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Review: Debian 3.1

By Bruce Byfield on June 10, 2005 (8:00:00 AM)

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As the first Debian release to use the new installer, version 3.1, a.k.a. Sarge, goes a long way to detonating the myth that Debian is hard to install. Moreover, because it includes -- for the most part -- up-to-the-moment software while conforming to strict free software guidelines and offering better than average security, 3.1 is easily the most accessible version of Debian ever released.

On one hand, the June 6 release of Debian 3.1 matters far less than a new version of another distribution, because many Debian users have already upgraded individual packages from the Debian test, unstable, or even experimental distributions. For them, the official release (a.k.a. Debian stable) matters only for security updates. On the other hand, stable is the Debian version of choice for networks and servers, or those for whom dependability matters more than the latest software.

Installation

The steps in the new text-based Debian installer should be familiar to anyone who has installed Linux before: language and keyboard selections, partitioning, installation of the core system and boot manager, the selection of other packages, the creation of users, and the fine-tuning of the system environment. However, the new Debian installer also has features that those used to Red Hat's Anaconda or other installation programs may find unusual.

To start with, while Debian can be installed from CDs, the preferred method is a net install, in which a base system is installed from CD and the rest of the system is installed using the apt-get package manager over the Internet. Early in the installation, the installer establishes a DHCP network connection. Once the base system is installed, users can set up HTTP, FTP, hard drive, network, or even CD sources for the rest of the installation.

Another unusual feature is the extensive use of installation schemes, which are sets of options that users can select rather making manual selections. Installation schemes, of course, are common in other installation programs, especially for packages. What is unusual in Debian 3.1, though, is the extension of installation schemes into other areas.

For example, the installer's instructions recommend a single partition for new users, as well as several schemes based on how the computer will be used. The desktop scheme, for example, consists of a root and<nobr> <wbr></nobr>/home partitions, while the workstation scheme consists of a root,<nobr> <wbr></nobr>/usr,<nobr> <wbr></nobr>/var,<nobr> <wbr></nobr>/tmp and<nobr> <wbr></nobr>/home partition. The size of each partition in a scheme also varies from scheme to scheme. While the install program doesn't explain why each scheme is appropriate to a particular type of use, in many cases, anyone who is not a complete newcomer should be able to make some intelligent guesses. At the very least, they can see some alternatives to help them develop their own schemes.

Similarly, once the core system is installed and you reboot the computer, you can select packages individually using aptitude, or choose a scheme for a particular type of server or a desktop environment. The server choices are especially numerous, no doubt reflecting the market for official Debian releases.

The installer does have a few rough edges. Some users might want a middle ground between individual package selection and all 1.7GB of the KDE and GNOME desktops. Nor is aptitude a particularly easy program to use if you're unfamiliar with it.

More seriously, while video cards are supposed to be auto-detected, detection seems either unreliable or limited. The installer detected neither of the two commonplace cards on the test systems, falling back instead on the default vesa xserver. While this default gives a graphical desktop on most systems, it is unlikely to give an optimized one. As a result, a new user would either need to install a new package and edit the configuration file or -- more likely -- restart the installation from scratch. Some provision for testing the xserver during installation would alleviate such difficulties.

Still, overall the new installer gets far more right than it does wrong. Version 3.1 is the first Debian release to include support for the ReiserFS, JFS, and XFS file systems during installation. Obviously, too, the developers of the new installer have taken considerable care to make the instructions clear without dumbing down the choices to be made. The discussion of the consequences of installing the GRUB boot loader, for example, is one of the clearest I've seen. Most important of all, the new installer manages to balance presenting novices choices they can live with while giving advanced users the chance to tweak as much as they like. In fact, the installer is so detailed that it even allows users who are partitioning manually to choose the mount options listed for each partition in<nobr> <wbr></nobr>/etc/fstab -- something I've seen on no other installer. While a few improvements would be welcome, overall the new installer should manage the difficult trick of pleasing almost everyone.

Desktop and software selection

Debian 3.1 boots from GRUB using either the installed kernel or the installed kernel in single-user mode for maintenance. If you chose the desktop environment package scheme, KDE 3.3 and GNOME 2.8 are both installed. Both are largely unaltered, except for branding wallpaper and login images and the addition of the Debian menu structure to the main menus.

Official Debian releases have a reputation for having older software versions. Given that the last official release was four years ago, and point releases are often eight to 10 months apart, this reputation is often deserved. However, at this point in version 3.1's life cycle, the available software is relatively current. It includes Mozilla 1.7.8, OpenOffice.org 1.1.3, Samba 3.0.14, Python 2.3.5 and 2.4.1 (two versions are presumably included to accommodate programs with different dependencies), and Perl 5.8.4. All these selections are comparable to those available in other major distributions. Some versions are slightly behind, others slightly ahead. Mostly, the differences between these version numbers are minor.

Two notable exceptions exist. First, Debian 3.1 is still using the last free version of XFree86 while most distributions have switched to x.org. However, since the switch was caused by a change in licensing, rather than by any improvements, the different is trivial.

Second, Debian 3.1 uses the 2.4.27 kernel, rather than a more recent 2.6 version. While no doubt disappointing to many, this conservative kernel choice is in keeping with the stable distribution's emphasis on reliability. The 2.4.27 kernel is at the end of a line of development and is therefore likely to be more thoroughly debugged than the rapidly evolving 2.6 line. Although the choice may sacrifice some speed, users not caught up in the arms race of version numbers will probably never notice the difference. For those who do, Debian's kernel compilation method offers a quick solution.

Administrative tools and package installation

Like earlier versions of Debian, 3.1 lacks an administration center like SUSE's YAST. Historically, this lack may reflect the geekiness of the user base -- in the past, perhaps, most Debian users would rather edit a configuration file directly than use a GUI tool. However, at this stage in the development of GNU/Linux, the lack is less important than it used to be. The KDE Control Center has many of the tools needed for everyday administration, and any that are missing can probably be found on either the KDE or GNOME menus.

Package installation is based on apt-get, Debian's venerable but highly serviceable program that automatically determines and installs dependencies. Besides apt-get itself, version 3.1 also installs aptitude, KPackage, and Synaptic. All these graphical interfaces for apt-get have their supporters, but apt-get itself is quick enough to learn that they are hardly needed. Apt-get is also more convenient if you want to do a quick installation by opening a root command line while in an ordinary user's account.

Whatever your choice of package manager, don't be surprised if only packages from the main Debian repositories are available. Many Debian developers dislike the contrib (free but dependent on non-free programs) and non-free repositories. Over the last few years, the project has had several discussions about removing them altogether. Perhaps as a result, the archives added during installation do not include the contrib and non-free repositories. This decision means that an install of Debian 3.1 contains only free software. If you want packages like Acrobat Reader or RealPlayer, you'll have to add the other repositories to the<nobr> <wbr></nobr>/etc/apt/sources.list.

Security

Debian 3.1 is noticeably more security-conscious than other major distributions. You need the root password to mount removable drives or shut down the system. Similarly, as a minor obstacle to script kiddies, the root user cannot log in to a desktop. Nor are any unnecessary daemons configured, with the possible exception of atd.

Groups are also carefully organized. Debian 3.1 defines separate groups for basic system functions such as exim, crontab, and message bus, and membership in all groups is tightly controlled. The user account created during installation is added only to the video and plugdev groups. Users added after installation are not even added to those groups by default. Nor is any user included in the user or games groups, as they are in many distributions. The result is a system in which the security principle of least privilege is tightly observed. In other words, no user has more access to the system than is absolutely required unless it is deliberately added.

Strangely, Debian 3.1 omits enabling a firewall during installation. However, this lapse can be quickly remedied by running Bastille immediately after installation -- a step that anyone interested in security should consider anyway.

Users of Windows or commercial GNU/Linux distributions may find the security-consciousness of Debian 3.1 irksome. However, the inconveniences are small compared to the potential benefits. And, frankly, it's refreshing to see security chosen over convenience for once -- if only as a counter-example.

Conclusion

To say that Debian is no longer just for geeks would be an exaggeration. All the same, if version 3.1 is any indication, that's the way the distribution is heading.

True, it's still not a distribution to give a newcomer. Defects such as the lack of video card testing during installation or of an utomatically installed firewall still assume a knowledgeable, hands-on user who can readily overcome them.

But neither is it a distribution that should baffle any except the most inexperienced. If you've been down the install path a couple of times and always wanted to try Debian, there's never been a better time. Combining ease of use, security-consciousness, and a strict adherence to principle with a mostly current selection of well-tested software, in many ways Debian 3.1 is free software at its best.

Bruce Byfield is a course designer and instructor, and a computer journalist who writes regularly for Newsforge and the Linux Journal Web site.

Bruce Byfield is a computer journalist who writes regularly for Linux.com.

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on Review: Debian 3.1

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2.6 Kernel

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 11, 2005 03:40 AM
Looks to me like kernel 2.6 is included. Not the default, but no need to compile your own either.

kernel-image-2.6-686/stable uptodate 101
kernel-image-2.6.8-2-686/stable uptodate 2.6.8-16

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Re:2.6 Kernel

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 11, 2005 06:41 AM
One can even install with a 2.6 kernel if choosen in the boot menu.

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Re:2.6 Kernel

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 11, 2005 05:14 PM
right, just type <tt>linux26</tt> at the prompt instead of <tt>linux</tt>

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Re:2.6 Kernel

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 12, 2005 03:47 AM
It says "Press F1 for help." It says this for a reason.

Available boot methods:

linux

    Start the installation -- this is the default CD-ROM install.
expert

    Start the installation in expert mode, for maximum control.
linux26

    Start the installation using a 2.6 series linux kernel
expert26

    Start the installation in expert mode with a 2.6 kernel

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Re:2.6 Kernel

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 12, 2005 02:03 PM

Your post helped me - I need the 2.6.8 kernel because 2.4.x does not support power management on my laptop. After installing, then finding I had the useless 2.4.27 kernel, I saw your message, and re-installed.


But for something as important as this, there really should be a better way. The tendency of most people is not to ask for help until they are confronted with a question which they do not know how to answer.

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Re:2.6 Kernel

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 13, 2005 02:31 AM
Ouch! It really wasn't necessary to reinstall. Debian has lots of kernel packages available, including some for special needs. All the kernel image package names start with 'kernel-image'.

Just fire up Synaptic, click the "Search" button, type in "kernel-image", and then pick whatever kernel image you want to switch to or upgrade to.

You can also use the kernel compilation tool to custom-build a kernel to suit your exact needs, but you only need to do that if one of the available kernels doesn't meet your needs.

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Installing Debian (cheat sheet)

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 11, 2005 03:40 AM
Here are my debian caveats:

Debian is pure free software
so proprietary accelerated 3D video drivers don't come with the distro.
If you don't want to mess with proprietary drivers
then the quick/dirty/easy solution
is find a cheap Matrox G400.
It works fine with debian mga drivers (xfree86).

