An offline installation, Openbox style

Edit: Unfortunately, the images originally included in this post are gone, because of hosting problems in late 2009. My apologies.

I have finished my first offline custom installation. It was only a little more tedious than I thought it would be, so I’m not complaining too much.

The setup is the one I prefer — a command-line installation, with Openbox and as few packages as possible added on top. That’s lxpanel again in the screenshot — I’m becoming more and more attached to it, ever since my lightweight Beryl rig I concocted a few months ago. Everything is effectively tuned for speed, as best I can do offline, and I’m satisfied with the results.

I don’t think I cheated. I used a full-blown Xubuntu installation (the one I built after my hard drive crashed), and aptitude-installed all the packages — Openbox and otherwise — that I wanted on hand while visiting a friend with an Internet connection. Aptitude, of course, cached everything to /var/cache/apt/archives/, so I just copied all those files into a safe place, then copied them back after I finished my server installation.

It’s a little rough in some spots. Without a connection, I can’t synchronize my package list against the repositories, so I have to dpkg -i most of the stuff I want, then apt-get install -f to force it to load dependencies off my alternate Feisty CD.

If it still can’t find a package, I have to dpkg -i it from the archives folder (because that’s where aptitude put it in the last installation, since it had to download it that time too), and the process starts over again. Force-install the dependencies, then dpkg -i the remainder. Not much fun, and occasionally exceedingly tedious. I never did work though all the dependencies for Audacious. It’s just too much to have to fight through.

Furthermore, apt-get -f install likes to un-install a broken package, even if it’s the one whose dependencies I’m picking through. So after all is said and done, I have to loop back to the start again, and dpkg -i the first, original package I wanted. And hopefully it’s installable.

If for some bizarre reason you find yourself doing the same thing, don’t forget to apt-cdrom add any and all installation CDs you might have around — desktop and alternate. Aptitude will add them to its little brain and ask for one or the other when you try to install stuff. That’s a good thing, really.

Do the entire chore off three or four tty windows. Keep one in /var/cache/apt/archives/, another in your home directory, another … well, you get the picture. And if you’re clever, you’ll install cplay first (and vorbis-tools), and run some tunes while you install, so it’s not a completely distasteful experience.

Lastly, if you can, synchronize your package list before you disconnect. If I’m right, that should trigger aptitude to check the cache folder before complaining about missing dependencies. That might save you from having to dpkg -i a lot of stuff. I’m not sure on that point, but I believe aptitude will check its cache before it draws up a list of packages it needs, hopefully skipping a step. If I get the chance to do it over, I’ll try it and be sure.

As for myself, I’m pleased with the results … for now. The next time I can borrow an Internet connection, I’ll synchronize my package list and see if there is anything I missed. And probably correct that whole Audacious fiasco. I really flubbed that one up. 😉


2 thoughts on “An offline installation, Openbox style

  1. Alan Doyle

    I noticed you use lxpanel but was wondering what command you’ve assigned to the Logout command ? Currenly I use `killall openbox` but I was wondering if there was a more elegant way of closing Openbox from lxpanel ?

  2. K.Mandla Post author

    That’s what I was using. It’s definitely not elegant, but until Openbox gets a command-line “quit” argument, I don’t know of another way.

    I did notice that if you install the full lxde suite, the logout button sends you back to lxsession. It’s been a while since I did that, so I’m not sure if it’s using a different command for IceWM or not. Maybe I’ll check this weekend. 😉


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