now installed Devuan GNU/Linux, release „stable“ (which still is alpha) on an amd64 workstation.

On Devuan in general, see also my earlier statement.

System Components (excerpt)

  • Main System: AMD FX 8350, Gigabyte GA-970A-UD3 (on-board Ethernet Realtek RTL8111E), 16 GB DDR3 1600 Crucial Ballistix.
  • Expansion Cards: Nvidia GTX 760, 4-Port USB3.0 PCIe Renesas Technology Corp. uPD720201.
  • Peripherals (excerpt): Logitech K360, Logitech M705, Focusrite Saffire PRO40, Logitech QuickCam E 3500, Toshiba Canvio 2TB (USB3 HDD).

Software Environment (excerpt)

  • Operating system: Devuan GNU/Linux stable amd64
  • Kernel version: 3.16.0-4
  • Boot-Manager: grub 2
  • (There is a parallel installation of MS Windows 7ProSP1 64bit.)
  • Desktop environment: XFCE4 (with my cycle-raise patch applied)
  • Audio system: ALSA/FFADO/JACK v1
  • Web browser: Iceweasel;Mail User Agent: Icedove
  • Media player: VideoLAN Client (VLC).

Procedure

Installation Of Debian GNU/Linux 7.8

Note: The regular „netinst“ and „netboot“ installers fail to initialize the Realtek RTL8111E correctly. Thus I had to resort to a non-free installation medium which I acquired at

Also note that this firmware requirement is actually a bug in the Debian 7.8.0 installer, because in the installed system the network interface works fine without package firmware-realtek installed. I was unable to test this with the later versions of the installer for reasons given below.

Note: The „Debian Stretch Alpha 1“ installer that is  recommended by Debian for an installation of 8.1 „Jessie“ failed to initialize my keyboard which is a K360 run in pair with a M705 on a „Logitech Unifying Receiver“ attached via USB2.0. I had to resort to an installation of 7.8. The exact installation image I used was firmware-7.8.0-amd64-netinst.iso, found at

Installation itself went smooth and straightforward.

Upgrade To Devuan GNU/Linux

With the system on disk, boot-able and operational I proceeded to rewrite the file /etc/apt/sources.list as follows:

deb http://packages.devuan.org/merged jessie main contrib non-free

I then performed

~# apt-get update
~# apt-get install devuan-keyring
~# apt-get update

to have Devuan package signatures marked as trustworthy.

I then performed

~# apt-get dist-upgrade

to pull in all package upgrades of the Devuan Jessie release.

This also went trouble-free.

Using SYSV-Init Instead of SystemD

Finally I performed

~# apt-get remove systemd

which switched the system back to sysvinit-core.

Additional Configuration

I had to make the following manual adjustments for a usable graphical desktop experience:

  • For my German layout keyboard, in XFCE4 system settings, keyboard section, I had to deactivate  the option „Use system default“ and manually configure the layout variant  I desired. Alternatively, I could have made the program /usr/bin/setxkbmap autostart at the begin of every session which would have applied the layout configured at installation time. Otherwise, the keyboard layout would have remained incorrectly set to US-American.
  • For Gnome-Terminal I had to deactivate the „Use colors from system theme“ option in the current profile, because it resulted in black letters on a black background.

Summary and Results

The currently available ISO installer is not usable for me for an unfortunate combination of conditions; I had to resort to a Debian 7.8.0 (non-free) one and then switch to Devuan by means of apt-get dist-upgrade.

Looking at the system as it is operating, I would roughly summarize that all relevant system components work sufficiently well:

  • All CPU cores operate at full performance with regulated fan cooling.
  • The full amount of RAM installed is available.
  • All partitions of all attached storage devices can be mounted.
  • Accelerated multi-head video is available.
  • Audio playback available to all applications I have tested (media players and web browser).
  • Frames can be captured from the webcam (tested successfully with FFMPEG).

The Devuan GNU/Linux system appears as what it advertises itself as: A GNU/Linux distribution based on Debian, with SystemD made optional (again), otherwise (in the stable release) mirroring Debian 8 („Jessie“) as closely as possible.

The amount of inconsistent behavior after a fresh installation/upgrade is bearable, and I encountered nothing that could not be repaired using manual configuration.

OMG, it's a Linux desktop ...

OMG, it’s a Linux desktop …