Baseline Web Development Environment on Debian 7.2.0

Installed a fresh copy of Debian 7.2.0 in a VirtualBox VM and am gong through the process of setting up a web development environment on top of this Linux distribution. FWIW, I like KDE and am using it instead of Gnome on Debian.

I’ve already installed Chromium browser. Also, if you’re new to Debian and wondering WTF Firefox, it’s Iceweasle (should be perfectly obvious right?) Google it if you’re curious. I was.

Step 0: Become member of sudo group

As root, adduser username sudo

If su’d, exit, logout/login user to get sudo group priviledge.

Step 1: Node.js

Node.js is too fast moving for Debian package support so you need to do a little work. Helpful stackoverflow thread:

I’m following the instructions here: Credit: Sekati

sudo apt-get update && apt-get install git-core curl build-essential openssl libssl-dev
git clone
cd node

# 'git tag' shows all available versions: select the latest stable.
git checkout v0.10.23

# Configure seems not to find libssl by default so we give it an explicit pointer.
# Optionally: you can isolate node by adding --prefix=/opt/node
./configure --openssl-libpath=/usr/lib/ssl
make test
sudo make install
node -v # it's alive!

# Lucky us: NPM is packaged with Node.js source so this is now installed too
# curl | sudo sh
npm -v # it's alive!

… which works like a charm.

Note: I’m seeing a single failure in the make test step currently (64-bit Debian and Ubuntu-based distros). I’m not sure what the impact of this is. Seems like the issue is known:

Step 2: CoffeeScript

sudo npm install -g coffee-script

Note: You might be setting up a new VM? Better make sure that that your ~/tmp directory ownership is correct; if the first use of ~/tmp is as root then it will be created with root ownership and later when you try to npm install later you’ll get an EACCES error…

Step 3: Emacs

because old habits die hard

sudo apt-get install emacs

Step 4: Yeoman

… and follow the directions remembering to sudo all those npm install -g ‘s!

This will get you Yeoman, Grunt and Bower installed.

Edit: Glad I took the time to write these steps down because when I came back this AM to continue on, I hit a nasty unresolved bug in VirtualBox 4.2.18 r88780 that made the saved VDI boot media inaccessible.  The only way to work-around was to loose the latest VM state and revert per directions posted here:
^— possible fix for annoying rendering problems with Chrome/Chromium under KDE executing in latest VirtualBox 4.3.4 (works for me).

About Chris Russell
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