Linked by Michael Katsevman on Thu 6th Nov 2003 19:33 UTC
Debian and its clones Debian is widely considered the Linux distribution with the best package management tool, APT and one of the largest software bases (>13,000). However, the installation horror stories kept me away. Nevertheless, eager to try it out, I failed to install various other Debian GNU/Linux based distributions. Some failed to boot even after I tried to reinstall for the fourth time, and others just couldn't detect my hardware. While Knoppix is highly recommended, I decided to stick with hard-drive based distros (Although it is the distribution of choice for LiveCDs). Then came Libranet.
Order by: Score:
Install problems?
by Rayiner Hashem on Thu 6th Nov 2003 19:42 UTC

I'm curious --- what Debian-based distros did you try that gave you install problems? I just tried a Morphix install for a friend, and it was easy as pie. Literally there are just 7 steps --- basically point it at a partition and let it go.

Its odd, though. I've installed Linux on some weird hardware (SiS chipsets --- they're shit, don't buy them) and none have had install problems like that. Maybe its just the hardware I run --- tend to stick to Intel more than AMD.

RE: Install problems?
by jstn on Thu 6th Nov 2003 19:54 UTC


...and none have had install problems like that. Maybe its just the hardware I run --- tend to stick to Intel more than AMD.


And by that you are implying...

Trolls, jeesh.

- j

USB troubles for me.
by HagerR15 on Thu 6th Nov 2003 20:04 UTC

I tried installing "Sarge" this past week, and throughout the initial net installation, everything worked fine. As soon as it rebooted for downloading the rest of the packages, it would no longer see my USB keyboard. Odder still, is that it had no trouble seeing my USB mouse which was connected through my keyboard. I tried again with a PS/2 mouse to see if it was hiding the keyboard from it, but same result. I finished the third attempt with a PS/2 keyboard borrowed from my wife's computer, but even after reconfiguring X to see my USB keyboard after a reboot, it just could never see it.

I gave up, (probably a little early), and went to Fedora Core 1.

I am interested in trying Libranet someday, however.

Re: Install problems?
by Joe on Thu 6th Nov 2003 20:13 UTC

Easy as pie indeed. I've been running Knoppix, Morphix (Light, Gnome & KDE), and DSL. All Debian based distros that are live CDs but I installed to harddrive. I've ran them all on 4 different PCs, with little or no install problems. All these distros use the excellent Knoppix hardware detect/install script. The only problem I have is using two sources, testing & unstable. I just remove the unstable source and been running fine with pure testing and apt.

i can see how debian
by Anonymous on Thu 6th Nov 2003 20:15 UTC

would be a tough install on recent hardware.

i just started running debian (because of the redhat/fedora news) in preparation to migrate my servers.

i had to find an older machine to install on, but it went smoothly. upgraded to testing(sarge?) and all is good.

but newer systems, i have no idea how anyone installs it on newer chipsets

promise controllers, via and nvidia chipsets, etc etc'd be toast.

Choice is good
by Free Loader on Thu 6th Nov 2003 20:25 UTC

The Morphix site recently announced that they are currently porting some RedHat/Fedora's config tools to Morphix/Debian. Morphix has several advantages over Libranet: it is free as beer, the live-CD can be used as a rescue disc, and it's 100% Debian sid compatible so that there are no difficulties in updating software via apt-get. The only minus is that at the moment Morphix is still under heavy development and the parts that are not directly from Debian are likely to be buggy.

by Rayiner Hashem on Thu 6th Nov 2003 20:29 UTC

Relax, I've got a couple of AMD machines at home. Its just that AMD supporting chipsets tend to be a little flaky. An Intel CPU is usually paired with an Intel chipset. Intel chipsets have granitic stability. AMD stuff often uses a VIA or SiS chipset. There are a lot of chipsets from both companies that have had issues to say the least. I remember that the VIA chipsets needed special drivers in Windows (4-in-1 was it?) and that SiS had irritating issues with UDMA on some hard drives.

Rayiner, justin
by Eugenia on Thu 6th Nov 2003 20:30 UTC

Please get on topic, AMD Vs Intel is not our topic today. Thank you.

debian and xfree
by a.zapatista on Thu 6th Nov 2003 20:45 UTC

libranet sounds quite good, i'd like to check out debian but does anyone know why xfree 4.3.0 is not in unstable yet its been out for a while now

v offtopic
by Anonymous on Thu 6th Nov 2003 20:52 UTC
Final Verdict: 8/10?
by robelanator on Thu 6th Nov 2003 20:59 UTC

Considering that it failed to recognize his sound card without manual intervention, some programs were broken "straight out of the box" (based on his statement that Bubbles failed to run w/o apt-upgrading), and it came with older versions programs (KDE and the kernel were mentioned in specific) I think this score is a bit high.