Install the 2.6 kernel-image package
made for your processor (for games).

To fine tune your video card type this (as root) from console:

dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xfree86

To install packages from console
use 'dselect' and/or 'tasksel'.

Edit your<nobr> <wbr></nobr>/etc/apt/sources.list to get some good repositories.
(use nano the text editor).

Here are some good entries:
---
deb <a href="ftp://ftp.us.debian.org/debian/" title="debian.org">ftp://ftp.us.debian.org/debian/</a debian.org> stable main contrib non-free
deb <a href="http://non-us.debian.org/debian-non-US/" title="debian.org">http://non-us.debian.org/debian-non-US/</a debian.org> stable/non-US main contrib non-free

deb <a href="http://security.debian.org/" title="debian.org">http://security.debian.org/</a debian.org> stable/updates main

# mplayer
deb <a href="ftp://ftp.nerim.net/debian-marillat/" title="nerim.net">ftp://ftp.nerim.net/debian-marillat/</a nerim.net> stable main
---

For initial package installation
I use 'tasksel' and 'dselect' to get started.

Use 'tasksel'
to get the general machine you want:

Desktop environment
Web server
Print server DNS server
File server
Mail server
SQL database

Use 'dselect' if you have to hand pick
individual packages

After you have your desktop going
use 'synaptic'.

Note: 'aptitude', 'dselect'. 'synaptic', 'tasksel', 'kpackage', etc.
are just different frontends to the same thing.

For debian system configuration I use 'webmin' when possible.

Install 'webmin' and any of the webmin modules you might need.

Then point your browser to
<a href="https://localhost:10000/" title="localhost">https://localhost:10000/</a localhost>

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Re:Installing Debian (cheat sheet)

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 11, 2005 03:52 AM
NOTE: This message board inserts the website name.

In my<nobr> <wbr></nobr>/etc/apt/sources.list entries
REMOVE the following from all of the<nobr> <wbr></nobr>/etc/apt/sources.list entries:

[debian.org]
[nerim.net]

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Re:Installing Debian (cheat sheet)

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 11, 2005 11:50 PM
I was under the impression that the non-US repositories had been obsoleted.

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there is also room for proprietary drivers

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 20, 2005 05:43 PM
Actually I've never seen any installer that would recognize 100% of hardware, especially state-of-the-art graphics. Windows fail too.
The cheat sheet should include that if installer fails to recognize and user is still not happy with defaults: look up google for "myhardware debian way" -- in 99% of cases you'll find a success story about your hardware and important configuration lines that fix the problem once and for all.

Now about proprietary drivers:
I am happy with current ATI open-source (add it to Matrox list).
Nvidia: use module-assistant which will download stuff for you, compile and install all the nitty kernel things:
<a href="http://home.comcast.net/~andrex/Debian-nVidia/debian.html" title="comcast.net">http://home.comcast.net/~andrex/Debian-nVidia/deb<nobr>i<wbr></nobr> an.html</a comcast.net>

AFAIK module-assistant is being extended to many more problems like installing proprietary drivers for wireless cards and so on.

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are we in 2005 or 1995?!?!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 11, 2005 03:41 AM
More seriously, to get a graphical desktop, users must know the system's video card so that they can choose an xserver. Admittedly, the default of vesa should work on most systems. Yet, since the installer neither autodetects the video card nor makes any provision for testing the selection, a mistake means either downloading another package and editing the configuration file from the command line or -- more likely for a newcomer -- restarting from scratch.

This is absolutely unacceptable in 2005! Not at a time when Knoppix and others can easily detect and test a videocard, when ALL other major distros have sophisticated hardware detection and configuration scripts.

I am very sympathetic to Debian and the folks maintaining and developing it, but as long as they persist in their geek-oriented tool development policy I will not be able to reccommend Debian to my friends.

Calling text-based installer which does not detect hardware "new" in 2005 really is symptomatic of a deep problem.

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Re:are we in 2005 or 1995?!?!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 11, 2005 04:13 AM
Knoppix, Ubuntu and probably other Debian based distros all have excellent automatic hardware detection and configuration. Debian 3.1 should definitely have it as well and I can't see any reason that they couldn't have incorporated the feature from one of these distributions.

On the other hand, with the lengthy development times associated with Debian, it may be another three years before we see such functionality in Debian.

Don't recommend Debian to your friends, recommend Ubuntu, Debian goodness without Debian BS.

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If Ubuntu also uses Sarge

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 11, 2005 08:47 AM
Then I pass - no thanks.

Does it in fact?

That's what the poster below claimed
<a href="http://os.newsforge.com/comments.pl?sid=47419&cid=114216" title="newsforge.com">http://os.newsforge.com/comments.pl?sid=47419&cid<nobr>=<wbr></nobr> 114216</a newsforge.com>

And since neither Knoppix or Kanotix allow a user to choose installed packages (you have to install the full live-CD) I think I will not use Debian, or its derivatives, until Debian finally comes shipped with a modern installer.

So here, Debian project leaders, you know what we expect from you:

1) hardware detection
2) GUI installer
3) package choice during install

Will we have to wait until 2015 or 2025?

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Re:If Ubuntu also uses Sarge

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 11, 2005 05:55 PM
jesus.

first, ubuntu is based on a snapshot of Debian Sid (unstable).

second, the hardware detection in debian is good. I've had no problems with my ATI cards (fglrx drivers are non-free and must be installed separately (deb repos: <a href="http://xoomer.virgilio.it/flavio.stanchina/debian/fglrx-installer.html)" title="virgilio.it">http://xoomer.virgilio.it/flavio.stanchina/debian<nobr>/<wbr></nobr> fglrx-installer.html)</a virgilio.it>).

third, GUI installers are not needed. Textmode is slicker and less 60Hz-headache-inducing hell, AND NO MORE DIFFICULT.

And OF COURSE you can choose manually which packages to install during install. *sigh*.

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Perfect?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 11, 2005 11:48 PM
jesus. blah blah blah *sigh*

From your glib, psuedo elitist, remarks it sounds like Debian is just perfect. Indeed, it may be perfect for you. But, even you must admit that with so many complaints about it for SO MANY YEARS, that there is a problem.

There is definitely a problem. After YEARS, Debian has finally made a new release and that release is still WAY behind the times. Claims of stability and security are no longer being accepted because Debian seems to offer little or nothing more than other distributions that are far more current.

Regardless of your opinion, Debian is marginalizing itself because it is not meeting the needs or requirements of its users and other distributions, such as Ubuntu, are meeting those needs. Even Debian's new project leader is painfully aware of this and has stated that he and the Debian team are working to change it.

The question being asked now is whether or not the changes are too little too late. The underlying suspicion is that it is too little too late.

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Re:Perfect?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 12, 2005 03:54 AM
Oh no! Sarge didn't automatically detect my video card! Debian is dying!

dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xfree86

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Re:If Ubuntu also uses Sarge

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 12, 2005 12:20 AM
1) hardware detection

Please list a single GNU/Linux distribution that detects every single piece of hardware. Good luck it does not exist. Microsoft's product doesn't even accomplish this.

2) GUI installer

Why do you have to be able to mouse through a menu during an installation? Is there something wrong with your keyboard? Or are you looking for that small bit of eyecandy that you should only see once?

3) package choice during install

This is available in the Debian Installer, had you used it at least once and not merely reacted with your preconceived notion that your distribution is in some way better than another, you would know this.

It sounds to me like you want your PC or workstation to be configured automatically with little to no input from the end user, if this is really what you want, then maybe you are better off going with a proprietary OS like Microsoft's and not a free OS that gives choice to the end user.

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Re:If Ubuntu also uses Sarge

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 12, 2005 03:16 AM
Amen brother.

Graphical installers are just eye candy to entertain you for 30 min. while the installation last. It also consume valuable resources and slow down the installation process, at least in my experience with GUI installers like RedHat or Suse.

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1995?!?! lamness filter encounterd

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 11, 2005 04:17 AM
Windows 95 never had any trouble properly detecting and automatically configuring video cards. You'll need to go back further than that.

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Re:1995?!?! lamness filter encounterd

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 14, 2005 07:01 PM
"Windows XY never had any trouble.."

Riiight. And debian super cows fly.

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Re:1995?!?! lamness filter encounterd

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 17, 2005 01:50 PM
You weren't there when Win3.11 were used were you?
Dos didn't have auto-detecting, just that most devices was BIOS compatible.
Auto-detection of devices during installation started with Windows 94 but it was still far from perfeck:
Detecting... yes.
Automatically configuring... not always.
Most of the time it just says it found an unknown device and asks you to supply a 3rd party driver. (And that's why Win95 had stability problems in many cases.)

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Re:are we in 2005 or 1995?!?!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 11, 2005 04:21 AM
Here! Here! Debian definitely seems to be geared more for the tinker geek. I can't see sysadmins wanting or even having the time to sit and tweak a Debian install. I also agree that there seems to be no excuse for Debian not to have better autodetect for hardware. Maybe they need to look at Progeny or even Ubuntu and how these use Anaconda. A TUI interface if fine for install, but it might be nice to have a choice of TUI or GUI. There's nothing I've seen in 3.1 Debian that I'd call new, probably all it really is, is a security release.

#

Re:are we in 2005 or 1995?!?!

Posted by: Matthew on June 11, 2005 09:10 AM
News flash! Ubuntu does not use Anaconda. Ubuntu uses a modified version fo the TEXT installer that debian uses. It is a very good installer... And anaconda pales in comparison (from a technical point of view).

What a lot of people fail to realize is that the debian installer can very eaisly be made into a graphical installer. The debian project does not really see the benifits of such a move though, thus the reason they stick with text.

Also Debian, does autodetect hardware, unlike some have been saying...

Also this is much more than a security release. The old debian had X 4.2, gnome 2.2 (I think, or maybe 2.0, or maybe 1.4), and a bunch of other old things. This is a big accomplishment for the Debian project and it has plenty of new stuff...

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So do it - dammit!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 11, 2005 08:03 PM
What a lot of people fail to realize is that the debian installer can very eaisly be made into a graphical installer. The debian project does not really see the benifits of such a move though, thus the reason they stick with text

That's such a stupid approach: "Me, myself and I" - THEY do not see the point, so THEY will not do it. How about thinking about their USERS?!?! If it is easy to do, and since a huge number of people seem to want it, THEY SHOULD DO THIS ASAP. At least as an option. They would immensly improve the attractivness of their product if they offered a GUI installer as an OPTION (geeks could stick to CLI if they wanted)

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Re:So do it - dammit!

