Home > Debian > Martin Michlmayr, the leader of Debian Project for PCTechTalk.com Martin Michlmayr, the leader of Debian Project for PCTechTalk.com Eugenia Loli 2004-06-24 Debian 27 Comments “Debian is not easy enough to use to give to everyone… we are working on making it more usable, but it will still take us a while to get there”, states Martin Michlmayr, The Debian Project Leader in an exclusive interview for PCTechTalk.com. About The Author Eugenia Loli Ex-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker. Follow me on Twitter @EugeniaLoli 27 Comments 2004-06-24 7:59 pm I always thought UserLinux is gonna be the user-friendly Debain?! Does anyone know when they will release their first ISOs? 2004-06-24 8:23 pm Ya know, there’s been just about zero news from them lately. If they want to keep their cause in people’s minds, they need to pipe up, because I completely forgot about them a couple months ago. And it’s completely seperate from the Debian project. It, like LinSpire, XandrOS and several others, would just use Debian as the base system. 2004-06-24 8:40 pm the interview is long, but I didn’t really get much out of it. Maybe PCTechTalk just didn’t really find much interesting to ask. 2004-06-24 8:51 pm Userlinux is dead on arrival. Nobody of significance other than Perens is working on it. Perens made a major strategic mistake whe he dissed KDE. They don’t even have a decent web page, a wiki is all there is and they have nothing to show for their very preposterous announcements. Stay with Debian, Mandrake or Suse, that’s where the future of Linux is. 2004-06-24 9:25 pm You cannot forget that Linux’s future is also with Redhat, sad that you would leave them out. 2004-06-24 9:50 pm I think the install is not that dificult. I have debian running on all 3 of my systems. But of course, I am not a every day email/web user. I am by profession a developer, so i gess I have an advantage. =) 2004-06-24 10:07 pm I think that the sarge-installer is really, really good, and I like how they choose GRUB over LILO now (no flames please). It’s just a nice, smooth install. I’m a huge Debian fan. However, I only recommend Debian to those that want to -learn Linux-, not “learn KDE” or “learn GNOME”. I don’t know if I am making a whole lot of sense with that, but I guess its the difference between a “user” and a “power user”. I recommend Debian to someone that wants to know what a kernel is, how to update it, how to diagnose problems with their hardware, how to customize their machine down to the last daemon. If I get a -hint- that they are the type that just wants the machine to work “out of the box”, I steer them towards other distros like Mandrake or SuSE. In the most respectful terms, I tell them to give either of those a shot, and then they can try some other distros once they get the knack for Linux or are unhappy with the precanned feel of either of those (no offense to either, they are both nice). I also don’t recruit people to Linux, I let them ask me. IMO, recruiting people to Linux only sours people because most assume that it’ll work “as good or better”, which to someone coerced into switching means “just like Windows, but faster.” Let people ask YOU! 😀 2004-06-24 10:34 pm I’ve always found Debian’s install good. The menu system was easy before, Sarge just makes it better (HINT: USE expert install ) Sarge/gnome is a bit broken at the moment though. unfortunately, but if you like KDE.. 2004-06-24 10:36 pm I like Debian. My first Linux distro was Suse 5.0, which was cool for learning. I later moved to Debian, still staying with it. On my old PC the same Debian install lived from 2000 until I recently bought new hardware, update via apt-get is excellent. I installed Suse 9.1 last week, and I’m not very convinced. While it’s certainly easier for the novice user, it lacks a lot of packages I need as developer, which are all precompiled in Debian already. While I would not recommend Debian but rather Suse for a novice user or someone who just isn’t interested in fiddling with his Linux system (yes, those people do exist), but for me as developer Debian is and will stay the distribution of choice. The only thing I dislike with Debian is the lack of a proper Java and some other “not-free-enough” packages, but those are usually easy to install manually. 2004-06-24 10:50 pm One thing they could possibly work one is the package selection at the start. If you want gnome, explain in base-config, apt-get x-window-system->gnome->gdm. Kde, x-window-system->KDE->kdm. Even aptitude is intimidating for newbies 2004-06-24 11:21 pm “The only thing I dislike with Debian is the lack of a proper Java and some other “not-free-enough” packages, but those are usually easy to install manually.” If you haven’t already come across it, you might want to check out j2se-package at http://z42.de/debian/ – it will build packages of the latest Sun/Blackdown JRE/SKD SDK for you. 2004-06-24 11:23 pm The upcoming Package Tags (http://deb-usability.alioth.debian.org/debtags/) should make it easier to do this. Oh, and my last post should have read “JRE/SDK”. Oops. 