Linked by Tyler Bancroft on Wed 18th Feb 2004 20:35 UTC
Debian and its clones I considered reviewing Debian for this article. I downloaded a copy of Debian 3.0r2, making sure to get the disk with the 2.4 kernel. Everything you've heard about Debian being difficult to install? It's not totally true, but it's pretty close. I really wanted to try Debian, though, if only to use the vaunted apt-get system. I'd tried apt-rpm on a previous Red Hat installation, and it was great. Since Debian was turning out to be too difficult to put together, I decided to look for a debian-based distro.
Order by: Score:
Other Debian distros
by TLy on Wed 18th Feb 2004 20:58 UTC

I believe Knoppix is Debian-based right? And Morphix is based on Knoppix. I've used Morphix and installed it onto a hard drive, that is by far the easiest Debian distro to install. However, doing it this way doesn't allow for a more customized install, so afterwards the user would have to do some tweaking/clean up to get the system they really wanted.

Beware of Partition Magic
by Ted Roche on Wed 18th Feb 2004 21:24 UTC

The author mentions that Partition Magic 8 was his friend. I would would read the license carefully - PM seems to be licensed for one and only one machine. That's right - machine, not person! If you have a Knoppix CD, you can get very similar functionality by booting the CD and launching qtparted from a terminal window. It presents a pleasant GUI to resize, move and create partitions.

YDL
by TASTYTASTE on Wed 18th Feb 2004 21:26 UTC

I really enjoy Yellow Dog Linux on my iBook, it's really fast, clean and has a lot of power saving features. Of course, I don't think it would be as nice if it didn't run MacOnLinux 'cause I still need my quicktime, photoshop and itunes.

Re: Ted Roche
by Tyler Bancroft on Wed 18th Feb 2004 21:31 UTC

I have tried that before, and it works quite well on most machines. However, the Dell Inspiron 5150 is one of a very few machines Knoppix and it's derivatives refuse to run on. It's not just me: take a look at the Knoopix forums.

LAC Linux
by saberworks on Wed 18th Feb 2004 21:37 UTC

I purchased a laptop from LACLinux.com last year. It was a bit higher priced than offerings from the major vendors, but on the plus side, they will install and configure most major distributions. Their tech support is excellent - the two issues I had were resolved within hours (and weren't their fault, I might add). They were very friendly and continue to release updateded drivers and whatnot for the laptop components. I chose debian which worked perfectly out of the box. No, I don't work there or have any affiliation, but I am a very happy customer.

nv on 4100
by daaku on Wed 18th Feb 2004 22:02 UTC

I own a inspiron 4100, with a nvidia card and a 1600x1200 res screen, and although not great performance wise, the nv driver does work with it.

Right on
by Thulemanden on Wed 18th Feb 2004 22:32 UTC


>You now get told to remove your installation disk and reboot.

As far as I remember, we are not told to remove it on 2.7 Classic. It just says 'reboot' but does no harm while being inserted.

Maybe the text changed for 2.8?

I would have that clarified with Libranet.

I total agree on the speed and stability, ease of installation and the rational xadmin menu and believe this review will win Libranet many deserved new users.

NVidia drivers
by Tal Danzig on Wed 18th Feb 2004 22:33 UTC

I'd just like to mention that Libranet 2.8.1 includes NVidia drivers already. During auto-detection the driver is listed as "nv", but later on during X configuration you are asked whether you would like to use the binary NVidia drivers instead.

- Tal

Re: Tal Danzig
by Tyler Bancroft on Wed 18th Feb 2004 22:40 UTC

My full apologies. I actually just flicked through my notes and found a scrawled note to myself saying that you *can* install the NVidia drivers. Sorry.

Debian installation
by Anonymous on Wed 18th Feb 2004 23:37 UTC

I installed Debian Woody as my first linux machine, and I'll admit, getting over that hump was pretty difficult. But after that, I've stepped up to Sid, and have been following it ever since. The reason I stuck with it in the beginning was because I understand that you only install the system once, but with software releases coming out at a dizzying pace, apt-get is *invaluble*.