Posted by: cammoblammo on June 12, 2005 06:40 PM
Bear in mind that Debian is not a commercial operation, and few of the developers are actually employed by Debian. One of the first things the new project leader upon coming to the role did was to audit the assets owned by the project. It was a difficult task, and (from memory) the total came to around $40,000 US.

Debian's job is to get a collection of software that works, and put it up for whoever wants it. If it doesn't suit the users, that's really not their problem.

Many other distros are commercial, and they base themselves on Debian (Ubuntu, Mepis, Linspire, and so on.) Their job is to take Debian as a base, configure it for the less geeky among us, and sell it (or however their business model works.)

Without Debian, none of these distros would exist.

Don't like it? Then don't use it. It ain't making a difference to Debian's bottom line.

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Re:So do it - dammit!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 17, 2005 02:12 PM
Actually I'd say that they ARE thinking about their users. Most Debian users use the installer a couple times the first week then use the resulting installation for a very long time.
You'd rather that they'd delayed the launch while they debugged the graphical gui? Or have the text installer now and maybe the graphical installer later? It's not like they're forbidden to ever add a graphical installer to Sarge, they could add that in the next minor upgrade. As Ubuntu already has made a graphical gui to the debian-installer they'd probable be asked if it's ok to ship that with debian as well.
What's with this THEY SHOULD anyway. Did you make substansible donation or something? Debian is made by a community of (mostly) unpaid developers and if you want to add some code you're free to join.

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So do it your damn self!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 24, 2005 08:44 AM
You seem to think the Debian developers owe you something. What's up with that?

You're getting something for Free here! Wow, how totally awesome is that!!!! Can you believe your good fortune?

Not only is it free to you right now, but they promise to spend hours and hours of their own precious time scouring the code and tracking announcements to find and repair errors that have security consequences to users of this amazing free gift.

What kind of person turns around and spits in the face of such kindness? Perhaps also "a huge number of people seem to want"... a pony, chocolate cake, someone to cook them dinner. Should *volunteers* within the Debian project jump up, open their wallets and buy you a pony, some cake, free lunch?

Your attitude sucks, sir.

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Re:are we in 2005 or 1995?!?!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 11, 2005 10:14 AM
Sorry to doubt your person, but you obviously are no system admin.
I still run Woody on all my servers and am quite happy with that. I plan to upgrade to Sarge next week and here's how:
1. install Sarge on my laptop using netinst with no tasksel or extra packages yielding a minimal sarge system.
2. boot knoppix
3. mount<nobr> <wbr></nobr>/dev/hda1<nobr> <wbr></nobr>/newsarge; cd<nobr> <wbr></nobr>/newsys; tar cvzf<nobr> <wbr></nobr>../sarge-sys.tar.gz *
4. move services from server[i] to server[i+1%N] and make good backups
5. run dpkg --get-selections > dpkg-sel.txt on server[i]
6. boot knoppix on server[i]
7. cfdisk<nobr> <wbr></nobr>/dev/hda; mount<nobr> <wbr></nobr>/dev/hda1<nobr> <wbr></nobr>/newsarge; cd newsys; tar xvzf<nobr> <wbr></nobr>../sarge-sys.tar.gz
8. reboot and run dpkg --set-selections dpkg-sel.txt; apt-get upgrade
9. import<nobr> <wbr></nobr>/etc and data from backups
10. reinstate services
11. put apt-get update; apt-get -s upgrade in cron.daily

Did you notice how I never mentioned anything about clicking with the mouse.
This is quite possibly the easiest install method ever devised and I used it multiple times with my Woody and OpenBSD servers.
This is of course a rough draft, but the gist of it is to use a single system image replicated to all servers, install using apt-get and tweak<nobr> <wbr></nobr>/etc by hand.

Real Admins install once and replicate.<nobr> <wbr></nobr>;)

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Something you don't understand

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 12, 2005 02:19 PM
There's nothing I've seen in 3.1 Debian that I'd call new

The whole point of the Debian "Stable" release is that nearly everything in it has been tested for about 3 years. That's the only way to know it's stable. The word "stable" really means something in the Debian world. Expect never to have to re-boot a machine running Debian Stable, unless you have to replace a piece of hardware inside the case.


If you want more up-to-date stuff then you should be using the Debian "testing" distro, called Etch. This distro corresponds roughly to the level of stability that you'd get from a Redhat distro; in other words, it's actually very stable.


Or if you really want the latest features you can get the "sid" distro, which also is more stable than you might expect, corresponding roughly in stability to the typical Microsoft Windows release. Expect to have to re-boot this every week or so.


BTW I agree with you that the installer's hardware autodetect needs work.

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Re:are we in 2005 or 1995?!?!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 11, 2005 04:26 AM
Not at a time when Knoppix and others can easily detect and test a videocard, when ALL other major distros have sophisticated hardware detection and configuration scripts.

I think you'll find that, although Knoppix is better than Debian at hardware detection, there are still cards which it doesn't auto-detect. For those cards, the Debian way is arguably better.


The real problem with video cards is non-technical - some manufacturers have been conditioned by Microsoft to not give out complete programming information for their cards.

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Re:are we in 2005 or 1995?!?!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 11, 2005 04:52 AM
"Conditioned by Microsoft"? You really are off your rocker and high on RMS's dope. Some companies believe that to maintain a competitive advantage or to control their own quality they must maintain closed source drivers. Hardware has very low profit margins. Giving away all your secrets could ruin your business. Having unstable drivers could ruin your reputation. This has nothing at all to do with Microsoft.

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Re:are we in 2005 or 1995?!?!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 16, 2005 11:38 AM
Yeah, right. Whatever you say.

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Re:are we in 2005 or 1995?!?!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 11, 2005 05:10 AM
It does auto detection. The article is wrong on this part. Technically the autodetection is done from the script "post_install" script in the package. It asks you several questions, first of which is whether to autodetect the card. Then it displays the settings it detected. After that you set the screen resolution you want it to run at. It defaults to 800x600 which I find annoying but I have found most users want to use that resolution "because the others are hard to see".

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Re:are we in 2005 or 1995?!?!

Posted by: Bruce Byfield on June 11, 2005 05:42 AM
This is where comments to an article can be useful. Reviewers can't possibly test broadly. They can only write about what they observe -- and, on the two systems I used, no auto-detection occurred.

Thanks for the correction.

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Re:are we in 2005 or 1995?!?!

Posted by: Bruce Byfield on June 11, 2005 06:33 AM
Corrections have been made. Thanks again for pointing out the mistake.

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Re:are we in 2005 or 1995?!?!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 12, 2005 06:18 PM
It does auto detection. The article is wrong on this part

Technically I suppose you are correct, but to many people, "auto-detection that gets it wrong" is no better than no auto-detection.


It defaults to 800x600 which I find annoying but I have found most users want to use that resolution

Crap. A user who wants 800x600 will buy 800x600, which is a lot cheaper than 1024x960 especially if it's LCD. A configuration which runs my 1024x960 LCD at 800x600 is just broken.

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Re:are we in 2005 or 1995?!?!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 11, 2005 08:46 AM
The text based installer properly separates presentation from functionality. A graphical installer that uses the same "engine" won't be that hard. The Debian based desktop centric distros can and probably are doing this.

Secondly, the installer has to work properly across many arches. It has to be bit and endian clean. The graphical installers being praised to the skies mostly only work on x86.

Thirdly, the installer has to work on things like serial links for some applications. There is a fair amount of hardware out there that doesn't sport VGA and DVI ports.

Fourthly, Debian Stable is typically only used on servers. Any admin who positively absolutely needs GUI handholding has no business being an admin. It's nice to have but any skilled admin should be able to more than cope with out it. Something like Mepis can be used to graphically install a Debian Unstable based desktop.

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Re:are we in 2005 or 1995?!?!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 12, 2005 07:03 PM
The text based installer properly separates presentation from functionality.

True, but irrelevant because what people are primarily complaining about is its poor functionality and human engineering. The fact that it's text-based instead of GUI is secondary.


Secondly, the installer has to work properly across many arches.

Having to deal with other architectures is not an excuse for skimping on functionality which applies only to x86. Please remember that the installer always knows what cpu architecture it is running on.


Debian Stable is typically only used on servers

I'm sorry, but that's complete bollocks. Debian Stable is used by lots of people who value stability very highly, who don't want to waste any of their time rebooting or recovering lost data. Debian Stable is a very fine operating environment - in some ways, the best there is. It's just the installer that is a steaming pile of manure.

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Re:are we in 2005 or 1995?!?!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 11, 2005 11:58 AM
Remember, free software is about FREEDOM!

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freedom to choose also please!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 11, 2005 07:59 PM
yes. and how about the FREEDOM to chose a GUI or CLI installer?!

I am pissed at Debian precisely because I very much admire their committment to freedom and I wish they "de-geeked" their approach to installing and get on par with the Mandrivas, Suses, Fedoras etc.

Free software should mean BETTER software - not geekier software

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Re:freedom to choose also please!

Posted by: cammoblammo on June 12, 2005 06:51 PM
You do have the freedom to chose a GUI or CLI installer. The problem you have is that Debian have the freedom to not include one in their install.

Really, the idea that Debian is infringing on your freedoms by leaving out a GUI installer is ridiculous. Call a referendum, we'd better amend the Constitution. GUI installers for all! It's our right!

BTW, have you ever actually used the Debian installer? By BETTER I think you meant PRETTIER...

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freedom to contribute a patch please!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 24, 2005 08:50 AM
What have YOU done for Free software lately?

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Re:are we in 2005 or 1995?!?!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 12, 2005 04:21 PM
Please keep in mind that Debian is designed to be a highly stable and secure, expert-friendly, universal operating system, not a plug-n-play, user-friendly operating system. It does an excellent job at being user-friendly and plug-n-play when it doesn't have to do so at the expense of stability, security, expert-friendliness, or universality.

One aspect of its universality, which makes auto-detection extremely difficult, is the fact that it works for 11 different architectures. It is indeed 2005 when you can have a distribution which works for 11 different architectures yet still maintain the level of auto-detection that Debian 3.1 does.

If all you're looking for is a user-friendly Debian that works well for x86, please choose Ubuntu, Mepis, Xandros, or dozens of the other excellent Debian-based distributions that are specifically designed for this.

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learning curve

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 13, 2005 10:08 AM
Once you learn it though, it's simple - what if you want to ever (and wouldn't you possibly ever want to?) buy a NEW video card for your computer...

huh?

Reinstall? C'mon, give me a break. And you're probably good to know what the files are and where they are and how they work if you ever want to switch monitors as well.

The best explanation I have found, the one that did it for me, and the one I refer to every now and then when I want to doublecheck what I am doing -- it's on the FreeBSD website in the handbook under how to set up (configure) an X-server. It's SO incredibly easy it's almost a joke.

become root

cd

XFree86 -configure

creates the configuration file XF86Config.new

XFree86 -xf86config XF86Config.new

tests the configuration file.

