back to article Debian 6: Have your Debian and eat your Ubuntu too

A new version of Debian was once cause for celebration in Linux circles - no doubt it still is in some quarters. Debian's offspring Ubuntu, though, has managed to steal much of the thunder lately. Of course without Debian, Ubuntu would cease to exist. Part of the reason Ubuntu has been able to focus on polishing the Linux …

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  1. David Hicks

    I've found debian to be better than ubuntu for a while now

    I speak as a software developer, not your granny and what she can use, so please read with that in mind. Debian, for me, has *just worked* for a number of years now, in a way windows hasn't and ubuntu hasn't either.

    The install process was not quite as polished or painless as either of those, but the end result was I didn't have to spend days tracking down third party drivers (windows!) nor did I have to rebuild alsa from source every time the OS gets upgraded because the one that ships with the OS doesn't recognise the headphone port (ubuntu!).

    I've run debian on everything from a 266MHz arm NAS device to a z series mainframe. Awesome, solid, OS.

    1. DroidUser

      Drivers

      I cannot believe that you haven't had to find 3rd party drivers for Debian. Sure, it is a rock solid OS, and I'm an advocate of the 'Release when Ready' philosophy that Debian has, but I think it was a bad idea to completely strip out all non-free drivers.

      My Acer laptop always requires proprietary wireless drivers for example.... at least Mint provides this option, and besides, you shouldn't have to hunt down drivers just to get your system to do what it should. In this respect, Debian doesn't "just work".... but Mint certainly does.

  2. Anton Ivanov
    Thumb Up

    Hardware requirements are bumped only in the memory department and not slightly

    I have it running on my laptop "fleet" and I am about to start upgrading my desktops this week. The conclusion so far is that Debian squeeze requires a lot more memory than its predecessor. It can however do with even less CPU.

    The review missed is that by bumping the kernel to 2.6.32 and setting the defaults appropriately it will now offload TCP to the network adapter on hardware which can do it (most 1G Broadcom, Intel, some 100M adapters). As a result it absolutely screams network performance-wise.There is a silver lining - if you run your system swapless because it uses a flash drive or RAID you need to stuff it with much more memory than before.

    Debian lenny (previous version) with KDE had no problems with as little as 384MB RAM and no swap so you could run it on nearly any old machine including i815e P3s which have a limit for Intel marketing reasons. That is no longer the case. Squeeze with KDE is unusable on anything under 1G. The Gnome desktop in squeeze is also more memory hungry (though not so much) So as far as use as desktop goes the endless quest for eye candy has clearly taken its toll and if you have a low memory machine you have to grind your teeth and use XFCE.

    KDE now very heavily relies on OpenGL by default. Fantastic if you have Nvidia. Performance is unreal even on most geriatric machines. Not so good if you have ATI especially if it is an older one which does not have proper OpenGL. It is still faster than before, but your mileage may vary to the point where you have to shut off visual effects completely. Intel kind'a works (use XRender isntead of GL in preferences), but you are better off with a proper video card.

    Overall - it is much faster than the previous version most of the time, so even a 1GHz PowerMac G4 or 1.2GHz P3 make a very reasonable desktop as long as you can load them with enough RAM.

  3. b4k4
    Megaphone

    free as in

    Let's not forget also that Debian is free as in by the people for the people. No Canonical or Red Hat steering this. Debian is the Tunisia of operating systems.

  4. Kevin Reilly
    Go

    Best of everything

    Try Linux Mint Debian Edition all the good stuff & you never need to install newer versions,

    http://www.linuxmint.com/download_lmde.php

    My Mac dual boots it with bootcamp & rEFIt.

    Great!

    1. Adrian Challinor
      Joke

      Debian is the Tunisia of operating systems ????

      Not sure what your smoking, but I would cut down a tad.

    2. Marky W
      Thumb Up

      Yup

      Loving Mint at the moment. Not a distro for the purist, I'd hazard, but I finding it just dandy.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What on Earth does that mean?

