Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 17th Jan 2006 14:51 UTC
Debian and its clones "This interview was conducted with Martin F. Krafft, the author of 'The Debian System'. Despite Debian GNU/Linux's important role in today's computing environment, it is largely misunderstood and oftentimes even discounted as being an operating system which is exclusively for professionals and elite users. In this book Krafft, explains his concept of Debian, which includes not only the operating system but also its underpinnings."
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Good Article
by pfsams on Tue 17th Jan 2006 17:11 UTC
pfsams
Member since:
2006-01-05

With the exception of the install(which is improving), Debian is the perfect Desktop distro. There are many good distributions available, and I realize Debian is not always "bleeding edge." I always use KDE as I like it better, I have found that "Stable" just works. Debian's quality is what makes it the perfect distro for new users. It's only a matter of adjusting to a new OS (if comming from another OS). I feel Debian should be a first choice for someone new to GNU/Linux. They may need help with the initial install & setup (as I did with WinXP), but they will then have a rock solid OS that is easy to use and maintain. I can't comment on commercial use, but for the average home or small buisness user Debian is tops. I was aquainted with Debian through Mepis, and then wanted a system that ran with only Stable. I have used Ubuntu, Suse, and Fedora, all good distro's, but I still remain loyal to Debian because it "just works."
Paul Sams

Reply Score: 1

Same here...
by l3v1 on Tue 17th Jan 2006 17:27 UTC
l3v1
Member since:
2005-07-06

...I started back in the days with slackware, then redhat, then thanks to one of my friends arrived to debian quite a few years ago. I always use and have other distros around, these days mostly kubuntu and gentoo, but I still haven't found anything that would provide me with the same cozy feeling as a well installed and config'd debian system. I use debians from woody (yes, still, server tasks) through unstable (one of my main desktops) and don't really have any complaints. Just the opposite.

I wouldn't say though that debian is for newcomers, onyl if they are not the ones who install and config the first debian they will use. That is because I always felt that the main strengths of debian was that you get a base system in a matter of minutes and from there you're the boss. In fact I never really had a "debian" installed, I always had "my-debian" since I was who made a custom install with those packages that I need.

And I am also not saying that other distros suck. They don't. (K)Ubuntu, Gentoo, Slackware, Xandros, even Fedora is a very nice distro (which is really not one of my favourites, still).

All in all, in a distro there's two main things that really matter for most of the users: the installer and the package management. If they are good (not necessarily easy, but good), nothing else really matters.

The only thing I still hate in some distros is the lack of the ability to upgrade to another release without reinstall. Now that's something that makes me use a jackhammer on that iso file.

Edited 2006-01-17 17:29

Reply Score: 1

RE: Same here...
by pfsams on Tue 17th Jan 2006 19:16 UTC in reply to "Same here..."
pfsams Member since:
2006-01-05

It is true that "new users" can install Debian. I was thinking of my own experiance as a "complete newbie" as I first starting using a PC in early 2002, believe me when I say I was green! Not to speak ill of other OS's, I gained experiance reinstalling WinXP, which unfortunately was frequent. I learned of Debian by accident after comming across a book about it while in the bookstore. I first tried installing "Potato" and was way over my head at the time. My first succesful Linux install was Mandrake-9.2 in 2003. I guess someone with more knowledge of PC's than I had at the time could figure out a Debian install. I do find that Sarge is an easier install than Mandrake was for me. I was giving my opinion on my own experiance. Debian is top notch, and I would love to see more people using it. I think casual users would be far more secure with Debian, and GNU/Linux in general as so many of them are lax on security. There are too many people who do not have the discipline to keep a windows system secure. More widespread use of Debian & the other Linux & Bsd distros would cut down on malicious programs being spread on the web. I didn't start out to bash Microsoft, but the fact is, too many of their users will not take enough precautions to secure their system, such as upgrading their virus programs when their subscription runs out. There are many people who do not see any real threats on the web. linux would be great for those folks!
Paul Sams

Reply Score: 2

da_Chicken
Member since:
2006-01-01

In this interview Martin Krafft recommends Ubuntu (instead of Debian) for "Linux newbies". I tend to agree with Krafft's view.

I've tried to help some new users who have successfully installed Debian Sarge but have trouble configuring the X Window System. Personally, I'm not happy with ANY of the auto-configuration systems that are currently available. Yea, even Ubuntu requires me to run "sudo dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg" -- the default settings in Knoppix, Kanotix, Mepis or K/Ubuntu give me a very poor X server configuration by default. With some hardware these things usually work "out-of-the-box" but with my hardware nothing seems to work by default. ;) So you need some "advanced" knowledge when things refuse to work "out-of-the-box".