Ctrl-Alt-Backspace gets you out of the test server which is just a grey hash-type thing with an x for the mouse

it usually works.

Take your file -<nobr> <wbr></nobr>/root/XF86Config.new

and cp it to<nobr> <wbr></nobr>/etc/X11/XF86Config-4.

You're good to go.

It's the FreeBSD handbook, Chapter 5.

Now, you can buy a brand new fancy video card and not have to reinstall your operating sytem! How cool is that?

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Yes, hardware upgrade w/o full OS reinstall rocks!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 24, 2005 09:04 AM
I have run Debian for over 5 years on 3 different machines. I have used the Debian installer exactly 3 times, once per machine, even though two of those boxes have almost entirely different components now than at the original install.

I only ever reboot for hardware or kernel upgrades or to physically relocate a machines.

I also have only ever burned one Debian installer CD, reusing it except on the PPC machine which was a completely net-based install bootstrapped by the vendor supplied OS. With an always-on high-speed internet connection the latest Debian packaged software is only ever a simple "apt-get dist-upgrade" away.

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Re:are we in 2005 or 1995?!?!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 22, 2005 04:13 AM
Do you think the gui video detection utilities always work? Would you like to own the Brooklyn Bridge?
Knowing how to configure X is something most people who aren't newest of noobs learn to do. It's not too much different from playing with video settings in Windows, except you have to learn how to use a text editor. THere are lots of tutorials.
No matter what Linux distro you try you are going to have configuration issues if you try it on enough hardware.
If you don't like it the Debian developers would gladly accept a patch. Otherwise Shut Up.

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DebianSarge

Posted by: Hillbilly on June 11, 2005 03:46 AM
i have the first four CD images, as a long time Slack/KDE user i am about to setup DebianSarge/Gnome in an extra disk partition, i have used Sarge late last year when the weekly ISOs were being released...

enjoy

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The default of vesa is NOT acceptable

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 11, 2005 04:20 AM
the default of vesa should work on most systems.

It depends what you mean by "work". It will let you use your computer, after a fashion. But most people's definition of "working" is that if your equipment supports, say, 1280x1024 resolution at a refresh rate of 85Hz, the software will operate it with those parameters.


Personally, I'm not so hung up about graphics speed because I don't play shoot-em-up games. But looking at a big CRT monitor at a refresh rate of 72Hz gives me a headache pretty quickly. YMMV of course. Older eyes are more sensitive to flicker, I hear.


Please understand, I'm not complaining about Debian or about Linux. To make it work with your graphics card, you need to know exactly what your graphics card is, (you should really have selected it with Linux in mind), and you may have to edit your XF86Config-4 file. The culprits are certain video-card manufacturers who will not publish programming information for their cards.


What I'm complaining about is fanboys like this reviewer who pretend the situation is much better than it really is. Tell people the truth, please. Lying to them will turn them against Linux when they find out they've been deceived.

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Reading in context would be nice

Posted by: Bruce Byfield on June 11, 2005 05:22 AM


I discussed xservers in the context of problems with the installer. I said that while vesa would work, using it meant either more work after the install or starting again if the user didn't know any better.




How could you possibly get the impression that I thought the default was acceptable?




If you want to complain about something, you will probably find your efforts much more effective if you respond to what's actually said, instead of what you imagine was said.

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Re:Reading in context would be nice

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 11, 2005 07:10 PM

Nice one, Bruce. You change the text of your review, then flame me for responding to something you didn't say.


The original version of your review did say "the default of vesa should work on most systems." If you want to claim that it's what I imagine you said instead of what you actually said, then perhaps you can explain how it is that mine is not the only response which quoted that phrase.


Your modified review is better than the original, just don't try to change history, OK?

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and the result is...

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 11, 2005 09:19 PM
Bruce 0 : Anonymous 1

Anonymous wins by KO.

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Re:Reading in context would be nice

Posted by: Bruce Byfield on June 12, 2005 02:56 AM
I didn't change the text because of your comment. I changed the text because someone else pointed out a mistake. I checked it out, and posted an acknowledgement. Look through the comments, and you'll find it.

When I responded to your comment, the text was still unaltered. For the record, my original comment was:

"More seriously, to get a graphical desktop, users must know the system's video card so
that they can choose an xserver. Admittedly, the default of vesa should work on most systems.
Yet, since the installer neither autodetects the video card nor makes any provision for testing
the selection, a mistake means either downloading another package and editing the configuration
file from the command line or -- more likely for a newcomer -- restarting from scratch."

So, I repeat: if you read in context, you'll see that I was not saying that the default was acceptable.

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Re:Reading in context would be nice

Posted by: WarPengi on June 13, 2005 12:24 AM
So I guess it's now,

Bruce 1 : Anonymous 0

for idiots that think forums are a place to keep score rather than a place for discussion and learning.

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obviously

Posted by: James M. Susanka on June 11, 2005 05:10 AM
debian is still not for the first time user like Ubuntu, Knoppix, Xandors, Linspire -
It is obviously for servers - I upgraded from stable two servers this week in other cities and all went well - I am using Ubuntu for my desktop and it just plain rocks.

I was surprised that they defaulted to the 2.4 kernel.

I have to agree with the earlier posters - it is 2005 five and as much as I like hacking files as the other guy you really should have some kind of autodetection for getting into a gui at install time. I like Ubuntu's installer - it is not pretty or graphical but it works and is solid and it has detected all my graphic cards so far on all 12 boxes I have installed it on without me going into the xorg.conf file - although I have to admit I did on my workstation to allow drop shadows - but that is just me.

I just want to thank the debian team for all their contributions and hard work - they contribute a lot to open source and it is appreciated. I will always recommend them for servers - but desktops I would go with the others above along with SUSE and maybe Redhat -

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Re:obviously

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 11, 2005 07:06 AM
I like Ubuntu's installer- it is not pretty or graphical but it works and is solid...

Uh...you do know that Ubuntu uses the same installer that Debian 3.1 (Sarge) is currently using? The Ubuntu team just modified their version a little I think, but its basicly similar to the Debian installer program that was introduced last year on the rc versions of Sarge.

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Slackware security

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 11, 2005 05:36 AM
> Debian 3.1 is noticeably more security-conscious than other major distributions. You need the root password to mount removable drives or shut down the system.

So does Linux Slackware<nobr> <wbr></nobr>:)

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Sheesh.

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 11, 2005 06:16 AM
All Linux systems have been like this for years. Only very recently, after years and years of complaints, have the more convenient features of automounting drives, subfs, hotplugging USB devices and restarting your desktop been made available to lowly users. This new functionality can of course be disabled or, more accurately, not enabled in the first place if you really wish to remain in the dark ages.

The security offered by root only mounts and shutdowns is negligible, especially on the desktop. The fact that Debian and Slackware still refuse to implement hotpluggability, as per their users requests, is just further evidence of their increasing shift to irrelevance.

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Re:Slackware security

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 13, 2005 06:26 PM
shame slackware is a piece of shit eh

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Re:Slackware security

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on July 09, 2005 12:06 PM
You're a piece of shit. Your intelligence is too low to appreciate the effectiveness of Slackware.

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Fair Review, solid system, questionable usability

Posted by: Brian Masinick on June 11, 2005 11:22 AM
I am completely sold on the opinion that Debian based software makes, for me, the best and most useful core for my personal desktop and development system. However, I do NOT find the base Debian project as the most effective way of getting to my target system. For that, I appreciate the integrators, whether commercial or non commercial.

The Sarge installer is a HUGE improvement over the Woody installer and even a bigger leap over Debian installers prior to that (which are too ancient to be of much use except for ancient hardware). Debian packaging and the overall system continue to be a near ideal model of what software packaging ought to be.

I tested the Sarge installer a while before the release, so my comments should have that taken into consideration, but I don't think all that much has changed from the time I last tried the installer to what we see now in the released version of Sarge.

It was my opinion then (and I commented on it to the team) that everything worked OK - detection of hardware was fine on my system, but the program was WAY too interactive and lacked any useful streamlining. Because of the number of diverse systems and architectures that Debian supports, I can understand that Debian asks more questions than most other systems. I have to wonder a few things, though: 1. Why can't the Debian installer detect what kind of hardware it is running on? 2. If there have to be "twenty questions", why can't they be organized in such a way that they can be asked all at once, as close to the beginning of the installation as possible, then reducing further interaction unless specifically requested?

If the Debian project would address these issues, I think it would be a much better accepted distribution. As it stands, I think that the core system is the very best. However, I prefer to obtain it by downloading customized versions, either commercially developed or freely available. My two current favorites are Libranet and SimplyMEPIS. Both of them provide a Debian experience surrounded by a default installation and desktop environment that is easy to manage.

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gentoo install cd

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 13, 2005 01:51 PM
yeah, it's true. What I like about Debian is the upgrade process, apt-get.org, and the possibilities that this kind of setup represents.

But I almost always use the gentoo install CD to get debian up and running. For me, it has always been xfs or jfs or so on - install on ext3, use the gentoo install cd to "cp -a" partitions around and get everything on jfs or xfs.

Nothing beats the upgrade process (but I save the previous<nobr> <wbr></nobr>.deb files). Primarily, xprint and just now libavcodeccvs previous deb files have saved me from failing mplayers and xprints.

What Debian has going for it is the upgrade process, and the "concept" of entering a URI into<nobr> <wbr></nobr>/etc/apt/sources.list. These are extremely powerful concepts. But I find that I need to combine it with something like the Gentoo install CD, which is an incredibly powerful system that allows you to establish a chroot environment (which I haven't ever needed) -- but it has all the stuff - mkfs.jfs, mkfs.xfs, etc...

Someone should take the Gentoo installer and the Debian packaging system and combine them and it would be totally awesome, but maybe not best for beginners.

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only for debian lovers

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 11, 2005 01:13 PM
Overly positive article. Unless you are a Debian lover, 3.1 is neither easy to set up, nor offers anything really new to users used to the other friendlier distros. Perhaps it might be attractive to those who consider it the last best free distro with reliable/constant updates. Even in this regard, CentOS would be a much better choice--all the ease of use and documentation of Red Hat, plus reliable updates, without any cost (of subscription). If you are like most people, the OS matters less than what you can do with it (viz. the apps). Using Debian really means dickin around a lot more at the OS layer getting things to work. Great for wannabe-geeks, less useful for the practical world (true geeks use Slackware). Advice for Debian: Be more like a CentOS but without the reliance of Red Hat for the errata.

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Re:only for debian lovers

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 11, 2005 07:02 PM
How about you go fuck yourself?

Please call me when Centos has the software catalog of Debian?

Yeah, right.

