Home > Debian > Review: Debian Etch Beta 3 Review: Debian Etch Beta 3 Eugenia Loli 2006-08-28 Debian 23 Comments Debian has without much fanfare released the beta 3 of Etch, the final release slated to take place sometime this year. This review looks at what Debian has for the Linux enthusiast with its latest offering. About The Author Eugenia Loli Ex-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker. Follow me on Twitter @EugeniaLoli 23 Comments 2006-08-28 7:54 am Jack Malmostoso Please note that “beta 3” refers just to the Debian Installer version, not to the distribution. It’s not a small difference!!! 2006-08-28 9:27 am anarchic_teapot Presumably the distribution is currently “testing”? Nobody seems to want to specify. It takes a bit of finding, but you should be able to dowload the installer CD from the Debian site. Anyway, I for one am looking forward to running it on a nice new config in the near future. 2006-08-28 10:59 am Anonymous Penguin “Presumably the distribution is currently “testing”?” Sarge is the current stable release. Etch is the current testing branch. 2006-08-28 10:07 am da_Chicken I liked the review very much. I also agree with most of its criticisms. I use Debian testing/unstable (see “man apt_preferences” to get some pinning hints) as my main desktop system and I like Debian very much. I’ve tried dozens of GNU/Linux distros (including Ubuntu) and Debian stays my favourite. But it’s not the easiest distro out there. You need to do a lot of reading if you choose Debian. You need to find out about things. I think Debian is the best but there are certainly easier distros available (*cough*Ubuntu*cough*). It would be great if Debian was better in marketing itself, if Debian was made a bit easier for beginners. But Debian is very flexible and it’s great for advanced users. 2006-08-28 11:00 am twenex It would be great…if Debian was made a bit easier for beginners. But Debian is very flexible and it’s great for advanced users. I disagree. Debian is for a specific section of the market, and as long as that section of the market is there and is happy with Debian, there is no need to change. If it *did* change to become easier for beginners (=less flexible), the section of the market it targets now would probably leave. 2006-08-28 12:50 pm leech Debian HAS been made easier for beginners. I didn’t even use the ‘net install’, I used a mini.iso. It was 10.9mb, all it had was the graphical installer, I went through the entire install of Gnome and X in about 20 min. (Of course I have a 7mbps DSL line.) This is just as easy to install as Ubuntu is, in my opinion. The only thing they really need to improve upon would be hardware detection. It’s not quite as good as Ubuntu’s. I’m sure if they changed a few of their dependencies around on their packages, it’d be just as good (since they are both based off the same base of Debian). For example, the writer of the review just chose a “Standard Install” which is actually just a very base system. If you chose Desktop Environment from Tasksel, it will install Gnome along with OpenOffice, etc. Basically everything you get with Ubuntu. One of the things I noticed going from Ubuntu to Debian is that things like acpi-support is not installed by default. Fortunately for me, I found out that was the program that enabled some of my laptop buttons to work (So now I’m going back to Debian Sid on my laptop, since that was pretty much the only thng I didn’t have working the last time I tried.) Also, it doesn’t set up things like Synaptics touchpads as nicely as Ubuntu does, and it currently is also missing the gnome-app-install. Ubuntu’s orange/brown theme is also of course missing. There are a few packages I’ve noticed personally that haven’t been put into the debian repository (at least for testing or unstable) and those are Anagrammarama (anagram game) and X.org 7.1 (although the latter will probably go in as soon as the new nVidia driver (8774) is in the repositories, since there was a breakage of RenderAccel with the new ABI.) 2006-08-28 12:53 pm twenex Ubuntu’s orange/brown theme is also of course missing. That’s not a bug; it’s a feature! 😉 2006-08-28 1:51 pm da_Chicken Ubuntu’s orange/brown theme is also of course missing. Personally I’ve always liked *buntu’s artwork. Debian has also its own artwork added to some of the popular desktop options but it’s not quite as consistent as the artwork in *buntu. I’ve read about propositions to give “Etch” a new Debian-specific theme but I don’t know if these propositions have actually caught up the attention of any graphic designers. Debian cannot pay for such artwork, so if there appears new artwork in Debian, it’s made by the gifted people who truly love Debian. 