      It's still controlled by a group of people who make decisions that may not be in my best interests.

      In fact one could argue that since it is not bound by market forces in any way whatsoever, there's not much the people can do to change it if they don't like it. Vote with your feet, but Debian won't change its principles.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Linux

        Re: What on Earth does that mean?

        "It's still controlled by a group of people who make decisions that may not be in my best interests."

        So? You can roll your own distro or adapt it to fit your interests. Sheesh: is "people don't do what I want on their own time/money!" really the best "reason" you can come up with?

        "In fact one could argue that since it is not bound by market forces in any way whatsoever, there's not much the people can do to change it if they don't like it."

        Ah, the altar of market forces! I'm pretty sure that if no-one used Debian, all support for that infrastructure would evaporate, but I guess there are enough people benefiting from Debian - rolling their own stuff, like the Ubuntu folks - that this isn't going to happen soon.

        "Vote with your feet, but Debian won't change its principles."

        And? It would be refreshing if, say, politics were like this: instead of some slick chameleon trying to ride the latest bandwagon in order to grab a few more years in parliament, politicians might actually tell us what they stand for and risk not being elected if that isn't in tune with the masses.

        Sometimes you've got to have principles, and it's not like Debian are forcing them down your throat, although I'm sure there are people out there who have the nerve to claim that they are. Meanwhile, Microsoft forces you to take Windows on your next computer, but that's apparently a "freebie" to such morons.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Windmills

          "You can roll your own distro or adapt it to fit your interests."

          Yes. But well done for missing the point. Debian is not "by the people for the people", is it? It is by people who share Debian's values for people who share Debian's values. I was just responding to an inane sound-bite. I guess you thought your sacred cow was under attack. It wasn't.

          "I'm pretty sure that if no-one used Debian, all support for that infrastructure would evaporate"

          So ... Debian require feet and coin in order to operate. That's makes them qualitatively different from Microsoft, Apple and Canonical how? You see, I was being a bit disingenuous. Thank you for playing.

          "Sometimes you've got to have principles, "

          No. One has values. Just like Canonical, Apple and Microsoft. What you'll find is that different people have different values. Want to be rigid with respect to your values and call them principles and be fully unyielding? Good luck with that.

          "and it's not like Debian are forcing them down your throat"

          And it's not like Canonical are forcing anything down your throat, now is it?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Flame

            Re: Windmills

            "Yes. But well done for missing the point. Debian is not "by the people for the people", is it?"

            It's by the people who maintain it, plus thousands of upstream contributors, for convenient consumption by those people and those who agree with what they are doing and/or how they do it, or at least those who don't see the need to complain about what they are doing.

            "It is by people who share Debian's values for people who share Debian's values."

            Well, yeah: I don't think I ever said it was "for the people" as in yielding to the whims of the popular masses. But then, the popular masses can take Debian's work and take it further, if they aren't too busy watching television, of course.

            "I was just responding to an inane sound-bite. I guess you thought your sacred cow was under attack. It wasn't."

            No, you were just adding your own "observation" that some form of The Man steers Debian, which may appear to be the case, but the organisation would appear to be mostly transparent and encourage more widespread participation than with certain other distributions.

            "So ... Debian require feet and coin in order to operate."

            Uh, yes. They don't provide packages out of thin air. But then again, the point was that your "discerning consumer" model that you equate to "market forces" isn't the only factor in play. You stamp your foot, presumably at Debian not giving you "the codecs" in the default install, but there are plenty of people who will still want Debian stuff, not least the downstream distributions who give you "the codecs".

            "That's makes them qualitatively different from Microsoft, Apple and Canonical how?"

            If you want to change the way things are done, you step up and make the case. Meanwhile, if you want to change the way those commercial entities do things, you have to get hired by them. And Microsoft and Apple are not likely to be amused by any attempts to roll your own versions of their products.

            "You see, I was being a bit disingenuous. Thank you for playing."

