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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair

Regular blog here, 'microblog' there

Many of my traditional blog post live on this site, but a great majority of my social-style posts can be found on my much-busier microbloging site at updates.passthejoe.net. It's busier because my BlogPoster "microblogging" script generates short, Twitter-style posts from the Linux or Windows (or anywhere you can run Ruby with too many Gems) command line, uploads them to the web server and send them out on my Twitter and Mastodon feeds.

I used to post to this blog via scripts and Unix/Linux utilities (curl and Unison) that helped me mirror the files locally and on the server. Since this site recently moved hosts, none of that is set up. I'm just using SFTP and SSH to write posts and manage the site.

Disqus comments are not live just yet because I'm not sure about what I'm going to do for the domain on this site. I'll probably restore the old domain at first just to have some continuity, but for now I like using the "free" domain from this site's new host, NearlyFreeSpeech.net.

Tue, 21 Oct 2014

The Debian Jessie installer: first impressions -- desktop choice (yay), encryption fail (boo)

I did a Debian Jessie install last week. This was a traditional install on "real" hardware, more specifically a different drive on my daily (HP Pavilion g6) laptop.

As much as I've praised the Debian installer in the past, and I'll praise it a little bit right now, I will also drop it in a hole and throw a shallow layer of dirt over it just because.

First of all, the Debian installer experience seem much the same in Jessie as it was in Wheezy and Squeeze before it. I don't remember it being much different in Etch. That was my first Debian installation, so my memory, hazy as it is, ends there.

One thing I did notice -- and very much appreciated -- about the Jessie installer was the opportunity to select a desktop environment other than GNOME in the course of the installation dialogs. Before Jessie, this choice was only available in a hidden menu you entered before the installation began (and you had to know it was there).

Letting a user easily choose a desktop environment during the installation is huge. I applaud. Loudly.

But ... I've done plenty of fully encrypted Debian installations over the years, and I appreciate having the ability to do so without a whole lot of technical knowledge.

I remember, in the distant past, being able to encrypt just /swapand /home (and also remember having to type in separate passphrases for each), with the result being the the abiltity to install Debian in a dual-boot situation with some if not full encryption (the latter requiring the whole disk to be successful).

Well, I tried that -- encrypting just /swap and /home -- and couldn't do it.

I guess I'll go back to the documentation and see if there's something I missed.

But this should be dead easy.

I've said it until I was blue in the face, then recovered and said it again: Fedora's Anaconda installer today is probably easier to use than Debian's installer. Especially if you want to encrypt partitions or even the whole installtion.

Anaconda's -- and by extension Fedora/RHEL's -- killer app, for me anyway, is the ability to easily install a fully encrypted Fedora/RHEL/CentOS system in a dual-boot with Windows that even a Linux newbie could figure out.

And even if I can't have a fully encrypted Debian alongside Windows without a whole lot of heavy fu, could I at least have the option of an encrypted /home and /swap without some obscure mystery-meat recipe?

Don't get me wrong. I love Debian. But I also love flexible, easy-to-implement encryption. Go figure.