Linked by Eugenia Loli on Sun 20th Oct 2002 17:14 UTC
Debian and its clones "This is a critical review of Debian 3.0, but I want to say right from the start that I'm not trying to bait anyone. However I feel that reviewers often root for Debian as the open-source underdog, and give it marks which it doesn't deserve. If RedHat 8.0 came out with installation software like Debian 3.0 it would be savaged. I think it's time for an honest review, to spur the Debian developers into making the best possible distribution. I really want Debian to succeed. I want to use it daily, and recommend it to my friends. But I can't do that right now and I think it's important people understand why." Read the review and its (already long) discussion at DebianPlanet.
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I don't even have to read the article
by Jeremy on Sun 20th Oct 2002 17:33 UTC

This guy is clueless.....Debian is made by volenteers who do not care about endusers, they care about a great technical distrobution. then, you get distributors who want to make it enduser nice (Xandros, Libranet, etc.). and there installer is not a big deal realy. if a company sold computers that were preinstalled with debian, no one would care much about the debian installer.

Windows has an ok installer, but for some reason, my mom can not install it, it keeps telling her that certain files can not be copied....I would help, except I am in MI and she is in NM :-(.

He should try Knoppix
by G0tt on Sun 20th Oct 2002 17:49 UTC

And install it to harddisk.

He would be happy.

RE: I don't even have to read the article
by Eugenia on Sun 20th Oct 2002 17:55 UTC

>Debian is made by volenteers who do not care about endusers, they care about a great technical distrobution. then, you get distributors who want to make it enduser nice

Yes, but.
Times change. Even if Debian is about being a technical distro (whatever that means), and not an end-user one, it will still need to advance itself on several key points, to help its distributors catch up with other distros or OSes, easily. So, no matter if Debian is not for end users or not, advances should be made on all its levels, from time to time.
For example, if Debian existed 20 years ago, it wouldn't need most of the stuff it has today, but today, it does need them. In 5 years, it will also need more stuff than it needs today, in order to compete at least in the "technicalities" with other distros/OSes.
My question to you is this: what *new advancements* made to Debian the last 2-3 years that makes it able to compete or even blow-out other OS/distos? Are there any? If yes, which one?
This is an honest question, I am no Debian user, so I truly have this question.

Debian isn't a newbie distro. It doesn't claim to be a newbie distro. It's for users who know beforehand that their machine uses the "nv" driver and get confused having to look around for a card name (quick, is it under 'R' for Riva or 'N' for NVIDIA or 'C' for Creative Labs, the manufacturer?) It ships almost stock packages without all the vendor specific changes that make the desktop cleaner initially, but much more of a hassle to customize. I personally hate running RedHat's glibc-o-the-day rather than a stock version. Look, I can see making nice easy distros in the form of RedHat or Mandrake or SuSE. But there's not reason to dumb them ALL down. That's why we have distributions, for choices! Now he does have some points, in that the KDE install in Debian is messed up at the moment. I think the main reason is that the maintainers don't want to expend to much effort on the 2.x series, because the 3.x series will replace it soon, but hasn't because they're waiting on gcc 3.2 to become default.

i would have to agree with the reviewer...
by bytes256 on Sun 20th Oct 2002 17:59 UTC

the installer needs some refreshing...i've attempted to install debian three times and each time i either got frustrated with the installer or had problems with lacking hardware support in the stupid 2.2 kernel (i also tried the 2.4 kernel, but the installer for that crashed my system)

not to belittle Debian, but for a workstation it seems quite lacking...it makes my beloved FreeBSD feel cutting edge...on a server I would definitely consider it, but i'm afraid they've fallen behind

stable is really stable i'm sure, but come on...most distros don't even SUPPORT the 2.2 kernel and Debian only supports 2.4 experimentally? when will they support it offically, when 2.6 comes out?

and also not to belittle the Debian team, i respect their work very much, but why are they spreading their already thin resources even thinner by supporting Debian GNU/Hurd...i mean come on...it's not like Debian doesn't need attention in other areas

debian's got some real strengths...i've used shell accounts on debian servers and run a debian system via bochs and i am impressed with what i see...but the installer needs serious help it's confusing even for an experienced user like me (7 years of computer experience including programming, Windows, Mac, Linux, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD, Solaris)

anyway...that's my 2 cents

-bytes256

Eugenia
by Jeremy on Sun 20th Oct 2002 18:04 UTC

buy technical, I am refering to the technologies that they use such as apt-get, and the package quality. you cannot put debian elbo to elbow with distrobutions like mandrake becasue they are not equivelent. Mandrake is ment for the end user, Debian is ment as a base for a distributor to build upon. now, if we looked at the advancements of Xandros that puts it elbow to elbow with other distros today, I could name a few off the top of my head like automatic Samba configuration, a nicely configured GUI, etc.

if Xandros makes use of certain new aspects of XF86 in the future versions of there distrobution, then I would say they have the best distrobution around. ofcource we have to wait for the final product.

Debian is the second distro you should use
by Xirzon on Sun 20th Oct 2002 18:06 UTC

Debian doesn't work as a first user distro. As the reviewer correctly points out, the installation requires knowledge about configuration details that the user cannot possibly have at that early point, as the documentation is not even installed yet. It's true, Debian developers don't care about end users -- their approach is the "works for me" methodology.

But if you have some Linux experience, Debian is a good distro for everyday usage. Once you have a good idea how Linux works, it should be no big deal to set up a usable Debian system. From "usable" to "optimal" is of course another step, the Debian defaults are good for servers but bad for desktops (you really need to go through the X "deuglification" process, for example).

But why bother with Debian? Mostly because of the packages. There are thousands of Debian software packages that work without any knowledge or tweaking. And these are not just "dumb" packges, they often include clever configuration scripts, which use a standardized front-end (debconf). So no matter whether you install Apache or Tuxracer, the configuration looks the same. Once you have gotten used to apt-get (or one of its various, decent front-ends) you won't want to go back. It's a killer feature.

Also, when it comes to system configuration, doing things on the low level of config files has its advantages. Red Hat & Co. give you nice front-ends for a lot of stuff, but when these fail, you have to get your hands dirty anyway. Understanding how the system works helps you when problems arise.

If you want to save yourself the learning curve Debian requires and still get apt's goodness, Lindows might be a good choice. It's either pay up or learn. But I don't see apt-rpm or urpmi as serious competitors yet -- for one thing, as far as I know there's no standardized package configuration for RPM. As Eugenia points out again and again, dependency hell is a serious long term problem for daily Linux usage, and Debian is the only distro that properly solves it.

Sure, it would be great if Debian was extended to be a good first-time-user desktop distro. But I don't see this happening anytime soon. Someone needs to do the work, and people are just not motivated enough to work on projects that primarily benefit others, not themselves.

My recommendation: Start with SuSE or Red Hat, then move to Debian when you're ready.

bytes256.....
by Jeremy on Sun 20th Oct 2002 18:11 UTC

Debian Stable is realy stable and is a good choice for Servers, Debian testing is good for workstations as you get new packages on a fairly regular basis..it usualy takes 2-3 months to get them in there from experimental....and experimental is for folks who like to use packages that might not work or might create problems with other packages...and that is why it takes 2-3 months for a package to get into testing where bugs are fixed and worked out.

and , not to reflect on you, but I did the net install the very first time I ever tried debian, and I did it on my laptop, it went flawlessly no troubles.

RE: Eugenia
by Eugenia on Sun 20th Oct 2002 18:14 UTC

> by technical, I am refering to the technologies that they use such as apt-get.....

You still haven't answer my question above though. ;)

When cats talk about barking...
by Anonymous on Sun 20th Oct 2002 18:21 UTC

Why is it that so many rookies lately felt the urge to write an "unbiased" review about a Linux distribution?
Debian, as other posts have claimed before, is clearly not intended to be used by "normal" endusers. For most advanced users it simply works fantastic. Once you got used to apt-whatever you don't really want to miss it anymore.
I am not saying it's all peaches with cream when it comes to installing Debian, or setting up Euro support. Yes, even Debian Woody has bugs. Then again, I have not yet seen an OS that has not.
Perhaps I should write an *unbiased* review about installing/setting up Win XP including all I/O and SCSI-related horrors many people (including myself) have encountered.

weak
by Adam Scheinberg on Sun 20th Oct 2002 18:26 UTC

It's clear that an OS should be optimized for its tasks, and therefore, a server OS and a desktop OS should have significant differences.

