Home > Debian > Guide to Debian GNU/Linux Desktop SurvivalGuide to Debian GNU/Linux Desktop Survival Guest post by Brandon Philips 2003-07-03 Debian 14 CommentsGood Debian desktop survival guide that covers all the major applications a user would need. 14 Comments 2003-07-03 5:58 pm Anything to make installation easier on this great distro is always welcome. Great! More. 2003-07-03 6:03 pm Why doesn’t this guy just make this thing a wiki, since that’s pretty much what it is, albeit with only 1 maintainer. Every good distro should have a wiki these days. Zynot.org has one! 2003-07-03 6:05 pm This book looks really comprehensive, though I feel certain things are missing. For example, the applications I use very often are KDE and LyX, the latter being a handy frontend to LaTeX, and apache in combination with PHP and MySQL.Now I find it quite disappointing that there is only one short chapter on KDE, while the whole book is full of references to Gnome. Though in every poll I have seen, KDE is more popular than Gnome. That being the case I would at least expect some references to it. The book states that it would mention the alternatives to Gnome applications, but the only thing I have seen is an empty chapter on KWord, yes, with no text within it.Something about LyX and PHP seems to be failing entirely. They do mention the ability of Abiword to export latex, but why don’t they even mention LyX, which is especially built for this?You are now going to say, well then write your own book. You know, I am doing that right now, in Dutch. I am at page fifty already 🙂 2003-07-03 6:28 pm As we demonstrate in this book though this issue has been well addressed and the time is now right for Debian GNU/Linux on the desktop.Cough. “Wajig install tetex-bin tetex-latex emacs” and then editing source LaTeX files, is that ready for the desktop?There is a chapter “Banksia: email”. I thought, what new kind of mail program is that? However, it just talks about Balsa. Just like the chapter “Blufish”, where the e from bluefish misses.I wonder what the fantastic Eye Of Gnome can show… when I open a .JPG file it tells me the format was not recognised…There is a long chapter on Glade. Anyone using glade does not need it, I assume. On the other hand there is very little on the Gimp, an application novices will use too.There is a chapter on Quanta, looking at the screenshot it uses QT 1.x. So how up-to-date is this all? In the chapter on KDE, he knows that QT 2.2 was GPL, however.The chapter on Konqueror also seems to be about a KDE 2.0 beta version.With MySQL something about PhpMyAdmin is missing. Lycos offers PHP/MySQL, then I guess it is at least worth mentioning it.The author is VERY biased to Gnome, it seems. “Xfig is the traditional (…) vector graphics tool. It (…) is widely used. This is not a GNOME application”. Well, I can see that too! It neither is a KDE application nor a Motif application, but that is not worth telling.And while the document covers LaTex, it does not cover it’s output. It also does not tell a way to view the PDF files you might create with it.There is lots of useful information, sure, but it is no way a Guide to Survival. I want at least to be able to read the PDF of this book with my Debian system, wouldn’t you? 2003-07-03 9:11 pm bleh 2003-07-04 3:40 am Congrats on a well written article but this doesn’t change one of Debian’s fundamental problems. Installation. You need to answer hundreds of questions, mainly with dialogs requiring (Yes/No). It is tempting just to hold the enter key until they all go away.I’m sure Debian could become a lot more popular if they used a more traditional installer such as the one offerred by Slackware, OpenBSD and NetBSD. After all, lots of us want a nice *nix installer and a stable, complete (8,000+ packages) distribution/OS. 2003-07-04 5:48 am http://wiki.debian.net 2003-07-04 12:39 pm “Congrats on a well written article but this doesn’t change one of Debian’s fundamental problems.”Eh? Of course not, since this Guide has nothing to do with the official Debian Project.*plonk*The new installer is in the works and coming along nicely. I think most people would point at RedHat or Mandrake as the paradigms, though, rather than Slackware or the BSDs. Anyway, the new installer should cater to both kinds of users just fine.I’ve never seen the “hundreds of questions” that you claim plagued you thanks to the current installer, though.