I've recently used the Beta of the new Debian installer and found it to be *much* easier to use than the old version thanks to its excellent hardware and networking detection. I would really like to see a critical review of that installation process by the OSNews team. Since Sarge's release is coming Real Soon Now, that would be a good way to contribute.

Libranet is the best!
by Keith Boone on Thu 19th Feb 2004 00:33 UTC

I've used many other distros, and have settled on Libranet. I
bought 2.8.1 a few weeks ago, and never looked back. I had
no problems with the installation - not that other distros
are hard to install either. The Adminmenu is fantastic, and
yes my system runs FAST - faster than with Redhat 9.0, Suse,
Mandrake etc. I basically agree with the review, except that
where the reviewer found litle quirks, I found completely
smooth sailing. Well done Libranet!

Re: Debian installation
by Stu on Thu 19th Feb 2004 00:57 UTC

I have to say debian was a relatively easy install for me - tho only catch is X configuration (you really need to have your monitor specs to hand)- oh and setting up your partitions (but again, if you've had to play with partitions before you'll work it out). After using this excellent OSnews walkthrough I had a 'stable' distro up in no time... a quick fiddle with the sources.list in /etc/apt/ and a one line apt command and you have a sid install as good as done. Look ma no hands!

http://www.osnews.com/story.php?news_id=2016
The Very Verbose Debian 3.0 Installation Walkthrough

Great review on a great distro
by TheDude on Thu 19th Feb 2004 01:09 UTC

I bought Libranet 2.7 last year and it has been the one out six distros I've bought (different versions of Redhat, SUSE,& Mandrake) that I actually feel I've gotten my money out of. Reading this review makes me wonder if Libranet will give me a discount for a repeat customer ;)
Anyway, good review. Particularly liked the ACPI troubleshooting. How abotu apt-getting 2.6 and giving it a whirl?

Re: TheDude
by Tyler Bancroft on Thu 19th Feb 2004 01:12 UTC

Actually, you do get a discount for upgrading from a previous version. Libranet lists their upgrade price at $40, compared to $70 for a new business user.

Discount
by TheDude on Thu 19th Feb 2004 01:16 UTC

Have no idea where the Registration # or LOOKUP are, maybe Jon or Tal could check for me.

Re: NVidia
by Tyler Bancroft on Thu 19th Feb 2004 01:37 UTC

The 3rd page has been updated with a blurb about how I was wrong and you can install the nvidia driver.

libranet
by javaman83 on Thu 19th Feb 2004 02:01 UTC

I've never tried libranet, because you cannot get a new version for free, but I'm currently using debian-based Mepis on my laptop and it works flawlessly. I have a compaq presario 1210us, which is an absolute b@tch to get linux to run on, because of a wierd usb config. Mepis however worked flawlessly, as well as autodetecting and setting up my linksys wifi card.

What is the best?
by serpico on Thu 19th Feb 2004 03:33 UTC

I have never used Linux on a notebook before. If I was considering a new PC notebook, what brands & models does Linux play nice with? Does it at all?

I'm using Fedora on a desktop at the moment. Thanks.

I like Libranet
by Arch Angel on Thu 19th Feb 2004 03:37 UTC

Libranet made Debian comprehensible for me. I'm now using Arch Linux, but I still like Libranet. Their Adminmenu single-handedly made Debian easy to work with. That in itself was worth the $70.

thx

Re: serpico
by Tyler Bancroft on Thu 19th Feb 2004 03:47 UTC

Linux does not play well in general with the more recent higher-end Dell laptops. The network cards aren't always supported out of box, and distros like Knoppix won't work at all, for some reason. That being said, with some work, even something weird like an Inspiron 8600 will run. Except with Knoppix. One particular brand that tends to be well supported is the Toshiba Satellite series. If you go with Dell, just be warned that some of the Dell wireless miniPCI cards aren't supported.

RE: Libranet review
by JTD on Thu 19th Feb 2004 04:27 UTC

I have been using Libranet for just over one year now and have to say that it is a great product. It is extremely stable, never had a crash, and my 2 PC's run 24/7.
The support and user forum is second to none so any one considering Linux be it a laptop, desktop, or server for that matter, should definately get Libranet.