Unfortunately, Linux pundits very rarely acknowledge a simple point. That ain't how it works in the real world, right or wrong. People tend to use what they are used to. Windows servers are successful because people know how to use it already. SuSE, Mandrake, and Red Hat have market share and they're getting used on servers regularly and the admins can take it and use it as their desktop OS as well.

If Debian wants to have any significane in the future, they'll aim to make themselves some desktop presence - even a little. Right now, it's pathetic. Please don't tell me it's because it's not for newbies - neither is Gentoo, but it's getting along. It's not just the installer - it's the whole kit and kaboodle.

Debiain is...not the best..
by bawb bitchen on Sun 20th Oct 2002 18:27 UTC

I find the Debian install to be quite bad. I am no means a newbie. I started with the 1st version of Slackware and I am currently using Gentoo. Gentoo makes more sense then the Debain install.

re: Eugenia
by Jeremy on Sun 20th Oct 2002 18:33 UTC

this is your answer:

"you cannot put debian elbo to elbow with distrobutions like mandrake becasue they are not equivelent. Mandrake is ment for the end user, Debian is ment as a base for a distributor to build upon. now, if we looked at the advancements of Xandros that puts it elbow to elbow with other distros today, I could name a few off the top of my head like automatic Samba configuration, a nicely configured GUI, etc.

if Xandros makes use of certain new aspects of XF86 in the future versions of there distrobution, then I would say they have the best distrobution around. ofcource we have to wait for the final product."

re: Eugenia
by Eugenia on Sun 20th Oct 2002 18:43 UTC

But this is not what I asked.
Firstly, I stated a fact: Times changing, and no matter how generic and bare-bones Debian might be in order to be customized by its distributors, it HAS to add new features and advancements in its own technical aspects. Either that, or Debian is not progressing. EVERYTHING has to progress in the software business. And I am *not* talking about the desktop. I am talking about the bare bones features too.

Then, I asked the question: "what are the new advancements Debian has received the last 2-3 years, in ANY department, that makes it still a good option for its distributors to choose Debian instead of another distro".

This question has not been answered. What you replied is just that Debian is not Mandrake, so it is not comparable. Ditto. But what I ask, is different.

If you reply "no new advancements, but the others haven't caught up yet", that to me look like stegnation. And stegnation and lack of innovation means death, to *any* software piece. New innovations HAS to be part of any new version.

So, what are these *new* advancements, that will make ME to decide to use Debian as my "Eugenia Linux" distribution? (hypothetically speaking ;)

re eugenia.
by Jeremy on Sun 20th Oct 2002 18:53 UTC

Debian is as advanced in there programs as the rest of the Linux world. there utilities are not GUI-ized but so what. the distributors can add nice little python front-ends that use PyQT or pyGTK+ and bame you have a nice installer/package manager (though Kpackage workes well).

as for you choosing Debian...well, thre is nothing there as far as cool stuff like automatic samba configurations or cool little gui apps for system management integrated tightly with the DE. but if you want to learn, or are curious or want to chalegen yourself for fun, then debian is one option.

if not...go with Xandros when it comes out becasue Debian as a base for a distrobution is great.

I have to agree ...
by Darius on Sun 20th Oct 2002 18:54 UTC

Normally, I'd give people a hard time for slamming anyone because 'they were using the wrong distro' but in this case, they're probably right. Debian is definitely not a good distro to get started with, as I don't think Debian claims to be geared towards Joe User (as does Mandrake or Lycoris).

If you want technical stuff...
by Ronald on Sun 20th Oct 2002 18:55 UTC

go for the BSDs. Forget Debian.

restated another way
by Darren on Sun 20th Oct 2002 19:02 UTC

Since some people still seem to be missing the point, let me try to restate what's already been stated in another way.

Consider Debian to be a kernel and a world class package management system wrapped up in one, to either be used:
1. by itself as a server
2. with other developer's installation and configuration tools (libranet, xandros)

Complaining that Deb doesn't have a gui installer is almost like complaining that the Linux kernel doesn't have an installer. It's not that it couldn't have it. It's that it's not supposed to have it.

Darren

Re: Jeremy
by Eugenia on Sun 20th Oct 2002 19:08 UTC

> well, thre is nothing there as far as cool stuff like automatic samba configurations or cool little gui apps for system management integrated tightly with the DE

I asked for innovation, not gui front ends.
So, do they have special changes to the Linux kernel to make coffee, do they support... beowulf out of the box? What are THEIR advancements in the last 2-3 years? Are they just patching up what they already got with newer versions and filling security holes? Is this the whole innovation Debian has to offer for its *new* versions?

Jeremy, I think you don't know the answer to any of this. Your very first statement about debian being technical and that the reviewer is an clueless, just makes you look like a parrot, copying/pasting things found on the "about us" page of Debian. Sorry.

So, anyone else know the answer to the question I asked in the first page of this comment's section?

re: Eugenia
by Strike on Sun 20th Oct 2002 19:11 UTC

Debian is focusing on getting a distribution foundation correct from the ground up. They have _the_ most amazing infrastructure of any distribution. They have a process to allow anyone to become a developer of the distribution. They have a policy to which all packages must conform, or they won't even be uploaded successfully (done by lintian, check http://lintian.debian.org/ for details). They have the most advanced packaging system ever, coupled with an excellent configuration system for each package. Their bug tracking system (check http://bugs.debian.org for more details) is my favorite by far (bugzilla is too complicated for most tasks, the Debian BTS works purely on email). They have great developers in general. It supports more architectures than .. well, than any OS ever has, I believe. They are focusing on bringing a common GNU desktop system to the users who are willing to take the time to learn the system, and they are focusing on doing this right. No more, no less.

RE: RE: I don't even have to read the article
by trakal on Sun 20th Oct 2002 19:12 UTC

Eugenia wrote:
"what *new advancements* made to Debian the last 2-3 years that makes it able to compete or even blow-out other OS/distos? Are there any? If yes, which one?"

Within just 2 or 3 years? All i can think of is apt-build, which acts like cast and sorcery (from sourcemage) by downloading the source, building app, and installing the app. Also there's a apt-build -world (or something like that), which rebuilds all of the packages.

Though it's a testing and unstable package and there's still some bugs (at least in the testing package. a new version of it came out in the unstable and i haven't tried it)

Re: Eugenia
by Jeremy on Sun 20th Oct 2002 19:19 UTC

name a distro that HAS inovated and is not ment for a niche market. you seem to have problems with a generic Linux distrobution that needs the user to install and configure stuff. THEY do not make advancements at all....THEY are quite happy with making a distrobution that is created from the software that is out there. THEY package it, and put it up for anyone who wants to use it. if you want to make it better, then you make a distrobution Like Xandros, or Storm, or Corel.

Debian is not looking for market share, they are not trying to develope some peice of cool new inovative thing (that is for the kernel team or the DE Teams) they just want to make the most stable OS that ever lived and they want the package management to be the best ever for Linux. they have succeeded in there goals in their and many other folks minds. now, it is bug fixing, updateing, and adding new packages to there distrobution. ytou want somthing that is tweaked for end-users with cool inovative utilities or configurations, go with the usual suspects.

Re: Eugenia
by Eugenia on Sun 20th Oct 2002 19:25 UTC

Both Red Hat 8.1 and SuSE 8.0 has innovated for their markets they are after. And this is not just for their workstation/server market, but in fact, Red Hat always has special patches for their kernels.

One thing is for sure: RH and SuSE are not the same as they were 3 years ago.

Is Debian the same as 3 years ago, for the goals it has or not? (I am not talking about any desktops here, I am talking abotu their respective "markets" each software piece has)

Debian's development
by jbmadsen on Sun 20th Oct 2002 19:39 UTC

Debian is exactly the same as it was three years ago: rock solid stable distribution intended for people who either a) know how unix systems work or 2) have people around who know how unix systems work. Hopefully they will continue to be exactly the same forever and ever.

Lots of software is continously being added to the archives. Same or different? After all it is just more packages.

Debian is being developed by people who have no other incentives than building the best distribution they can. This hasn't changed and hopefully won't.

So what has Debian developed themselves in the last three years? Defoma springs to mind. Package management and development tools.