Also, it's not much of a review of Libranet 2.7 if you're doing an apt-get dist-upgrade after installation.

If anyone is looking for an easy way to install Debian, I'd still recommend Knoppix. It comes with an GUI installation program and its hardware autodetection is top notch. Plus it's reasonably up-to-date as far as packages go.

Just my $0.02.

apt the best package managment tool?
by frymaster on Thu 6th Nov 2003 21:22 UTC

there's stiff competition from:


and portage

once you use these, apt doesn't look like the mind-blowing-saviour-of-package-management any more.

Knoppix, Morphix, etc.
by Michael K. on Thu 6th Nov 2003 21:46 UTC

I use Knoppix regularly and I adore it. However, this was a Libranet review, and not a Knoppix one. I did not have quite as much experience with Morphix, which is based on Knoppix (I don't really know what the difference is). Libranet 2.7 is, again, their old version that was released for free. Their Flagship Edition (2.8.1) is much more complete and up-to-date.

However, for a simple Debian install, Libranet 2.7 is perfect! It doesn't come with all the bloat that Knoppix does! Personally, as long as it fast, bloat's my best friend, but not always. If you want to run a server, and you are dead-set on using Debian, I would suggest Libranet instead of regular Debian. Why? Because you don't have to muck around as much!

And about APT: It is not the start-all-end-all of package management. But it does seem to be the "standard". Sure, there's yum, and portage, and urpmi, but they are not quite as comprehensive (not even close) as Debian repository.

APT might not be the ultimate but it amazingly convenient and accessible, and with synaptic (whom I do *not* like as much as consoe) it becomes much more powerful.

Yum has indeed intrigued me, and I intend to have a serious go at Fedora Core 1 when I'm done with other things I'm doing (I did have a quintuple booting machine once, and I did not enjoy the experience much... Windows didn't like it... *sigh*).


v Why not just rename osnews?
by Anonymous on Thu 6th Nov 2003 22:12 UTC
RE: Knoppix, Morphix, etc.
by robelanator on Thu 6th Nov 2003 22:15 UTC

"I use Knoppix regularly and I adore it. However, this was a Libranet review, and not a Knoppix one. I did not have quite as much experience with Morphix, which is based on Knoppix (I don't really know what the difference is).

Morphix has more versions and is more easily customized to tastes. You can download a GNOME only version, a KDE only version, an XFCE version, a gaming version (with nvidia drivers and some games included).

Libranet 2.7 is, again, their old version that was released for free. Their Flagship Edition (2.8.1) is much more complete and up-to-date."

You have to pay for the flagship edition, though, right? Knoppix and Morphix are both free.

However, for a simple Debian install, Libranet 2.7 is perfect! It doesn't come with all the bloat that Knoppix does! Personally, as long as it fast, bloat's my best friend, but not always.

Knoppix is just under 3gigs installed. You can trim that down if you want using apt or dselect to remove packages you don't need.

Morphix can be waaay smaller depending on which version you choose to install.

Just out of curiousity, what is the size of a full Libranet 2.7 and 2.8 installation?

RE: the difference between Knoppix and Morphix
by Free Loader on Thu 6th Nov 2003 22:18 UTC

A bit offtopic, but the idea of Morphix is modularity - you can choose from ready-made modules and 'morph' your own live-CD that contains only software that you need and no bloat. Morphix also offers tools that enable you to build your own modules. Or you can just choose from a couple of different already 'morphed' iso-images and maybe 'throw in' some additional Debian packages that you want. Morphix also has an easy installer that basically just installs the live-CD to hard drive. Oh, and Morphix uses Knoppix's automatic hardware detection. So Morphix adds modularity and choice to Knoppix. Choice is good.

by Cal on Thu 6th Nov 2003 22:32 UTC

free Loader, thanks for pointing out the Morphix project. That was the first time I had ever heard of it. Since I've been looking to get my feet wet with linux for a while this looked like a good place to start. I downloaded the light ISO and had it booted in VMware in less the thirty mins. Its pretty cool. I'm posting this message from the copy of fire bird that comes on the CD. Fantastic. It was so easy I'm about to give it a shot om real hardware.