😛 2004-06-25 1:12 am > Perens made a major strategic mistake whe he dissed KDE. It also might’a helped if he called it “UserGNU” instead of UserLinux. My $0.02. Joe Drago wrote: > I recommend Debian to someone that wants to know what a kernel is, how > to update it, how to diagnose problems with their hardware, how to > customize their machine down to the last daemon. For those folks, maybe you should be recommending Slack instead. Really, a lot of maintaining Debian is “dpkg-reconfigure foo” and the other dpkg/apt tools rather than diving in to /etc. Not saying that’s bad, just that for learning nuts-n-bolts GNU/Linux, Slack might be more appropriate. Too bad there’s no PPC Slack distro… Now, from what I hear, if you’re an admin running multiple servers, Debian is hard to beat. As far as installing Debian,.. I still wake up some nights in a cold sweat remembering my one try at dselect. 2004-06-25 1:15 am That Debian is all that difficult. Of course, it is ‘much’ more difficult than SuSE or Mandrake. But you can start with a Debian based distro which makes your life a lot easier: I started with Libranet, for instance, and now I can install Debian with any installer. And besides Debian is great fun, with its huge choice of packages, with its beautiful Gnome implementation… The new Sarge installer is very good, but then people need to know what to install… 2004-06-25 6:15 am After some little experience with FreeBSD I started to look at a Linux distros for Desktop usage. I used ArchLinux, RH9, SuSE9/9.1. The former freezed my notebook in some circumstances such as minimizing ans maximizing a window, the last two were too slow on my PC. I look at Debian often but I was not able to see what floppies I should have used to make an install. Then here at osnews I read about the Debian-Installer. Tried it and did a FTP install. Well after more than two weeks I’m an happy Debian end-user. I’m using it to develop my C/C++ applications by using the GCC for the h8/300 microcontrollers. As editor I’m using Jedit that requires Java. I read the docs and at a first glance I was disappointed: why I cannot install java with apt-get ? Reading the Java FAQ I saw a way to install it. It was really simple. Now I can use Java on my Debian system. As a GUI I’m using KDE. One reason very important for me, coming from FreeBSD, was system and package binary upgrades. Well after over two weeks I never had a problem with Debian/Testing (kernel is 2.4.26). I installed a lot s/w, some of them are called non-free. I’m really really thankfull to the Debian project. They are making a free, good OS to use. I can run it smoothly on my Celeron400,128Mram machine. The documentation is really well done. Keep up the good job! 2004-06-25 6:33 am I am not a developer, and I completed the network install of Debian. The new anaconda installer is a piece of cake. However there are a couple of minor bugs but nothing overly complex. Normally I use *BSD’s, however I wanted to give Debian a chance. I have heard a lot of good things about it and from my first impressions, it does live up to its reputation. I still have my preferences for the *BSD, however, I think I will keep using Debian as a side machine. Some strengths but not limited too: 1) Easy install 2) Good package management system ( I have to get used to it). 3) Extensive documentation FYI: I did the network install of Debians Testing release. As long as you know what a partition is and how to lay out your drive, it really shouldnt be that much of a challenge to install Debian, with the anaconda installer. I have not done the old method of installation. Disclaimer: PS: my background starts back in 1981 with the 8086/8088 processor (PC XT) till present with Windows, SunOS, Solaris, *BSD and several other linux distros along the way. I might not be a newbie but I am not an expert either. Just read the fine manuals before you install or print them out if your going to have questions along the way. And yes, I did read through certain sections of the manuals before doing the install. Never hurts to be prepared. PSS: Can anyone help me with my VCR, it keeps flashing 12:00 😉 Give it a try. 2004-06-25 6:51 am i dont care what it is, i just want something cheap and will cut costs. man business world is a tough place, especially hosting. I love linux man i love *bsd i love them all. I hate windows, may it burn. Give the people something easy to use so we all can cut costs. small businesses dont need to be paying such high priced crap to satisfy the useability of the service to customers, they need a free easy to use application for customers that can udnerstand. 2004-06-25 7:46 am A bit of a bland interview, to say the least. But what can you ask about nowadays? 2004-06-25 9:03 am The Debian Project Leader doesn’t know the competition, I am not a Soft Eng but an Economist and I am amazed at how he, being the project leader doesn’t know its enviroment, the most he can say is that he used Next machines!! Doen’t know Windows XP, no BSDs, …. am I wrong thinking this or what. I think Debian can’t go well this way ….. ???????? 2004-06-25 2:40 pm He talks a bit about NextSTEP and how Linux can learn from this, but never mentions GNUstep. Is this project really that much below everyone’s radar? It deserves a lot more attention, I think. 