In my opinion even asking if Debian is the same as three years ago is just as silly as asking if Redhat is the same today as three years ago. The changes may be more visible with distributions like Redhat or Mandrake who spend a lot of time on eyecandy. But don't be fooled.

Re: "Innovation"
by Rayiner Hashem on Sun 20th Oct 2002 19:42 UTC

One of the major reasons I don't use RedHat or SuSE is all the "innovations" they have. The non-standard extensions that almost always have standard (abliet harder) alternatives. I don't like using RedHat-patched glibc's (right now, they're using 2.2.99-RH) or something obscene like that. I don't like using RedHat patched kernels. Ever try applying a standard patch (like low-latency or whatnot) to a RedHat kernel? It will almost never apply properly because RedHat kernels are extremely modified. For a lot of people, Debian's "vanilla" nature is a big appeal, not a drawback.

Now, for RedHat and SuSE's "target market" (business users) customization is probably the right track to follow. Deliver an end-to-end integrated solution, even if you have to make your own modifications to do so. Debian on the other hand, doesn't really have a "target market." Their purpose is to package standard Linux software as well as possible, and deliver those packages to as many people (architectures, hardware support) in a free a way as possible. That's it. If others want to take that foundation and build nifty tools for it, wonderful, but that's not what Debian itself is about.

PS> I don't want to sound like I'm criticising RedHat. They do a lot of good things for Linux, contribute a lot of fixes, and in particular help glibc's development quite a bit. But personally, I'll wait for all those RedHat patches to get integrated into the mainline code before I emerge them!

debian is an open project!
by matt on Sun 20th Oct 2002 19:42 UTC

if you want a better installer then write one and contribute it.

debian is getting better for non-technical users, but it isnt going to happen soon. debian requires that everyhting be bug tested to death, so it is unlikely that anything will immediately supplant dselect. even though it sucks, it works and is nearly bug-free.

i know this is the typical "jaded guru" response, but has anyone writing these damning reviews ever tried to write an installer that works on x86, ppc, sparc, etc... before?

Debian Installer
by Richard Fillion on Sun 20th Oct 2002 19:44 UTC

I'll admit, dselect is HELL during install, and i never use it, i just check off a few of the boxes for the "lamer's" install. eheh But the rest of the debian installer...i think is the best i've ever used. I dont live in ireland, so i havent encountered this guy's problems. You can do _anything_ in that installer. I've seen countless boxes where other distros wouldnt install, i'd say "give me an hour with a debian CD, you'll have linux", i'd find out where the problems would bit, hit alt+f2 for the shell and fix it. I have yet to see a box where it doesnt install. There's none of this "it couldnt find my video card" shit which i've seen so many times with X based installers, they make me sick.

After the install, apt still kicks butt, and if you want to trim down your install, take out dselect (im better at taking out packages with it than adding them eheh), and go through the list, and remove them. I've installed a working system, everything i needed, and X, on a 100meg drive. Made a nice X terminal out of my 386. Show me another distro that can do that.

Debian isnt perfect, but it _works_.

And to the guy that said it supports more architectures than any other OS, sorry, netbsd has it beat (39 i think they have). But i do believe debian supports more architectures than any other linux distro with 11. And when debian supports an architecture, its cause it _works_ on it *points to gentoo's alpha "support"*.

Still hazy
by Jay on Sun 20th Oct 2002 19:45 UTC

Like Eugenia, I am interested in learning about Debian and have never used it just as itself. I believe when she is asking about innovation over time, she (and what I'm asking) is asking if Debian *itself*, for its purpose, as described by several posters, advanced over the past few years? I'm not talking about being dumbed down or GUI's or anything like that, I'm wondering if Debain, for the purpose it has been described for very well by many above, has achieved advancements for that purpose or if it has been static? Does putting the question that way help any?

Re: Still hazy
by Richard Fillion on Sun 20th Oct 2002 19:53 UTC

I'm still perplexed with the question. What kinda advancements are you looking for? Could you name a few examples of say RedHat or Mandrake just to clarify?

Thanks

Re: Still hazy
by jbmadsen on Sun 20th Oct 2002 19:54 UTC

What sort of advancements? Updated software? New software?

If so, yes of course.

Debian advantage
by Ed on Sun 20th Oct 2002 20:05 UTC

One of the major advantages of Debian is that keep a consistent set of packages for all architectures they support. Obviously you're not going to get Wine or DosEmu on non-x86 architectures, but for almost every package in Debian it's going to be identical across architectures. I think they currently support about 11 different architectures.

Personally, I use Debian because I can just type apt-get install random-package and it works. I just got tired of fighting with getting everything working. I'll sacrifice being bleeding edge if that means its a lot more likely to work.

also...
by trakal on Sun 20th Oct 2002 20:05 UTC

Good point jbmadsen. nothing more to say on that.

Eugenia wrote:
>> Both Red Hat 8.1 and SuSE 8.0 has innovated for their markets they are after. And this is not just for their workstation/server market, but in fact, Red Hat always has special patches for their kernels.
Is Debian the same as 3 years ago, for the goals it has or not? (I am not talking about any desktops here, I am talking abotu their respective "markets" each software piece has)<<

Yes Debian hasn't changed much in three years, and there's a good reason. Their done. Think about it for a minute. The social contract is being followed threw. Also the social contract doesn't cover anything about an apt-get program, or their nifty sysadmin tools, or having the latest xfree86 or Gnome2 (as i've seen as a big deal for some people). Just simply free software, free support, and "we don't hide security problems".

And I think that's cool.

Re: Still hazy
by Eugenia on Sun 20th Oct 2002 20:07 UTC

>I'm still perplexed with the question. What kinda advancements are you looking for?

Nobody is talking about new versions of software and guis.
I am talking about changes to the OS itself that makes it differentiate from others, and changes that make it more strong and modern in the specific areas Debian is aiming for.

For example, are there specific Debian kernel patches that do more than Mandrake and Red Hat etc? Is there automatic support and configuration tools (text mode is fine) for clusters and security not found elsewhere (debian-specific)? Is there support for a filesystem that will make use of attributes by default? Is there special patches for XFree to allow it to do things that can't be done on another distro?

These are samples of advanements. It is made clear that Debian is an OS system, not just a packaged distribution. Therefore, it will have to innovate on areas that other distros don't. Upgrading your kernel, samba version, gnu utils, KDE and Gnome on newer versions on top of the same *BASE* of Debian, as it was 3 years ago, it is NOT innovation.

RE: also...
by Eugenia on Sun 20th Oct 2002 20:11 UTC

> Yes Debian hasn't changed much in three years, and there's a good reason. Their done.

What do you mean they are "done"? You mean that they are stegnating? This is TERRIBLE for *any* software. Software is NEVER done. Software always needs to re-innovate itself and discover new techniques. Software is EVOLVING.

I am not a Gnu chearleader. I am a realist. I don't care about "free software", I care about *software*. Free or not. Therefore, I always want to see advancemetns on the software that I potentially might use.

If you are telling me that Debian is not evolving because it is "done", you are either someone with no clue, or simply, Debian is "done for good" and therefore a dead software piece. Is that what you are saying?

of course
by trakal on Sun 20th Oct 2002 20:19 UTC

I meant done in the sense that their already inovated, they have met the dependency problems and made it automated (apt-get), and they have stability down pretty good compared to some distros. not done for good, that's plain silly. and i ment it as a joke.

I just don't think that making the installer simple is considered "inovation" or "change", which seems to be what the guy who reported this had a problem with.

Anyway if he had this problem then he should at least report it, and not just let it sit around for the next person to have to deal with it (even though it would take several days or weeks to get fixed)

Re: Re: Still hazy
by Richard Fillion on Sun 20th Oct 2002 20:19 UTC

(debian-specific)

Why should anything be debian specific? I thought the goal of the open source community was to be able to share code, so that everyone advances together. So if someone makes a tool that configures say samba for you, and opensource it. You could apt-get it, but hey, this isnt exclusive to debian so it doesnt count?

Does "joe user" care if their kernel has a special redhat patch? They dont even know what a kernel is. And as for debian still using 2.2, who cares? You could always use a 2.4 kernel with it. And with woody now they provide you with one, though not by default, for stability reasons (2.2 IS more stable than 2.4). I suggest every build themselves a custom kernel afterwards anyways.

whoops.
by trakal on Sun 20th Oct 2002 20:26 UTC

i meant to just say "inovation" and not "change" because, yes it would effect the installation experience and that would be a change.

