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Debian Reference
Chapter 9 - Tuning a Debian system


This chapter describes only the basics of system configuration through a command-line interface. Before reading this chapter you should read Debian System installation hints, Chapter 3.

If you are concerned about security then you should read the Securing Debian Manual which comes in the harden-doc package.


9.1 System initialization

Debian uses the System V init script system. See The init program, Section 2.4.1 for an introduction.


9.1.1 Customizing init scripts

The easiest way to control the behavior of an init script is by changing environment variable assignments in the file named like the init script in the /etc/default directory. [39] For example, /etc/default/hotplug can be used to control how /etc/init.d/hotplug works. The /etc/default/rcS file can be used to customize boot-time defaults for motd, sulogin, etc.

If you cannot get the behavior you want by changing such variables then you can modify the init scripts themselves: they are all configuration files.


9.1.2 Customizing system logging

System log mode can be configured using /etc/syslog.conf. Check the colorize package for a program to colorize system logfiles. See also syslogd(8) and syslog.conf(5).


9.1.3 Optimizing hardware

There are a few hardware optimization configurations that Debian leaves to the sysadmin to take care of.

Mounting a filesystem with the noatime option is also very effective in speeding up read access to the file. See fstab(5) and mount(8).

Some hardware can be tuned directly by the Linux kernel itself through the proc filesystem. See Tuning the kernel through the proc filesystem, Section 7.2.

There are many hardware-specific configuration utilities in Debian. Many of them address needs specific to the laptop PC. Here are some interesting packages available in Debian:

Here, ACPI is a newer framework for the power management system than APM.

Some of these packages require special kernel modules. They are already included in the latest kernel source in many cases. In case of trouble, you may need to apply the latest patch to the kernel yourself.


9.2 Restricting access


9.2.1 Restricting logins with PAM

PAM (Pluggable Authentication Modules) allow you to control how users log in.

     /etc/pam.d/*             # PAM control files
     /etc/pam.d/login         # PAM control file for login
     /etc/security/*          # PAM module parameters
     /etc/securetty           # this controls root login by console (login)
     /etc/login.defs          # this controls login behaviors (login)

Change the contents of /etc/pam.d/login as follows, if you want insecure but passwordless console terminals at your own risk.

     #auth       required   pam_unix.so nullok
     auth       required   pam_permit.so

Similar tricks can be applied for xdm, gdm, ..., for passwordless console X.

On the other hand, install cracklib2 and set /etc/pam.d/passwd as follows, if you want to enforce a good password policy.

     password required       pam_cracklib.so retry=3 minlen=6 difok=3

A one-time login password for account activation may also help. For this, use the passwd command with the -e option. See passwd(1).

The maximum number of processes can be set with ulimit -u 1000 in a Bash shell or with settings in /etc/security/limits.conf from PAM. Other parameters such as core can be set similarly. The initial value of PATH can be set by /etc/login.defs before the shell startup script.

The documentation for PAM is packaged in the libpam-doc package. The Linux-PAM System Administrator's Guide covers configuring PAM, what modules are available, etc. The documentation also includes The Linux-PAM Application Developers' Guide and The Linux-PAM Module Writers' Guide.


9.2.2 "Why GNU su does not support the wheel group"

This is the famous phrase at the bottom of the old info su page by Richard M. Stallman. Not to worry: the current su in Debian uses PAM, so that one can restrict the ability to use su to any group using pam_wheel.so in /etc/pam.d/su. The following will set the adm group in a Debian system as an equivalent of the BSD wheel group and allow su without a password for its members.

     # anti-RMS configuration in /etc/pam.d/su
     auth       required   pam_wheel.so group=adm
     
     # Wheel members to be able to su without a password
     auth       sufficient pam_wheel.so trust group=adm

9.2.3 Purposes of standard groups

A few interesting groups:

For a complete list, see the "FAQ" section in the Securing Debian Manual, which can also be found as the harden-doc package in Woody. Also the new base-passwd (>3.4.6) contains an authoritative list: /usr/share/doc/base-passwd/users-and-groups.html.


9.2.4 Working more safely – sudo

My usage of sudo is mostly a protection from my own stupidity. Personally, I consider using sudo a better alternative to always using the system as root.

Install sudo and activate it by setting options in /etc/sudoers. Also check out the sudo group feature in /usr/share/doc/sudo/OPTIONS.

The sample configuration provides "staff" group members access to any commands run as root under sudo and also gives "src" members access to selected commands run as root under sudo.

The advantage of sudo is that it only requires an ordinary user's password to log in, and activity is monitored. This is a nice way to give some authority to a junior administrator. For example:

     $ sudo chown -R myself:mygrp .

Of course if you know the root password (as most home users do), any command can be run under root from a user account:

     $ su -c "shutdown -h now"
     Password:

(I know I should tighten the admin account's sudo privileges. But since this is my home server, I have not bothered yet.)

For a different program that allows ordinary users to run commands with root privileges, see the super package.


9.2.5 Restricting access to services

The Internet super-server, inetd, is started at boot time by /etc/rc2.d/S20inetd (for RUNLEVEL=2), which is a symlink to /etc/init.d/inetd. Essentially, inetd allows one running daemon to invoke several others, reducing load on the system.

Whenever a request for service arrives, its protocol and service are identified by looking them up in the databases in /etc/protocols and /etc/services. inetd then looks up a normal Internet service in the /etc/inetd.conf database, or a Sun-RPC based service in /etc/rpc.conf.

For system security, make sure to disable unused services in /etc/inetd.conf. Sun-RPC services need to be active for NFS and other RPC-based programs.

Sometimes, inetd does not start the intended server directly but starts the tcpd TCP/IP daemon wrapper program with the intended server name as its argument in /etc/inetd.conf. In this case, tcpd runs the appropriate server program after logging the request and doing some additional checks using /etc/hosts.deny and /etc/hosts.allow.

If you have problems with remote access in a recent Debian system, comment out "ALL: PARANOID" in /etc/hosts.deny if it exists.

For details, see inetd(8), inetd.conf(5), protocols(5), services(5), tcpd(8), hosts_access(5), and hosts_options(5).

For more information on Sun-RPC, see rpcinfo(8), portmap(8), and /usr/share/doc/portmap/portmapper.txt.gz.


9.2.6 Centralizing authentication – LDAP

Use Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP). References:


9.3 CD writers

CD-writers with ATAPI/IDE interfaces have recently become a very popular option. It is a nice medium for system backup and archiving for the home user needing < 640MB capacity. For the most authoritative information, see the LDP CD-Writing-HOWTO.


9.3.1 Introduction

First, any disruption of data sent to the CD-writer will cause irrecoverable damage to the CD. Get a CD-writer with as large a buffer as possible. If money is no object, do not bother with ATAPI/IDE, just get a SCSI version. If you have a choice of IDE interface to be connected, use the one on the PCI-bus (i.e., on the motherboard) rather than one on the ISA-bus (an SB16 card, etc.).