The best money I've ever spent for ANY software!

JTD

Follow-up notebooks
by serpico on Thu 19th Feb 2004 04:43 UTC

So I guess I need to watch out for "windows-friendly" hardware in notebooks, that should be enough to tell me that Linux will have issues installing. Is IBM a good brand with Linux?

RE: Follow-up notebooks
by Anonymous on Thu 19th Feb 2004 05:28 UTC

First, nearly all laptops use specialized hardware, so getting everything working for unsupported operating systems can be difficult.

And yes, IBM is a good brand for Linux (as long as you don't want Centrino wireless, AFAIK). I would recommend you search for the specific model you are interested in.. Like "IBM T41 linux" and read the results to get an idea.

HTH>

Inspiron 8100
by TheDude on Thu 19th Feb 2004 05:31 UTC

Any thoughts on this beast?

Re: Anonymous notebook search
by serpico on Thu 19th Feb 2004 05:38 UTC

Thanks for the input, good idea for the search. I'll make sure to try that, thanks.

Debian succeeded
by Timo on Thu 19th Feb 2004 07:54 UTC

Planning to install Linux to the laptop with Xircom PCMCIA network card I tried many different Linux distros (Mandrake, Redhat, Lycoris, Suse, etc.) but none of them could detect the network card. Some gave error messages and some simply hanged the computer. Since all I have heard about Debian was that it's so hard to install and you have to know details of the hardware to be able to succeed Debian wasn't the first distribution to consider. Finally, after having no other choice, I tried Debian Woody... and it succeeded to detect and use the network card automaticly! Ever since I have been loyal user of Debian Linux.

Debian succeeded
by Timo on Thu 19th Feb 2004 07:58 UTC

Planning to install Linux to the laptop with Xircom PCMCIA network card I tried many different Linux distros (Mandrake, Redhat, Lycoris, Suse, etc.) but none of them could detect the network card. Some gave error messages and some simply hanged the computer. Since all I have heard about Debian was that it's so hard to install and you have to know details of the hardware to be able to succeed Debian wasn't the first distribution to consider. Finally, after having no other choice, I tried Debian Woody... and it succeeded to detect and use the network card automaticly! Ever since I have been loyal user of Debian Linux.

what about upgrades ?
by dukeinlondon on Thu 19th Feb 2004 09:54 UTC

Did anyone do the 2.7 to 2.8 upgrade ? How does that work ?

Next Distro
by Tyler Bancroft on Thu 19th Feb 2004 11:20 UTC

I'm taking suggestions for the next distro to review.

Question
by z1xq on Thu 19th Feb 2004 13:23 UTC

I don't mean to sound too critical, ...but If your not advanced enough to get Debian going what makes you think that your review of a strongly Debian based distro is valid or helpful. Debian is a bear... but once you get it going it is a grizzly. Your use of Partition Magic also leaves a question about your level of experience being such that you should be passing off reviews of software as if you were informed on the matter. Too much misinformation is spread because people think if a writing is made public that it is valid ("I saw it on the internet...it must be true."). Oh yeah, for a Linux user Partition Magic is useless. Most Linux partitioning tools are better, AND they don't require Windows. Don't get all upset, this is just a question I have, and not a criticism of you as a person.

Re: z1xq
by Syntaxis on Thu 19th Feb 2004 15:02 UTC

"Oh yeah, for a Linux user Partition Magic is useless. Most Linux partitioning tools are better, AND they don't require Windows"

Um... Partition Magic doesn't require Windows either. As the guy mentions at the very beginning of the review: "It lets you resize and play with partitions, non-destructively, from Windows or a pair of floppy disks."

It's true that Open Source partitioning tools run from e.g. a LiveCD distribution could have done the job just fine, and for free. However, said tools only achieved an equivalent level of functionality *very* recently; Ntfsresize (http://mlf.linux.rulez.org/mlf/ezaz/ntfsresize.html) has only been able to relocate data within partitions since February the 9th of this year.

Cut the guy some slack.