Re: Still hazy
by jbmadsen on Sun 20th Oct 2002 20:33 UTC

At least as far as XFree86 goes, a very large portion of the porting to other architectures than i386 is done by the Debian X Strike Force. It is simply necessary to get XFree86 working properly (which includes a lot more than merely compiling) on all the platforms which Debian supports.

On the topic of architectures, no Linux distribution supports as many architectures as Debian. It's true that there are other OSes which support more architectures (like NetBSD), but on the other hand Debian has in the cases I know of a lot more software packaged. This is important for those of us who use other hardware than mainstream i386. It is a huge advantage to be able to install the same OS and the same packages on all systems regardless of the architecture. This goes a long way to minimize time spent on system administration and increase security (due to more time for learning the specific OS/distro better).

Debian stagnant? I don't believe so. And I doubt anyone subscribed to Debian's mailing lists think so either.

But people care for various things. Some care about portability and different architectures. Other people care about eyecandy such as flicker-free window moving or rounded edges instead linear ones.

re:still hazy
by Jeremy on Sun 20th Oct 2002 20:38 UTC

yes, debian has the latest software, it is in the experimental and testing branch. testing is just as stable as RH or mandrake or SUSE. infact, MOST debian users use Testing.

all you need to do is uncoment the testing source line in the apt config file. then do apt-get update && apt-get upgrade.

then you are running Testing with all the latest software.

Innovation
by Ed Page on Sun 20th Oct 2002 20:41 UTC

I agree with you Eugenia about a need for Innovation. the problem is trying to find an area to innovate within. If everyone uses non standard stuff then, why not have soemthing to provide teh vanilla approach? That removes half of your exampels of inovations. The other about programs to simplify things, the debian style is more to use other ones, common among all.

work in source based work would b an improvement and I think someone mentioend tehre was. the new installer they are working on soudns good and i look forward to it. Someone mentioned the splitting of efforts with HURD. I think its good. itll clean up the distribution of bad practices, people are working on it taht want to, so that means its not taken from teh Linux side of Debian. DISCLAIMER: I think HURD does have a future, though in a niche maybe if it cant pickup teh Linux inertia when it is mature. I think working on anotehr kernel is the most future oriented of any of teh distributions. Its looking at supporting a kernel taht will give it many features Linux cant handle or nto easily

Oh, and what is hard about teh install? it is fairly straightforward for a technical person IMO. The only problem I have ever had was
1)the fdisk program before cfdisk (Many people remember what I pain taht was?)
2)In debian 2.0 I think it was before it went into dselect it asked a question fo whetehr to do simple or dselect package install. That dialogue was confusing as to which answer would produce which result but I think I figured it out everytime.

Eugenia
by Vince on Sun 20th Oct 2002 20:47 UTC

I think they are trying to say that Debian is of course evolving but that is not the same kind of evolving your thinking of. Rather than Red Hat heavily modifying every package to be a red hat system. Debian produces a system built with unmodified parts. Of course as each part gets evolved by their respective coders that whole OS gets evolved. The difference is that Red Hat also interjects their own evolving code into their distrobutions while debian is fine just introducing the evolution of its different parts.

Its not like Debian is going to fall off the planet feature wise or anything. Just think of Red Hat, Mandrake etc as being like the feature branch of IRIX and debian being the maintenance branch. Eventually the features will trickle down to Debian but not before it works the way its supposed to.

The only reason one would consider that as being behind is becuase the standard linux procedure is make it half work and then move on to adding a new feature. Debian just so happens to wait for something to completely work and then adds it. So then the decision of choosing Debian or another distro becomes a matter of how patient are you when it comes to waiting for new features?

fdisk
by jbmadsen on Sun 20th Oct 2002 20:49 UTC

Oh yes, I remember all too well. Just installed Debian on an oldish Alpha machine this Friday. Have to use fdisk on that. The joys of old hardware :-)

Why not install Debian based Knoppix
by Wim Salomons on Sun 20th Oct 2002 20:50 UTC

Tried to install Debian but encountered the same difficulties.My solution was to install Knoppix it is Debian based, it recognised all my hardware (both desktop and toshiba portege). In this way I have a Debian system and can use apt-get and have the latest KDE 3,04 GUI by the way. See Distrowatch for details on downlaodaing site and installing on HD (http://www.distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=knoppix). Why bother with pure native Debian, all the hassle and these flame wars.

Debian is user friendly, considering the alternatives
by rulle on Sun 20th Oct 2002 20:59 UTC

Reinstalling SuSE/RedHat/Mandrake every time they release a new version is not my idea of user friendliness. Those systems are practically impossible to update without breakage (Demanding guru knowledge to sort out). You can run a Debian desktop, continiously updated with recent software, _for years_ witout reinstalling, that is why Debian is more user friendly than the others.

Why whould a small detail like the installer be so important if you compare it to the above? If you actually use the system and not just testing/giwing a whirl/ playing, which feature would you consider most important for user friendliness?

The installer seems very important for users of the other distros becouse they spend so much time in them! :-)

v Jeremy
by mindwarp on Sun 20th Oct 2002 21:17 UTC
Innovation needed?
by zWalther on Sun 20th Oct 2002 21:26 UTC

I agree innovation is needed for software but Debian is not just software. The people who write the software should innovate. The strategy used to package, distribute and track bugs can stay the same. The Debian-people do this very well.

It is of course a valid question to ask why anyone should use Debian. Well, it has probably been said a couple of times but apt is a very good reason plus the fact that it just works.

Some of my own experience: I have used Suse, Redhat and Mandrake and now Debian/testing for some time. Apt is the greatest. I update daily (as I said from testing) and I never have any bugs or problems when installing. Just select the program/package/kernel patch in dselect or use apt-get. Until now there is only one program that I wanted to have that wasn't available as a Debian package (mplayer) and that I had to compile myself.

re: Knoppix
by Jeremy on Sun 20th Oct 2002 21:48 UTC

how do you install it on the hard disk? all it seems to allow is to install it on and run it from CD.

clueless sums it up perfectly....
by David H on Sun 20th Oct 2002 22:19 UTC

The review is a total waste of bandwidth.

IMO Debian runs 5 different platforms in my environment, the system is virtually identical in all the servers and I don't know of any other distro that comes close to such a range. Plus the apt tool and the stability.

I will continue to use Debian personally until they sell to Microsoft. But I won't advocate that dumb users try and get it working unless I know they won't whinge to me that it doesn't have a graphical installer.

;)

Framework?
by Richard on Sun 20th Oct 2002 22:31 UTC

Would you say that debian is a framework (distribution) and that the innovation is done by the suppliers of the packages? The framework needs little change.

If debian finds bugs in software packages does it alert the authors and therefore help OSS that way?

re: re: Knoppix
by Anonymous on Sun 20th Oct 2002 22:56 UTC

I haven't tried it myself yet:
http://www.linuxtag.org/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.pl?board=knoppix-en
Search for "knx-hdinstall".

Debian
by Chris on Sun 20th Oct 2002 23:02 UTC

I use Debian and I love it but I agree, the installer is something to be feared. I think even a basic ncurses interface would be fine, like the old Red Hat installers. But if you are an uber geek, Debian is for you.

Innovation in Debian
by murphee on Sun 20th Oct 2002 23:11 UTC

Well, I don't know of many shiny bells&whistles in Debian,
but one interesting thing is the support of GNU/Hurd with
Debian. I haven't tried it, but from what I know, it's basically GNU/Debian with the GNU/Hurd kernel instead
of Linux, with all the advantages (as well as the disadvantages, I guess) of the Hurd kernel.

But my main reason to stick with Debian is the same as the main reason for most other Debian users: apt-get (or the package management system).

And for the argument, that Debian only uses an old Linux kernel... Well, a new/current compiled kernel is (with apt-get) only some keystrokes away, as well as kernel sources (make clean;make dep;make bzlilo; Done!); so I don't really know what the big problem is;

User since 12/97
by Tugrul Galatali on Sun 20th Oct 2002 23:48 UTC

I had gotten my first modern computer in 10/96 (after some while with a 8086 based clone), and within a year I was introduced to Slackware in a quest with my friends to try different things on our computers. That is where I got my bearings in Linux with some help from my friend's big brother.