When a CD-writer is connected to IDE, it has to be driven by the IDE-SCSI driver instead of an ordinary IDE CD driver for Linux 2.2 and 2.4 kernels. Also, the SCSI generic driver needs to be activated. There are two possible approaches to doing this, assuming a kernel distributed with modern distributions (as of March 2001).

For Linux 2.6 kernel, you should use ordinary IDE driver and access CD-RW device directly with device name such as /dev/hdx instead. You can use DMA this way.


9.3.2 Approach 1: modules + lilo

Add the following line to /etc/lilo.conf if you are using a stock Debian kernel. If multiple options are used, list them separated by spaces:

     append="hdx=ide-scsi ignore=hdx"

Here the location of the CD-writer, which is accessed through the ide-scsi driver, is indicated by hdx, where x represents one of the following:

     hda          for a master on the first IDE port
     hdb          for a slave on the first IDE port
     hdc          for a master on the second IDE port
     hdd          for a slave on the second IDE port
     hde ... hdh  for a drive on an external IDE port or ATA66/100 IDE port

Type the following commands as root to activate after finishing all the configuration:

     # lilo
     # shutdown -h now

9.3.3 Approach 2: recompile the kernel

Debian uses make-kpkg to create a kernel. Use the new --append_to_version with make-kpkg to build multiple kernel images. See The Linux kernel under Debian, Chapter 7.

Use the following setup through make menuconfig:


9.3.4 Post-configuration steps

Kernel support for the CD-writer can be activated during booting by the following:

     # echo ide-scsi >>/etc/modules
     # echo sg       >>/etc/modules
     # cd /dev; ln -sf scd0 cdrom

Manual activation can be done by:

     # modprobe ide-scsi
     # modprobe sg

After reboot, you can check installation by:

     $ dmesg|less
     # apt-get install cdrecord
     # cdrecord -scanbus

[Per Warren Dodge] Sometimes there may be conflicts between ide-scsi and ide-cd if there are both CD-ROM and CD-R/RW on the system. Try adding the following line to your /etc/modutils/aliases, running update-modules, and rebooting.

     pre-install      ide-scsi      modprobe ide-cd

This causes the IDE driver to load before ide-scsi. The IDE driver ide-cd takes control of the ATAPI CD-ROM—anything that it hasn't been told to ignore. That leaves just the ignored devices for ide-scsi to control.


9.3.5 CD-image file (bootable)

To create a CD-image of files under target-directory/ as cd-image.raw (bootable, Joliet TRANS.TBL-enabled format; if not bootable, take out -b and -c options), insert a boot floppy in the first floppy drive and

     # dd if=/dev/fd0 target-directory/boot.img 
     # mkisofs -r -V volume_id -b boot.img -c bootcatalog -J -T \
             -o cd-image.raw target_directory/

One funny hack is to make a bootable DOS CD-ROM. If an ordinary DOS boot floppy disk image is in the above boot.img, the CD-ROM will boot as if a DOS floppy were in the first floppy drive (A:). Doing this with freeDOS may be more interesting.

This CD-image file can be inspected by mounting it on the loop device.

     # mount -t iso9660 -o ro,loop cd-image.raw /cdrom
     # cd /cdrom
     # mc
     # umount /cdrom

9.3.6 Write to the CD-writer (R, RW):

First test with (assuming double speed)

     # nice --10 cdrecord -dummy speed=2 dev=0,0 disk.img

Then if OK, write to CD-R with

     # nice --10 cdrecord -v -eject speed=2 dev=0,0 disk.img

Or write to a CD-RW disk with

     # nice --10 cdrecord -v -eject blank=fast speed=2 dev=0,0 disk.img

Some CD-RW drives work better with

     # nice --10 cdrecord -v blank=all speed=2 dev=0,0 disk.img

followed by

     # nice --10 cdrecord -v -eject speed=2 dev=0,0 disk.img

Two steps are needed to prevent SCSI timeouts during blanking from interfering with the burning step. The argument value to nice may require some adjustments.


9.3.7 Make an image file of a CD

Some CD-Rs and commercial CDs have junk sectors at the end that make copying by dd impossible (the Windows 98 CD is one of them). The cdrecord package comes with the readcd command. Use this to copy any CD contents to an image file. If it is a data disk, mount it and run df to see its actual size. Divide the number shown in blocks (1 block = 1024 bytes) by 2 to get the number of actual CD sectors (1 sector = 2048 bytes). Run readcd with options and use this disk image to burn the CD-R/RW.

     # readcd dev=target,lun,scsibusno # select function 11

Here, set all three parameters to 0 for most cases. Usually the number of sectors given by readcd is excessive! Use the above number from an actual mount for better results.

It should be noted that the use of dd has a few problems if used on CD-ROM. The first run of the dd command may cause an error message and may yield a shorter disk image with a lost tail-end. The second run of dd command may yield a larger disk image with garbage data attached at the end on some systems if the data size is not specified. Only the second run of the dd command with the correct data size specified, and without ejecting the CD after an error message, seems to avoid these problems. If for example the image size displayed by df is 46301184 blocks, use the following command twice to get the right image (this is my empirical information):

     # dd if=/dev/cdrom of=cd.img bs=2048 count=$((46301184/2))

9.3.8 Debian CD images

To obtain the latest information on Debian CDs, visit the Debian CD site.

If you have a fast Internet connection, think about installing over the network using:

If you do not have a fast Internet connection, think about purchasing CDs from a CD vendor.

Please do not waste bandwidth by downloading standard CD images unless you are a CD image tester (even with the new jigdo method).

One noteworthy CD image is KNOPPIX - Live Linux Filesystem On CD. This CD will boot a functioning Debian system without installing itself to the hard disk.


9.3.9 Back up the system to CD-R

To copy key configuration files and data files to CD-R, use the example backup script backup. Also see Copy and archive a whole subdirectory, Section 8.3 and Differential backup and data synchronization, Section 8.4.


9.3.10 Copy a music CD to CD-R

Not tested by me:

     # apt-get install cdrecord cdparanoia
     # cdparanoia -s -B
     # cdrecord dev=0,0,0 speed=2 -v -dao -eject defpregap=1 -audio *.wav

or,

     # apt-get install cdrdao #disk at once
     # cdrdao read-cd --device /dev/cdrom --paranoia-mode 3 my_cd # read cd
     # cdrdao write --device /dev/cdrom --speed 8 my_cd    # write a new CD

cdrdao does a real copy (no gaps, etc...).


9.3.11 Writing DVD-R, DVD-RW, and DVD+RW

For DVD writing, you have 2 approaches:


9.4 X

The X Window System is provided by XFree86. There are two major versions of X server available on the Debian system: XFree86 Version 3.3 (XF3) and XFree86 Version 4.x series (XF4) both based on X11R6 specifications by X.Org.