Morphix and so on...
by Michael K. on Thu 6th Nov 2003 22:36 UTC

You know what? The idea is great, and freedom is awesome, but there's a catch for me (in specific). I don't like to muck around. I want it to be out of the box, which I'm sure Morphix is, but it distinguishes itself from very similiar alternatives by what seems to be only that freedom. I want my LiveCD to be downloaded, burnt and ready to go! That's why Knoppix bloat is good, it has anything I might ever want on it.

Libranet is the same thing for Debian. You can get whatever you want, but more easily, and it works out of the box. You can add more things, or remove, if you want.

Also, I did not express it clearly, Frozen Bubble did not come with the system, I APTed it, and apparently the woody system 2.7 is didn't quite support it, but sarge did.

Another comment: Yeah, now that I think about it, the scores are indeed a lil bit bloated, I would just decrease everything by one point to put it more in perspective.
Libranet 2.7 is a small Debian that works right away with lots of hardware. I was not comparing it to Knoppix or Morphix, which should not be done as 2.7 isn't a LiveCD distro, which is what K and M are their core.

In fact, I am in the process of writing about Vector Linux, and I think that accomplishes what 2.7 does even better.

Also, it seems to me that Libranet 2.8.1 is superb. Just not free. It makes Debian easy, easy, easy! If I was in the market of buying Linux-based distros, 2.8.1 would most definetely be on my list to get.


Live DVD ???
by Darius on Thu 6th Nov 2003 22:42 UTC

For those of us with DVD burners, any of these distros allow you to download a DVD ISO with everything but the kitchen sink ? ;)

RE: Live DVD ???
by Cal on Thu 6th Nov 2003 22:48 UTC

Darius do you mean a Live ISO or a regualar installation iso? Debian has that Jigdo tool with at least one ready made DVD template.

re: rayiner
by Phuzzi on Thu 6th Nov 2003 23:01 UTC

I've installed Linux on some weird hardware (SiS chipsets --- they're shit, don't buy them)

I'd hardly make SiS sound quite so esoteric. Quite apart from the fact that a modern OS like linux shouldn't make you limit your hardware choices, you really are going over the top in slagging SiS off. I can think of 'bad' chipsets from every company (except maybe Intel) but SiS are quite fine these days.

by Rayiner Hashem on Thu 6th Nov 2003 23:06 UTC

For the record, Linux actually supports SiS chipsets rather well. DRI and everything. They've just been the source of the only real problems I've ever had with PC motherboards.

Debian vs Libranet
by AnonCoward on Thu 6th Nov 2003 23:40 UTC

Which way was this article heading:
Debian or Libranet???

Shortly after installing libranet he went and upgraded?? Sorry??
Is it me... or am i missing something???

Re: Debian vs Libranet (by anonCoward)
by DebianLover on Fri 7th Nov 2003 01:36 UTC

Sorry, but you are indeed missing the point.
Libranet IS Debian.
Even if you buy the latest Libranet version on the same day of its release, you can already upgrade it.
It is the nature of Debian (except of course if you run Woody/stable): there are people who started years ago with a now obsolete release and kept upgrading it all the time.
Today they have a beautiful Sid/unstable system.

Apt vs Yum/urpmi
by Anonymous on Fri 7th Nov 2003 01:54 UTC

I tend to think that people who are claiming that Yum/urpmi are as good as apt are missing a fundamental point. The great thing about apt is that you can update your entire system to more or less the latest packages forever(relatively speaking ;) ). Where as urpmi and yum (I assume) work well when you have a current version of the distro but as soon as a new version is released everyone starts making packages for the new version and you are then forced to either upgrade your entire distro every 6 months or not able to update your packages.

Don't get me wrong here I find urpmi a very useful tool, but I don't want to have to go through the pain of having to try and upgrade my distro every six months, which is why apt is so good. When I can install Fedora or Mandrake once and then keep it upgraded for at least two years before doing a new install I'll be a very happy punter.

Knoppix/Morphix vs Libranet
by DebianLover on Fri 7th Nov 2003 01:56 UTC

I find those comparisons between Knoppix/Morphix at the one side and Libranet on the other side a bit out of place.
I absolutely love all of them, but they have different purposes: Knoppix/Morphix are absolutely BEAUTIFUL as live CDs, but they don't have a terribly good HD installer.
Besides they miss many of the configuration tools, support for commercial packages, etc that make Libranet an excellent Desktop OS installer. (and BTW I mean Libranet 2.8.1)

v Free
by Anonymous on Fri 7th Nov 2003 02:28 UTC
Question for the author
by Mutiny on Fri 7th Nov 2003 03:12 UTC

After doing the upgrade to sarge, were all the special Libranet tools still there and functioning?