“After all, lots of us want a nice *nix installer and a stable, complete (8,000+ packages) distribution/OS.”And many of us feel that, hey, we’ve pretty much already got all those things in Debian. The current installer does have its shortcomings, but it does the job, which is, let’s face it, the main reason it’s endured for so long. 2003-07-04 2:26 pm Hi,As much as i love Debian (and i *do* love it), i still do think that the installer is old and difficult to use when you’re not “into computers”. Of course Syntaxis, it is not the “hundreds of questions” depicted but still, i’m sure you get his point . Even if our old installer “does the job”, it stills is a bit obscure for newcomers.I always found it a bit sad that some people do discard debian just because of the installer. I can understand it though, as when i first tried to install a gnu/linux system, it was a Slackware 1.0, and i got really turned off by (no emphasis here) the hundreds of questions. This was so terrible that i soon turned to Red Hat (3 or 4 ? i don’t remember) which had an installer which i was able to understand/use. At the time, this experience gave me a terrible image of Slackware, not for what it was (a distribution that probably has its merits), but just because of a “front-end” which happened to be the installer that prevented me to really give it a try.I would love to see people being able to install a debian system easily, so that they can *then* decide whether they like the distribution or not. I want to be able to burn a debian cd for a friend and have him/her install it on his/her own like a Mandrake.Hopefully, the new installer will provide such ease when it comes out. I do really appreciate the time spent by the developpers for developing such a “one-use” tool like the installer. That will help a lot of people, and help the distribution to be liked/disliked for reasons less straightforward that “i could not install it, end of story”.Regards. 2003-07-04 5:33 pm “Even if our old installer “does the job”, it stills is a bit obscure for newcomers.”This is definitely true, and I said nothing to the contrary. Lol! I wasn’t rising to the bait with a “defending Debian at all costs” mentality, just a bit annoyed that instead of addressing the Guide itself, someone chose to use it as a platform to go off on a random tangent about Debian’s installer.To better illustrate what I meant: I’m not a newcomer, and it does the job *for me*, and so I wouldn’t be overly motivated to write a replacement, even if I did possess the necessary know-how (which I don’t).The problem is that, for anyone who’s in any position to actually *do* something themselves about correcting the shortcomings rather than just point them out for the umpteenth time, the existing installer is probably just fine, or at least good *enough*.Even now, the installer isn’t being re-written purely to take usability into account. That’s a handy benefit, sure, but the *real* reason is that boot-floppies is just past it in terms of design architecture, especially in maintainability and extensibility. Modularity, flexibility and longevity are the *real* aims of the new installer, but thankfully this new, uber-modular, uber-extensible, uber-customizable approach means that it should be capable of catering to pretty much any user. Well, that’s the plan, at least 😀 we’ll have to see how it turns out in reality, of course.I too long for the day when I can point someone to an *official* Debian ISO and have them install it themselves without trouble, but until then, it’s not as if there’s lack of reasonable stopgaps: either PGI (http://hackers.progeny.com/pgi) or Libranet (http://www.libranet.com) handle hardware detection, etc, just fine, which tends to be most people’s number one wishlist feature for the official installer, as well as providing a generally more newbie-intuitive interface. 2003-07-04 6:05 pm “someone” = “random, non-computer literate person”OSNews *really* needs an “edit” function, say, for 5 minutes after posting, whereby one could quickly correct any outstanding ambiguities… hey, whilst we’re at it, a “preview ” pane would also be pretty slick. 2003-07-04 7:25 pm This is off topic but what the hell. Wikis rock. I’ve been using a personal wiki (zwiki for Zope) for a while now to store my various notes, etc. The truth be know I don’t know what I would do with out my wiki :-|. Maybe just off a bridge or something. 2003-07-08 11:46 pm I just do a Knoppix hard drive install and configure from there. About as simple of an install as you can get for a single user system. (You have to tweak stuff a bit for a multi-user system, but nothing grandma would probably want to do.)The only issue I have with the current Knoppix installer is that when I pick an English system it still gives me a German keyboard. Grandma might be puyyled about that one for a while.The desktop seems to be pretty complete otherwise. 2003-07-09 1:28 pm About the hundreds of questions: last time I installed Debian, I logged every question which was asked, and when I count them I count 62 questions. This are not hundreds, but still a lot.