I installed Debian after wanting to take part in my high school's student network team, which was a strictly Debian shop. I don't remember exactly when, but I'm pretty sure it was in December 1997 when I overcame the first big hurdle in those days, getting ppp to work ;)

I haven't used another Linux distro since on my desktops or the networks I've run, except on the rare occasions I didn't have a choice (ie, cheap one size fits all dedicated servers I use). I strayed to FreeBSD for a while before or around when Debian got apt, and I still have a decent amount of respect for that system.

But Debian treats users like me so well, I'm still amazed to this day. Everything I want to run is a few keystrokes away. With broadband, they are up and running within seconds. And things are pretty damn recent (and stable) with unstable, with those that are not (like having everything built with gcc 3.2) are worth the wait to have them function perfectly with my system. Everything functions so well that I rarely need to reinstall, with my desktop installation outliving the machines I use as my desktop ;) . Things might not be pre-configured/tweaked, but I prefer learning how to do/understanding things myself and molding my own preferences with daily use.

And it just works. The other day I had a whim to chuck Solaris off my Ultra 60 and I had Debian installed within 15 minutes of looking up the directions on the internet (admittedly having some experience with tftp and rarp). Another 15 minutes and I had X running with my usual settings and apps. I'm still very impressed.

I think the last thing Debian needs is to waste time on bells and whistles. It just needs to keep the skilled user's experience as wonderful as it is now and let the corporate types deal with the normal user market. People who think Debian needs to change don't understand what Debian provides and how well it suits its intended market.

Eugenia
by ealm on Sun 20th Oct 2002 23:53 UTC

Even if Debian is about being a technical distro (whatever that means), and not an end-user one, it will still need to advance itself on several key points, to help its distributors catch up with other distros or OSes, easily.

What do you mean by "catch up"?


My question to you is this: what *new advancements* made to Debian the last 2-3 years that makes it able to compete or even blow-out other OS/distos? Are there any? If yes, which one?
This is an honest question, I am no Debian user, so I truly have this question.


It isn't supposed to "compete with" or "blow-out" other OSes. Debian is just a base and set of tools to build your dist with.


Then, I asked the question: "what are the new advancements Debian has received the last 2-3 years, in ANY department, that makes it still a good option for its distributors to choose Debian instead of another distro".
So, what are these *new* advancements, that will make ME to decide to use Debian as my "Eugenia Linux" distribution? (hypothetically speaking ;)


Debian isn't the best choice just because of any advancements made to Debian itself in the last 2-3 years. Debian is (now and then) the best choice if you want a clean dist to base your environment on. The strongest part may not be in specific "Debian core technologies", it's in the package manager and the packages. Having a huge pool of *good* and *stable* and *working* packages may be the strongest part of Debian - no others can compete here.


So, do they have special changes to the Linux kernel to make coffee, do they support... beowulf out of the box?

No, you're supposed to want to build your own kernel if you run Debian, if you can't - sorry but then you can't make full advantage of Debian. The same goes with beowolf...


What are THEIR advancements in the last 2-3 years? Are they just patching up what they already got with newer versions and filling security holes? Is this the whole innovation Debian has to offer for its *new* versions? ... So, anyone else know the answer to the question I asked in the first page of this comment's section?

The advancements are in the software itself, Debians job here is mainly to package these applications and maintain a nice environment for managing, organizing and settings up this software.


For example, are there specific Debian kernel patches that do more than Mandrake and Red Hat etc? Is there automatic support and configuration tools (text mode is fine) for clusters and security not found elsewhere (debian-specific)? Is there support for a filesystem that will make use of attributes by default? Is there special patches for XFree to allow it to do things that can't be done on another distro?

No matter what distro, this kind of enchancements should go into respective project - not into a ceratin distro. (The OSS spirit you know ;)

OSS Spirit
by Richard Fillion on Mon 21st Oct 2002 00:03 UTC

No matter what distro, this kind of enchancements should go into respective project - not into a ceratin distro. (The OSS spirit you know ;)

EXACTLY, if its so good, why not just tell the kernel ppl, and let them put it into the kernel? Or any other project for that matter.

Am I the only one?
by Androo on Mon 21st Oct 2002 00:08 UTC

Am I the only one who thinks Debian's installer is -the best- of them all? I'm not even a Linux guru ... I just think it makes more sense and offers a cleaner slate than many other distros. Nothing fancy ... when you're done you're left to configure your system yourself, which is what you're going to wind up doing anyhow on any distro at some point.

In any event, no installer is greater than Be's and probably ever will be ;)

Installer
by Ed Page on Mon 21st Oct 2002 00:32 UTC

Another note on the installer.

I believed someone mentioend something along these lines. I just thought Id repeat it in my own words. Debian gives you control. It starst with what works for people and you can do and not do what will work for you. How many graphical isntaller based distributions still offer a text based install and how good is it? how easy i it to get to?

I can udnerstand why they dont hasve a graphical install yet, not an good architecure to still support text based installs. Thats what the new installer fixes. They created udebs (Micro packages) to handle packaging and dependencies for plugins for the installer. Just now I read a status update that mentioned a GTK front end.
I dont have personal experience with it but how stable si hardware detection? What happens with unsupported/broken hardware. When debian supports it, I bet tehyll give you a chcie to detect. I rememebr seeing a Red Hat and Mandrake isntall and dont rememebr a choice about hardware detection.

So tired of this...
by stingx on Mon 21st Oct 2002 01:00 UTC

Here's my take on Debian...I've been an HP-UX / Sun admin for quite a few years. I personally use RedHat at home - my preference since i switch to it back around 4.X. I have tried just about every *nix under the sun so I donut think I spew from my ass when I say that Debian zealots seem to be those that picked up the battle cry that used to be shouted by the Slackware crowd. They seem to want their distro to be unnecessarily difficult because "real men" donut need GUIs or "sell out". The only thing Debian used to have over RPM based distros was APT and DEB, .deb packaging has it shortcomings as RPM does. What does Debian bring to the table that the other Linux flavors don't...nothing. In fact the others have made way further advances and even have realized the need to stay current with updates and to simplify administration. I don't want this to be a distro bash, in my honest opinion i wouldn't trade in HP-UX to run ANY of the Linux distros at the moment because in my shop they just cannot scale to my needs. I just want o pass along my expericences that I have observed from LUGs and other places where such things are discussed. I constantly hear "RPM sucks, RedHat sucks, Mandrake sucks and Debian so ROCKS" all because of either a) apt-get or b) because it isn't commercial. Use a particular distro because it fits YOUR needs, don't use one because it's "cooler" or "less gay" than other. That column was excellent, btw. You do a great service here, Eugenia. Keep it up.

Debian and its installer
by Iconoclast on Mon 21st Oct 2002 02:17 UTC

I have tried nearly every Linux distro I can get my hand on (I haven't tried the newbie centric ones like Lycoris, Corel, elx, etc.); however, I've never wanted to stray away from Debian on my main machines.

Although I have ventured into the testing branch before, I usually run stable Debian machines. I have not found any other distro to be as stable and easy to use as Debian is. Sure the installer is text based, but it is easy and it works. The other plus is that you only have to install Debian once per machine (although you may choose to do it more often if you like).

I don't see anything wrong with the installer. It installs Debian simply enough and does it correctly. In other words, it works.

Anyone who makes an OS choice based on the pretty pictures surrounding the installer is a dork in my opinion anyway.

Debian
by Anonymous on Mon 21st Oct 2002 02:23 UTC

I don't understand the Debian zealotry _at all_. I have used a couple of Debian systems and, apart from the niceness of apt, been largely unimpressed. Redhat do as good a job at pushing out security upgrades in a timely manner and have the massive advantage of not having to run an "unstable" version to get half-recent software.

Debian's release cycle just doesn't match those of the software from which it is built. The unfortunate truth is that Debian is obselete as soon as it is declared "stable".

A Few Points...
by goneaway on Mon 21st Oct 2002 02:35 UTC

At least on where Debian has innovated over the past few years.

1. Obviously, getting 5000 or so packages interoperable and non-interfering is quite a distinction between Debian and most distributions. I have had zero conflicts between packages over the past year or so and this is running the unstable branch.

2. Keeping three distinct branches of Debian up and running. While stable might be frozen both the testing and unstable branches have insane amounts of new packages pouring into them every day. http://auric.debian.org/~tausq/newpkgs.html contains a list of the new packages introduced to the unstable branch in the past seven days. Take a look. Or take a look at the available packages from http://www.debian.org/distrib/packages

3. Debian is kernel independent. There are projects using the BSD (free and net) and HURD kernel. I'm not sure if that qualifies as innovation from the perspective of kernel patches or not but being able to plug whichever kernel you like into the operating system isn't really present in most user targetted distributions.