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Re:only for debian lovers

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 11, 2005 11:41 PM
Geek wannabe part stung huh?
Software catalog??? Of what? MP3 players and trivial apps? Go look at all the heavy iron enterprise apps--they run only on SUSE or RHEL. Look at IBM, they support only SUSE and RHEL.
Your response is typical--kiddie with a passing fixation (in this case Debian). No wonder Debian isn't taken seriously if foul mouthed juveniles like you are the ones "prmoting" it!
Grow up, get a job, see the real world.

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Re:only for debian lovers

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 15, 2005 03:47 PM
"Go look at all the heavy iron enterprise apps--they run only on SUSE or RHEL."
Could you please decide wether you want to talk about beginners(wrt Linux) who could profit[1] from a GUI installer or from professional admins (who probably won't install the machine by hand but by preseeding)?

[1] I still doubt the advantage of GUI installers -- if i doesn't work with your graphic card, you are lost (and yes, I had this experience).

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Re:only for debian lovers

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 18, 2005 10:38 PM
What heavy iron enterprise apps are you talking about. All of them are proprietary application and don't support Debian because Debian is 100% Free Software. Just try to find out if those "Heavy Iron Enterprise Apps" companies can inject in a proprietary code into the linux kernel ?

They support RHEL and SLES only for the marketing and spoc reason.
Your comment on Debian is naive because you haven't thoroughly tallied the features present in Debian.

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Good review

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 11, 2005 02:46 PM
I liked the review and I like Debian. It's the biggest GNU/Linux distro (11 supported architectures, over 1000 developers, Hurd and BSD kernels as alternatives to Linux), it has more packages than any other distro, and its package management system is the most sophisticated in the GNU/Linux world. And yet Debian is better suited for the experienced user than for the beginner. Beginners might enjoy more some Debian based distro like Kanotix, Mepis, Ubuntu, Libranet, Linspire, or Xandros. Or maybe a Debian based live-CD like Knoppix or Damn Small Linux. Whatever your choice will be, it is the undisputable fact that Debian rules the GNU/Linux world!<nobr> <wbr></nobr>:-)

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Mount options - not true...

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 11, 2005 06:49 PM
In fact, the installer is so detailed that it even allows users who are partitioning manually to choose the mount options listed for each partition in<nobr> <wbr></nobr>/etc/fstab -- something I've seen on no other installer.



Mandriva Linux 2005 LE has this option as well. You can select the mount options for any created partition (graphically, with explanations of the choices).



<a href="http://en.jakilinux.org/" title="jakilinux.org">Linux distros compared: JAKILINUX.ORG</a jakilinux.org>

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Debian aka Kanotix

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 11, 2005 09:48 PM
I switched to the Kanotix live CD distro which is Debian based and it works great. I didn't install anything, just made a permenant 300 meg home directory on my second hard disk (which holds a poorly functioning Mandrake 10.1 system) used myconfig to save my settings, which allows me to reboot and be up and running in about two minutes. The only thing I have to reset is SAMBA. I use the defaults and my wife and kids have access to my printer from their machines running the other operating system.

I,m done with disk installs and upgrade woes. All my old files are there on the disk whenever I need them. I can save anything I want to disk.

And it's not all that slower on my 1800 Athelon with 500 megs of RAM.

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The base Sarge is not optimized for the desktop...

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 11, 2005 11:42 PM
That is the concept behind sub-distributions such as <a href="http://www.knoppix.net/" title="knoppix.net">Knoppix</a knoppix.net>, <a href="http://kanotix.com/" title="kanotix.com">Kanotix</a kanotix.com>, <a href="http://www.ubuntulinux.org/" title="ubuntulinux.org">Ubuntu</a ubuntulinux.org>, <a href="http://livecd.debianitas.net/" title="debianitas.net">Elive</a debianitas.net>, <a href="http://www.mepis.org/" title="mepis.org">Mepis</a mepis.org>, <a href="http://www.libranet.com/" title="libranet.com">Libranet</a libranet.com> (...), and many others cover the desktop region and so you will soon see (as some of these have been updated already!) some solid releases arriving.

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Don't waste your time

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 12, 2005 12:09 AM
...if like me, you had hoped for a better installer. The article is misleading. The installer is not much different from Woody. Text-based, easy to get lost in navigation, and asks in a lengthy paragraph for a decision to be made, often in overly technical jargon. Some posters' zealous advice to use Debian derivatives only strengthens the perception that Debian is not quite good enough, or that it is only adequate as an invisible backend for others to build on top of. I'm sure the other major distros are appreciateive of Debian though: It makes them look better, and relegates Debian to a tinkerer or educational system whose real utility is perhaps for LPI Exams.

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Re:Don't waste your time

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 12, 2005 01:20 AM
Hopefully these screenshots will help you from getting lost in navigation.

<a href="http://shots.osdir.com/slideshows/slideshow.php?release=184&slide=1" title="osdir.com">http://shots.osdir.com/slideshows/slideshow.php?r<nobr>e<wbr></nobr> lease=184&slide=1</a osdir.com>

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Re:Don't waste your time

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 12, 2005 06:08 PM
...if like me, you had hoped for a better installer.

I think you have summed up Debian better than the reviewer. It is a good system, handicapped by a truly crap installer.


I don't mind the fact that the installer is text-based so much; the real problem is that it doesn't do its job, which is to auto-detect as much of the hardware as possible. The graphics card detection is especially lame. I would say that this installer is not ready to be released.

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Re:Graphics card detection

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 13, 2005 07:50 AM
I have to disagree with you on this point: The graphics card detection is especially lame.

Have you ever tried installing GNU/Linux on a system with a high-end graphics card? While I can't speak for the open-source ATI drivers available within X the nv driver is simply not compatible with the nVidia 6800 chip (yet).

So rather than ending up at a text login where any number of problems may have happened, I would prefer to be left with a _working_ vesa driver wherein it is just a simple matter of installing the proper kernel module and editing X's config file.

For me, the installer works beautifully.

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Installer has a VERY long way to go

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 12, 2005 03:24 AM

I'm installing Debian 3.1 on a laptop. At one point it asks me:



Please enter the video card's bus identifier


Anybody who thinks this is a sensible question to ask an end-user needs a brain transplant.


I'll think about trying Debian again in maybe 2015.

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Re:Installer has a VERY long way to go

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 12, 2005 03:41 AM
Did you read what the installer suggests at that point? It says: "Users of machines other than PowerPCs or SGI Indigo2 XLs with only one video card should leave this entry blank."

But perhaps you have a PowerPC or SGI Indigo2 XL machine or more than one video cards? Otherwise it shouldn't have been too difficult to figure out what to do.

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Re:Installer has a VERY long way to go

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 12, 2005 01:50 PM
Did you read what the installer suggests at that point?

Yes.


It says: "Users of machines other than PowerPCs or SGI Indigo2 XLs with only one video card should leave this entry blank."

No, it does not. It says nothing except the message I quoted in th eoriginal post.


The message you mention (which, incidentally, also indicates severe brain-damage because the installer can tell it's running on an x86 machine, not a PowerPC) appears on a previous screen. In a sane piece of software, this should mean it has nothing to do with the current screen.


This isn't even User Interface Design 101 - it's too obvious and elementary to appear in ANY course.

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Re:Installer has a VERY long way to go

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 12, 2005 05:16 PM
When you install a new and unfamiliar system, you really should read carefully the advices on every screen. Anyway, you can always reconfigure the X settings after the installation has finished by running "dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xfree86". You can repeat this reconfiguration as many times as you need to but it would just make things easier for you if you managed to read the help screens during the initial installation.

The Debian-Installer is not designed only for x86 machines -- it supports 9 different architectures, AFAIK.

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Just Reinstall Windows XP on a New Dell

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 15, 2005 11:42 PM
If you reinstall Windows XP on a new Dell you will have to go and get video drivers that are compatible with your hardware as well. Most OSs, Windows included, only have video drivers for older hardware anyway.

#

Haughty user community

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 12, 2005 04:19 AM
Little was mentioned about the Debian community. They tend to be elitist and unfriendly to newbies, exuding a "not worth my time to respond" attitude. The experts often harbour visions of grandeur by showing off, often stalling the project. They are also seemingly hostile to perceived criticism even when it is meant to be constructive. I hope it was not some form of groupthink to always appear disdainful of "dumbed down" features that resulted in the sorry state of affairs, epitomized by its first public face to the user, its archaic installer. Like someone else said, underneath it all, Debian is very decent, and it has a lot of packages, and a great security update mechanism that is still free. Unfortunately, that is all being taken advantage of by other me-too distros at Debian's expense.

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Re:Haughty user community

Posted by: cammoblammo on June 12, 2005 07:01 PM
Unfortunately, that is all being taken advantage of by other me-too distros at Debian's expense.


Whilst this is no doubt true, don't forget that the Debian-based distros also participate in the community. The team at Ubuntu, for example, actively participate in Debian, and Ubuntu patches have made it into Sarge.

I imagine the same would be true for other distros.

#

Just look at the replies here!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 13, 2005 02:01 AM
Look at the replies here that exemplify what you are assigning to the Debian community.

Ask a silly question, get a silly answer. Ask a good question, and the Debian mailing lists are vast oceans of experience and aid.

Anyone who helps you out in a Debian forum is doing so voluntarily. Let me guess, you went in with your "project" and a deadline, and were incensed that no one jumped up to help clarify your question first, then lead you by the hand to an answer? Have you considered paid support?

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Re:Just look at the replies here!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 13, 2005 02:27 AM
"no one jumped up to help clarify your question first, then lead you by the hand to an answer?"

I had to look up the word haughty (what is this a british term or what?) and the sentence above seemd haughty to me! Learned a new word today!

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Debian is the standard

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 12, 2005 01:03 PM
There are benefits to Debian being Debian, and even benefits to Debian developers being resistant to non-free software and auto-magic installers.

It means that Debian remains a predictable development standards base for all the spin off distros that can tweak things to their heart's content to meet the demands of their market segments.

There is no need to yap and howl about Debian if you don't like it, or think it's too "geeky" -- use a derivative that suits your taste and needs.

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Re:Debian is the standard

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 12, 2005 02:14 PM
Read between the lines: "Predictable" = stagnant uninnovative, "spin offs" = fragmentation with users wasting time flitting between incompatible sub-distros as they produce incremental improvements to address Debian's "standard" shortcomings, "lack of non free" = no support for or by real world commercial apps, you know, the kind that you can get a real job with to feed your family if you aren't a teenager (the Oracles, the WebSpheres, the J2EEs, the ColdFusions). I agree with an earlier message: Debian is perhaps only useful for educational purposes, and even then only for Linux, not for enterprise class scenarios. Consider this: Go for a job interview and say "I know Red Hat or SUSE" versus saying "I know Ubuntu, Knoppix, Libranet and Mepis." You'll get laughed out of the building in the latter case.