            Yes, listening to whining about people deciding how they do their own work is so entertaining.

            "No. One has values. Just like Canonical, Apple and Microsoft. What you'll find is that different people have different values. Want to be rigid with respect to your values and call them principles and be fully unyielding? Good luck with that."

            Yes, why not split hairs about whether we're talking about values or principles? "Values" are often referenced by corporations when they're trying to be more approachable and appear less exploitative. And let's just skip the point about people and organisations being known for a particular set of them, particularly when its a set of them which involves what they regard to be a moral choice which they could easily abandon if they were to give in to people nagging them to "give me my toys", because surely everyone wants people and organisations to reflect the "consumer's" current impulse rather than move in a particular moral or ethical direction if they are to move at all.

            "And it's not like Canonical are forcing anything down your throat, now is it?"

            Well, no, but then I don't see where I claimed that they were acting in such a fashion. Oh, and you also wrote this:

            "Check the OP ... they're constrasting Canonical and Debian. Both make open source products. If I rolled your own ... well that would be Deeian not Debian, and my argument would stand."

            Your argument being what exactly? I suppose the people at Canonical aren't dictating the terms of your lifestyle despite plugging their services in Ubuntu and generally horsing around with packages consumed from upstream sources, but I guess that if you have an argument, the core of it might be that Canonical give you what you want and don't bother you with the difficult issues that, fortunately for you, some people do have to confront in order to bring you this wealth of software in the first place.

            "So you're the one with the lack of understanding. Apology accepted in 5 ..."

            Lack of understanding? Apology? In which universe?

            The core of your "observation" was that Debian is undemocratic because no matter how many people walk away from them, they won't yield to popular opinion (and, say, bundle "the codecs"). But at the same time they provide all their work for you to adapt as you please: they effectively give you the power to govern yourself. Sure, the same is true with the output of Canonical or Red Hat - proprietary services in the former's output notwithstanding - but then I wasn't whining about not being able to influence them by "market forces".

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Have MSc, can install codecs.

              "It's by the people who maintain it, plus thousands of upstream contributors, for convenient consumption by those people and those who agree with what they are doing and/or how they do it, or at least those who don't see the need to complain about what they are doing."

              Yes, and Windows is by the people who make it (people who maintain it), for the people who use it (those who agree with what they are doing). What is your point? Stop defending a fatuous sound bite. Your sacred fucking cow is not under attack.

              Please, explain, how Debian are so very qualitatively different from all other organisations in the world. How are they 'by the people, for the people' where no-one else is? Please explain that, and forget all your other dribblings, as that is all I'm arguing against.

              "Well, yeah: I don't think I ever said it was 'for the people' as in yielding to the whims of the popular masses. But then, the popular masses can take Debian's work and take it further, if they aren't too busy watching television, of course."

              So you're the OP with the fatuous soundbite. Why all AC'ed up now? Unless, you're not the OP, in which case, why the fuck are you still trying to defend his/her stupid remark? The sheer fucking pointlessness of having a conversation as AC.

              'By the people, for the people' is a slogan with a meaning, and you've misappropriated it, and been called on it. Accept it and move on.

              "No, you were just adding your own 'observation' that some form of The Man steers Debian, which may appear to be the case, but the organisation would appear to be mostly transparent and encourage more widespread participation than with certain other distributions."

              The Man? That's your invention. Men and women, yes. Flawed men and women, yes. The same flawed men and women that run any other organisation. You debianistas aren't saints. Get over yourselves, and stop trying to set yourself apart as better than the rest of us.

              The UK is more transparent than Libya. Is it by the people for the people? No. I keep using this word 'qualitatively'. Please, please, please, please look it up.

              "You stamp your foot,"

              I don't like Debian, I don't use Debian. How is that stamping my foot?

              "presumably at Debian not giving you 'the codecs' in the default install,"

              Nice try. I can get it together to install some codecs. I don't want a conservative distro. Can you wrap your mind around that? I have a different set of values from you. Can you wrap your mind around that?