4. Debian also runs on an absurd number of architectures.The list is here: http://www.debian.org/ports/

Anyway, just wanted to point these couple of suggestions out while avoiding the pissing war. I do run Debian on both my desktop and laptop and haven't given another distribution (other than Gentoo because I like both it's spirit in having a social contract and it's source based nature) any consideration for quite a long time. I'm biased because it works very well for me. It might not for you but if you find the current state of things disparaging but are still curious try Libranet or Xandros since the core is still the same.It's good stuff.

.
by Ophidian on Mon 21st Oct 2002 02:36 UTC

eugenia, i think you are being to critical of debian. its like throwing a fit about a passenger van not being able to compete with a viper on an 1/8th mile. debian is a *stable* collection of the linux kernel and various OSS software packages. the debian team puts the software pieces together, and makes sure that everything runs kosher. kernel patching is left for kernel developers, or at least turned in to a kernel developer to be added to the main line and not just patched for a single distro like the RH way.

i would say that debian is not right for you, if you have to have its "innovations" in a bulleted list. i would also say that joe user not being able to install debian really is no big deal. debian is not for joe user. it never has been, and likely never will be. its a distro for people who can answer the question of "what xfree driver do i need for this video card". dont know what xfree is? dont use debian, its not for you. this isnt an elitist attitude either. i dont expect joe user to know how to pick up a defibulator(sp?) and use it properly out of the blue. same with debian.

There's no such thing...
by Bob the Monkey on Mon 21st Oct 2002 02:47 UTC

as an unbiased review.

Maybe this is "unbiased" because Eugenia agrees with it.

Unbiased ...
by Rob on Mon 21st Oct 2002 02:56 UTC

>>"Maybe this is "unbiased" because Eugenia agrees with it."

Actually, it's "An Unbiased Review" because ... that's the name of the story being linked. You did actually read it before you commented, right? The title, "An Unbiased Review of Debian 3.0", is at the very top of the article, twice the size of all the other text _and_ bold ... well, guess you just didn't see it.

RE: Ophidian
by Eugenia on Mon 21st Oct 2002 02:56 UTC

>eugenia, i think you are being to critical of debian

Me? How could I be critical? All I did was to ask a simple question. And if I was critical, so what? Without critisism, nothing can evolve.

Re: Am I the only one?
by Troels on Mon 21st Oct 2002 03:18 UTC

You might not be the only one, but i don't think you are part of a large crowd ;)

To add one small thing to the list of complaints about the setup process, i have actually *never* managed to get a working X setup by using the x config thingy. I always ended up having to edit XF86Config-4 by hand.

I'm actually happy to see that im not the only one who is totally unimpressed by debian as most other linux users i know seems to be pro debian ;)

re: debian
by Jeremy on Mon 21st Oct 2002 03:20 UTC

just so you know....by the time the packages get into the unstable branch, they run as well as anything redhat puts out and in most cases better.....we are talking unstable in refrence to what debian considers stable which is super abserdly stable.

Debian STABLE
by Richard Fillion on Mon 21st Oct 2002 03:43 UTC

Here's a feature i thought of. I remember Eugenia saying that she didnt like it when RedHat (i think it was RedHat) put in software that did not work properly with their system. Afterall, it is RedHat's job. Well, i have yet to find a piece of software in Debian Stable that does not work as it should.

People dont seem to understand the whole Stable/Testing/Unstable thing. Its not like running a beta really. Cause we all know the "base" of debian doesnt change _much_, so all thats changing is the packages. Its basically like choosing how new you want your packages to be. Want the absolute latest? Run Debian Unstable, want to be a bit more conservative? Run Debian Testing (which usually has packages as new as the other distros). Want to have a system that wont crash? Run Debian Stable. I run Stable, and is the software that old? No, Mozilla 1.0 is fine for me. But if you _want_ the newest stuff, you CAN get it, and it should install just fine too.

The whole "debian is outdated" is an attitude that needs to go away. It's really not true.

Re: jeremy
by Troels on Mon 21st Oct 2002 03:48 UTC

I beg to differ. It is entirely possible that debian anything is more stable than redhat as a server, but even debian woody has been anything but stable as a workstation for me.

I would use debian as a server os, but i find it to be useless as a desktop system.

Security
by Richard Fillion on Mon 21st Oct 2002 03:54 UTC

Redhat do as good a job at pushing out security upgrades in a timely manner and have the massive advantage of not having to run an "unstable" version to get half-recent software.

Yes but when they patch a security whole, can the system fix it all up for you? I have a "security" line in my sources.list file for apt, and i just did apt-get update && apt-get dist-upgrade, because of of security matters, it updated 3 packages.

RedHat has apt now, but is it really as good at Debian's? I'm asking this seriously here. Does it have all the repositories taht debian has?

Re: Security
by Troels on Mon 21st Oct 2002 05:16 UTC

No, it does not have as large a repository as debian. It basically have whats on the 3 cds and then a little bit more. And one thing to notice, the apt repositories are not actually run by redhat.

I do use apt,-rpm, but i still have redhats update thingy running whihc has a pretty (not really, but it isnt intrusive:) icon in the traybar thingy which flashes red if there is an update.

My experience with redhat 8 so far is that it is the nicest WORKSTATION linux distro that i have tried so far, yet it is far from perfect or bug free and it did take me a little while to get some stupid setups fixed. And it still has a bunch of small bugs and oddities, but i find this to be true for ALL linux distros, including debian. If nothing else, then i think redhat 8.1 will be interesting as redhat has a history of making shoddy .0 releases with dramatically improved .1 and .2 versions.

I dont see what all the whining is about..
by pherthyl on Mon 21st Oct 2002 05:27 UTC

Even though debian really isn't targeted at the end user, I'm always surprised how well it actually works as a desktop machine.. Before I installed Debian I'd messed around with some distros (Mandrake, Caldera, the usual "easy" ones) but no matter how much I tried I always ran into a problem I just couldnt get past. The annoyances just wouldnt stop and I would ask myself after a week why the hell I even bothered and went back to windows.
The first time I tried debian it worked great. The installer was technical but if you spent about 15 seconds on each screen reading what it actually said, you would be fine. Its very well explained and quite logical. This was around the 2.2r1 days. Now I've been using it for well over a year and it just gets better and better. I recently tried redhat 8 and was absolutely horrified. Yes it looks pretty but basic useability is just lacking. I seriously spent 20 minutes trying to figure out how to get a list of programs that I could install and I still have no clue how to do that.
I dont know what it is about debian but it took me about 30 seconds to figure out how to install xfree86 and that was using dselect (aptitude is much suoperior).
Sure it would be nice to have some common defaults set for desktop use but its not essential, most things can be figured out fairly easily.
I think the reason why debian gets such bad reviews overall is that reviewers only install the system, play around with it for a few minutes and delete it again. So they run into the text based installer and conclude that debian is behind the times. But a system should be judged on how easy it is to use, and nothing, not even windows can beat debian after you get used to it.

Interesting posts & info
by Jay on Mon 21st Oct 2002 06:21 UTC

I was one of the ones who posted at the beginning of this thread asking for more information about Debian. I've really learned a lot about it from people's postings.

I've noticed that there has developed a certain defensiveness in talking about Linux - I mean among the various stripes of Linux users. I don't mean in this thread particularly, but in general.

Many seem to interpret questions or comments as attacks on their favorite distro and react defensively. In one way, it shows the incredible depth and breadth that Linux has achieved - to have distributions ranging from Debian and Vector Linux to Lycoris and Lindows. It has been and is amazing to see all this happen over the past few years. And, of course, it all has to do with OSS and the GPL.

I do have a suggestion for everyone - myself included. We must not react to remarks with defensiveness or anger, presuming that a person is trolling (although, of course, a person may, in fact, be trolling:-). Those of us who are interested in OSS and Linux should really stick together, at least in the sense that constructive criticism or questions are nor seen as attacks or that we presume certain things.