Which vendors
by Anonymous on Thu 19th Feb 2004 16:29 UTC

There are mailing lists for people who run laptop Linux. The IBM Thinkpad one is very comprehensive. I suggest that anyone who is considering what brand to purchase look on the Net for the particular model and also for mailing lists.

That was how I decided to buy a Thinkpad. Its trackpoints are perfect for use in X since they have three buttons.

syntaxis
by z1xq on Thu 19th Feb 2004 17:33 UTC

"It's true that Open Source partitioning tools run from e.g. a LiveCD distribution could have done the job just fine, and for free. However, said tools only achieved an equivalent level of functionality *very* recently"

FIP (First Nondestructive Interactive Partition Sizer)has been around for over 4 years. I know this because it was when I started with Linux. It can resize Fat and Fat32 partitions easily. Fdisk for Linux has been around for many years. It can be used to create partitions out of free space without destroying other partitions. What you said marks you as a Windows loser... I mean user, who is unfamiliar with or a newbie to Linux. SO I don't think you can be a judge of this. These tools are OLD and do an incomparable job. No GUI you say? Partition Magic from a floppy is just as bad. PM is a wonderful tool for newbies, that was the point of my earlier post. A newbie should not be making software reviews about advanced subjects to avoid spreading misinformation.

another happy libranet 2.8.1 user
by LinuxGeekInTraining on Thu 19th Feb 2004 17:34 UTC

I recently bought Libranet 2.8.1 using the student discount option ( I've been attending night classes at the local college for 3 years now, fixing to graduate in march). I am very happy with it. I agree with the comments about Debian's currenlt installer not being very friendly, or easy to use. Having said that, this in no way means that I was not able to use Debians installer to install a system however.

I really like Libranet, it's installer is very easy to use and the Admintool is definately worth the price. I had previously used the 2.7 free version and I was so impressed with it that I knew that I wanted to buy 2.8.1

We use Redhat on our servers at work, but libranet 2.8.1 has definately earned a spot on my Linux box at home.

Re: z1xq
by Syntaxis on Thu 19th Feb 2004 18:32 UTC

"It can resize Fat and Fat32 partitions easily."

Oh, that's great. Shame that Windows from 2000 on up has used NTFS instead, eh? I mentioned ntfsresize for a reason; perhaps you should go read my post again.

"These tools are OLD and do an incomparable job."

Ntfsresize's latest development release was made just 2 days ago on the 17th of February, 2004. By contrast, FIPS, which you recommended, was last updated on May 11, 1998 (http://www.igd.fhg.de/~aschaefe/fips/distrib/history.txt). *You* are the one recommending antiquated tools; I recommend you get yourself up to speed.

"No GUI you say?"

Please refrain from putting words in my mouth. I didn't say that. Nor would I, since it's clearly wrong. Check out QTParted (http://qtparted.sourceforge.net/) for a project making great headway in this area.

"What you said marks you as a Windows loser... I mean user, who is unfamiliar with or a newbie to Linux."

Do the world a favour and go check out the netiquette (http://www.albion.com/netiquette/book/index.html) so that you can learn how to hold a civil conversation online. Unless, of course, you're actually this ghastly an individual in the flesh, as well, in which case you've got deeper problems and should seek therapy instead.

"A newbie should not be making software reviews about advanced subjects to avoid spreading misinformation."

I disagree most strongly. Anyone has the right to review anything they like. Rather, it's the responsibility of sites like OSNews to pre-vet the material submitted to them to ensure that substandard material (not that I think this review was all that bad) doesn't make its way onto the front page, and the responsibility of the readers to do their own research rather than just taking what the reviewer says as gospel.

Re: Question
by M Cahill on Thu 19th Feb 2004 18:33 UTC

quote: I don't mean to sound too critical

Critical? A little. Condescending? Yup. There's nothing wrong with using Partition Magic if starting with a Win-installed drive. The only problem is when you have a drive with an existing Linux partition that isn't a ext2-filesystem (unless the newer version of PM supports ext3...not sure about that).