              I see the latest release is still using Open Office. I have considerably more of a problem with Oracle than any fucking codec legality bitchfest. I'd've thought Debian would too. Guess their principles are more mutable than you'ld have us believe.

              "but there are plenty of people who will still want Debian stuff, not least the downstream distributions who give you 'the codecs'."

              There are more people like me in the world than you. So, again, how is it 'for the people'?

              "If you want to change the way things are done, you step up and make the case. Meanwhile, if you want to change the way those commercial entities do things, you have to get hired by them. And Microsoft and Apple are not likely to be amused by any attempts to roll your own versions of their products."

              So in both instances, I have to appeal to a select few indiviuals and be accepted by them, in order to make changes. Again, what is the difference qualitatively?

              "Yes, why not split hairs about whether we're talking about values or principles?"

              Different words, with different meanings that result in different internal pyschological states and different real world actions. Not splitting hairs. It's kind of ironic how many people here rail against "soft" degrees.

              Take a petrol can. Use all the petrol. Is it now 'empty'? Think very carefully, your life may depend on it.

              Can't be arsed with this any more. Un-AC yourself, or shut up.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Badgers

                Re: Have MSc, can install codecs.

                Was codec installation part of the masters course?

                "So you're the OP with the fatuous soundbite."

                Nope.

                "Why all AC'ed up now? Unless, you're not the OP, in which case, why the fuck are you still trying to defend his/her stupid remark? The sheer fucking pointlessness of having a conversation as AC."

                Being AC means that people having tantrums don't get to look at the name next to the post and make their mind up about what it means before prolonging an argument for the sake of it.

                "I see the latest release is still using Open Office. I have considerably more of a problem with Oracle than any fucking codec legality bitchfest. I'd've thought Debian would too. Guess their principles are more mutable than you'ld have us believe."

                Open Office is still Free Software, and Oracle are not yet threatening distributors with lawsuits. The same is not the case for a selection of "popular" codecs.

                "Can't be arsed with this any more. Un-AC yourself, or shut up."

                Don't like what people write? Don't read it.

                My point still stands, but let us refine it further: Debian's supposedly undemocratic nature can be addressed by active participation and/or active development of alternatives, potentially based on Debian's own output. Having "market forces" - presumably disengaging and just using something else - as one's primary tool to exercise one's democratic rights is pretty feeble if you ask me, but since I won't put my name to that, you apparently aren't asking me.

      2. Kevin Bailey

        What?!? Don't you understand how open source works?

        "there's not much the people can do to change it if they don't like it"

        Erm - fork it then - take a copy from the code repositories and do whatever you want.

        And if you can find enough people who want to do the same thing as you then form a group and work on it together.

        Or sign up to Debian - become a member - take part in debates - get involved. One point though - it's a meritocracy. So if you're barking mad then don't expect to get much support.

        However, if you're ideas make sense then you'll get support and things will change. For example, someone's managed to get Debs release on a BSD kernel - someone wanted it, it made sense to enough people, and behold it's happened.

        That's the beauty of OS development - it's 'ideas that make sense' which predominate and get worked on.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Context

          Check the OP ... they're constrasting Canonical and Debian. Both make open source products. If I rolled your own ... well that would be Deeian not Debian, and my argument would stand.

          So you're the one with the lack of understanding. Apology accepted in 5 ...

    4. Reg T.
      Pint

      The presence of

      Ubuntu Software Center in 6 and the ubiquitous presence of Canonical devs working on Debian signifies what?

      Tunisia is yet a dictatorship and only those who have been shot and killed are "freed" at this juncture. Who is MQ in your imaginary TuniasiaWorld?

    5. Rob Beard
      Thumb Up

      LXDE

      I've recently installed Debian on a couple of PCs, one an old P3 1Ghz with 512MB Ram for a friend running XFCE which ran reasonably well (better than expected anyway) and another a Toshiba P3 733Mhz notebook with a whopping 128MB Ram, this time using LXDE. I wasn't sure what to expect but was pleasently surprised to find it ran the applications I chucked at it reasonably well (the machine is going to be used by kids aged about 3 to 7, so I was trying things like Tuxpaint, Tux Typing, Super Tux).

