Debian Sarge on Virtual PC

Last night I read about Wil Wheaton’s experience with the Debian Sarge installer rc2. He said it’s easy to use and works. I’ve been a Debian user for years on my servers. Every few years I make a half-hearted attempt to see what Debian’s desktop environment is like, but mostly I use Windows on my desktop machines (and laptops). The server runs Debian Linux. After reading Wil’s post I decided to see if Debian Sarge’s installer would work in Virtual PC. I wanted to see how easy it was and what modern Linux desktop environments looked like. It’s been years since I was a regular user of X.

I downloaded the netinst CD image, pointed a Virtual PC instance at it, and let it go. It’s impressive! I filled out some prompts, selecting mostly the defaults, picked “Desktop Environment” for the package selections and then I waited. About 2 hours of downloading (at around 150KB/sec, as fast as my net goes) and installing later, it said I was ready to log in.

I’m writing this post with Epiphany 1.4.7 on my pretend machine running Debian Linux. The install went much more smoothly than any previous time I’ve tried to make X and a desktop environment work on a Linux box.

The installer had some help from the fact that the “hardware” Virtual PC exposes is popular and well-known. I may try to find a real machine to run this on to see how it handles actual hardware.