Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 14th Apr 2007 18:43 UTC, submitted by deanlinkous
Debian and its clones "For much of its history, Debian has been the major noncommercial, philosophically free distribution. Now, as Debian developers and users have deserted the distro for Ubuntu, does Debian have a purpose any more? Debian 4.0, which was released this week, represents a collective effort to answer that question. The philosophy behind the release is best summarized on the home page for the Debian on the Desktop subproject, which states, 'We will do everything we can to make things very easy for the novice, while allowing the expert to tweak things'."
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Good piece
by h3rman on Sat 14th Apr 2007 21:07 UTC
h3rman
Member since:
2006-08-09

Nice to read something substantial for a change.
This article makes me want to give Debian a try.
The installer thing, the screenshots, some Debian developers must have had a lot of fun putting it all together. ;)

I like the idea of a minimal, basic setup without any stuff you didn't really ask for. Debian has never been irrelevant, and I suspect this release will attract quite a few former-newbie Ubuntu users that are getting curious about 'Daddy' Debian; they can benefit from the easier-than-ever installer.

Reply Score: 5

Debian
by bradley on Sat 14th Apr 2007 22:35 UTC
bradley
Member since:
2007-03-02

I just install it on my Inspiron laptop and she is flawless...everything is working. The relevance of Debian? Let's ask ourselves just the one question..." Where did the derivatives come from? " Personally, I would like to thank the guys behind the Debian team for all and I mean all the hard work behind this distribution...I've been watching and keeping up with their progress and I have to say that I am very impressed.

Reply Score: 5

ya
by deanlinkous on Sat 14th Apr 2007 22:47 UTC
deanlinkous
Member since:
2006-06-19

I thought it was a great article and overall Etch is a awesome release that shows debian has taken a big leap and I expect the next release will continue on that trend!

Kudos and Bravos!

Reply Score: 5

RE: ya
by sbergman27 on Sun 15th Apr 2007 07:24 UTC in reply to "ya"
sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

"""
Etch is a awesome release that shows debian has taken a big leap and I expect the next release will continue on that trend!
"""

Let's think about that:

Released late?
Check.

Release delayed due to infighting?
Check.

Year old Gnome?
Check.

Seven month old kernel?
Check.

Promise to release earlier next time?
Check.

Lot's of hooplah surrounding the release, celebrating what a glorious new release it is?
Check.


Looks like the same old Debian to me. ;-)

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: ya
by da_Chicken on Sun 15th Apr 2007 08:23 UTC in reply to "RE: ya"
da_Chicken Member since:
2006-01-01

Released late?
Check.


Depends on how you look at it. The initial/preliminary target date for the Etch release wasn't met, that's true. But the general plan was to release Etch about 18 to 24 months after Sarge and, regarding that general schedule, Etch was successfully released on time.

Release delayed due to infighting?
Check.


You shouldn't believe all the rumours that you hear. Etch was delayed due to technical problems (kernel, installer) that had little or nothing to do with the incident of infighting, which some bloggers and columnists loved to blow out of proportion.

Promise to release earlier next time?
Check.


AFAIK, the general schedule for the Lenny release will be exactly the same that it was for Etch: 18 to 24 months after the previous stable Debian release.

Year old Gnome?
Check.

Seven month old kernel?
Check.


Sarge was very outdated when it was released and Etch suffers from that in some areas. But Etch is definitely a much better start for Lenny than Sarge was for Etch.

Lot's of hooplah surrounding the release, celebrating what a glorious new release it is?
Check.


Well, Etch is a major improvement over Sarge, so there is reason to celebrate. Don't you agree?

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: ya
by deanlinkous on Sun 15th Apr 2007 14:29 UTC in reply to "RE: ya"
deanlinkous Member since:
2006-06-19


Released late?
Release delayed due to infighting?
Year old Gnome?
Seven month old kernel?
Promise to release earlier next time?
Lot's of hooplah surrounding the release, celebrating what a glorious new release it is?
Looks like the same old Debian to me. ;-)


I think you already got a good retort so I will just touch a few quickly....

First, if you cannot see the difference you obvisouly are not a debian user.

Not released late - just over the PROPOSED release date. Still a big improvement considering that Debian does not hand-pick 5000 packages to stick in a warehouse but provides all 18,000 packages and states they will work.

In-fighting is a thing to be celebrated - it means nobody has total control and is a REAL community effort. It is a series of check and balances and group commitment that whatever has to be argued over is WORTH arguing over and that we will get past it, have a few beers and get-er-done! Debian does not become the plaything of one or two individuals but a collective plaything of everyone that wants to be a part of it.