      It all worked pretty well, I have tried Lubuntu before but found it not to be so polished just yet so Debian on these machines has kept them running a little bit longer :-)

      Rob

    6. Zolko
      Thumb Up

      try Mepis

      actually, better to use Mepis. Dual-booting on my MacBook Pro with rEFFIt too. The new Mepis 11.0 is based on the new Debien Squeeze just out, but it doesn't stop at integrism (they make nVidia cards and other proprietary DVD-players a breeze).

      I'm just about to buy a new SSD drive and put Mepis 11 on it.

  5. GrumpyJoe

    Not mentioned here...

    Is this a rolling distribution? I've been looking at rolling distros as I'm fed up with having to update avery so often, I'd rather it just update in situ...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    It's pretty quick, too, and there are halfway houses

    Don't forget Debian's speed - quite a lot snappier than Ubuntu on older hardware anyway. I run Squeeze on my old Asus 701 and an IBM X21.

    Also, there are option slike Linux Mint Debian Edition, which is really Squeeze with some polish, for those who want a bit more Ubuntuishness* but don't necessarily want Ubuntu.

    * - Ubuntuishness - measurement of slickness in elephants per second per core

  7. Kurgan
    Go

    Go Debian

    I have always used Debian on servers (without X) and I am currently using Ubuntu on desktops, but if Ubuntu goes on in this nonsense of changing the UI just to taste like an Apple, I will go Debian for the desktops, too.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    Mr Sheen?

    Shine, polish = Ubuntu+Gnome? That must be a different Ubuntu to the one that I've used.

  9. Kevin Bailey

    Well done guys - and thanks!

    FOSS software gets you the highest quality software which is extremely well maintained.

    Five billion dollars gets you Vista.

    When you see brains, passion and commitment trouncing money it gives you hope!

    1. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

      I'm not sure...

      exactly what you mean by this, but Debian has been able to upgrade in place for a long time.

      I normally specify the version name (e.g. etch/lenny/squeeze/sid) in my repository sources, to make sure I don't accidentally upgrade, but if you specify "stable" then, when a new version comes out, all you need to do is "apt-get dist-upgrade" and it will upgrade everything*. All it would need is a reboot (or kexec) to load the new kernel and you are away. It's one of the things I have always loved about Debian, and why I run all servers on it (when I have the choice).

      *When I say everything, there are occasions when it doesn't work, for example a package has been dropped from the new release. It sometimes needs a bit of care to do this, so doing a dry-run first is a good idea, as well as checking there are no configuration changes needed.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not mentioned here...

      "Is this a rolling distribution?"

      No, it's a stable release.

      There is a rolling distribution, or rather there are two. They are called "Debian testing" and "Debian unstable".

  10. DrXym Silver badge

    Debian needs Ubuntu as much as Ubuntu needs Debian

    I'd say the arrangement has been win-win. Ubuntu benefits from the package management & stability of Debian. Debian wins from more widespread adoption and use and therefore higher development interest, bug fixes etc.

    And of course the user wins from having a highly usable & friendly distribution.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Flame

      Debian needs Ubuntu like I need a hole in my head

      Ubuntu doesn't help Debian. It helps Linux through greater visibility and market share, but Debian specifically suffers from the divided focus of Debian devs hired to work on Ubuntu and doesn't benefit at all from the eye candy Ubuntu adds. Eye candy being what it is (ie, basically a useless resource hog) the argument could be made that Ubuntu doesn't benefit from it either.

      As for this 'ease of installation' nonsense, Debian was easy to install for anyone with the ability to follow directions on the screen 7 years ago when I switched to it from Mandrake. There are only three categories of people who couldn't install Debian by that time: idiots, too lazy to follow instructions, and afraid to try. Not to mention how much harder it is to find what you're looking for in Ubuntu's Software Center than in the trusty old Synaptic. It may not be as flashy but it works a hell of a lot better.