For the basics of X, refer to X(7), the LDP XWindow-User-HOWTO, and the Remote X Apps mini-HOWTO. For a Debian-specific user guide, read /usr/share/doc/xfree86-common/FAQ.gz provided in the xfree86-common package. This contains an interesting and authoritative review of the key binding issues by Branden Robinson.

The X server, Section 9.4.3

a program on a local host that displays an X window and/or desktop on a user's monitor (CRT, LCD) and accepts keyboard and mouse input.

X clients, Section 9.4.4

a program on a (local or remote) host that runs X-compatible application software.

This reverses the ordinary use of "server" and "client" in other contexts.

There are several ways of getting the "X server" (display side) to accept remote connections from an "X client" (application side):

All remote connection methods, except ssh, require TCP/IP connection enabled on the X server. See Using X over TCP/IP, Section 9.4.6.


9.4.1 X packages

There are a few (meta)packages provided to ease installation of the X system in Woody.

x-window-system-core

This metapackage provides the essential components for a stand-alone workstation running the X Window System. It provides the X libraries, an X server (xserver-xfree86), a set of fonts, and a group of basic X clients and utilities.

x-window-system

This metapackage provides substantially all the components of the X Window System as developed by the XFree86 Project, as well as a set of historically popular accessory programs. (Notably, it depends on x-window-system-core, twm, and xdm, i.e., no need to install x-window-system-core if you install this.)

xserver-common-v3

Files and utilities common to XFree86 3.x X servers (XF3)

xserver-*

Supplemental XF3 server packages to support hardware not supported by the new XF4 server (xserver-xfree86) for whatever reason. Some old ATI mach64 cards are not supported in XF4, other cards hang badly in the Woody version of XF4, etc. (For available packages, use apt-cache search xserver-|less. All of these XF3 servers depend on xserver-common-v3.)

For most cases, x-window-system is the package to install. (If you want console login, be sure to disable xdm as described in "Let me disable X on boot!", Section 8.1.4.)


9.4.2 Hardware detection for X

To enable hardware detection during the X configuration stage, install the following packages prior to installing the X system:


9.4.3 The X server

See XFree86(1x) for X server information.

Invoke X server from a local console:

     $ startx -- :<display> vtXX
     e.g.:
     $ startx -- :1 vt8 -bpp 16
     ... start on vt8 connected to localhost:1 with 16 bpp mode

Arguments given after -- are for the X server.

Note, when using a ~/.xserverrc script to customize the X server startup process, be sure to exec the real X server. Failing to do this can make the X server slow to start and exit. For example:

     #!/bin/sh
     exec /usr/bin/X11/X -dpi 100 -nolisten tcp

9.4.3.1 Configuring the X server (version 4)

To (re-)configure an XF4 server,

     # dpkg-reconfigure --priority=low xserver-common
     # dpkg-reconfigure --priority=low xserver-xfree86

will generate /etc/X11/XF86Config-4 file and configure X using the script dexconf.


9.4.3.2 Configuring the X server (version 3)

To (re-)configure an XF3 server, for example, for ATI mach64,

     # dpkg-reconfigure --priority=low xserver-common-v3
     # dpkg-reconfigure --priority=low xserver-mach64

will generate /etc/X11/XF86Config file and configure X using the script xf86config-v3.


9.4.3.3 Configuring the X server manually

For Woody, to add user customizations to /etc/X11/XF86Config-4 file, do not edit the configuration file between the text:

     ### BEGIN DEBCONF SECTION
     [snip]
     ### END DEBCONF SECTION

Instead, add the customizations before the text. For example, to use a custom video device, add something resembling the following text to the top of the file:

     Section "Device"
       Identifier        "Custom Device"
       Driver            "ati"
       Option            "NoAccel"
     EndSection
     
     Section "Screen"
       Identifier  "Custom Screen"
       Device      "Custom Device"
       Monitor     "Generic Monitor"
       DefaultDepth 24
       Subsection "Display"
         Depth       8
         Modes       "1280x960" "1152x864" "1024x768" "800x600" "640x480"
       EndSubsection
       Subsection "Display"
         Depth       16
         Modes       "1280x960" "1152x864" "1024x768" "800x600" "640x480"
       EndSubsection
       Subsection "Display"
         Depth       24
         Modes       "1280x960" "1152x864" "1024x768" "800x600" "640x480"
       EndSubsection
     EndSection
     
     Section "ServerLayout"
         Identifier        "Custom"
         Screen            "Custom Screen"
         InputDevice       "Generic Keyboard" "CoreKeyboard"
         InputDevice       "Configured Mouse" "CorePointer"
     EndSection

For Sarge (testing at the time of writing), if you wish to retain user customizations to /etc/X11/XF86Config file through upgrade, run the following commands as root:

     # cp /etc/X11/XF86Config-4 /etc/X11/XF86Config-4.custom
     # md5sum /etc/X11/XF86Config-4 > /var/lib/xfree86/XF86Config-4.md5sum
     # dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xfree86

In order to achieve font de-uglification, you need to edit /etc/X11/XF86Config-4 as described in TrueType fonts in X, Section 9.4.13.

Please also check the other parts of your X configuration. Bad monitor settings can be even more of a headache than bad fonts, so make sure your refresh rate is as high as your monitor can handle (85 Hz is great, 75 Hz is OK, 60 Hz is painful).


9.4.4 X clients

Most X client programs can be started with a command like this:

     client $ xterm -geometry 80x24+30+200 -fn 6x10 -display hostname:0 &

Here, the optional command-line arguments mean:

The default displayname for the X client program (application side) can be set by the DISPLAY environment variable. For example, prior to running an X client program, executing one of the following commands achieves this:

     $ export DISPLAY=:0 
             # The default, local machine using the first X screen
     $ export DISPLAY=hostname.fulldomain.name:0.2
     $ export DISPLAY=localhost:0

Its startup can be customized by ~/.xinitrc. For example:

     xrdb -load $HOME/.Xresources
     xsetroot -solid gray &
     xclock -g 50x50-0+0 -bw 0 &
     xload -g 50x50-50+0 -bw 0 &
     xterm -g 80x24+0+0 &
     xterm -g 80x24+0-0 &
     twm

As described in Custom X sessions, Section 9.4.5.1, this overrides everything normal execution of Xsession does when started from startx. Use ~/.xsession instead and use this approach only as the last resort. See xsetroot(1x), xset(1x), and X resources, Section 9.4.10.


9.4.5 X sessions

An X session (X server + X client) can be started by:

The console can be made available as in "Let me disable X on boot!", Section 8.1.4.


9.4.5.1 Custom X sessions

The default startup script /etc/X11/Xsession is effectively a combination of /etc/X11/Xsession.d/50xfree86-common_determine-startup and /etc/X11/Xsession.d/99xfree86-common_start.