Seven month old kernel. Okay. And. To call something STABLE and mean it - it has to go thru a period of testing and has to be used. All the software is older in the stable release - it cannot be called stable otherwise. If another distro uses the term stable because they were able to build and install it - that doesnt say much about stable USAGE.

What promise to release earlier? It is a goal to refine the process and make releases as quickly as possible and reasonable but certainly not guarantee a release every six months or anything. You must be used to those distros that constantly release to keep the users trying the latest/greatest/newest/coolest and promising that the next release will fix the problems and be even better. Debian releases have to meet a standard, not just build correctly.

It is the same old debian - we aren't perfect but we will constantly strive to be better. The etch release is a huge leap in that regard. And as stated, it is not the a final destination, it is a clear sign that Debian is far from dead and has taken a step to make the "universal" part applicable to new users as well.

Edited 2007-04-15 14:31

Reply Score: 5

RE[3]: ya
by sbergman27 on Sun 15th Apr 2007 19:48 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: ya"
sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

Well... seriously now. Here is my take on Debian in the year 2007.

Up until a few years ago, Debian development was mainly important only to Debian and Debian users. Certainly, there were Debian based distros, but they were few and far between and definitely second string players. (In popularity; Not necessarily in quality.)

In recent years, *strong* Debian based distros have arisen. This gave the Debian devs quite a shock. (Funny how shocking "success" can be sometimes. Be careful what you wish for... you might get it.) They had never had to worry about competition in their own backyard. They had never had to struggle with the challenge of retaining .deb repo compatibility in a world that they did not control. But that's really the subject for another post. I think that issue has not actually turned out to be that much of a problem.

What I do want to say is that the effective function has changed. And I do not believe that it is due to Debian redefining itself. Debian's role has been redefined by forces outside of its control.

IMO, the most important thing that the Debian project does today, by far, is their development of Debian Testing.

Testing seems to be what most bona fide Debian users seem to use anyway. But, more importantly, the strong Debian based distros, which (IMO) have a lot more users than Debian proper, depend upon that solid core produced by the Debian devs in Testing. If Testing went away, Ubuntu, Mepis, et. al. would suffer greatly and quite possibly die.

Debian has been redefined by the larger community as being the solid core... the trunk... from which a whole solid family of distros spring. This may or may not be what the Debian devs wanted or intended... but that is what we've got.

Personally, I don't see that there is any shame in that.

For a while, I felt that perhaps Debian should shift to developing Testing, ad infinitum, without actually making any releases. (PeeWee Herman fans might think of this as a cable knit sweater that someone keeps on knitting and Knitting, and KNITTING!) ;-)

But after more consideration, I decided that was probably a recipe for allowing Testing to float off into some ivory tower somewhere. There really does seem, to me, to be a need for an actual release. That gives the devs focus. Some realworld goal to achieve to keep them solidly connected with reality. By working towards an actual release themselves, they stay in better touch with the needs of their off-spring distros, which are also trying to make a release that works well in the real world.

So my perception of Debian's role today is as the solid core upon which other distros are built. And I think of their actual stable releases, like Etch and the future Lenny, as being "reference implementations" which are good enough that a lot of people actually use them.

Notably, these strong Debian based distros sprang up during the longest release cycle in Debian history. And during this last release cycle, I heard some complaints that Testing was moving too fast and making it harder to build a distro from. (Didn't Mepis decide to start basing their distro off Ubuntu?)

In the context that I am presenting, this seems suboptimal. Perhaps it would be best if Debian aimed for longer release cycles than last time.

But this would require that Debian devs accept their primary role as a core for other distros.

They would need to accept the idea of Debian being a proto-distro more than a distro proper. It would mean that Debian would need to work closely *with* its children, rather than intending its reference implementation to compete with them.

At any rate, it's hard to deny that, far from being dead, Debian has gained in strength and popularity in a huge way in the last few years. Even if a lot of that strength and popularity is not due to the spread of Debian proper.

Debian would do well to listen closely to one of my favorite RedHat mottos:

"A rising tide lifts all boats."

This is as true for Debian as it is for Linux in general.

Edited 2007-04-15 19:53

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: ya
by nivanson on Sun 15th Apr 2007 22:31 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: ya"
nivanson Member since:
2006-07-13

Get a grip man, who uses debians children for servers?