This is actually where the "flexible" nature of Debian becomes handy. You can easily change the settings if you know what you need to change. But trouble-shooting X Window System configuration problems is NOT necessarily easy for newbies. It's pretty straight-forward for "experienced users", though.

The first thing you do is you check the log file. If you run Debian Sarge, then the log file is /var/log/XFree86.0.log. If you run Debian "testing" or "unstable", then the log file is /var/log/Xorg.0.log. This log file reports warnings with lines beginning with (WW) and errors with lines beginning with (EE).

In Debian, you "su" to become root and run "dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xfree86" (or "dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg" if you run Debian "testing" or "unstable") to rerun the x-window-system configuration script.

The most usual problems concern the mouse configuration or the screen resolution size. If the problem is in the mouse configuration, then you need to run "dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xfree86" (or "dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg") and change the mouse settings. But if the problem is in the screen resolution size, then more drastic measures are needed.

You need to select "advanced" monitor settings to be able to input the "HorizSync" and "VertRefresh" values, and maybe even to run "/usr/X11R6/bin/xvidtune" and add a Modeline it suggests (under the monitor settings) to the X Server config file.

And if that's not difficult enough, nVidia and ATI cards usually need some additional steps to make them work. (But that's not any easier on Ubuntu than it's on Debian.)

In some cases it's actually easier to make things work on Debian than it's to achieve the same result on Ubuntu. But YMMV. The old hardware tends to work OK on Debian. Ubuntu has some laptop support that's not yet available on Debian. Ubuntu is usually a better choice than Debian on newer hardware. But if some hardware refuses to run on Ubuntu, it just might run on Debian.

Debian is more concerned on getting things to work with older hardware. Ubuntu tries to make things work with newer hardware. So you have a choice. : )

Edited 2006-01-17 21:15

Reply Score: 1

pfsams Member since:
2006-01-05

Ubuntu seems to run well on older harware as well. To me, Debian "seems" to be more responsive on newer hardware. The driver issues I agree with. My older hardware works "out of the box", my new stuff takes more work. I think Ubuntu is a very good distro, I just believe Debian is still better. On hardware issues, I think it is a testament to the genius and skill of those who produce free software, given that hardware vendors seldom offer support to make their equipment run on Linux. That the writers of free software have made Linux, BSD run so well on so much is amazing. I wish I had just a fraction of their skill. I hope we all spread the word of Linux, we are having to enlighten people a few at a time. I think the shear number of distros are both a curse & a blessing. The blessing being the continued innovation.
Paul Sams

Reply Score: 1

Questions...
by da_Chicken on Tue 17th Jan 2006 21:32 UTC
da_Chicken
Member since:
2006-01-01

If you have any further questions, I'll try to answer them (not that I'd pretend to be an expert).

Edited 2006-01-17 21:41

Reply Score: 1

Also Kanotix
by lord_rob on Wed 18th Jan 2006 09:31 UTC
lord_rob
Member since:
2005-08-06

Kanotix is a live-cd (based on knoppix) especially made for the purpose of installing debian sid.

I first installed debian sid in 2001 (at that time woody was still testing). It was very complicated for a total newbie like I was. I had only installed Red Hat SuSE and Mandrake at that time, all distro with a "next-next-ok-ok" interface.

Debian Sid is still my favorite distro, and will probably always be. Anyway, it's not easy to install, especially on new hardware. That's why I tried kanotix. I installed it, then apt-get install aptitude then bam ! A complete debian system configured with all my hardware recognized.

Anyway, I wouldn't say that Kanotix will suit the total newbie. It's better to have some experience with Debian before installing it. I'd say it's made for the average user who doesn't want to spend one month before having an usable Debian system.

Reply Score: 1

Angryanderson
Member since:
2005-07-11

I haven't done any statistical research but many Debian core developeres seem to favour perl. Also, many Debian developers seem to favour the Ion window manager. ;-)

This is a pretty good interview but it misses some crucial questions. What is Martin Krafft's favourite programming language? Which desktop environment / widow manager does he prefer? Also, I'd like to hear Krafft's opinion on the following question: vim or xemacs? :-D

Reply Score: 1

madduck Member since:
2006-01-18

I only programme in whitespace (apt-get install whitespace), my "window" manager is GNU screen on a vt52 terminal and a dot matrix printer, and I use ed for all the editing, of course.

Mh, okay, not funny. python / ion3 / vim
I *hate* Perl.

Reply Score: 1

Angryanderson Member since:
2005-07-11

Thanks for your answer, madduck.

I only programme in whitespace (apt-get install whitespace), my "window" manager is GNU screen on a vt52 terminal and a dot matrix printer, and I use ed for all the editing, of course.

Mh, okay, not funny. python / ion3 / vim
I *hate* Perl.