Execution of /etc/X11/Xsession is somewhat affected by /etc/X11/Xsession.options and is essentially an execution of a program which was first found in the following order with the exec command:

  • ~/.xsession or ~/.Xsession, if it is defined.

  • /usr/bin/x-session-manager, if it is defined.

  • /usr/bin/x-window-manager, if it is defined.

  • /usr/bin/x-terminal-emulator, if it is defined.

  • The exact meaning of these commands is determined by the Debian alternative system described in Alternative commands, Section 6.5.3. For example:

         # update-alternatives --config x-session-manager
         ... or
         # update-alternatives --config x-window-manager
    

    In order to make any X window manager a default while keeping GNOME and KDE session managers installed, replace /etc/X11/Xsession.d/50xfree86-common_determine-startup with the one attached in the second bug report at http://bugs.debian.org/168347 (I hope this will be included soon) and edit /etc/X11/Xsession.options as follows to disallow the X session manager:

         # /etc/X11/Xsession.options
         #
         # configuration options for /etc/X11/Xsession
         # See Xsession.options(5) for an explanation of the available options.
         # Default enabled
         allow-failsafe
         allow-user-resources
         allow-user-xsession
         use-ssh-agent
         # Default disabled (enable them by uncommenting)
         do-not-use-x-session-manager
         #do-not-use-x-window-manager
    

    Without the above mentioned modification to the system, gnome-session and kdebase are the packages containing these X session managers. Removing them allows X window manager to be a default. (Yack, any better idea?)

    On a system where /etc/X11/Xsession.options contains a line allow-user-xsession without preceding characters, any user who defines ~/.xsession or ~/.Xsession will be able to customize the action of /etc/X11/Xsession.

    The last command in the ~/.xsession file should use form of exec some-window/session-manager to start your favorite X window/session manager.

    A good example of an ~/.xsession script is given at /usr/share/doc/xfree86-common/examples/xsession.gz.

    I use this to set the window manager, screen access, and language support for each user account. See Starting an X session for a user, Section 9.4.5.2, Getting root in X, Section 9.4.12, and Example for a multilingual X window system, Section 9.7.9.

    If you wish to have several X client programs started automatically, see X clients, Section 9.4.4 examples and invoke them from ~/.xsession instead of ~/.xinitrc.

    User-specific additional X resources can be stored in ~/.Xresources. See X resources, Section 9.4.10.

    User-customized keymaps and pointer button mappings in X can also be specified in the user's start up script. See Keymaps and pointer button mappings in X, Section 9.4.11.


    9.4.5.2 Starting an X session for a user

    Following the principle described at Custom X sessions, Section 9.4.5.1, a user-specific X session/window manager can be activated by installing the package indicated and setting the contents at the end of ~/.xsession file as follows. (I like blackbox/fluxbox for its simple style and fast speed.):

    See Window Managers for X.


    9.4.5.3 Setting up KDE and GNOME

    In order to setup full KDE or GNOME environment, the following metapackages are useful:

    Installing these packages with tools which handle Recommends, such as dselect and aptitude, provides you with richer choices of software than just installing these with apt-get.

    If you want console login, be sure to disable X display managers, such as kdm, gdm, and wdm, which may be pulled in by the dependencies, as described in "Let me disable X on boot!", Section 8.1.4.

    If you want to have GNOME as the system default over KDE, make sure to configure x-session-manager as in Alternative commands, Section 6.5.3.


    9.4.6 Using X over TCP/IP

    Because a remote TCP/IP socket connection without encryption is prone to an eavesdropping attack, the default setting for X in recent Debian versions disables the TCP/IP socket. Consider using ssh for a remote X connection (see Connecting to a remote X server – ssh, Section 9.4.8).

    The method described here is not encouraged unless one is in a very secure environment behind a good firewall system with only trusted users present. Use the following command to verify your current X server setting for the TCP/IP socket:

         # find /etc/X11 -type f -print0 | xargs -0 grep nolisten
         /etc/X11/xinit/xserverrc:exec /usr/bin/X11/X -dpi 100 -nolisten tcp
    

    Remove -nolisten to restore TCP/IP listening on the X server.


    9.4.7 Connecting to a remote X server – xhost

    xhost allows access based on hostnames. This is very insecure. The following will disable host checking and allow connections from anywhere if a TCP/IP socket connection is allowed (see Using X over TCP/IP, Section 9.4.6):

         $ xhost +
    

    You can re-enable host checking with:

         $ xhost -
    

    xhost does not distinguish between different users on the remote host. Also, hostnames (addresses actually) can be spoofed.

    This method must be avoided even with more restrictive host criteria if you're on an untrusted network (for instance with dial-up PPP access to the Internet). See xhost(1x).


    9.4.8 Connecting to a remote X server – ssh

    The use of ssh enables a secure connection from a local X server to a remote application server.

    This method allows the display of the remote X client output as if it were locally connected through a local UNIX domain socket.


    9.4.9 The X terminal emulator – xterm

    Learn everything about xterm at http://dickey.his.com/xterm/xterm.faq.html.


    9.4.10 X resources

    Many older X programs, such as xterm, use the X resource database to configure their appearance. The file ~/.Xresources is used to store user resource specifications. This file is automatically merged into the default X resources upon login. The system-wide defaults of X resources are stored in /etc/X11/Xresources/* and application defaults of them are stored in /etc/X11/app-defaults/*. Use these settings as the starting points.

    Here are some helpful settings to add to your ~/.Xresources file:

         ! Set the font to a more readable 9x15
         XTerm*font: 9x15
         
         ! Display a scrollbar
         XTerm*scrollBar: true
         
         ! Set the size of the buffer to 1000 lines
         XTerm*saveLines: 1000
         
         ! Large kterm screen
         KTerm*VT100*fontList: -*-fixed-medium-r-normal--24-*,\
          -*-gothic-medium-r-normal--24-*,\
          -*-mincho-medium-r-normal--24-*
    

    To make these settings take effect immediately, merge them into the database using the command:

         xrdb -merge ~/.Xresources
    

    See xrdb(1x).


    9.4.11 Keymaps and pointer button mappings in X

    The xmodmap program is used to edit and display the keyboard modifier map and keymap table that are used by client applications to convert event keycodes into keysyms in X.

         $ xmodmap -pm 
          ... display the current modifier map
         $ xmodmap -pk | pager
          ... display the current keymap table
         $ xmodmap -e "pointer = 3 2 1" # set mouse for the left hand.
         $ xmodmap ~/.xmodmaprc # set keyboard as in ~/.xmodmaprc
    

    It is usually run from the user's session startup script, ~/.xsession.

    To get the keycode, run xev in X and press keys. To get the meaning of keysym, look into the MACRO definition in /usr/include/X11/keysymdef.h file. All the #define statements in this file are named as XK_ prepended to the keysym names.

