Debian Start!

August 25, 2009 – 10:21 pm by Adnan Hodzic


For last 2 days now, I was in middle of process of moving to a new (faster) server, without any prior notice my web hosting company simply initialized the “move”. Being jinx I am, it was just then that I posted this, so I’m really sorry for all the inconvenience, it really wasn’t my fault: 1. post was unavailable for couple of hours 2. two same posts on the planet

For some time now I’ve been bothered by Iceweasel’s default start page in Debian, and I just refused to use “Firefox Start“. So why not be the one who will change something about it Smile And after such “boost” from DC9, I had to do something, immediately.

Well there’s nothing much to say, except I hope you like it Smile Therefor I present you with Debian Start!

I “tailored” it to work with Epiphany and Iceweasel/Firefox; Konqueror, Opera, Chrome don’t render it too good, they can’t resist but move the search box to the left. I figured I’ll just end up writing different CSS for those to use. If you have any other ideas, please do share Smile

Until then, for those on Epiphany and Iceweasel/Firefox make sure you set it as your new home Smile

Future? Well it all actually depends on you, if you ask me Debian really needs (badly) some sort of start page. As it goes for future plans (all depending on your feedback) I would start a new project on Alioth, and have it “multilingual” and include themes/skins for it, for example I’m sure Sid users would love to have their Debian Start a bit unstable Razz

If it goes well, I would make sure it gets proposed to be made default in Squeeze. Again, your comments/feedback/whatever will have me working on this Wink

  • Nice idea, and it looks good. A few suggestions:

    – Put it on or similar. Better yet, make it work from the local system; many people will resist the idea of using a network page as the start page due to increased load time.

    – If you do host it on the network, ideally host it on Debian infrastructure, particularly if you want it to become the default.

    – Link to, not

    – Don’t sweat Opera and Chrome; Debian doesn’t ship them. You should probably try to make it vaguely sensible in recent Konqueror, though.

    – It doesn’t look quite right here; the search button hangs off the right side. In general, it doesn’t look right with varying font sizes. Neither does Ubuntu’s (though it looks right with the default size), but Firefox Start gets it right: scaling doesn’t break the layout.

  • Also, whether you host it on a network location or not, you’ll want to handle translation somehow I think. Ideally everyone would get a start page in their own language.

  • You link to the Debian wiki, the unofficial forums, the planet, and the mailing lists, but not the Debian homepage. Smile I’d drop the forum link, and add a Debian link leading to the homepage.

  • Josh,

    Fixed planet link Smile

    Search button – It looks right in Konqueror as well, once I actually have the Search button below the search “bar”. As I said, I just released it live, it’s highly in its experimental stage, but I’ll make it all look right, give it time Wink

    I was planing to have it locally, in case it ends up in Debian, and having it on as well sounds really good Smile

    Linking it to Debian homepage just seems to general to meThinking

  • Way to go! If you need assistance in the Greek translation keep me posted Grin

  • Great idea to have a Debian start-page. I suspect the image could be smaller?

    I have put an updated version at which:

    1) includes the fix
    2) doesn’t reference external (internet) URLs, only local files
    3) loads the image a bit higher up the page – on my Acer Aspire One (at 1024×600), there is unnecessary scroll-bar on the right hand side
    4) removes some needless(?) google analytics

    It’s all in a tarball at – do with it anything (or nothing) as you like

    I’ve set this to my homepage on my (often-offline) AAOne

  • Looking good. I quite like snappy pages that don’t have JS.

    Though your missing a right angle bracket in the first line of your markup.

  • CRiSPY

    I didn’t like the start page either and handled it like this: = 0

    For what it’s worth, the page you’re working on looked nice.

  • Petteri

    Nice idea. Hopefully the page will be implemented by all Debian browsers before next release. I am sure the the community links (forum, mailinglist) will be a big boost to the whole Debian community.

  • Bernhard R. Link

    Your comment field is still broken. How is one suppose to answer with 5 characters per line?