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: ya
by sbergman27 on Sun 15th Apr 2007 23:25 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: ya"
sbergman27 Member since:
2005-07-24

"""
Get a grip man, who uses debians children for servers?
"""

Already have one, thank you very much! ;-)

But why *not* use them (the children) as servers? They have the same stable Debian core. They simply have value added features and better gui tools. As Debian fans have been stating and restating for years, apt-get makes getting the software set that you want installed a breeze... for any of the members of the Debian family.

The real problem that all of the Debian family has in the server space, though, is that the RHEL/CentOS duo have such compelling advantages over them.

Reply Score: 2

The Last Paragraph Says It All
by iangibson on Sat 14th Apr 2007 22:53 UTC
iangibson
Member since:
2005-09-25

Recently, the goal of many distributions seems to have become to be a free version of Windows for users without much understanding of their operating system. Debian counters that trend. Instead of accepting that users prefer to be ignorant, Debian 4.0 treats users as students -- as people who may initially lack knowledge, but who are capable of learning. It's a bold approach, and one that's needed badly enough that Debian may just have found a new purpose -- and, with it, a guarantee of its survival.

It's a little strange that aiming at the computer-literate is now considered a 'bold approach' for a linux distribution to take, but I'm glad that Debian are taking that approach all the same.

I've found Debian a joy to use on the desktop - a nice balance of power, reliability and freedom to choose how cutting-edge you want to run; personally, I pointed my sources at testing and got myself off the 6-month reinstallation treadmill of some of the other distributions.

Reply Score: 5

RE: The Last Paragraph Says It All
by kaiwai on Sun 15th Apr 2007 04:06 UTC in reply to "The Last Paragraph Says It All"
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

It's a little strange that aiming at the computer-literate is now considered a 'bold approach' for a linux distribution to take, but I'm glad that Debian are taking that approach all the same.


If you read what he said, he said that the distribution is not only aimed at those who have the knowledge, but those who are willing to knuckle down and learn something.

The problem as far as I see is that what we'll have the future are people who simply 'know' how to point and click, the net result, you end up with the same ignorant people which plague the Windows world resulting in the mirrad of security issues we see today.

I'm not taking the elitist view of 'you must know computers inside and out before using one' - what I am emphasising is that there is a certain level of understanding to actually use a computer and a willingness on the end users part to be willing to learn through experience and reading books.

It isn't about turning the end user into a 'computer guru' but giving the tools to the end user as to allow them to help themselves, so that when they do face difficulties they have the tools at their disposal to track down the issue and correct it themselves. If it does get too big (require programming in C), they can then push it forward to the distributor as a bug to be fixed.

In the end, a knowledgeable end user improves their productivity and benefits the distributor in that it allows them to have quality bug reports that pin point the problem rather than it a series of double guessing as to what the real problem is and where it lay's in the system.

Reply Score: 4

CowMan Member since:
2006-09-26

Yea, but it only takes a few knowledgable folks to catch the vast majority of flaws (Anyone have that link that shows a sharp decline on 'ROE' after 5 testers?).
Point, click, work - simplicity in setup & operation hurts no-one. I don't care if it requires zero effort to work: Actually, that would be nice, as it'd take less effort on my part to keep the folk's and siblings systems running.
What would bother me is if I couldn't get down and dirty with the system myself. Have the slickest GUI you want, I need my console and 'tinker-tools'.
Thankfully, linux distro's provide such... my poison being Gentoo, and Gnome/KDE have both come so far that I can setup for room-mates/family and let them go. Best of both worlds.

Reply Score: 1

kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

But at the same time, a lot of those flaws are derived form stupidity rather than genuine flaws within the software. Take a look at the Outlook bugs that exist due to people opening up files from people whom they don't know or don't know the type of files being attached.

It has nothing to do with 'getting rid of gui' stuff, its about using the gui tools whilst at the same time *KNOWING* what is happening under the hood, so when something *does* go wrong (because GUI applications assume things about the system), you can actually fix it up.

I don't know why people *ASSUME* that if someone expects the user to learn, they must at the same time dispose of their GUI tools - you can be an expert AND use GUI tools to setup the system.

Use the tools whilst at the same time, understand what is happening under the hood.

Reply Score: 4

butters Member since:
2005-07-08

The problem as far as I see is that what we'll have the future are people who simply 'know' how to point and click, the net result, you end up with the same ignorant people which plague the Windows world resulting in the mirrad of security issues we see today.

I'm going to continue the theme of some of my recent posts and suggest that this "idiot user" syndrome is a holdover from a time when computing was far less central to our lives than it is today. My 9-year-old cousin complained that his dad's laptop was acting weird, so he started the task manager and killed the antivirus program, which solved the problem. I was very impressed!