I didn't see most of that coming... The GNU screen thing was a bit obvious, though... :*D That's what we do when we like to get things done.

I know there's a sort of religious discrimination between the perl people and the python folks. IMO, the python folks have got it wrong. Perl is not really that much more difficult and perl is simply better (IMO). It should be perl all the way, As Far As I'm Concerned. But have it your way -- even if you're dead wrong, IMO.

In time you'll learn the error of your ways. I'm sure of this. In the end you'll finally see the light. Python is not bad (I'm not saying that) but you can do so much more with perl... :-D

Ion3 rules big time. Tuomo Valkonen is a visionary, there's no doubt about that. GNU/Linux needs more visionaries like Tuomo... GNU/Linux needs to be *Better* than any of thr alternatives. Let's make it that way. :-D

Reply Score: 1

Great effort, awkward questions
by moleskine on Wed 18th Jan 2006 17:59 UTC
moleskine
Member since:
2005-11-05

This is a tough call. Of the three large and generally excellent bookshops in this university town, not one stocks Martin Krafft's book. I guess he should get on to his publishers and kick a few butts! All that hard work is wasted if publishers don't make it available for purchase.

In my experience, one of the strengths of Debian that Krafft praises in this inteview - the community of Debian developers around the world and the friendships and exchanges between them - is also a leading weakness. Maybe Debianites need to ask themselves why focus on the inside so often doesn't lead to excitement in the wider world of computer users, except when it is filtered through one of Debian's many derivative distros. Something is pretty wrong when a leading Debian dev recommends using Ubuntu as your desktop. Not many folks seem to think that Ubuntu will remain fully compatible with Debian for all that long, and in any case what is the problem here with Debian itself then?

I'm not getting at Krafft who has done so many folks a great service by writing this book. But there are some hefty questions lurking around about Debian and how it answers to the needs of users. I guess one answer is that it doesn't in some key respects, hence Ubuntu, Mepis and others. Maybe it should.

Edited 2006-01-18 18:01

Reply Score: 1

RE: Great effort, awkward questions
by madduck on Thu 19th Jan 2006 00:59 UTC in reply to "Great effort, awkward questions"
madduck Member since:
2006-01-18

I have told the publishers. It would help if you told me which stores you searched.

I don't understand your comment about the community being the leading weakness, but I am curious, so if you care...

About my Ubuntu recommendation, please also see a comment I left one Slashdot: http://xrl.us/jm47 . Anyway, if Ubuntu starts to become incompatible with Debian, they'll have a whole 'nother thing coming. They are dependent on Debian, very dependent. Going away would be foolish, or even suicidal.

Finally, Ubuntu and Mepis and others are specialisations of Debian, which is the "universal" operating system. That's what we would like it to be, and that won't change. If Debian starts to specialise, we're not only going to lose those derivatives previously specialised in the area, but also those that now lack our universality (due to the specialisation).

And I don't think I am a leading developer of Debian really.

Reply Score: 1

Another "Debian was my first" users here
by snozzberry on Wed 18th Jan 2006 23:30 UTC
snozzberry
Member since:
2005-11-14

About a year ago I got a spare GX1 to test Linux on (and purchased another used for home) and installed Woody on them, using network connections. I felt the installer was crude and wasted too much time asking me about my video/mouse HW when other OSes (and Debian LiveCDs like Knoppix) were capable of detecting them.

Even reinstalling Sarge stable this week I had to manually configure the video and mouse to get the X server to work. This is appalling when the SuSE installer manages it by itself. Fortunately this time Debian was able to correctly detect the legacy Vortex sound chip. Unfortunately I still had to install CUPS just to get access to a network printer and while the startup detects USB thumbdrives, KDE and Gnome do not.

Once the system was installed, and reset to KDE, it's a fine system to work with. For my money Debian's largest strength is that it can be configured as all kinds of OS: desktop, server, liveCD, even DSL on 64M thumbdrives.

But installing it is a hassle, whether from a net install or the 2 DVD set, and Debian developers need to understand that a framebuffered installer that looks just like the curses-based one isn't an improvement. Human interface guidelines are not a strong point with Debian's core development team. Ubuntu is somewhat better about this, but the tradeoff is flexibility (try installing Firefox 1.5).

Edited 2006-01-18 23:34

Reply Score: 1

Perl vs. Python
by madduck on Thu 19th Jan 2006 15:01 UTC
madduck
Member since:
2006-01-18

I read your humour but I still wanted to say: Perl is great at parsing text. For object-oriented programming, however, Python is a clear winner for me.

$complex->{'data'}[$structures][$in_perl] = @{$can{'be'}->[$painful]};

Edited 2006-01-19 15:02

Reply Score: 1