For example, I would never presume that Debian or Slackware or Gentoo should become Joe User distros, become Lycoris or Lindows. LOL, it seems like some feel there is a silent conspiricy to try and dumb down the geekier Linux distros, but there really isn't at all. Here at OS News, some may get that impression because, especially as a UI person, Eugenia always talks about OSes as the end user would see them and I too tend to see things in that light. But, of course, it depends on who the end users are, what their level of skill and knowledge are and what the product is intended for, who it is intended for. So, I think if we keep those things in mind, it is easier to avoid confusion and misunderstandings.

At any rate, there have been some great posts here and I leanred a lot, as I said. But, if Eugenia hadn't asked that question about Debian, this thread may have ended up being one of those ones with only a few comments. Thanks for all the great info!

Debian-Knoppix Installation on Harddisk
by Wim Salomons on Mon 21st Oct 2002 07:32 UTC

Instruction (in German) but self-explanatory due to the many screen shots can be found at: http://www.pl-berichte.de/berichte/knoppix_hdinstall/knoppix-hdinst...

Debian from the beginning
by William Ray Barker on Mon 21st Oct 2002 07:35 UTC

When I first got my PC in 1997 I was almost scared to use Windows since all I knew up till then was Solaris. My dad was an IBM mainframe workers so thats all I knew was UNIX up till then using Solaris. Debian was the best thing I could use at the time since I could install a base, then download and install Debain by modem (took over a day) then even update it every single day. I was using CHAP and Debian had the best modem tool at the time. Debian as a whole was perfect to learn the differences between Solaris and Linux and it was perfect because at the time RedHat was famous for doing everything the RedHat way. RedHat at the time was actually a joke, if you knew someone even using RedHat you would laugh, laugh because of security, laugh for every reason you could think of. Now it is different.

The next time I tried Debian was this year and I was surprised to see it was pretty much the same thing, not only that but it wasn't update that much. Basically it was the same system but you just did a lot of updates all at once. Even the term Potato and Potato Debian was being used in 97.

The only reason I use RedHat now, is one reason... It has money behind it, and company's behind it. I don't think it's the best, nor the easiest, but it's the best all around you can get. Just because of that reason.

I feel now Debian is the FreeBSD of Linux... if you want to do things the old fashioned way, and you want to do everything manually so everything is designed for you then Debian is for you. If you want things setup for typical use then use something else.

I don't really have the time to use Debian so I don't use it anymore... Debian is a hoppy, or a tool for someone that is really paraniod and want to be up to date every second of a day. Unlike other Linux you can use other vendors and welcome other users Debian users are hardcore to Debian, as in a friend I have. It's either Debian or death to all. As like I said... I have a friend that updates his Debian daily... which in a way is good to get rid of bugs on the spot, I guess...

PGI
by Strass on Mon 21st Oct 2002 08:38 UTC

There is some works to build a better installation system in the pipeline. I'm so astonished that nobody mention it...
It comes from the debian based distribution Progeny :

http://packages.debian.org/unstable/admin/pgi.html
http://hackers.progeny.com/pgi/

Where to get Debian Unstable CD?
by Rimmer on Mon 21st Oct 2002 08:42 UTC

I'm curious... where can I get a CD? Hopefully someplace other then Cheapbytes. I ordered 13 days ago and my Pink Tie (Redhat 8 clone) still hasn't managed to make it from California to Nevada. And because they would only ship by US mail (unless I bought 2 distributions), I can't track the dang thing to see where its at.

The thing I like in Debian
by Toozen on Mon 21st Oct 2002 09:36 UTC

The installer is so simple that I can install it anywere, half asleep, with only one finger.
So bad, once it's installed it works for years.

disgusted.
by al on Mon 21st Oct 2002 10:28 UTC

i cannot believe the lack of ability on the authors part.
put simply, he is a neophyte and should stay well away from debian. He wants a windows version of linux. with all the nice guis etc.. bells and whistles. He dosent want to learn the finer nuances of linux.
I am appauled by his review. He is simply not qualified to be anywhere near competent or accurate in his comments.

I see 2 streams of distros. 1. The windows want to be. 2. The linux distros that actually resemble linux/unix.
Lets keep linux linux please.

Eugenia
by ealm on Mon 21st Oct 2002 11:39 UTC

It would be really interesting if you could comment on my answers above, to you. Since I tried to give response on all your questions/thoughts/critics. It seems to me that these are issues that you keep bringing up on all Linux dists. While they may be applicable to "pure desktop dists", I find them mostly irrelevant to debian.

Your view on Linux seem to be that it should compete with XP/BeOS, and no desktop-irrelevant features have any value.

Of course these are just my impressions of your expressions.

Sincerely //ealm

Simplicity+stability better than complexity+stability
by BeRReGoN on Mon 21st Oct 2002 13:51 UTC

When you use a dstribution there is a reason for it, maybee you want stability and servers some want desktop distribution, others want to create software and more but for all of this after you spent freetime with the fun of building thing from scratch, which distribution will survive or at least become more popular is the one that can bring simplicity and stability in the same time. If you tell me that Debian doesn't want more people using their distribution, that they want to stay just absolut expert linux user (why not only the one involved in it) using it well they doing right. Maybee i should create a distribution only for me i will call it BeRReGoN's linux Distribution with only me who know how to install it configure it for sure all other fear to use it ;)

What's your point?

Hurd
by Andrew on Mon 21st Oct 2002 14:49 UTC

Does anybody know if Hurd is developing much. When I have checked on it, it seems like nothing much is happening.

Also I see that partitions are limited to about a gig. How will massive databases be handled? Just doesn't seem practical.

Now to the "technical users"
by rajan r on Mon 21st Oct 2002 15:10 UTC

I wonder.... is it so hard to rename "nv" as NVidia? Or "EN" as English, and thereafter.... Is it that hard to get rid of that horrid thing I never figured out called dselect? Nope, I doubt it. Making it explanatory doesn't makes it a non-technical distribution. But it would make it easier for people to get into it. It wouldn't make people use it for the first distributions - that's what Libranet, Xandros and Lindows is for...

Just think about that. Cleaning up the stuff to be less confusing won't make it any less geared for technical users. It wouldn't stop gurus from using it. What it would make is more Linux gurus, and the world needs them :-) (we must outweigh the Average Joe that might one day flock to Linux and cause all kinds of trouble like viruses....).

"Works for me" doesn't work anymore.

How Long Has This Article Been Needed?
by it_should_be_possible on Mon 21st Oct 2002 15:48 UTC

I am so glad someone was finally willing to speak the truth about Debian. The installer is totally useless and does not work. Period. As I have read through these comments, I have noticed the typical Debian responses. All of the wonders of Debian are recounted in amazing and glorious detail. We hear how amazing apt-get is (and it is). We hear about the astounding number of architectures Debain supports (and it does). We hear about the extremely high number of packages which Debian supports (also true). Yet, can anyone see, know and learn the wonders of Debian, if it can not be successfully installed? The answer is, NO!. Compare the Debian install to Redhat or Mandrake. Redhat and Mandrake are a breeze to install. At this point, the Debian user will launch into the "RPM and Dependency Hell" as well as the "If you know what you are doing you don't need a graphical install" modes. Yet, FreeBSD does not have a graphical install. FreeBSD is as easy to install as Redhat or Mandrake, IMHO. FreeBSD install is logical and intuitive, as well as simple to understand. If FreeBSD can do it, why can't Debian? Compare the Debian install to Gentoo or Linux from Scratch. Neither of these two distros have an installer, yet the installs are simple, straight-forward, logical and achievable. How is it that these two distros, having no installer, can wipe Debian's floor when it comes to installation?
Debian risks becoming irrelevant. Will Debian choose to satisfy the .05% of the population who has attuned themselves to the awful interface of the Debian installer? Or will Debian choose to improve the installer interface so that mere mortals can actually use it and have it work? If the latter, then Debian remains relevant. If the former, then not.

Re: rajan r
by Richard Fillion on Mon 21st Oct 2002 16:47 UTC

I wonder.... is it so hard to rename "nv" as NVidia? Or "EN" as English, and thereafter.... Is it that hard to get rid of that horrid thing I never figured out called dselect?

I ask you, is it so hard to figure out that "en" is for english "fr" is for french... For crying out loud, thats what windows has for "internat" in the tray isnt it? As far as video cards, i dont think its too much for people to know that their video card has an nvidia chip on it, and of the choices "ati", "s3" and "nv", which would make more sense? Its just a matter of logic.