      And polish? Please. Rarely have I seen an uglier default desktop scheme than Ubuntu's. Just plain ugly. At least Apple's 'stylish' interfaces truely are.

      1. Nick Wallis
        WTF?

        Don't be so patronising

        > Ubuntu and doesn't benefit at all from the eye candy Ubuntu adds

        What a fatuous remark. Ubuntu benefits because the eye candy, brings non-techy people over from Windows, increasing the size of the Linux communit.

  11. present_arms

    debian needs

    I can tell you that from my POV that Debian is a lot more stable than Ubuntu :D

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Beware Apache and Squeeze

    Beware upgrades of Apache from Lenny to Squeeze. I've encountered configuration problems with SSL config and mod_php was suddenly turned off for all user directories.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    The best news is...

    ...all the discussion about Linux desktops. Ten years ago, there was none. And Microsoft had a very high reputation in business, as in "what else will we ever use???"

    Now, you can almost feel the paradigms shift...

    1. C 2
      Linux

      RE: paradigms shifting

      I think I can hear them shifting too! It's that grinding noise you hear when someone is learning how to use a stick shift, right?

      I'm actually tweaking a new install of Debian 6 right now, its nice.

      The Ubuntu software center definitely has performance problems though, after you've installed a half dozen or so apps it starts slowing down, a lot. After a dozen more its queuing up somewhere where you can't see it and takes several minutes to install one app, with a local repository. I got frustrated with it and went back to Synaptic which still works great.

      Although for polish and speed nothing has trumped PCLinuxOS, the kernel is compiled using the BFS scheduler. I don't know what kind of magic went into BFS, but its even fairly snappy on a laptop with a 1.6ghz Via C7 (yuck, I won't be getting another one of those).

  14. johnnytruant

    hard pushed?

    You try installing any flavour or derivative of Debian on a Dell Poweredge R310 using the onboard RAID controller.

    I lost a couple of weeks of my life trying to do that. Then I bought a new RAID card and all was well.

    To be fair to Debian, I've installed it on a lot of hardware over the years and never run into problems in the past. It still remains the only choice in my opinion for servers - hence the battle to install, hence not settling for CentOS (which installed fine).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      why?

      If you've posted your reasons somewhere, or have the time/inclination to explain why this is the case, I'd like to hear it. I currently run a small operation on CentOS including web, email, etc. The only problems I've had were related the Redhat docs having been written by someone who knows exactly what they're doing for someone who knows exactly what they're doing. Reading them through a couple of times making notes has gotten me through all of these problems.

    2. Flat Phillip
      Happy

      Dell RAID

      Most RAID is pretty much useless, even on some servers. It's reasonably easy to tell the difference between "real" RAID and "waste of time" RAID. If you can see the individual disks outside some RAID config utility its a waste of time RAID so you might as well use software RAID. Windows on those sort of servers need "special" drivers which is really a half-arsed implementation of RAID with minimal hand-off to whatever minor piece of hardware the computer has.

      While its a pretty big generalisation, Dell has plenty of devices that have WOT-RAID. I'm not sure of your model but it may fit that category.

      I never understood the "its hard to install" line. OK, back in the day moving from a.out to ELF binaries was a pain but that was a while ago now.

  15. Ryan Clark
    Thumb Up

    Liking it

    Upgraded my server and laptop which run Debian last week. Laptop went fine and appears to be working nicely. Server didn't go quite as well, but that was mainly my fault for not upgrading the kernel first. Still use of a live Knoppix CD and all is running fine and dandy now. No problems with Apache after my upgrade.

  16. dz-015

    The Gnome desktop sucks

    I can't wait for Ubuntu to try something better, and that's one of the reasons I'll be sticking with it on the desktop.