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Re:Debian is the standard

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 12, 2005 04:42 PM
I tried to read between the lines but didn't see anything there. All this stuff you can see between the lines must come from your own imagination.<nobr> <wbr></nobr>:-P

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Re:Debian is the standard

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 12, 2005 09:42 PM
I started the "Debian is the standard" conversation.

I think if one is going to a job interview for which Linux skills are a requirement, one would be well advised to be able to say:

"I know Red Hat and Suse, but have also taken care to maintain my competance with Debian and Slackware. I feel it is important for admins to be comfortable with the three major approaches to Linux and the CLI because it opens up so many possibilities in responding to emergencies and unforseen needs."

Admins shouldn't have any difficulty working with Debian. If they don't like it, and if they are also in a decision making capacity, then by all means, go with Red Hat or SUSE for deployments.

As to ordinary users, it doesn't much matter. If anything matters, it is familiarity with the applications used on Linux, and one can be just as versed in using the Star Office suite on Libranet as on SUSE. And if you aren't, we will will teach you.

As as aside, I'm not a teenager. I'm a 48-year-old, and I feed teenagers and a "20 something" college student, and in the "real world" and for the past six years, have been the sole admin for a small company that runs Linux on all servers and most desktops, and Debian has always been a part of the mix.

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"Don't use it if you don't like it" argument

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 12, 2005 02:36 PM
I am tired of the refrain that goes, if you don't like it, don't use it. Which really is a form of freedom-limiting censorship that means, if you want to express something negative about something, don't voice it, just don't use it, but please keep quiet. The point really is not that all these brave people are bitching about something, it's really about them warning others about blindly taking at face value overly optimistic reviews like this one, and to make an informed decision before expending your bandwidth, time and blank CDs. So, if you like it, do say so. If you don't, do say so too. Don't follow the previous idiot's advice and just keep quiet; that won't get the necessary attention to make sure these Debian folks buck up and rejoin the 21st century. Golly, if the previous twit is to be believed, Debian should dump X, Gnome and KDE and be completely text, so it'd be *really* predictable.

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Re:"Don't use it if you don't like it" argument

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 12, 2005 04:51 PM
Ignorance is not something you should brag about. If you haven't tried some distro, please try to refrain from criticizing it. This has nothing to do with censorship -- voicing out your ignorance just makes you sound stupid.

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Re:"Don't use it if you don't like it" argument

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 12, 2005 05:09 PM
I'm not sure if this was in response to my comment, subj: "Re:are we in 2005 or 1995?!?!", but I didn't see any others along these lines.

My goal was to clarify and defend the design philosophy of Debian. Of course, people are free to say what they like, and they're also free to use it even if they don't like it. But in order to help readers make this informed decision you speak of, it's important that the Debian enthusiasts also speak up to defend it when they believe there are mistaken assumptions about Debian's design philosophy.

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Re:"Don't use it if you don't like it" argument

Posted by: cammoblammo on June 12, 2005 07:04 PM
I am tired of the refrain that goes, if you don't like it, don't use it. Which really is a form of freedom-limiting censorship...

Exactly. Everyone should be using it, even if they don't like it. That'll stop the censors.

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Re:"Don't use it if you don't like it" argument

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 13, 2005 03:30 AM
Debian spawned derivatives to meet diverse market demand.

Debian's value is to users who are satisfied with it; to developers of derivative distributions who aren't satisfied with Debian, but who benefit from a fairly stable and reliable distribution to base their own releases on, and; the end users who would not be satisfied with Debian, but who are happy with its derivatives.

In a sense, Debian actually fulfills much of the unmet promise of the LSB to the developers and derivative distributions that orbit it.

So, if you don't like anything about Debian, use something else. If you do somewhat like Debian, but find it too user unfriendly, use one of its many specialized derivatives.

And stop yapping about it.

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Re:"Don't use it if you don't like it" argument

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 13, 2005 03:43 AM
"And stop yapping about it. "
I think that was the poster's point--people should be allowed to "yap" about it. If you had it your way, people who disagree with you have to remain quiet. Frikkin commie.

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Re:"Don't use it if you don't like it" argument

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 13, 2005 02:15 AM
Hear, hear! In addition, notice the one liner "if you don't like it, you must be stupid or ignorant" argument by someone above. It is another example of the in breeding that goes into dark ages fanaticism that Debian can do no wrong. Make no mistake, I think the distro is neither great nor bad, just that some of its fans, are well, fanatics over so so features. No wonder it spawned so many derivatives seeking to address its weaknesses.

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Weird defaults

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 12, 2005 05:30 PM
Debian 3.1's default install makes some truly weird choices. For example, emacs is not installed by default - but vi is. Debian, your religious bigotry is showing!

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sensible solution

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 12, 2005 09:32 PM
why would ANYONE want to install Emacs anyway?!

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Re:sensible solution

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 13, 2005 02:18 AM
Same answer to "why would anyone install Debian anyway?" It's not a trivial response here. If emacs seems old fashioned or complex relative to modern editors, so is Debian relative to the other distros.

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Re:Weird defaults

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 13, 2005 06:36 AM
Because vi is (or can be) smaller, and emacs is not. emacs21-common is 35.5M uncompressed, plus the emacs packages that go with it, plus dependancies. elvis-tiny (which is the vi in base) is 92.2k plus ncurses and libc6. nvi (which is not a base package) is 647k plus those same dependancies. Once you get into the heavier vi's (like the full elvis or vim), things even out a bit, but there really is no such thing as a small emacs. Since ae does not appear to have a debian package anymore, an editor had to be chosen, and the two obvious choices are vi (elvis-tiny or nvi) or nano (which is 1MB uncompressed). I guess the choice was piss off the emacs users and confuse newbies by putting in vi, or piss off both emacs and vi users, and put in nano. Debian still isn't a newbie orientated distribution, so their choice seems reasonable enough.


Besides, I don't think vi fans will be happy with elvis-tiny anyway, and will need to install a Real Editor just like emacs fans will need to. It's all just one command away anyhow.

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Nothing New about that!

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 15, 2005 11:46 PM
vi has been the standard UNIX editor for 25 years and EMACS an addon. No news here.

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Debian 3.1: not ready yet

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 12, 2005 06:21 PM
The underlying system is pretty good. But the installer is not ready for release until it autodetects many more graphics card/monitor combinations. As a previous post said, defaulting to some rubbish VESA setting doesn't count.

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why does Debian have FOURTEEN CDs?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 12, 2005 09:07 PM
Since I have a slow modem connection I look up a place to order Debian on the net. On the BudgetLinuxCDs website Debian 3.1r0a i386 comes with 14 CDs. Is this possible? Why does it have over twice the number of CDs which the complete Mandriva DVD 2005 has?

Any ideas?!

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Because it comes with more packages

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 12, 2005 09:29 PM
Debian comes with more software (that has been tested with the released distro, and packaged for it) than other distros. This makes life easier when you want to install some optional package. You don't need to worry about dependencies on (or conflicts with) other packages. Debian has worked all that out for you.

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14,000 packages. Did you miss the "Net Install"?

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 13, 2005 02:06 AM
Download CD #1, use that.

Seriously.

That has everything you need to get a working system, Xwindows, networking, all up and going.

The other 13 disks are extras.

That's why the preferred install is the "net" install: Because telling people to burn 14 CDs is absurd.

My first Debian install was 12 3.5" floppies.

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usually you need only the first few CDs, not all

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 20, 2005 05:24 PM
because it is one of the richest distributions.
but don't be refrained by that, the most popular packages are in the first 3 or 4 CDs and you will hardly need the others.

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About hw detection

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 12, 2005 11:07 PM
IMO, the "discover" hardware autoprobing utility that Debian uses by default is pretty good. But if you're not happy with "discover", you can install additional hw autoprobing utilities after the initial installation is over. Debian has a package for RedHat's "kudzu" as well as for SUSE's "hwinfo".

You can also use apt-get to install a tool that autoprobes your graphics hardware and writes the results to the debconf database. This tool is called "xdebconfigurator" and you use it by typing "xdebconfigurator" on the command line. If you know a little bit about your graphics hardware, I'd still recommend to run "dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xfree86" after using "xdebconfigurator", just to make sure that "xdebconfigurator" got everything right! But if you're totally clueless about your graphics controller and monitor, then just type "dexconf" to automatically create an X configuration file based on the "xdebconfigurator" probe results.

You can also install a small utility called "rcconf" (to use it, type "rcconf") that lets you enable/disable your display manager (gdm/kdm), although you won't really need it if you selected "Desktop Environment" during installation. After configuring X, you can reboot the computer and you should be greeted with a graphical login screen.

Perhaps I should also mention that you need to type "su" to become root before you do any of these system administration tasks.<nobr> <wbr></nobr>:-)

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that a little besides the point

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 13, 2005 05:53 AM
IMO, the "discover" hardware autoprobing utility that Debian uses by default is pretty good. But if you're not happy with "discover", you can install additional hw autoprobing utilities after the initial installation is over

the point is that hardware autoprobing is needed *during* the install. Frankly, a better solution is to copy the files created by Knoppix to the Debian HD. No?

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Hardware support and performance

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 13, 2005 03:50 AM
I was amazed when I installed Sarge on "Bleeding Edge" hardware (at the time, few months ago), like DFI Lanparty w/SLI & dual GF6800 ultra's, software raid with SATA hard drives etc. Initially booted fine from install with default driver options if I remember correctly, (which Fedora 3 failed at). Getting 3D going was the typical Nvidia compile your own process which worked fine and PERFORMS 5 TIMES BETTER THAN XP PRO PLAYING DOOM 3. (I've been waiting for an opportunity to boast Linux/Debian kick XP's butt in this games performance). XP is unplayable (sometimes 17 fps) at ultra settings while Deb runs mostly at 63 fps because Doom3 applies a 60fps cap on Video. I am also a Suse user and found 9.2 to be unstable with my new hardware. Overall I find Sarge to a bit trickier to setup but less buggy, more dependable than the latest Suse/Fedora distos.

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After four years

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 13, 2005 03:53 AM
...and this is all they can show for it? A crappy text installer that's unfriendly, a default 2.4 kernel, and an installation process so *slow* even from CDs? No other major distro is this stagnant after four whole years. Predictable? Yeah, kind of like the Soviet Union when there was no innovation for decades. There's just something wrong with the Debian leadership. I think Ubuntu should simply take over Debian and put it out of its misery. Look how far it's progressed in such a short time. So what's Debian's excuse?

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Many more packages

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 13, 2005 05:53 PM
Did you notice how much more software is packaged for Sarge than for Woody? Do you understand what makes Debian's package-management so good?

No, you didn't and no, you don't.


You have a point about the installer, but the way you express it comes across as though you're just complaining about the fact that it's text. Personally I think a GUI adds very little value to an installer. GUIs are good because the commands are discoverable by clicking around. But an installation is inherently a linear process. You don't need to discover what you can do next, because there's usually just two things you can do next: proceed with the next step, or go back.