I never suggest a newbie linux user to run debian. It's just not realistic, and i understand that. But once you are used to linux, and possibly want to learn more about LINUX, and not a windows-clone, i think debian is a good choice. I dont use linux cause i hate microsoft, i use it cause i like linux/unix.

As far as dselect goes, its horrid, but it works, nicely at that. It requires actually _reading_ the help though, dear god i've hurt my system trying to figure it out on my own.

ahhh...the vocal minority...
by bytes256 on Mon 21st Oct 2002 17:35 UTC

how come whenever someone criticizes your favorite linux/unix distribution, the zealots all come out to defend their system with the same tired arguments...

the concerns expressed here are legitimate concerns...and by the way my favorite *nix isn't linux it's FreeBSD, but i'll readily admit there are lots of problems with it. The installer for FreeBSD ain't a whole lot better and requires a little bit of practice...but it certainly is far more intuitive to me, not that that matters...

the point here is...the installer needs refreshing, so instead of defending it, recode it...or accept that your distro has limitations...yeah apt-get is great (nearly as cool as ports), but ya gotta get debian on your system first, and package management is not the be-all-end-all issue for deciding amongst *nix distros

just my coupla pennies

-bytes256

Debian doesn't need to compete
by Chris on Mon 21st Oct 2002 19:01 UTC

I've read at least 3 posts that say, "Debian needs to do X to compete." The philosophy of the Debian distro is that it does NOT need to compete with other distros. RedHat, Mandrake, etc. do need to compete because they are driven by financial forces. These are actual companies that need to make money to survive. Debian is run by people who put in spare time (for the most part) to keep it running. The servers are kept up by donations from many different parties (in monetary form as well as servers, bandwidth, etc.).

I've seen way too many so-called "reviews" of Linux distros that spend 80% of the time reviewing the installation process when the installation process is only the first hour or even less of exposure to the distro. Though it's true Debian's installer is not user friendly by any means for someone who doesn't know what they're doing, that's not Debian's strong point. When I install now, I IGNORE dselect, use tasksel to install basic X, desktop stuff, and development stuff. From there I just apt-get install any apps that I see that I need. After that, I just do an apt-get update; apt-get dist-upgrade every once in a while and I get all the latest versions of my software. This means that I don't need to download and burn CDs every time I want to upgrade all my software (with possibly losing any updates I've already added that are newer than the versions provided by the latest distro version).

Debian Vs. The User
by Long Pai-Te on Mon 21st Oct 2002 19:20 UTC

There has been a lot of valuable talk in this thread concerning Debian and its installation, and, more fascinating, talk of what its focus (goal) should be. Heretofor it has been the exclusive zone of the guru. But in recent years Corel, Progeny, Stormix, and a few others have labored to make Debian accessible to the Linux masses. Only Libranet has succeeded, and rather handsomely so. That so many have tried and failed should be a wake-up call to the Debian team.

The silence of that team makes me wonder if they are simply trying to play in a private playground. Flame me if your insecurity demands it, but I propose that the primal notion of Linux is that it was to be accessible to people. If we were to ask Linus, would he approve that his creation was/is only for a programming elite? Because that is the premise that the Debian team seem to be operating under. A premise supported by many of the responses in this very thread.

Debian IS the best of Linux, undoubtedly. For that very reason it should be as accessible as possible to all who wish to use and support it.

To this end, the graphical installer talked about here on OSnews'is a great start. dselect, though logically/intellectually superb, is still lacking, as it lacks intuitiveness. That is a requirement today. Intelligence, and logic, are useless if they aren't applied in a forward manner. To do any less is, forgive my frankness, an intellectual 'circle-jerk'.

Debian needs to do more to keep pace with the times. For two years, company after company has tried to make Debian more accessible to the masses, and failed because Debian is (quite simply) too darned far behind the times, when it comes to programs a user wishes to use.

Debian is embarking upon a self-serving downward spiral, and it'll take Linux with it. I hope the Debian team might find the balance before it's too late.

Re: Debian Vs. The User
by ealm on Mon 21st Oct 2002 19:33 UTC

Debian needs to do more to keep pace with the times.... too darned far behind the times, when it comes to programs a user wishes to use.

Really? KDE is the only thing I can come to think of that's not up-to-date in the MAIN unstable branch (there are sevreal non-official sources and one official for 3.0.4 - ftp.kde.org)... but it's only because they're doing some magic with the KDE packages from ground up, preparing DEBs for the 3.1 release. There after it's supposed to keep being up-to-date in unstable branch.


Debian is embarking upon a self-serving downward spiral, and it'll take Linux with it. I hope the Debian team might find the balance before it's too late.

Still it gets reportedly more and more users, odd...


About your blamings on the Debian developers for Companies not being able to succesfully make use of Debian - to me it seems Lindows and Lycoris could be pretty succesful.

Elitism?
by Long Pai-Te on Mon 21st Oct 2002 19:56 UTC

Ealm,
You're right, but you're also paraphrasing me. More and more wish to use Debian... and when they try, soon find they can't. The obtuseness in the Debian install seems almost intentional. Elitism is unbecoming of Linux, and that is exactly the notion left with many people after a Debian install, and (quite frankly), that is the notion many in this thread have been purporting. I have to wonder aloud: Just say it, is Debian for any Linux user, or for the few who can solve its enigmatic installation, only to face days of downloads and configuration? Debian's methods are ancient, and quite frankly, self-defeating.

Re: Elitism?
by ealm on Mon 21st Oct 2002 20:20 UTC

I have to wonder aloud: Just say it, is Debian for any Linux user...

No, it's not


...or for the few who can solve its enigmatic installation...

I happen to like Debians installation since it's so straight forward and fast.


...only to face days of downloads and configuration?

Days of download?
Sure - if you do a ftp install over 56k modem. That's the case with any dist, only in a typical redhat/suse/mandrake installation you need to download tons of more crap to get it up with their tools and custom desktops.
Days of configuration?
Well... problem for me with all these nifty setup tools found in other dists is that they never get their things set up exactly the way I want it, so I still end up doing all the config manually, just messing things up...
The "native" way to set up different apps and libs usually is the best. For us who wants it like this we have debian.
It seems really stupid for me to start making our own dist in a way we don't want it only because some people who can't handle things our way want us to develop for them rather than for ourselves.


Debian's methods are ancient, and quite frankly, self-defeating.

That's my point. I don't find Debian ancient. You do. Debian isn't what you want. So just don't use it!

Irrelevant? Elitist?
by Tugrul Galatali on Mon 21st Oct 2002 21:16 UTC

I'm not sure why some people seem bent on making us feel guilty for doing stuff our way.

Debian is like a politician that doesn't take contributions to fund his campaigns. It doesn't need to answer to anyone. The guys running the show do what they want. And they will tend to scratch their own itches, which also happened to be shared by a substantial group of people.

If you don't like that installer, that is your itch. Scratch it yourself. If you don't want to, or can't, then relish in the availability of options and use one of the other distributions that have your interests in mind.

But don't expect to get anywhere by complaining here. I'm sure that all of the "improvements" mentioned here have crossed the minds of the multitude of people working on Debian. Whatever they've chosen to do about them, this discussion isn't going to change their mind.

And there is nothing elitist about that. Its rather ungrateful to tell volunteers what they should be doing, or to tell them they are irrelevant because you don't like their work. The review itself seemed fine (can't pull up debianplanet to look over it again), but some of the posts here have started crossing the line.

Finally!
by Larry on Tue 22nd Oct 2002 00:38 UTC

I've been waiting forever for someone to say "that's the way Debian is. If you don't like it, use something else!"

Actually, I thought the review also crossed the line. I almost registered at their site to join the flame war, and I don't even like Debian!

This whole thing seems to me like going to a burger joint and complaining because they don't have chicken.

Re: Irrelevant? Elitist?
by Anonymous on Tue 22nd Oct 2002 02:53 UTC

If you don't like that installer, that is your itch. Scratch it yourself. If you don't want to, or can't, then relish in the availability of options and use one of the other distributions that have your interests in mind.

But don't expect to get anywhere by complaining here. I'm sure that all of the "improvements" mentioned here have crossed the minds of the multitude of people working on Debian. Whatever they've chosen to do about them, this discussion isn't going to change their mind.


You guys oughtta invite Theo de Raadt over as a Debian developer. Your project's 'tude sounds more like OpenBSD's than anything else.