What I take exception to is your point that unless you are an expert, your review/opinion is usless. However, assumedly as *you* are an expert, I don't have much to say about *your* opinion.

quote: Don't get all upset, this is just a question I have, and not a criticism of you as a person.

Then phrase it as a question, and don't question the person's intelligence and then turn around and say it's not personal. Sheesh.

links???
by Chris on Thu 19th Feb 2004 19:52 UTC

I swear someone posted a couple links earlier in the commments about linux on laptops. Were these censored (like so many others)? If so, WHY?

Re: z1xq
by Tyler Bancroft on Thu 19th Feb 2004 20:36 UTC

z1xq, there is nothing wrong with PartitionMagic. I've been using it for years. Obviously, FIPS isn't going to work if anyone has a NTFS partition, as I do. I'm not "not advanced enough to get Debian going". I chose to review a distribution that has all the benefits of Debian, as well as some interesting features added by the developer.

Partition Magic - Condescending
by z1xq on Thu 19th Feb 2004 21:54 UTC

Anyone who uses NTFS with a Linux-Windows dual is crazy. Linux, though it will work with NTFS, many distros won't support this. So,if you want to exchange files between win and lin it won't work.If you are Windows only NTFS is too slow. FAT32 is less stable, but much faster. Unless you run a server (Windows server...come on!) NTFS is bad. I never said PM is bad. I said that for newbies it was alright. When I was a newbie I used it. With all the excellant Linux tools paying $70 for PM is stupid.I'm sorry, but if you can't install Debian you have no business being a Linux software reviewer. Not an insult...a reality. I want to see his review of Gentoo. Even the GRP install, and I'll take back what I said.

Re: z1xq
by Syntaxis on Thu 19th Feb 2004 23:13 UTC

"So,if you want to exchange files between win and lin it won't work."

The Linux NTFS driver is only safe to use in read-only mode, true. But http://www.jankratochvil.net/project/captive/ allows people to use the native Windows NTFS driver via a wrapper. Voila - full read and write capability.

"FAT32 is less stable, but much faster. Unless you run a server (Windows server...come on!) NTFS is bad."

Bad? Not really. You do lose a little speed, but most folks would prefer the stability in any case. In my experience, an improper shutdown (system crashes, etc) can easily cause corruption when using FAT32, whereas NTFS doesn't seem to have this problem.

Other advantages include built-in compression, and getting rid of FAT32's 4Gb max file size limit.

again...
by z1xq on Fri 20th Feb 2004 02:27 UTC

I found a solution to the NTFS / FAT32 dilema - use neither. A pure Linux machine is more stable, and faster than either. Even with old Ext2 your doing better than Windows. You want a few games check out the WineX project on Transgamings website. Learn not to take criticism personal as it is only someone you don't know's opinion. You would find learning Debian or Gentoo more rewarding than taking the easy path. I regret the 2 years I spent on Suse when I could have been learning the proper way instead of using someone's closed source tools to use an open source system.

partition tools
by mono on Fri 20th Feb 2004 03:55 UTC

NTFS is the best filesystem for a modern win machine. It's so much FASTER and efficient than FAT or FAT32 its ridiculous to compare. You sound like a windows newb AND a PC newb in general z1xq.

I've been running NTFS/ReiserFS dual boot machine for over 3 years. Of course I can't write to the Win partition, but of course, that's why I have a separate Samba server for data storage.

Finally name me a SINGLE CLOSED SOURCE tool that you used on SuSE, no really just one. Don't even dream of saying YaST because it's NOT closed source. It's quite open. The ONLY licensing restriction to taking, modifying or redistributing YaST is that you have to label it as owned by SuSE. While that licensing is a bit more restrictive than strict GPL , it ain't by much. SuSE takes tremendous criticism from ignorant linux noobs (usually recent Debian or ugh, Gentoo converts) who have never bothered to research the license before spouting off on it. I don't think you're qualified to review a) windows partition efficiencies, b) windows partitioning tools, c) linux licensing, let alone differentiating between open and closed source.

Re: z1xq
by Syntaxis on Fri 20th Feb 2004 10:04 UTC

"I found a solution to the NTFS / FAT32 dilema - use neither."