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Re:After four years

Posted by: Pavel Starek on June 13, 2005 11:09 PM
I think about Debian has done great step in his installation procedure. I was trying once to install Debian Potato and it was very hard for me (at that time I has been a linux newcomer). Now, I tried to install Debian Sarge on my home desktop instead of Fedora Core 3 and I am very satisfied with this distro. Text mode installer is not to matter for me, but Debian distro is different than Fedora in config. files and many others, so that I must learn another new things.

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Re:After four years

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 15, 2005 09:29 PM
The crappy text installer you are talking about (and probably never used) is the best installer I have used and seen _ever_. Being a text installer does not make it a bad one, but that is hard to coceive by you, a point-and-clickity kind of user - you do feel impared when there is no mouse around, don't you?

The kernel 2.6 _is_ available, but you never pressed F1 after booting from the installer cd, as suggested. 2.4 is the default for a stability reason, while 2.6 is also good and available.

What the hell do you know about the installation process? Do you even know _how_ much software does the "Desktop" task imply?

Predictable, yes, and I mean your reaction - you ignorant dumb ass.

BTW, falsh news, Ubuntu uses _THE_SAME_INSTALLER_ as Debian, or should I say, Ubuntu uses Debian's installer...

Ubuntu's progress is motivated partly by Debian's infrastructure, you ignorant individual. Also, Ubuntu developers are _payed_ by Canonical and they do development 24/7, while Debian uses voluteers...

Stupidy is endless, you have proven once again

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Poor installation experience

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 13, 2005 04:57 AM
Having heard about Debian 3.1 being released, I downloaded the first three ISOs to install it. I found that the installer was dated looking, not very user friendly, and asked too many very technical questions. The graphics set up part was really bad (unautomated). Also the entire installation took a very long time even though I configured a pretty minimalistic system that eventually took up just 1.4 GB (excluding swap) and installed just from CDs. If first impressions count, Debian's isn't very compelling.

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Yes, but ...

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 14, 2005 01:09 PM

The priorities of the complainers are strange:


I found that the installer was dated looking,

His #1 beef: it's "dated looking". Who cares? The installer gets used once. You're not working with it for months.


not very user friendly,

Meaning<nobr> <wbr></nobr>...?


and asked too many very technical questions. The graphics set up part was really bad (unautomated).

OK, finally, we come to substantive problems with the Debian installer. Down at #3 amd #4 on this guy's list. I sure hope the Debian people don't copy his priorities.

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all of you stupid weepers

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 13, 2005 09:09 AM
don't use it if you don't like it.
but look at distrowatch and you'll find that debian i one of most used distros. so maybe the problem is in you not in debian. problem is not pc(debian) but infront of pc(debian)<nobr> <wbr></nobr>:)))))))))))))

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Re:all of you stupid weepers

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 13, 2005 01:34 PM
It's people like you who give Debian a bad name. As a long time member of the Debian community, I can safely say we'd rather have inexperienced newbies who consider trying our product, than callous zealots who sabotage our good name. One questions what your true intentions are for using Debian. Whatever they are, they can't be decent for Debian if you can't be decent to others, since decency is an important factor of community, which in turn is an important factor of Debian staying around this long. To all you other readers out there, realise that the Debian community is a welcoming one, and this moron is not reflective of Debian's philosophy.

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Bug: slow browsing with 2.6 kernel

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 14, 2005 03:15 AM

I've come across a strange bug affecting Debian 3.1 with the 2.6 kernel. I have 4 Linux machines on a LAN; one has a link to the outside world, and acts as a NAT firewall. The firewall is running Debian Woody with a 2.4 kernel. The other 3 all run Sarge. One has a 2.4 kernel. I use it for internet browsing (with Firefox)and it is fine.
The other 2 machines run Sarge with the 2.6 kernel. Both of them are unusable for surfing the web, because the browsers (either Firefox or Mozilla) are so slow. What seems to be slow actually is looking up the hostname. But the resolv.conf files are identical to the machine that is fast. The only difference I can think of is the kernel version.


Has anybody else seen something like this?

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Re:Bug: slow browsing with 2.6 kernel

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 15, 2005 09:37 PM
Try posting your question on debian-users@lists.debian.org

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Re:Bug: slow browsing with 2.6 kernel

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 19, 2005 10:23 PM
This is not the place to ask for support questions, but I expect that your problem is that the 2.6 kernel is using IPv6 by default, and your name server is having trouble with that.

Either disable IPv6, or use a local DNS server like <tt>dnsmasq</tt> to proxy requests.

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Bad article

Posted by: bschelst on June 14, 2005 02:06 PM
Sorry, but this is a very bad article
You can compare it with somebody using a new tv without using the manual first.(RTFM!)

- You can use the 2.6 kernel by default, see installation manuel. (it's a boot option in the installation)
- The installer is the best one I ever seen.

                    - It's a nice TUI

                    - TUI will work on every screen (not like the GUI's)

                    - You can resume your installation on another pc with SSH. Very good for remote installations.

One thing that I can agree, is the display 'autodetect'. For a normal users this can sometimes be very frustrating.

'All these selections are comparable to those available in other major distributions. Some versions are slightly behind, others slightly ahead.'

Yeah that' s why they call it STABLE. It's not like other dists. which are for example using OpenOffice 2.0<nobr> <wbr></nobr>...which is still in BETA you know!

'Strangely, Debian 3.1 omits enabling a firewall during installation. However, this lapse can be quickly remedied by running Bastille immediately after installation '

Gee man. If you install Debian, just chose a firewall package.

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Gave up

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 14, 2005 10:21 PM
Heard the fanfare about Debian 3.1, downloaded one disc, tried installing it, and was immediately put off by the unfriendly installation screens. I don't mind that it is text mode, I've used Red Hat's text installers, it's just the order and navigation of the screens that put me off. As for the 2.6 kernel, you have to read the F1 screen on how to specify it atthe boot prompt. I thought I all modern Linuxes would want to use 2.6. The graphics card installation section was quite underdeveloped, you had to inpput all the parameters. Anyway, Debian 3.1 felt very archaic somehow.

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New User Analysis

Posted by: raydpratt on June 15, 2005 01:25 PM
Back when computer programming was flipping switches with gears, vacuum tubes, and early transistors, the difficulty of working out meaningful logical sequences in machine language was the evil of the day.

When difficult logical sequences were worked out in small-scale situations and were given symbolic aliases that were necessarily short due to limited computer memory capacities, other computer programmers haled these intellectual breakthroughs with understandable glee.

The early work was disparate and resulted in unique symbolic representations and disparate procedures being created by different groups and individuals for different programs.

Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and others performed grand unifications that gave all programs working on their systems a uniform procedural and a uniform procedural environment for any program working with their operating systems.

The common man's use of the computer started from a long crawl out of the mud of genius into the hands and minds of even the youngest of children.

Some just don't get it. It requires more intelligence to make something simple than to learn something complex and leave it that way. Any idiot can learn something complex if he or she struggles long enough, but few idiots will ever have the talent and intelligence and sense of art and proportion that it takes to make something complex into something simple.

I installed Debian Sarge and lost all my Windows files because some really smart team of programmers lured me into hoping that they would be smart enough to account for that.

I farted around with text commands that I learned from various books, and I can read Info and change to su and even read the manual for a shell command, but I can't pause a long directory list so that I can see it all, I can't read a command manual and then leave the manual without shutting down the whole computer, and I can't even find, open, or read any other manuals where I might learn how to do something with Sarge.

Phuck you, Debian.

Very Respectfully,
Ray Donald Pratt

 

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Re:New User Analysis

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 15, 2005 07:40 PM
I can't pause a long directory list so that I can see it all

Of course you can;


ls -l ¦ more

But why would you want to, when you can open a file browser in a scrollable window?


I can't read a command manual and then leave the manual without shutting down the whole computer,

I'm sorry, but I have no clue what you're talking about. You can open a separate window for each manual you want to browse.

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Re:New User Analysis

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 15, 2005 10:01 PM
I installed Debian Sarge and lost all my Windows files because some really smart team of programmers lured me into hoping that they would be smart enough to account for that.


Nobody lured you into anything. You should have done as the _developers_ told you through the manual "BACK UP YOUR DATA!".

Oh, and by the way "There is no warranty"

Well, it takes an ignorant person to miss those


I farted around with text commands that I learned from various books, and I can read Info and change to su and even read the manual for a shell command, but I can't pause a long directory list so that I can see it all,


ls | more
or
ls | less



  I can't read a command manual and then leave the manual without shutting down the whole computer,


press ctrl+alt+F2, login and open your manual... awww
press ctrl+alt+F1... back to the command line

press ctrl+alt+F2 and you can see the manual

exiting the manual is done by pressing Q (from quit)


and I can't even find, open, or read any other manuals where I might learn how to do something with Sarge.


there must be something wrong with your brain...


Phuck you, Debian.

Very Respectfully,
Ray Donald Pratt


Phuck you too, mr ignorant newbie user.
One question, when you by a new electroinc appliance, do you _ever_ read the manual? Didn't think so... I'll wait for you to get electrocuted at some point in your life, so you can learn that you _must_ read the manual of a thing you intend to use it, in order not to misuse it.

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Re:New User Analysis

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 16, 2005 04:07 AM
I'll wait for you to get electrocuted at some point in your life, so you can learn that you _must_ read the manual of a thing you intend to use

Hmmm<nobr> <wbr></nobr>.... how can the poor fellow learn from something that kills him?

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Not good advice

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 16, 2005 04:14 AM
press ctrl+alt+F2, login and open your manual...
awww

press ctrl+alt+F1... back to the command line

True, as far as it goes. But this guy's real problem is with the command line. Why not just point him straight to the (Gnome or KDE) desktop, then he can open as many windows as his screen has room for. (yes, yes, I know, the physical screen is not a limit, but don't confuse him at this point.)

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Re:New User Analysis

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 16, 2005 05:45 AM
"I installed Debian Sarge and lost all my Windows files because some really smart team of programmers lured me into hoping that they would be smart enough to account for that."

Well as far as i am concerned this is really a bad news<nobr> <wbr></nobr>... the partition manager have been tested for a year but shit happens.
I had this problem with a windows only install : windows broke its own partition in a crash<nobr> <wbr></nobr>...
Inserting a knoppix livecd got me access to my windows partition (hd icons on the desktop) . Maybe it could help . It depends on how bad things goes.

