Debian perfect work environment

Working in a big company, my work laptop came with MS-Windows7 Enterprise installed.
But as you imagine, Unix is my preferred desktop environment. So let’s how to configure a perfect Debian Linux for a old wolf consultant like me. You will be able to install commercial software mubmo jumbo like Oracle Express and IBM Websphere in a snap, and have a 64 rock solid system, easy to bring in a USB stick if you like.


Firs to f all, remember this is a personal rambling, so it works on my machine but you’d adapt it to your needs. It is simply a good starting point.

About the virtualization platform: choose your preferred one.
After years of Virtualbox, I am sad to say VMWare Player is superior when came to GUI acceleration and integration. Yes you need some bucks to get the paid version…anyway the choice is your.


Step 1 The distro

Download a net install like the debian-7.4.0-amd64-netinst.iso and fire you virtualization system for installation. Net install is far superior because it is tiny and donwload what is needed from the network.

During the install I prefer a US CLANG. Do not forget to install also the SSH Server. Sometimes I avoid the Print Server because I do not print on my system.

Set the Root disk to 10GB maximum, and the initial RAM to 1GB and 2 core processors.

Step-2 Basic Debian packages

Debian uses very stable (and OLD) package set: it is ok.

When “aptitude install” will present you its installation plan, press “n” if the “solution” involve removing packages like libc and so on, because it will be a very bad idea!

If you plan to use oracle express or IBM WebSphere, along with git/mercurial/emacs, this commands will set up a good environment for you:


Needed for vmware extension compilation…

aptitude install linux-headers-3.2.0-4-amd64  gcc make

The following two lines will add ability to run 32bit code (very handy)

dpkg –add-architecture i386
aptitude install libc6:i386 zlib1g:i386

Some version controls… and misc utility (by topic)

aptitude install subversion git mercurial
aptitude install wget curl

The best editor ever, with the bad one, together (you choose your side of the force!)

aptitude install emacs vim

Minimal needed for running sqlplus installation (see below)

aptitude install libaio1 unixodbc

For a complete guide to installing oracle express take a look to this article at
Anyway consider such modification with caution, because they change a lot your system

Erlang installation OTP 17

The following setup will be handy to install the missing library for erlang compilation and installation. Anyway, review the erlang readme

aptitude install libtinfo-dev libz-dev

Changing the virtualization platform: Virtual box to vmware or vice-versa.

If you came from Virtual Box, the ova migration failed in my case, so I exported the virtual disks via something like.

VBoxManage clonehd virtuabox.vdi ../newmachine/newdisk.vmdk –format VMDK

It works like a charm and it is far better. I think you can also do the opposite, so…avoid ova migration.

When I do such migration I export only the data disk (like mi user home) and reinstall the base system.

Exporting installed packages

To do this article, I need to export the packages installed from a bunch of systems. To do so, I used the following command

aptitude search ‘~i!~M’

which is far more superior then playing with dpkg commands.


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