    See xmodmap(1x).


    9.4.12 Getting root in X

    If a GUI program needs to be run with root privilege, use the following procedures to display program output on a user's X server. Never attempt to start an X server directly from the root account in order to avoid possible security risks.

    Start the X server as a normal user and open an xterm console. Then:

         $ XAUTHORITY=$HOME/.Xauthority
         $ export XAUTHORITY
         $ su root
         Password:*****
         # printtool &
    

    When using this trick to su to a non-root user, make sure ~/.Xauthority is group readable by this non-root user.

    To automate this command sequence, create a file ~/.xsession from the user's account, containing the following lines:

         # This makes X work when I su to the root account.
         if [ -z "$XAUTHORITY" ]; then
                 XAUTHORITY=$HOME/.Xauthority
                 export XAUTHORITY
         fi
         unset XSTARTUP
         # If a particular window/session manager is desired, uncomment
         # the following and edit it to fit your needs.
         #XSTARTUP=/usr/bin/blackbox
         # This starts x-window/session-manager program
         if [ -z "$XSTARTUP" ]; then
           if [ -x /usr/bin/x-session-manager ]; then
             XSTARTUP=x-session-manager
           elif [ -x /usr/bin/x-window-manager ]; then
             XSTARTUP=x-window-manager
           elif [ -x /usr/bin/x-terminal-emulator ]; then
             XSTARTUP=x-terminal-emulator
           fi
         fi
         # execute auto selected X window/session manager
         exec $XSTARTUP
    

    Then run su (not su -) in an xterm window of the user. Now GUI programs started from this xterm can display output on this user's X window while running with root privilege. This trick works as long as the default /etc/X11/Xsession is executed. If a user set up his customization using ~/.xinitrc or ~/.xsession, the above mentioned environment variable XAUTHORITY needs to be set similarly in those scripts.

    Alternatively, sudo can be used to automate the command sequence:

         $ sudo xterm
         ... or
         $ sudo -H -s
    

    Here /root/.bashrc should contain:

         if [ $SUDO_USER ]; then
             sudo -H -u $SUDO_USER xauth extract - $DISPLAY | xauth merge -
         fi
    

    This works fine even with the home directory of the user on an NFS mount, because root does not read the .Xauthority file.

    There are also several specialized packages for this purpose: kdesu, gksu, gksudo, gnome-sudo, and xsu. Some other methods can be used to achieve similar results: creating a symlink from /root/.Xauthority to the user's corresponding one; use of the script sux; or putting "xauth merge ~USER_RUNNING_X/.Xauthority" in the root initialization script.

    See more on the debian-devel mailing list.


    9.4.13 TrueType fonts in X

    The standard xfs in XFree86-4 works fine with TrueType fonts. You have to install a third-party font server such as xfs-xtt, if you are using XFree86-3.

    You just need to make sure that whatever applications you want to use the TrueType fonts are linked against libXft or libfreetype (you probably don't even have to worry about this if you're using pre-compiled .debs).

    First set up font support infrastructure:

    Then install DFSG font packages:

    Since Free fonts are sometimes limited, installing or sharing some commercial TrueType fonts is an option for a Debian users. In order to make this process easy for the user, some convenience packages have been created:

    You'll have a really good selection of TrueType fonts at the expense of contaminating your Free system with non-Free fonts.

    All these font packages in Debian should work without any efforts and appear available to all X programs that use the regular "core" font system. This includes things like Xterm, Emacs, and most other non-KDE and non-GNOME applications.

    Now, run xfontsel and select any TrueType fonts in the fndry menu, you should be able to see many ungrayed out entries in the "fmly" menu.

    For KDE2.2 and GNOME1.4 (with libgdkxft0, which is a hack to get GTK 1.2 to do anti-aliased font rendering), you need to setup Xft1, as well. Xft1 is highly deprecated, and is basically only used by GNOME1.4 and KDE2.2. Edit /etc/X11/XftConfig and add a line like

             dir "/var/lib/defoma/x-ttcidfont-conf.d/dirs/TrueType"
    

    before the other dir lines. [42]

    For GNOME2 and KDE3 (post Sarge release), you need to setup fontconfig which Xft2 uses to find fonts. [43] You shouldn't need to install anything extra for this because every package using fontconfig Depends on it (indirectly) already.

    First, look in /etc/fonts/fonts.conf. There should be a line like the one below. If not, open up /etc/fonts/local.conf and add this

             <dir>/var/lib/defoma/x-ttcidfont-conf.d/dirs/TrueType</dir>
    

    just after the <fontconfig> line.

    Fontconfig should pick these up immediately, and "fc-list" should list your new fonts. Another neat feature of fontconfig is that you can just drop fonts in ~/.fonts/ and all your fontconfigified programs will have access to them immediately.

    If you manually install a new set of TrueType fonts while in X without using Debian package, run

         # xset fp rehash
    

    to get XFree86 to look at the contents of that directory again and to pickup new ones.


    9.4.14 Web browsers in X

    There are many web browser packages with graphical display capabilities as of the Sarge release:

    In testing or unstable, you may face version mismatch problems among mozilla variant browsers since they may require matched versions of shared libraries.

    Plug-ins for browsers such as mozilla can be enabled by installing "*.so" manually in the plug-in directory and restarting the browsers.

    Plug-in resources:


    9.4.15 Mail Clients (MUAs) in X

    There are sevral client packages with graphical display capabilities as of the Sarge release:


    9.5 SSH

    SSH (Secure SHell) is the secure way to connect over the Internet. A free version of SSH called OpenSSH is available as the ssh package in Debian.


    9.5.1 Basics of SSH

    First install the OpenSSH server and client.

         # apt-get update && apt-get install ssh
    

    /etc/ssh/sshd_not_to_be_run must not be present if one wishes to run the OpenSSH server.

    SSH has two authentication protocols:

    Be careful about these differences if you are migrating to Woody or using a non-Debian system.

    See /usr/share/doc/ssh/README.Debian.gz, ssh(1), sshd(8), ssh-agent(1), and ssh-keygen(1) for details.

    Following are the key configuration files:

    The following will start an ssh connection from a client.

         $ ssh username@hostname.domain.ext
         $ ssh -1 username@hostname.domain.ext # Force SSH version 1
         $ ssh -1 -o RSAAuthentication=no -l username foo.host
             # force password on SSH1
         $ ssh -o PreferredAuthentications=password -l username foo.host
             # force password on SSH2
    

    For the user, ssh functions as a smarter and more secure telnet (will not bomb with ^]).


    9.5.2 Port forwarding for SMTP/POP3 tunneling

    To establish a pipe to connect to port 25 of remote-server from port 4025 of localhost, and to port 110 of remote-server from port 4110 of localhost through ssh, execute on the local machine:

         # ssh -q -L 4025:remote-server:25 4110:remote-server:110 \
                    username@remote-server
    

    This is a secure way to make connections to SMTP/POP3 servers over the Internet. Set the AllowTcpForwarding entry to yes in /etc/ssh/sshd_config of the remote host.