2006-08-28 5:59 pm kernelpanicked >>Personally I’ve always liked *buntu’s artwork.<< I can respect that, but you gotta know you’re a minority on this one. 2006-08-28 7:06 pm da_Chicken I’ve seen many Ubuntu screenshots where people haven’t changed the Ubuntu artwork. You have a right to your opinion, of course. 2006-08-28 8:01 pm twenex All that proves is that people haven’t changed the desktop. I suspect many people “make do” with the default settings simply because they haven’t got the time/inclination/skills to change them, or because what they do is more important to them than how the computer looks. 2006-08-29 4:46 pm Buffalo Soldier Personally I’ve always liked *buntu’s artwork. Ubuntu orange/brown for me too 2006-08-28 1:20 pm da_Chicken You have a good point there, I must agree. Making the installer easier for newbies would make it less flexible for advanced users. And that would very likely make Debian less attractive to Debian’s current user base. The balance between simplicity and flexibility is obviously an important point in developing Debian’s installer. Making the installer simpler can bring new users to Debian. But keeping the installer flexible is also vital — it attracts an important segment of users. I think it’s also obvious that all distros need to attract new users. Debian is one of the most popular distros ( http://distrowatch.com/awstats/awstats.DistroWatch.com.osdetail.htm… ) but it’s not that sure that new GNU/Linux users will choose to give Debian a try. They might try some trendier distro instead. Adding the GUI option is a nice move, IMO, in making the Debian installer more attractive to new users. 2006-08-28 1:34 pm h3rman Making the installer easier for newbies would make it less flexible for advanced users. And that would very likely make Debian less attractive to Debian’s current user base. Why would it? Even Ubuntu has an “alternate” installer, with all the options. Ever thought of an installer with a “beginner” and with an “expert” mode? I think it’s also obvious that all distros need to attract new users. Debian is one of the most popular distros… but it’s not that sure that new GNU/Linux users will choose to give Debian a try. Who ever said that it’s Debian’s goal to attract as many new users as possible? What if they’re counting on other distros to do the newbie attraction work, and on experienced, serious users to switch to Debian? They might try some trendier distro instead. Adding the GUI option is a nice move, IMO, in making the Debian installer more attractive to new users. How about a fusion with Ubuntu then? Everybody seems to know what Debian should do, but the Debian people have been around or years and it’s up to them to decide whether they want to “attract” people. Say they really want that, I guess it’s hard enough to compete with Ubuntu. Should Debian launch their own Shipit service or something? With what money? Debian is already mighty influential. Now unless the Debian developers suddenly want to make a lot of money out of it, they don’t really care. 2006-08-28 2:38 pm da_Chicken Ever thought of an installer with a “beginner” and with an “expert” mode? Eh? The Debian Installer already defaults to a “beginner” mode and it also has an “expert” mode that you can choose if you want to. Everybody seems to know what Debian should do, but the Debian people have been around or years and it’s up to them to decide whether they want to “attract” people. Say they really want that, I guess it’s hard enough to compete with Ubuntu. OK, I think I see your point. The very process to make these two distros is quite different. Ubuntu is made with popularity in mind, it’s made to “attract” new users. Debian, on the other hand, is made by roughly one thousand very skilled developers who use this distro daily and who “scratch their personal itch”. They just make the kind of distro that they like to use themselves. They’re not too interested in “attracting” new users. But attracting new users means also attracting new potential developers. My point is that in the long run all distros need to attract new users and new developers. Attracting new users may not be the main focus in developing Debian but new users/developers are vital to any distro, including Debian. 