I grew up without a computer, and I got a Windows 95 box right before high school. But to the younger generation, operating a computer is just obvious. When free software distributions like Debian or OpenSolaris become mainstream, this generation will be ready, and they will love the flexibility and power these platforms provide.

I've been negative on Debian in the recent past, but IMHO, Etch represents a turnaround for the project. It's not the result of the turnaround, but the evidence that one is taking place. I believe that with free software, power and simplicity doesn't have to be a compromise--both can be offered by the same distribution project. Etch is a nod to simplicity without forsaking power. I look forward to Lenny being a step further towards a eradicating this unfortunate compromise.

Debian is the great supermarket of free software, whether its developers like it or not. But apparently they can still roll a fine release... if they have to... eventually. ;-)

Reply Score: 5

kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

I'm going to continue the theme of some of my recent posts and suggest that this "idiot user" syndrome is a holdover from a time when computing was far less central to our lives than it is today. My 9-year-old cousin complained that his dad's laptop was acting weird, so he started the task manager and killed the antivirus program, which solved the problem. I was very impressed!


That has less to do computing being more common and everything to do with being young and willing to try new things; there is this stupid idea that adults hold onto that "I'm an adult, so there for all my learning must stop!".

Kids on the other hand are like a sponge, they want to know everything - they want to know how it works, how they can get it to work; they want to tinker and understand in the in's and out's.

The problem with the last generation? too damn lazy and prejudice. If you know how to utilise technology, you're a geek and being a geek is uncool. Yes, adults hold that view.

The young people today, however, seeing being able to utilise using technology in an efficient way as a benefit, something that is 'cool' being able to get things done quicker. When you have that sort of 'power' you can get more things done, which means more 'free time' to do stuff that you enjoy - chilling out with mates.

Reply Score: 5

Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

"The problem with the last generation? too damn lazy and prejudice. If you know how to utilise technology, you're a geek and being a geek is uncool. Yes, adults hold that view."

And they communicate this view to the childs they grow up. I may introduce three 'classes': The ones who know the basic stuff and can educate theirselves in order to use any OS / application, the ones who know the stuff they're doing, but nothing else, because they do not want to learn more, and the ones who do not want to learn anything, just expecting everything to work by itself. From time to time, people shift among these 'classes', or utilize them in different fields of life (not just computer related stuff).

"The young people today, however, seeing being able to utilise using technology in an efficient way as a benefit, something that is 'cool' being able to get things done quicker. When you have that sort of 'power' you can get more things done, which means more 'free time' to do stuff that you enjoy - chilling out with mates."

No, that's not the right conclusion. If someone is 'cool' enough to get his stuff done quickly, it implies he's 'cool' enough to have your stuff done quickly as well. And because of his 'power' he is supposed to do so. Why do something when someone else can do it for you? Deligation of work is even cooler... :-)

"Why should I pay you to work on my computer?"

Reply Score: 2

melkor Member since:
2006-12-16

Well said. The problem is that people want to have their bums wiped, their hands kissed, and food given to them on a table without having to have worked for any of it. This is the crowd that Microsoft have developed for, and you can see that in order to make Windows easier to use, something has had to be sacrificed - security and reliability.

I see a lot of people who lack very very basic skills - like some customers I tell 'can you go to our website please', and instead of typing the URL into the address field, they do a google search (you won't believe how common this is). This is something that's very basic. I have a fair number of customers who have no idea how to stop/cancel print jobs. Again, not hard. Most of them don't want to learn, they want to be able to pick some smart bastards brains whenever they feel like it, to make up for their own lazy asses, and lack of desire to actually learn something.

The old analogy that I've used for some time now is that you just don't let any person drive a car, they have to *earn* it. They have to prove that they are fully capable of driving the vehicle. Using a computer is no different, you should be forced to show that you are capable, to a certain level, of using a computer competently.

This is half the bloody reason why the net runs like a dog these days - idiots without brains that end up getting viruses, worms, trojans, spyware, and so on and so forth, and this means more traffic on the Internet, congesting the bandwidth. That's just one example of what happens when you let anyone use a computer...

Sorry for the rant, but it's something that really pisses me off. I worked my butt off to learn computer basics - I asked lots of questions, read magazines from cover to cover, tinkered with my computer (both software and hardware) to become competent.