    9.5.3 Connecting with fewer passwords – RSA

    One can avoid having to remember a password for each remote system by using RSAAuthentication (SSH1 protocol) or PubkeyAuthentication (SSH2 protocol).

    On the remote system, set the respective entries, "RSAAuthentication yes" or "PubkeyAuthentication yes", in /etc/ssh/sshd_config.

    Then generate authentication keys locally and install the public key on the remote system:

         $ ssh-keygen          # RSAAuthentication: RSA1 key for SSH1
         $ cat .ssh/identity.pub | ssh user1@remote \
                 "cat - >>.ssh/authorized_keys"
         ...
         $ ssh-keygen -t rsa   # PubkeyAuthentication: RSA key for SSH2
         $ cat .ssh/id_rsa.pub | ssh user1@remote \
                 "cat - >>.ssh/authorized_keys"
         ...
         $ ssh-keygen -t dsa   # PubkeyAuthentication: DSA key for SSH2
         $ cat .ssh/id_dsa.pub | ssh user1@remote \
                 "cat - >>.ssh/authorized_keys"
    

    One can change the passphrase later with "ssh-keygen -p". Make sure to verify settings by testing the connection. In case of any problem, use "ssh -v".

    You can add options to the entries in authorized_keys to limit hosts and to run specific commands. See sshd(8) for details.

    Note that SSH2 has HostbasedAuthentication. For this to work, you must adjust the settings of HostbasedAuthentication to yes in both /etc/ssh/sshd_config on the server machine and /etc/ssh/ssh_config or $HOME/.ssh/config on the client machine.


    9.5.4 Dealing with alien SSH clients

    There are a few free SSH clients available for non-Unix-like platforms.

    Windows

    puTTY (GPL)

    Windows (cygwin)

    SSH in cygwin (GPL)

    Macintosh Classic

    macSSH (GPL) [Note that Mac OS X includes OpenSSH; use ssh in the Terminal application]

    See also SourceForge.net, site documentation, "6. CVS Instructions".


    9.5.5 Setting up ssh-agent

    It is safer to protect your SSH authentication key with a passphrase. If it was not set, use ssh-keygen -p to set it.

    Place your public key (e.g. ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub) into ~/.ssh/authorized_keys on a remote host using a password-based connection to the remote host as described in Connecting with fewer passwords – RSA, Section 9.5.3.

         $ ssh-agent bash # or run zsh/tcsh/pdksh program instead.
         $ ssh-add ~/.ssh/id_rsa
         Enter passphrase for /home/osamu/.ssh/id_rsa:
         Identity added: /home/osamu/.ssh/id_rsa (/home/osamu/.ssh/id_rsa)
         $ scp foo user@remote.host:foo
          ... no passphrase needed from here on :-)
         $^D
          ... terminating ssh-agent session
    

    For the X server, normal Debian startup scripts execute ssh-agent as parent process. So you only need to execute ssh-add once.

    For more, read ssh-agent(1)and ssh-add(1).


    9.5.6 Troubleshooting SSH

    If you have problems, check the permissions of configuration files and run ssh with the "-v" option.

    Use the "-P" option if you are root and have trouble with a firewall; this avoids the use of server ports 1–1023.

    If ssh connections to a remote site suddenly stop working, it may be the result of tinkering by the sysadmin, most likely a change in host_key during system maintenance. After making sure this is the case and nobody is trying to fake the remote host by some clever hack, one can regain a connection by removing the host_key entry from $HOME/.ssh/known_hosts on the local machine.


    9.6 Mail

    Mail configuration divides into three categories:


    9.6.1 Mail transport agents (MTAs)

    For a full-featured MTA, use exim in Woody and use exim4 in Sarge. [44] References:

    The only reasonable alternative MTA is postfix if you care about security. sendmail and qmail are available as Debian packages but are not recommended.

    If you do not need the relay capability of an MTA as in the case of a satellite system such as a laptop PC, you may consider using one of these lightweight packages:

    At this moment, I find exim to be more suitable even for my personal workstation machine, which is a laptop PC.

    You may need to remove exim for the installation of these conflicting packages:

         # dpkg -P --force-depends exim
         # apt-get install nullmailer         # or ssmtp
    

    9.6.1.1 Smarthost

    If you are running exim4 or exim on a host which is connected through the consumer grade services, please make sure to send outgoing mail through a smarthost offered by your ISP or some others. [45] There are few good reasons:

    The only conceivable exceptions are:


    9.6.1.2 Basic configuration of Exim

    In order to use exim4 or exim as your MTA, configure the following:

         /etc/exim/exim.conf     "eximconfig" to create and edit (exim)
         /etc/exim4/*            "dpkg-reconfigure exim4-config" to create and edit (exim4)
         /etc/inetd.conf         comment out smtp to run exim as daemon
         /etc/email-addresses    Add spoofed source address lists
    

    check filters using exim4 or exim with -brw, -bf, -bF, -bV, ... etc.


    9.6.1.3 Setting up a catchall for nonexistent email addresses under Exim

    In /etc/exim/exim.conf (Woody or later), in the DIRECTORS part, at the end (after the localuser: director) add a catch-all director that matches all addresses that the previous directors couldn't resolve (per Miquel van Smoorenburg):

         catchall:
           driver = smartuser
             new_address = webmaster@mydomain.com
    

    If one wants to have more a detailed recipe for each virtual domain, etc., add the following at the end of /etc/exim/exim.conf (per me, not well tested):

         *@yourdomain.com ${lookup{$1}lsearch*{/etc/email-addresses} \
                 {$value}fail} T
    

    Then have an "*" entry in /etc/email-addresses.


    9.6.1.4 Configuring selective address rewriting for outgoing mail under Exim

    Selective address rewrite for outgoing mail to produce proper "From:" headers can be done using exim by configuring near the end of /etc/exim/exim.conf:

         *@host1.something.dyndns.org \
           "${if eq {${lookup{$1}lsearch{/etc/passwd}{1}{0}}} {1}  \
            {$0}{$1@something.dyndns.org}}"  frFs
    

    This rewrites all addresses matching *@host1.something.dyndns.org.

    1. It searches through /etc/password to see if the local part ($1) is a local user or not.

    1. If it is a local user, it rewrites the address to the same thing it was in the first place ($0).

    1. If it is not a local user, it rewrites the domain part.


    9.6.1.5 Configuring SMTP authentication under Exim

    Some SMTP services such as yahoo.com require SMTP auth. Configure /etc/exim/exim.conf as follows:

         remote_smtp:
           driver = smtp
           authenticate_hosts = smtp.mail.yahoo.com
         ...
         
         smarthost:
           driver = domainlist
           transport = remote_smtp
           route_list = "* smtp.mail.yahoo.com bydns_a"
         ...
         
         plain:
           driver = plaintext
           public_name = PLAIN
           client_send = "^cmatheson3^this_is_my_password"
    

    Do not forget double quotes in the last line.