This isn't a viable solution for most people. They'll have been using Windows first, and thus will have a NTFS partition already.

"A pure Linux machine is more stable, and faster than either."

That would be great if people like myself didn't need Windows to play their games.

"Even with old Ext2 your doing better than Windows."

Not really. Please re-read the section in my last post regarding reliability and the problems with corruption.

"You want a few games check out the WineX project on Transgamings website."

Most people will have been using Windows before they started using Linux. Thus, they will have already accumulated a wide variety of games, many of which will not run successfully under WineX.

"You would find learning Debian or Gentoo more rewarding than taking the easy path."

I'm posting this from my Debian Unstable desktop system right now, you pillock. Don't presume to judge others whom you know nothing about.

Partitioning tools in Libranet
by Bruce Miller on Fri 20th Feb 2004 13:34 UTC

Libranet comes with a full set of partitioning and resizing tools, including ntfsresize.

Their use is not aimed at newbies. To get to ntfsresize, you press Alt-F2 at the first partitioning screen. Alt-F2 takes you to a second console.

What?
by Tim on Fri 20th Feb 2004 15:03 UTC

Look, what is a person doing reviewing LINUX DISTRIBUTIONS if he/she thinks debian is too difficult to install? Pathetic. You guys are a pack of lightweights, big time. I've installed debian hundreds of times and it just isn't that hard. You're pathetic. This website makes me sick; you people should just study for your MCSE and stop trying to review Linux distributions, because all the reviews here are lame, superficial and poorly written to boot.

Tim
by z1xq on Fri 20th Feb 2004 15:54 UTC

Thank God someone has a clue. As far as not being qualified to judge Windows tools...I'm a Windows system administrator at work, though I hat Windows I need to eat.

Re: z1xq
by Syntaxis on Sat 21st Feb 2004 11:50 UTC

"I'm a Windows system administrator at work"

So the truth comes out now, eh? You're "a Windows loser... I mean user" yourself, you hypocrite.

"As far as not being qualified to judge Windows tools..."

Hah! You didn't even know that Partition Magic doesn't require Windows (a fact that was even mentioned in the review!) and yet you still considered yourself qualified to talk about its feature set in comparison to Linux partitioning tools. You've berated the reviewer for not knowing being suitably proficient with regards to his subject matter, yet you're guilty of have done the exact same thing yourself repeatedly in this very thread.

Re: Tim
by Syntaxis on Sat 21st Feb 2004 12:00 UTC

"what is a person doing reviewing LINUX DISTRIBUTIONS if he/she thinks debian is too difficult to install?"

Aside from the very basic point that the guy has the right to review whatever he likes without seeking your prior permission...

A large slice of Libranet's target userbase are those who find Debian's installer too difficult/intimidating (with its lack of hardware detection, etc). With this in mind, it's not so crazy that such a person be the one to review the distribution.

What kind of review is this?
by Anonymous on Sun 22nd Feb 2004 00:28 UTC

Only on Linux land is a blow by blow INSTALL labelled as a "review". Aren't we tired of reading about geekified Linux installers.

To pen a review for laptops and FAIL to mention that sleep doesn't work is pathetic journalism. Without sleep no Linux is practical on a laptop.

None of the Linux distros do sleep! XP is the only practical solution.

Lindows.com makes a laptop edition which might do sleep but Linux bigots always ignore it.

Lindows
by z1xq on Mon 23rd Feb 2004 16:12 UTC

I may make my living administering a Windows network, but if I had the full control of all IT where I work we'd go to Linux. As for Lindows...I have no problem with an easy to install distro, but Lindows you can't just buy it once, no a subscription is required to keep it up to date. If you are looking for a newbie distro check out Xandros. On the other hand it is my personal opinion that an OS reviewer should have reasonable mastery over that which they judge. You newbies who want Linux to be easy, and don't want to learn advanced techniques are just lazy. As long as people use Linux only to convince others that they are some sort of guru, but don't really want to learn it or take a true interest, it will be second fiddle to Windows. All newbies should seek mastery.