I've had problems in the past with upgrades removing extra functionality applications and even core packages from other Debian based distros.


To: Mutiny
by DebianLover on Fri 7th Nov 2003 03:49 UTC

Sorry, your post is not addressed to me, but I know the answer. The 'special Libranet tools' are in fact debs.
Therefore if apt doesn't find a newer version and if there aren't dependency issues (very unlike) they are left well alone.

Libranet is Debian is right
by pixelmonkey on Fri 7th Nov 2003 06:34 UTC

There is nothing wrong with reviewing Libranet after upgrading to the latest sarge.

Libranet is a 100% compatible Debian distro; what you pay for is:
a) 2 CDs with the best packages selected from Debian repositories (sarge in 2.8) so that you don't have to download them.
b) Custom-compiled applications for desktop users... for example, XFree86 is custom-compiled to 4.3, whereas Debian is still running 4.2.1, even in unstable. Evolution and Galeon are also custom-compiled, among others.
c) Access to the Libranet repository, where new sarge-compatible, higher version Debian packages show up often.
d) Better hardware detection, Nvidia support out of the box, etc.
e) Graphical installation program that's a lot better than boot-floppies (not tough to beat).
f) Up-and-running e-mail support.
g) XAdminmenu and adminmenu, for access to lots of useful scripts (some of which were talked about in this review).

The fact that you can upgrade to Debian from Libranet is a FEATURE, not a disadvantage. A Debian-based distro that can't be upgraded to a different Debian branch is _NOT_ really Debian-based. With Libranet, if you upgrade properly, things don't break. I upgraded to sid recently without problems... before that I was pinning sid and running sarge.

IMO, Libranet is last _real_ commercial Debian that has been worth it since Progeny Enhanced.

If anaconda Debian CDs start surfacing, Libranet may be less necessary (X 4.3 can be found from unofficial repositories, along with other "bleeding-edge" packages) but it is still a great distro.

Braver than I thought
by Lennart Fridén on Fri 7th Nov 2003 07:33 UTC

"I proceeded to my test machine; running Windows XP sprawled over the full capacity of the 80 GB drive...Partition Magic quickly and painlessly created a 256 MB Swap partition, using the good ol? RAM x 2 rule of thumb, and a 25 GB ext3 partition."

Is (has) this guy (been) running WindowsXP on a machine with 128 MB RAM? He's braver than I thought...

Re: Libranet is Debian is right
by dpi on Fri 7th Nov 2003 14:35 UTC

Thanks for your interesting comment. Now i know how i can recommend ''user-friendly'' Debian GNU/Linux to a friend who wants to start with GNU/Linux ;)

You are wrong on one point, though. It isn't ''Debian'' the name is ''Debian GNU/Linux''. There is also ''Debian GNU/Hurd'' and ''Debian GNU/NetBSD'', for example.

I'm wondering, are there also alternatives for Libranet, which are based on Debian GNU/Linux (or APT, or use .deb)? If so, can someone sum these up?

RE: Alternatives for Libranet
by Free Loader on Fri 7th Nov 2003 15:12 UTC

Yes, there are plenty of distros that are based on Debian GNU/Linux. Some of these are:
- Debian
- Knoppix
- Damn Small Linux
- Mepis
- Morphix
- Gnoppix
- Bonzai

You can check out short descriptions of each distro, plus a list of what software versions they currently have, in

Libranet is good, but choice is also good. :^)

I use (or have used) all of the distributions that people have mentioned here (and more). I have Corel Linux, Knoppix, Libranet, LindowsOS, Mepis, Morphix, and Xandros. I have not yet had a chance to try out Gnoppix though.

I find Libranet, without a doubt, to be the most complete distribution of any of the ones I've mentioned. If completeness is important, give Libranet an A. I also find Libranet to be the most improved of the Debian distributions, and perhaps of any distribution. I first tried using the Libranet 1.9.1 release. It was excellent, but it was not very well documented, nor did it have a disk partition tool that was accessible during installation. By the 2.7 release, both of these issues had been resolved.

The 2.8 and 2.8.1 releases are incredible. The Web site and other information that's available to support the installation and configuration of Libranet is excellent. Out of all of the Debian based distributions I can think of, only LindowsOS and Xandros can compare. LindowsOS is even easier to install, but it's neither as complete nor does it address as broad a market - LindowsOS is very nicely geared to the consumer but definitely not to the geek. Xandros is the best documented of any Debian distro and one of the best documented of any Linux distro, but it's conservative, older software, best suited to stable environments that interact with Windows systems.