    9.6.2 Fetching mail – Fetchmail

    fetchmail is run in daemon mode to fetch mail from a POP3 account with an ISP into the local mail system. Configure:

         /etc/init.d/fetchmail   
         /etc/rc?.d/???fetchmail run update-rc.d fetchmail default priority 30
         /etc/fetchmailrc        configuration file (chown 600, owned by fetchmail)
    

    Information on how to start fetchmail as a daemon from the init.d script for Potato is confusing (Woody fixed this). See the sample /etc/init.d/fetchmail and /etc/fetchmailrc files in the example scripts.

    If your email headers are contaminated by ^M due to your ISP's mailer, add "stripcr" to your options in $HOME/.fetchmailrc:

         options fetchall no keep stripcr
    

    9.6.3 Processing mail – Procmail

    procmail is a local mail delivery and filter program. One needs to create $HOME/.procmailrc for each account that uses it. Example: _procmailrc


    9.6.4 Processing spam with crm114

    crm114 package provides /usr/share/crm114/mailfilter.crm script which is written in CRM114. This script provides a very effective spam filter which can be trained by feeding the spam and the ham.

    CRM114 is a small language designed to write filters in; consider it to be a version of grep with super powers. See crm(1).


    9.6.5 Reading mail – Mutt

    Use mutt as the mail user agent (MUA) in combination with vim. Customize with ~/.muttrc; for example:

         # use visual mode and "gq" to reformat quotes
         set editor="vim -c 'set tw=72 et ft=mail'"
         #
         # header weeding taken from the manual (Sven's Draconian header weeding)
         #
         ignore *
         unignore from: date subject to cc
         unignore user-agent x-mailer
         hdr_order from subject to cc date user-agent x-mailer
         auto_view application/msword
         ....
    

    Add the following to /etc/mailcap or $HOME/.mailcap to display HTML mail and MS Word attachments inline:

         text/html; lynx -force_html %s; needsterminal;
         application/msword; /usr/bin/antiword '%s'; copiousoutput;
         description="Microsoft Word Text"; nametemplate=%s.doc
    

    9.7 Localization (l10n)

    Debian is internationalized, offering support for a growing number of languages and local usage conventions. The next subsection lists some of the forms of diversity that Debian currently supports, and the following subsections discuss localization, the process of customizing your working environment to allow current input and output of your chosen language(s) and conventions for dates, numeric and monetary formats, and other aspects of a system that differ according to your region.


    9.7.1 Basics of localization

    There are several aspects to customizing for localization and national language support.


    9.7.1.1 Localizing the keyboard

    Debian is distributed with keymaps for nearly two dozen keyboards. In Woody, reconfigure the keyboard by:


    9.7.1.2 Localizing data files

    The vast majority of Debian software packages support data handling of non-US-ASCII characters through the LC_CTYPE environment variable offered by the locale technology in glibc.


    9.7.1.3 Localizing the display

    X can display any coding, including UTF-8, and supports all fonts. The list includes not only all the 8-bit fonts but also 16-bit fonts such as Chinese, Japanese, or Korean. Multibyte character input method is supported by the Alternative X input methods, Section 9.7.10 mechanism. See Example for a multilingual X window system, Section 9.7.9 and UTF-8 support for the X terminal emulator, Section 9.7.12.

    Japanese EUC code display is also available in a (S)VGA graphics console through the kon2 package. There is an alternative new Japanese display, jfbterm, which uses a frame-buffer console, too. In these console environments, the Japanese input method must be supplied by the application. Use egg package for Emacs and use japanized jvim package for a Vim environment.

    Installation of non Unicode fonts to X will help in displaying documents with any encoding in X. So do not worry too much about encoding of fonts.


    9.7.1.4 Localizing messages and documentation

    Translations exist for many of the text messages and documents that are displayed in the Debian system, such as error messages, standard program output, menus, and manual pages. Currently, support for manual pages in German, Spanish, Finnish, French, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Chinese, and Russian is provided through the manpages-LANG packages (where LANG is a comma-separated list of two-letter ISO country codes. Use apt-cache search manpages-|less to get a list of available Unix manual pages.)

    To access an NLS manual page, the user must set the environment variable LC_MESSAGES to the appropriate string. For example, in the case of the Italian-language manual pages, LC_MESSAGES needs to be set to it. The man program will then search for Italian manual pages under /usr/share/man/it/.


    9.7.2 Locales

    Debian supports locale technology. Locale is a mechanism that allows programs to provide suitable output and functionality according to local conventions such as character set, format for date and time, currency symbol, and so on. It uses environment variables to determine the appropriate behavior. For example, assuming you have both the American English and German locales installed on your system, the error messages of many programs can be multilingual:

         $ LANG="en_US" cat foo
         cat: foo: No such file or directory
         $ LANG="de_DE" cat foo
         cat: foo: Datei oder Verzeichnis nicht gefunden
    

    Glibc offers support for this functionality to programs as a library. See locale(7).


    9.7.3 Introduction to locales

    Full locale description consists of 3 parts: xx_YY.ZZZZ.

    For language codes and country codes, see pertinent description in the info gettext.

    Please note this codeset part may be normalized internally to achieve cross platform compatibility by removing all - and by converting all characters into lower case. Typical codesets are:

    As for the meaning of basic encoding system jargons:

    ISO-8859-?, EUC, ISO-10646-1, UCS-2, UCS-4, and UTF-8 share the same code with ASCII for the 7 bit characters. EUC or Shift-JIS uses high-bit characters (0x80-0xff) to indicate that part of encoding is 16 bit. UTF-8 also uses high-bit characters (0x80-0xff) to indicate non 7 bit character sequence bytes and this is the most sane encoding system to handle non-ASCII characters.

    Please note the byte order difference of Unicode implementation:

    See Convert a text file with recode, Section 8.6.12 for conversion between various character sets. For more see Introduction to i18n.


    9.7.4 Activating locale support

    Debian does not come with all available locales pre-compiled. Check /usr/lib/locale to see which locales (besides the default "C") are compiled for your system. If the one you need is not present, you have two options:


    9.7.5 Activating a particular locale

    The following environment variables are evaluated in this order to provide particular locale values to programs:

    1. LANGUAGE: This environment variable consists of a colon-separated list of locale names in order of priority. Used only if the POSIX locale is set to a value other than "C" [in Woody; the Potato version always has priority over the POSIX locale]. (GNU extension)

    1. LC_ALL: If this is non-null, the value is used for all locale categories. (POSIX.1) Usually "" (null).

    1. LC_*: If this is non-null, the value is used for the corresponding category (POSIX.1). Usually "C".

      LC_* variables are:

    1. LANG: If this is non-null and LC_ALL is undefined, the value is used for all LC_* locale categories with undefined values. (POSIX.1) Usually "C".