    1. present_arms

      re: The Gnome desktop sucks

      there is Kubuntu if you don't like the default gnome in Ubuntu. I'm a pclinuxos user myself on KDE, it's faster than *buntus and more stable on this machine, my Nokia N900 runs debian fine though

    2. johnnytruant

      so don't use it

      Use LXDE, KDE, XFCE, Gnome Shell, Enlightenment, Unity, whatever.

      Just because Debian (and Ubuntu, currently) defaults to Gnome, that doesn't mean you have to.

  17. davcefai
    Thumb Up

    Debian for ever.

    Addressing a couple of points made by different people:

    1. Installation. I installed Debian once, six years (maybe more) ago, on 2 PCs. I hardly notice that I'm running a new version when it happens. Incidentally it even copes with a motherboard change, the only problem being that, for some weird reason, it bumps up the eth<x> number and I have to painfully edit the networks file by hand. :-)

    2. Ubuntu.. I have tried installing Ubuntu 3 times in the past 3 years. Each time I end up with a non-working system.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Hmmm ...

      I installed Ubuntu on an intel core-2 duo, early last year. In November, I treated myself to a new PC, and went for AMD Phenom II on, of course, an entirely different motherboard.

      I decided to start clean, and bought a hdd, and, with a small XP partition for those if-I-have-to times, installed Ubuntu 10.4.

      Later, I took the book disc from my old machine, and, just to see what would happen...

      Ubuntu booted, looking and behaving just as it had on a different cpu, different graphics, different network chip, different everything. I don't have to tell anyone what the installation of Win XP, from that disc, did.

      I really was impressed with Ubuntu. I did not expect of it that an installation made on and for a completely different machine would run.

      What I am less impressed with, already, is this craze for changing the interface. Whether it's microsoft or Firefox, far too much effort is wasted on giving us stuff that is different for the sake of difference. Ubuntu 10.04 just might be my Win XP --- or else I'll be using the copy of 11 that I have in a Virtual Box to find uot how to make it look like 10.

      It would help if these people could realise that, hey, if we want different menu structures one day, just for the hell of it ... we can do that. All by ourselves!

    2. Nick 2
      Linux

      ethX being bumped up

      I assume the "bump up" is happening when you are changing the motherboard (i.e. when there is a new ethX device with a new MAC on your system). To avoid this, locate and remove the following file before re-booting the new system:

      /etc/udev/rules.d/??-persistent-net.rules

      The two characters represented by ?? could be more or less any 2-character numeric value, that is why you have to determine that first. There are the rules that *always* tie a certain NIC (a certain MAC) to a certain ethX - otherwise the eth-es on your machine would keep changing order.

      If you don't like such a radical measure (removing), first get your Knoppix disk handy and then move the file from /etc/udev/rules.d/ somewhere else. Renaming it but keeping it in the same directory won't help, since it will still be applied, but in an incorrect order. In case you have messed something up, you can always boot Knoppix, mount temporarily your / partition from the disk (ex: under /mnt) and correct anything went wrong in /mnt/etc/udev/rules.d/

      The (re)move has to happen prior to you bringing up the machine with the new hardware so it wil work.

      Hope it helps.

  18. Cazzo Enorme

    Err, no

    "Part of the reason for Debian's wide variety of support hardware is the distro has become a mainstay of servers and embedded devices"

    Embedded? Nope. I work with embedded kit, and most of it comes with hacked about versions of the RedHat distro. As for wide hardware support, Debian (and all Linux distros I've tried, including one specifically for PowerPC) pretty much suck on anything apart from x86 / amd64.

    1. David Hicks

      Have you been living under a rock?

      Let's see...

      Maemo is/was debian based. That's a phone OS, by the way. Pretty embedded. And then there was the hacked around debian that came on my NAS, the WD Sharespace, and what came with the sheevaplug which was ubuntu. You could run debian on the Openmoko. You can run it on the Playstation 3.