Mepis is an excellent LiveCD distribution. I recommend it for anyone who wants to start out with a LiveCD that can later be installed on the hard disk. It comes with plenty of software. Even so, Libranet still reigns as the most complete distro. Mepis and Libranet are my two Debian favorites, without a doubt - at least for my hobbyist interests.

Libranet 2.7 vs knoppix
by Jerry on Fri 7th Nov 2003 23:40 UTC

For my 3 older pcs, Libranet 2.7, would not install without a lot of handhammering..Sound and NIC just wouldnt come together without work. Libranet 2.0 installed fine on one of them... Knoppix installed flawlessly on all 3..For the newbie.. get Knoppix.. It will tell you in 10 minutes if you have ANY hardware issues. It will install to harddrive in probably less than 30 minutes.. and it's reasonablely loaded with software,., and it s Debian.. Hardware incompatibility will make you believe in free downloads... There's nothing like paying $50 for a distro and then having to spend 12 hours making it work, changing cards, settings and so on..
In my experience, Knoppix has been much more installable than ANY of the store-bought distros that I've tried. (6+). And when somebody brings over a Dell Optiplex g1 and wants Windows installed, instead of chasing drivers all over the place, I suggest Knoppix which installs rapidly, I can install Knoppix faster than I can even identify the missing drivers for Windows. (Ok so I am not very smart, but Knoppix works..) Knoppix can be, and is, easier to install on a windows computer than windows..
Knoppix isn't perfect.. I still like Slackware better.. but Knoppix installs faster and gives a most adequate distribution. The other note mentioned the bloat, and I cant argue with that.. Ifn you aint got 3 gig of harddrive space, Knoppix is too big...

Did the author check his facts carefully?

The following comments apply to the paid-for versions of Libranet which I have owned since 1.9.1. It would surprise me if the developers took features out of the 2.7 Classic downloadable version.

There _are_ filesystem choices: ext2, ext3 and ReiserFS are all user-selectable. This has been available since at least v2.0

ntfsresize is certainly included in v2.8.x and, to the best of my recall, it was also in 2.7. This is the product of a SourceForge project whose rewritten NTFS drivers are also in the 2.5/2.6 series kernel.

Libranet is OK, but...
by Anonymous on Sun 9th Nov 2003 02:37 UTC

These days, most people talk about Libranet as if they were sucking a lollipop.
Libranet is basically fine, but:
1)It depends very much on your hardware. Whilst my laptop seemed to like Libranet most, my new desktop seems to prefer Suse.
2) Upgrading Debian is becoming more and more difficult, and it is happening often to me that an upgrade, or even installing new programs crashes my system
3) Libranet badly needs some more advanced features. Suse beats Libranet hands down. Even Mepis is better from this point of view.
4) Upgrading the kernel should be made easier.
At the moment there are only two ways: downloading a new kernel from or wait (and pay) for the next release (of Libranet)
Unfortunately the first option is not feasible for many users

RE: Libranet is OK, but...
by Free Loader on Sun 9th Nov 2003 05:33 UTC

Upgrading the kernel is actually pretty easy in Debian if you use GRUB as your bootloader. What you need to do is, first, make sure that you have a file called 'kernel-img.conf' in /etc directory and that it has these two lines:
If you don't have this file, create it. Next, install the latest kernel-image from Debian's repository and that's about it. After this 'apt-get dist-upgrade' updates your kernel automatically every time a new Debian kernel-image is released. Enjoy! :^)

Re: Re: Libranet is OK, but...(By Free Loader)
by Anonymous on Sun 9th Nov 2003 07:13 UTC

Thanks! :-)

Libranet based on which debian? installer for woody ?
by Richard Sullivan on Mon 10th Nov 2003 13:19 UTC


I am a new convert to Debian and love it but the install is definitely a pain. I now want to configure a second machine which will have a permanent connection to the internet so it should be very secure. Is running woody is the only way I can be sure of getting all the security updates or will something like libranet give me patches even if it sarge/sid based ?

The second pc is actually a notebook which does not have a CD so some sort of diskette booting scheme will be needed.

If anyone has a better idea than plain old woody I would be very grateful.


Re: Libranet based... (by Richard Sullivan)
by DebianLover on Tue 11th Nov 2003 02:42 UTC

Yes, you'll get the following security patches: from stable/Woody, from Sarge and from Libranet itself. You might also want the the ordinary updates from Libranet.
All you have to do is to run Synaptic and uncheck what you don't want in the repositories list.
All this assuming that you are using 2.8 or 2.8.1 (because I have never seen 2.7-but it should be similar anyway)