Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 17th Jan 2006 14:51 UTC
Debian and its clones "This interview was conducted with Martin F. Krafft, the author of 'The Debian System'. Despite Debian GNU/Linux's important role in today's computing environment, it is largely misunderstood and oftentimes even discounted as being an operating system which is exclusively for professionals and elite users. In this book Krafft, explains his concept of Debian, which includes not only the operating system but also its underpinnings."
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In this interview Martin Krafft recommends Ubuntu (instead of Debian) for "Linux newbies". I tend to agree with Krafft's view.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edited 2006-01-17 21:15

Reply Score: 1

pfsams Member since:

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

Reply Parent Score: 1