2006-08-28 12:31 pm yanik Makes me want to go back to my debian roots. Why did I switch to ubuntu again? Debian Unstable + apt-listbugs. There you have it. 2006-08-28 3:22 pm moleskine Well, it’s a nice run-through of Debian Etch (Testing) seen through the eyes of the new Debian graphic installer Debian is about providing a free universal operating system. So it is not really about attracting new users or for that matter failing to attract them. It’s about universality. The moment you talk about a beginners this or a desktop that, you are asking Debian to put its efforts into a subset of the whole, not the whole itself. I believe Mark Shuttleworth gave this as a reason for starting Ubuntu outside rather than inside the Debian Project. Debian accommodates everything from hardened servers and skolelinux through to a load of derivate distributions and local government stuff. It has to cater for all of them. I like Debian, and I like Testing or Unstable for a good modern desktop. It’s very fast and it has 1001 nice touches, like deborphan, apt-listbugs, module-assistant, gkdebconf, etc. It does take quite a bit more setting up than Ubuntu, ime, but once that’s been done it’s hard not to see Debian as el distro ultimo. 2006-08-28 4:49 pm w00dst0ck One thing I do agree with is that I think Debian.org needs a facelift, and it would be great to have an official forum linked on Debian.org’s front page. I currently use forums.debian.net, which is a great community forum, but it’s highly under moderated and this means things are a tad unorganized, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t filled with people willing to help. The reason why I think the forum would be a great idea is that some people don’t have a lot of time and they want to contribute to their favourite distro, so a forum is a nice and easy, non-time-constraining form of contributing. There are other means, such as IRC, but again for some a forum is a lot more comfortable. Now, about the installer. I like how I can now cancel during the DHCP section of the installer, before I would have to wait for it to timeout which was annoying, or I would have to run a special parameter at the command line on bootup, Eg: –nodhcp I noticed that the GUI-installer is quick and responsive, but notice beats a nice text mode install… IMHO. Enough rambling. 2006-08-28 7:32 pm MamiyaOtaru I never quite understood the need for a gui installer. The gui installer now mirrors exactly the text based installer, with all the same options and layout and everything. Apparently though it’s a lot easier to do internationalization, with different fonts and character sets or whatever. That all by itself is reason enough to have a graphical installer, and I can still get to my preferred text based installer if I choose. Win. “I’ve seen many Ubuntu screenshots where people haven’t changed the Ubuntu artwork” Maybe they don’t know how? 2006-08-28 9:00 pm deanlinkous Nice little review! Debian just made the install easier or should I say more familar for users that are unfamilar with debian and also managed to keep those of us who are familar with debian and do not care about a GUI installer. How many distros can say that – keeping the current users happy while appealing to the new users as well. Debian is all things to all people – of course that means you have to put in a little effort but what you get in return is awesome. I would hope most people would be williing to put in a little effort to get the benefits from something and that is exactly the Debian way. If you want a quickie then plenty of distros out there providing that but they are never as satisfying as putting effort into something and having exactly what you make it. Yes – I love debian Yes the website could probably use a overhaul, yes I would like to see the default colors changed at least slightly to create a nice pleasing color scheme. But if you have the time you can likely hop on the mailing list and throw some effort in and make it happen. 2006-08-29 8:36 am wakeupneo “”I’ve seen many Ubuntu screenshots where people haven’t changed the Ubuntu artwork” Maybe they don’t know how? ” That doesn’t bode well for the “ease of use” argument for Gnome then does it? *ducks* 2006-08-29 6:02 pm setuid_w00t All the reviewer did was review the installer and then made comments about the boot time. This is pointless since real Debian users: 1) Install once and then upgrade, so the installer doesn’t even matter that much 2) Don’t boot their machine every 2 hours I’m half joking, but I’m quite serious when I say this review is crap. 2006-08-29 7:18 pm deanlinkous “The main reason for trying out this version of Debian was to check out the new GUI installer which is considered to be a huge improvement over the previous versions. I booted my PC using the CD and I was shown a boot prompt.” Bad title for sure but I assume this was actually a review of the new installer. A review of debian is so much harder because it is whatever you make it. I thought it was a good review of the installer. But you are right that this is no debian OS review.