Dave

Reply Score: 2

excited
by jollyx on Sun 15th Apr 2007 05:36 UTC
jollyx
Member since:
2007-03-24

After trying more than 40 distros, finally I tried Debian. The thrill, the excitement was the same as I tried Linux for the first time some years ago. Very happy ;)

Reply Score: 3

This time, it...worked
by mwtomlinson on Sun 15th Apr 2007 10:35 UTC
mwtomlinson
Member since:
2005-11-06

In the past, there's always been something that didn't go right when I've tried to install Debian. This time, it...worked. First try, no re-dos, no muss, no fuss. I even managed to successfully install the nVidia driver (another first for Debian!), thanks largely to the write-up at http://lunapark6.com/debian-40-etch.html.

It's also causing me to take another look at the Epiphany browser (sorry, I refuse to use "Iceweasel" just because the whole "rebranding" thing is just silly). Not too shabby for a lightweight browser.

While I continue to be a (mostly) loyal Ubuntu user, this time I think my Debian install is gonna stick around for a while...

Reply Score: 2

My favorite thing about a Debian release...
by leech on Sun 15th Apr 2007 13:10 UTC
leech
Member since:
2006-01-10

Is that finally unstable starts to get all the new packages! After feature freeze, all of the Debian developers start working hard on fixing all of the release critical bugs, so unstable stays the same until the release.

Now within unstable we finally have the newest gtk, and I'm sure soon after that, the 2.18 packages for Gnome will be put into unstable as well (they are already in Experimental). It's just a matter of time until they are as new as Ubuntu.

I've noticed a lot of times in Debian, they will get newer packages than Ubuntu. For example, the mednafen emulator in Ubuntu is at 0.6.5, and the one in Debian Unstable is 0.7.2 (the latest).

Ubuntu usually only really supports their Main and Restricted, but not universe and multiverse. Debian on the other hand treats all their packages equally, well at least those that are maintained by good maintainers.

At least with Debian if you leave your repositories pointing to testing, or unstable you'll always get the latest that Debian can give you (testing, if I recall is 10 days older than unstable if there are no problems with the package). Ubuntu doesn't have the pointers for stable, testing, unstable and experimental. So once a release is done you're either stuck with it, or you have to switch to the development release, which Ubuntu usually breaks a lot more severely than Debian.

I use Ubuntu on my desktop and laptop system simply because they keep the latest Gnome always (as one of their stated goals). On my HTPC and server though, I keep Debian. On the server for stability and security, and on the HTPC for the above reasons, Debian simply has newer versions of some of the lower-level packages.

Reply Score: 3

I like stright-up Debian
by walterbyrd on Sun 15th Apr 2007 23:23 UTC
walterbyrd
Member since:
2005-12-31

Nothing wrong with Ubuntu, or any other distro. But, after trying several distros, I found that debian works for me.

- best package management in the business.
- small 180mb network download.
- no need to download, then unistall, a bunch of cruft that you don't want.
- set up debian any way you want: bleeding edge workstation, or rock-solid server, run IceWM, KDE, Gnome, or not gui at all, or whatever. No need to have a differt distro for different guis.
- standard, well supported, distro.
- install once, then just upgrade. No need to download and instal a distro every six months.
- debian is totally committed to free. No teaser free distro to get you to buy the real distro. No games.
- runs on more platforms than any other distro (I think).

Again, JMHO.

Reply Score: 1

RE: I like stright-up Debian
by MamiyaOtaru on Mon 16th Apr 2007 12:03 UTC in reply to "I like stright-up Debian"
MamiyaOtaru Member since:
2005-11-11

- install once, then just upgrade. No need to download and instal a distro every six months.

True enough. Debian is my main OS. When I installed it it was Woody. I've upgraded since through Sarge and Etch, and am with Lenny (such as it is) now. In the process I'ev gone from kernel 2.4 to 2.6, dev to udev, supermount to project utopia, OSS to ALSA, moved the OS to different hard drives and partitions, and moved the whole OS to a different machine (last two using tar). No screwing around with reinstalling from scratch, no reactivating for the new machine (ala Windows).

It now has years worth of accumulated preference tweaks, which could be considered crust, but if I installed a new Distro (I do once in a while just to see) I'd have to apply them again ;)

Debian's lasted longer without a reinstall than anything I've ever used and I really appreciate it.

Reply Score: 2

RE: I like stright-up Debian
by jsagazio on Mon 16th Apr 2007 17:27 UTC
jsagazio
Member since:
2006-10-26

Good points.
I have been using straight Debian as a desktop machine for years. I think I started with the Woody version.

I always upgraded without reinstalling.
I know some of the some of the packages aren't the latest but I don't care - the thrust of Debian is about stability and not neccesarily to have the latest.

Anyway folks, keep using Debian or Ubuntu or whatever you like, it's a free world.

Reply Score: 1