2004-06-25 2:49 pm Debian has no competition. They aren’t trying to ‘win’, or ‘beat’ anything else. They want to build a system that lets users have complete control by using freely licensed software. If there are other ways to achieve that same goal, then that’s great. There are no winners and losers in the pursuit of freedom. The only competition that the Debian project cares about is improving from previous Debian releases. Debian is not looking for market share or wealth. They’re looking for better software. Can developers learn from other systems? Sure, and they do. But those developers are working on the separate projects that Debian uses moreso than Debian itself. Debian is a distribution, the packaging of software from upstream developers. Debian itself is installation, configuration, and management tools for other software. Debian is a very large number of people doing QA, documentation, and packaging of other people’s software. Debian is not GNOME or KDE. Debian packages GNOME and KDE. GNOME and KDE developers might learn from Next, but I doubt that Debian can learn much from Next about packaging GNOME or KDE. Yes, quite a few Debian maintainers are also developers of upstream packages. But I’m trying to draw a distinction here, because many people don’t understand the difference between creating a Linux distribution and creating the software used in a distribution. 2004-06-25 3:16 pm “I did the network install of Debians Testing release. As long as you know what a partition is and how to lay out your drive, it really shouldnt be that much of a challenge to install Debian, with the anaconda installer.” Just a small correction: the new Debian-installer (http://www.debian.org/devel/debian-installer/) isn’t based on RedHat’s Anaconda. You’re thinking of Progeny’s installer (http://platform.progeny.com/anaconda/). 2004-06-25 6:43 pm Making it more user friendly to what ends? to compete with Redhat and Suse? I like debian the way it is really, it is the best non-commercialzed Linux distro. I still say that duplicating efforts in the GNU/Linux realm serves only to fragment the OS. If the Open Source “community” was serious about providing a windows alternative they would get together in a serious fashion and combine all the great ideas and features that each linux distro offers to create the one and only Uber linux distro. First place to start is to create a real linux standards body to basically say if your linux distro doesn’t comply with such and such standard it is not recommended for business use etc.. 2004-06-25 10:19 pm Userlinux is dead on arrival. Nobody of significance other than Perens is working on it. Perens made a major strategic mistake when he dissed KDE. I agree. However, it wasn’t just Bruce Perens’ dissing of KDE and it wasn’t the choosing of one desktop environment – if the right reasons could have been presented. His rational was basically “I want everyone to develop everything for free”, completely ignoring those people and companies who have created business models from the GPL. There was no requirements assessment of what these big Enterpizes who were in contact with Bruce were going to need. There was no assessment of how Office documents would carry over, no assessment of migration of VB applications or migration of macros etc. In short, nothing that was of any concern to any Enterprize was dicussed because it was all about silly licensing and kids talking about their own personal enterprize software stack. It wasn’t really about KDE, but it was only the KDE people who seemed to realize what would be required. Stay with Debian. Any service provider is going to mix and match software from core Debian anyway, and if they do go for a specific distro then they will buy one. Ultimately, providers will be the ones deciding what is best for what they are doing – not Bruce Perens. Given this, I really don’t know why UserLinux has descended into pointless and endless discussions about software choices. The first proposal for UserLinux was great and made sense. It all seems to have got totally lost now. 2004-06-26 2:17 am “Stay with Debian, Mandrake or Suse, that’s where the future of Linux is.” Wtf? What about Slackware? or Gentoo? both are excellent distros and will certainly be part of linux’s future! 2004-06-27 3:11 pm “Sarge/gnome is a bit broken at the moment though. unfortunately, but if you like KDE..” Right, i had some problems. Most notably my configuration was FUBARed, and new applets couldn’t be added while my previous configuration contained some so i didn’t even had a clock on my desktop. GDesklets still doesn’t work nor never worked. Eventually these problems went away with fresh configs. Now it works quite okay. The problems began after i updated GNOME from 2.4.2 to 2.6.1 which were new available in Sarge repository. If you decide to install the 2.4.2 version you’re safe. 2004-06-27 3:19 pm “i dont care what it is, i just want something cheap and will cut costs” Not that i disagree, but how about Solaris + UltraSPARC V? (sorry, couldn’t resist).