Though the worst would be if this information did not get back to the debian installer team. THey cannot fix problems they don't know about.
It could be an easy thing to fix if the windows installation is safe but the problems is it is missing in the bootloader list<nobr> <wbr></nobr>... or pretty hard if it is an issue i had long ago with a windows partition : the windows partition table was wrong and some important data was stored by windows in a part of the disk it was not supposed to be using<nobr> <wbr></nobr>:(

If you don"t feel like looking further about this so be it<nobr> <wbr></nobr>... but it could be that you stumbled across a corner case which could affect every partition manager which lacks access to the microsoft internal documentation .

Feel free to "phuck" debian though mind that such issues are long fixed for filesystems with specs available (bsd, unix, linux, vfat 16 ie windows 95 and now mac ones ).

Alban Browaeys
prahal a t yahoo c o m

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Debian drives Windows users away from Linux

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 20, 2005 02:55 AM
Potential Linux newcomers should never be advised to try Debian because, frankly, experientially, it sucks for them. Take any intermediate computer user off the street, place an out-of-the-box installed Debian PC and similar Windows 3.1 PC in front of him, hold a gun to his head or his newborn's, and ask him to produce a simple printout that says "Hello World" in 5 minutes (a la Swordfish style), and I'll take bets as to which PC he'll choose to do this on.

#

... for good :-)

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 20, 2005 05:52 PM
many Windows users are used to pressing Next and Finish and have never seen command line.
Those will certaintly be lost shortly after if not during installation.
And I think that's for good, because thay will not be able to contribute to this project in any way anyway. There are always space for lame people and let them be with Microsoft.

#

Misleading Review

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 19, 2005 10:42 PM
This review is pretty misleading in several ways. Firstly, Debian 3.1 is installable with a 2.6 kernel. The very first help screen on the installer tells you how to do this, it's also in the excellent installation manual.

Even if it didn't, Debian provides a number of optimised, pre-compiled <tt>kernel-image</tt> packages which can be installed with <tt>apt-get</tt>. This method avoids manual compilation, automatically manages the boot loader for you, and generally turns one of the hardest things in Linux into a breeze. And if you want to compile from source, the <tt>make-kpkg</tt> utility will allow you to make your own <tt>kernel-image</tt> packages for redistribution.

While Debian may not have successfully detected the reviewer's particular video card, it does have auto-detection which has never failed for me.

My nVidia card was automatically set up with the Free <tt>nv</tt> driver. The non-free <tt>nvidia</tt> driver is not distributed with Debian for legal reasons, but is easily installable over the Internet. Indeed, installing the nVidia kernel module source, compiling it against your kernel headers and loading the resultant kernel module is just a matter of typing <tt>apt-get install module-assistant; module-assistant auto-install nvidia-kernel-source</tt> once you have the <tt>non-free</tt> Internet repositories set up.

Installation time is rapid - you can go from a blank system to a totally installed one in under twenty minutes, with the first three CDs or a fast net connection. The installer also supports software RAID and LVM, allowing you to set these up out of the box.

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20 minutes? Not true

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 20, 2005 02:43 AM
I tried it with minimal selections and off only three CDs like this poster said. After final installation, df command said 1.4 GB was used. It took a lot longer than 20 minutes, more like an hour. And no, it wasn't some old PC, it's a new Pentium 4 with a gig of RAM. Progress bars? Forget it. Just lots of text messages scrolling off a black screen. Very ugly. Even Red Hat 7.2 installed quicker.

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Reasons to avoid Debian

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 20, 2005 02:38 AM
This from Wikiipedia, sums up the countless feedback suffered by most users:

"Newcomers who may have questions may expect to be flamed or "bashed" on certain Debian support forums if they ask what may seem to be a "newbie" question

The chat server irc.debian.org, which is semi-famous for its hostile stance towards users who fail to first RTFM"

In short, it isn't a new-user-friendly system. Just try looking for any books on Debian. True, there are friendlier derivatives (barely tolerated, often looked down upon by Debian purists), but because there are so many derivatives, it only results in a sense of fragmentation and bewilderment, and the eternal chasing of the tail for the "best" within the subdistros. Also, many of these derivatives use the unapproved testing branch, and aren't therefore taken seriously as production systems, hence the hobbyist mentality attached to these derivatives.

Debian's cumbersome and narcissistic organizational and release philosophies will always ensure that it remains an interesting, if impractical, distro destined for the history books of computing.

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maybe you should try debian-women? :-)

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 20, 2005 05:56 PM
I've heard very positive newbie experience in that group.

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"LinEx" from Spain Works

Posted by: raydpratt on June 21, 2005 01:39 PM
No one can convince me that Debian cannot be better, much better. "LinEx" is a distro based on Debian, and I tried it and Mandrake a couple years ago, and Mandrake couldn't even give me anything more than a command line (like Debian), whereas LinEx gave me a usable desktop. (My ignorance in how to hook up to the Internet and add programs to my former LinEx moved me back to Windows, but now I have ready access to two computers, so I can stick it out.)

After trying to install Sarge and getting a command line, I decided to find out if LinEx had an update. It did, although it is in 2.4, not 2.6.

My Spanish is good enough to deal with the complexity of trying to learn Linux with a lot of Spanish instructions, but that's easier than trying to get Sarge to work.

I've also spent half a day at the U of A yesterday using their high-speed Internet to get tar archives of programs, and to get copies of HTML pages of manuals for all the apps and shells that I may need to use. I can build the HTML files into a help resource that will be easier and faster to use than what Linux provides internally.

I would like to suggest that someone think about creating a complete tutorial that's easy to access from the command line if you ever want to see Sarge get installed and used by any newbies.

I discovered today that I made a mistake yesterday in downloading the tar files -- apparently I downloaded them in ASCII format instead of binary, and they are not being recognized as tar files, and the error messages even say something about other headers having obsolete base 64 somethings. I thought that the browser would take care of which format to download in, but apparently my quick reading was incorrect, or I did something incorrect.

However, I would not have even gotten that far, and didn't, if I had kept trying to find and use instruction manuals from the command line in Sarge.

If LinEx from Spain can give me a fairly easy install and a working desktop with Gnome, why can't Sarge? It would have been nice to have all the Sarge apps available instead of now trying to learn how to download them to a CD and add them to LinEx. (Kudos to the Spanish LinEx team -- they did a great job.)

Very Respectfully,
Ray

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Debian is beautiful

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 28, 2005 09:11 PM
I can't see how so many of you bag what is one of the best distributions ever. Debian developers obvisusly did something right if Ubunbtu, Mepis and Knoppix + others hyped-up distros are all debian based.

With everything, there is a learning curve. You didn't exactly know everything when you first ever used Windows, did you? Haven't you people ever heard of books? There are plenty of Debian books around as well as resources on the net, such as forums and sites.

I can keep going on, but I'd rather stop here. My advice is know what you are talking about before opening your mouth. If you ever want to get proficient with Linux at some stage you will have to tackle these issues. If you want a slow un-customised genric Linux, stick to an automagic distribution which holds your hand and limits your learning capacity.

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Lame linux wannabe users

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 28, 2005 10:31 PM
I don't understand what did you expect from Debian 3.1 ? Maybe to become one of those distributions like Knoppix or Mandrake? Try to understand that Debian is not distribution for those people who like to get everything instant served and ready for point and click technique. Debian is for users who want to do something by themselves manual, not everything automatic, for users who are not avoiding to use console or terminal, for users who know what they want. If you aren't one of those users, why do you want install Debian it the first place? And about hardware detection...you can configure everything you want on Debian if you know how. If you are spoiled by some beginner distribution it is logical you are whining and complaining about Debian. Debian is not bad distribution just because some people don't know how to configure it or use it. Understand that Debian is not for everyone...

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DEBIAN 3.1 install not so easy

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 11, 2005 04:05 AM
The new DEBIAN 3.1 maybe easier (by comparison) to install but the installer module is going to melt down about 30% of the time when executed during installation. I think this is due to the newer C++ libraries that it depends upon.

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Re:DEBIAN 3.1 install not so easy

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 12, 2005 04:30 AM
30% of the time when executed during installation.

You're misreading an article that misrepresented a post by a developer to a developer announcement list about a possible (but as yet unsupported) issue in the upgrade from woody to sarge.


Those upgrade issues have nothing whatsoever to do with the installer. (And frankly, few people who have followed the release notes have actually seen the upgrade issues.)

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Kernel

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 11, 2005 04:12 AM
Strange that it comes with 2.4.27 kernel instead of the 2.4.31

It would be great if it could auto-detect the graphics card.

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2.6 Kernel

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 11, 2005 12:18 PM
you can install with the 2.6 kernel, just not by default..

when booting off the cd type: linux26
at the first prompt and it will install your system with the 2.6.8.2 kernel

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graphics card auto-detection

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 12, 2005 09:10 AM
well, i installed Debian this week and during it asked me to auto-detect my graphics card and it worked fine.

i installed it with a 2.6 kernel in expert mode, and selected that "desktop enviroment" from tasksel.

thanks,
Thiago

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YaST2 for Debian

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on June 13, 2005 04:49 PM
Some guys also thought Debian could use the configuration tools of YaST2 to enhance the configurability of Debian.

<a href="http://yast4debian.alioth.debian.org/" title="debian.org">http://yast4debian.alioth.debian.org/</a debian.org>

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ravindra mudumby-debian

Posted by: Administrator on June 18, 2005 03:48 AM
e only thing that makes Debian hard for me to recommend is the fact that its roadmap is a bit unclear. I've worked with Red Hat's Enterprise products and Fedora Core, SUSE Linux, and many others — but I prefer to manage Debian systems. However, it's difficult to expect businesses to plan around release dates of "whenever."

There are also suggestions to make testing more suitable for users. I'm not sure whether that solves the problem. It certainly has a marketing difficulty — if the Debian folks want to encourage use of testing for production, they need to rename it.

Several users suggest that Debian needs to be split between server and desktop releases. In a way, I kind of see Ubuntu as the Debian desktop release. I use Ubuntu on my laptop and main desktop, and Debian on my servers. Many folks say that Ubuntu is satisfactory for servers, and I'm sure they're right, but the 18-month lifecycle for Ubuntu isn't quite long enough to suit my needs. (Ubuntu releases are scheduled every 6 months, with 12 months of support afterwards.) Many folks also use Debian on the desktop, but I've found Ubuntu to be much more suited to desktop use — at least at the moment.

Murdock suggests a 12 to 18 month release cycle. I'd even be happy with a 2-year release cycle, with an additional year for security updates. On the desktop, 12 months is ancient, but on the server, I'd like to see something with at least a 3-year lifespan at a minimum.

I know far too many businesses that are still running Red Hat 7.3 and even Red Hat 6.2 in production because of the general pain of moving off of those releases. Open source development moves at breakneck speed - and it's impossible for companies who build products on top of Linux (and here I'm using "Linux" in the general sense of the OS and all the tools that come with) to keep up. Judging from some of the comments to Murdock's post, I'm not the only one looking for slow — but predictable — releases.

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