    Note that some applications (e.g., Netscape 4) ignore LC_* settings.

    The locale program can display active locale settings and available locales; see locale(1). (NOTE: locale -a lists all the locales that your system knows about; this does not mean that all of them are compiled! See Activating locale support, Section 9.7.4.)


    9.7.6 ISO 8601 date format locale

    The locale support for the international date standard of yyyy-mm-dd (ISO 8601 date format) is provided by the locale called en_DK, "English in Denmark", which is a bit of joke :-) This seems to work only in a console screen for ls.


    9.7.7 Example for the US (ISO-8859-1)

    Add the following lines to ~/.bash_profile:

         LC_CTYPE=en_US.ISO-8859-1
         export LC_CTYPE
    

    9.7.8 Example for France with Euro sign (ISO-8859-15)

    Add the following lines to ~/.bash_profile:

         LANG=fr_FR@euro
         export LANG
         LC_CTYPE=fr_FR@euro
         export LC_CTYPE
    

    Configure the keyboard for French "AZERTY" as described in Localizing the keyboard, Section 9.7.1.1; add French manual pages by installing manpages-fr. The Right-Alt key in the US is called Alt-Gr in Europe. Pressing this together with other keys creates numerous accented and special characters. For example, Alt-Gr+E creates a Euro sign.

    Most western European languages can be configured similarly.

    See Debian Euro HOWTO for adding support for the new Euro currency and Utiliser et configurer Debian pour le franšais for more details in French.


    9.7.9 Example for a multilingual X window system

    Let us set up a multilingual X window system which simultaneously supports Japanese, English, German, and French with EUC, UTF-8, and ISO-8859-1 encodings in different consoles.

    I will show you a customization using the Debian menu system. See the details of Debian menu system in /usr/share/doc/menu/html/index.html. I also create a shortcut to the mozilla web browser in this example. [46]

    For other CJK language supports, see the following sections and SuSE pages for CJK.


    9.7.10 Alternative X input methods

    There are many alternative X input methods support packages available:

         Language   LC_CTYPE     XIM server XMODIFIERS              Start key
         Japanese   ja_JP*       kinput2    "@im=kinput2"           Shift-Space
         Korean     ko_KR*       ami        "@im=Ami"               Shift-Space
         Chinese(T) zh_TW.Big5   xcin       "@im=xcin-zh_TW.big5"   Ctrl-Space
         Chinese(S) zh_CN.GB2312 xcin       "@im=xcin-zh_CN.GB2312" Ctrl-Space
    

    Japanese input method kinput2 is offered by the packages such as kinput2-canna-wnn, kinput2-canna, and kinput2-wnn. Japanese needs dictionary server such as canna and freewnn-jserver to be practical.


    9.7.11 X terminal emulators

    There are many X consoles which support simple 8 bit encodings when pertinent font packages are installed:

    Multi-byte encoding supports of X console are provided by xterm through UTF-8 encoding (UTF-8 support for the X terminal emulator, Section 9.7.12). Other traditional encoding supports are in progress (as of 2003). Following packages offer traditional encoding supports:

    For kterm (and possibly others), you may want to activate XIM through menu after Ctrl-middle-click mouse action.


    9.7.12 UTF-8 support for the X terminal emulator

    UTF-8 support for X terminal emulator is provided by the uxterm program in the xterm package for XFree86 4.x. It enables support for all languages. It is a wrapper around the xterm(1) program that invokes the latter program with the "UXTerm" X resource class set.

    For example, to enable nice large display of English, Russian, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean characters, add following to your ~/.Xresources after installing all the pertinent fonts:

         ! set large font
         UXTerm*font: -misc-fixed-medium-r-normal-*-18-120-100-100-c-90-iso10646-1
         ! Use XIM for Japanese
         *inputMethod: kinput2
    

    Then run xrdb -merge ~/.Xresources to update X resources as described in X resources, Section 9.4.10.

    Although most of the popular console program packages such as vim, mutt, and emacs have been made compatible with UTF-8 recently (Woody-Sarge). Program such as mc still is not UTF-8 compatible but simply 8-bit clean. If you are editing 7 bit ASCII part of unknown or mixed encoding file, it is safer to use the locale unaware 8-bit clean editor.

    See The Unicode HOWTO.


    9.7.13 Example for UTF-8 in a framebuffer console

    UTF-8 support on a FB console is provided by bterm used in the debian-installer.


    9.7.14 Beyond locales

    When you are first setting the system up for a national language environment, please consider using tasksel or aptitude to find out what packages are selected by choosing the corresponding language environment task. The package choice made is useful even for a multilingual setup. If you encounter any package dependency conflicts during the install to your carefully configured system, avoid installing any software that conflicts with the existing system. You may have to use update-alternative to regain the original state for some commands since a newly installed one may have higher priority than existing ones.

    Newer major programs are using glibc 2.2 and are mostly internationalized. So a specially localized version such as jvim for Vim may not be needed as its functionality is offered by vim version 6.0 in X. In reality, it is still somewhat rough-edged. Since jvim has a version compiled with direct Japanese input method (canna) support even in the console and addresses many other Japanese-specific issues maturely, you may still want it :-)

    Programs may need to be configured beyond locale configuration to enable a comfortable working environment. The language-env package and its command set-language-env greatly eases this process.

    Also see the internationalization document, Introduction to i18n. It is aimed at developers but is also useful for system administrators.


    9.8 Multilingualization (m17n)

    Localization (l10n), Section 9.7 enabled by language-env package and alike are aimed to achieve monolingual localization. These packages also use traditional encodings as the choice for the text encoding. You cannot mix French and Japanese text in such environment since they use incompatible ISO-8859-1 and EUC-JP encodings respectively.

    You can obtain multilingualized UTF-8 Desktop using Gnome and KDE programs started under one of the available UTF-8 locales. (Sarge) In such environment, you can mix English, Chinese, Russian, and Japanese characters under UTF-8 compliant softwares.

    Under such environment, new multilingualized input method (IM) using scim is preferred. IM offered by the scim is turned on and off by typing Ctrl-Space together. The input conversion engine can be switched by clicking small SCIM panel.

    vim offers the multilingualized environment and can handle both UTF-8 and conventionally encoded files (EUC-JP, ISO-8859-1, ...) when it is run under the UTF-8 console such as gnome-teminal. See vim help message with pressing [Esc] and typing :help mbyte.txt.


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    Debian Reference

    CVS, Thu Jan 18 11:52:15 UTC 2007

    Osamu Aoki osamu#at#debian.org
    Authors, Section A.1