  • Luther Blissett

    Adding the latest updates from stable/security or the latesta added packages could be interesting

  • Ana

    Nice idea Adnan!! Love it Smile

  • It looks nice!

    The random thing says “Iceweasel 3.5.x entered experimental ” now, without link! Without link it’s really confusing. And should probably only use “official” debian news?

    And can the center of the page be moved up a bit? The absolute center of the web page area is a bit low; mostly below center of screen since top window controls use much space as you know. And anyhow it looks nicer when it’s centered horizontally but vertically a bit closer to the top. There are many good role models of good simple design of this type of page (*Google* Smile

  • By the way, for debian to do this officially, don’t we need an API key or something for using the google search. Then also I think it is *right* to mention somewhere that it’s using google’s search.

  • Thank you all for your feedback! I’ll definitely keep working on Debian Start and will definitely give my best to push it into next Debian release!

    Now here are answers to everybody who made comments:

    Eleftherios Kosmas, thank you Smile

    Steve Parker, Thank you, for you fixes; I did the same thing in the meantime. Either way, I fixed your problem by moving picture 40px above and adding CSS rule that disables scrollbars. Since the one you gave me is too close to the top, and that effects other users, while there’s only 2.49% of all users on Debian Start with 1024×600 and I hope 40 px is enough! Smile

    If you want to help, please stick around and try figuring out why it looks as it looks like on Opera and Chrome.

    sime, thank you, fixed Smile

    CRiSPY, fair enough and thank you Smile

    Petteri, I hope so too, and thank you

    Bernhard R. Link, I have no idea what seems to be the problem. In my links (2.2) everything looks fine and you can input much more characters per lineThinking

    Luther Blissett, yes I love this! I’ll make it happen Wink

    Ana, thank you Smile

    ulrik, I said “Iceweasel 3.5.x entered experimental ” without link, because I automatically thought people will pull it out of “experimental” resp. Smile

    I did move whole thing up by 40px

    I’m not sure, I have to talk to sledge about this, especially I want to ask him (besides API key) about the possible Google sponsorship.

    About Google search, I’ve been notified about this earlier, will make it happen Smile

  • I also forgot to comment on Steve Parker’s:

    “4) removes some needless(?) google analytics”

    Analytics are there to just for couple of days so I can track users browsers, resolutions, javascript support and so on Wink

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  • Looks and works great for me in Opera 10 Beta 3 as well as FF 3.5.2

    Great idea, I’ve always hated the iceweasel and firefox start pages respectively, and anytime I can add another pretty Debian swirl to my day I’m happy.

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  • CRiSPY

    Maybe this is the wrong thread for it, but since it’s pretty active I thought this link below would be slightly more useful than zapping the start page alone when I was first getting past various issues with iceweasel on debian – I’ve run with this config ever since.

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  • Gijs

    Hi! I like this a lot. One suggestion, would it be possible to include a handful of ‘the latest’ headlines from Debian Planet? For instance, to the right of the Debian swirl?



  • Gijs: The point of the Start page is to be very simple. But if we have Debian Start, we can probably have Debian Gadgets and iDebian in the future Smile

  • CRiSPY, I’d like to believe it’s all about the CSS rules.

    Gijs, urlik, well said, thank you for that “sidekick” Smile

  • Eddy Petri?or

    Hey Adnan!

    The rendering on my machine looks horrible with the Search button overlapping the right edge.

  • Eddy, I’m aware of the problemThinking I have idea which will take care of it, I’ll get to do this tomorrow most probably.

    Thanks for understanding.

  • the dsc

    I’ve heard that the default firefox google home page makes some google money for firefox. Is it true, and, if it is, the same happens here, but for Debian instead? That would be good.

  • the dsc

    How come your browsers are detected correclty as iceweasel and mine is detected as firefox, even though it is iceweasel too? Not fair. Thinking And I never followed any of those “get firefox icons and whatever flowery stuff on iceweasel” how-tos.

  • I have to talk to Steve McIntyre regarding this one, I have talked to some people since this was the initial idea after I made Start!; but we’ll talk about in future, after I’m done with everything I had in plans when it comes to start Smile