      As far as I can tell, RHEL doesn't even support ARM or MIPS, only x86/64, Itanium and POWER variants, so it would have to be very hacked around for a lot of embedded use.

      Maybe in your line of work you only see RHEL based systems. I'm guessing that's because you mostly work with Power chips then?

      1. Cazzo Enorme

        Re: Have you been living under a rock?

        I generally work with ARM, Coldfire and low power x86 chips for the kinds of boards that go into machinery for warehouses and factories rather than mobile phones. Many of the vendor supplied Linux kits that come with these boards are based on very old RedHat releases, since the latest features aren't considered as important as they are for for desktop or server Linux installs. That said, we often roll our own NetBSD install if it supports the required board features.

        As for Maemo, that's dead thanks to the Nokia deal with MS, leaving Android as the major Linux based mobile phone OS. And that's not Debian or RedHat based, (in fact it's fast becoming a fork of the Linux kernel itself).

  19. Ari 1
    Linux

    misunderstandings about UI design

    "If you really don't care how many pixels are which shade of grey, then Debian works just fine."

    This reeks of a misunderstanding of what UI design is which is all too common among techies. What the Ubuntu team have been doing DOES result in more polished skins, but much, much more importantly they've been making the UI more consistent, making behaviours more logical and making defaults more sensible.

    Making the whole package more attractive is also an issue, but that's more done by graphical designers than UI designers (preferably a collaboration)

    Ubuntu's UI work travels upstream to Debian as well, and has contributed to all pretty much versions of Linux with a GUI.

    Remember, Windows looks more shiny than MacOS or Ubuntu, yet MacOS is easier to use in pretty much all cases, and Ubuntu easier to use in very many... It's not about the textures and gradients, it's about behaviours..

    1. sisk Silver badge

      I disagree

      MacOS is a nightmare to use for every application in which I've given it a chance. It's counter intuitive in the extreme, it's harder than heck to actually find anything on the things, none of the settings are where a person new to Macs would reasonably expect them to be. All in all, Mac's UI is a cluster. A pretty cluster, but a cluster none the less.

      Ubuntu suffers from some of the same problems, in my opinion, but that's not really their fault. Gnome is a terrible place to start if you want good UI. Personally I prefer Fluxbox. I usually put a couple hours into customizing my menus and hotkeys, but it's well worth the effort.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Grenade

        I disagree with your disagree

        I switch happily between Ubuntu and OS X, but whenever I use Windows I curse it because things aren't where you expect, and things that 'just work' on Lunix/OSX don't work on Windows. I know plenty

        The thing is everyone is different, and what some people find intuitive others find counter-intuitive. Microsoft tries to get round this by brainwashing our kids into the Windows way by pushing for it in schools. Funny thing is that when I've seen kids use Linux, they've always picked it up really quicky (even the 'wrong-handed minimize/maximize/close buttons), then they're cursed when they've had to switch back to Windows.

        To generalise that OSX/Ubuntu is crap because it doesn't suit *your* individual mindset smacks of an inflated sense of self importance. Thank f*ck for diversity.

  20. LawLessLessLaw
    Boffin

    Gnome / KDE are for lamers

    Personally I use Rio from Plan9port, that's right. a WM you've never heard of.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Gnome / KDE are for lamers

      Loser. I use my own window manager, with code cribbed from the original X11R4 release tapes. It leaks memory like a sieve and crashes hourly, but I feel so cool as I type this in my parents basement ;-)

      1. Anomalous Cowturd
        Thumb Up

        PMSL...

        +1 internets and +1 thumbs up for you...

  21. Cyfaill
    Linux

    Go debian go

    I have used Linux for many years now and find that Debian is the best overall for the needs of stability and usability.

    I took an adventurous path about five years ago with the testing branch and just used it without much issue for our company.

    Then about 2 years ago wanting to learn more about Linux at the core of the system, I started using (sidux now aptosid) the unstable branch.

    I am very pleased with the outcomes although using the unstable branch means I have to know how to be cautious and careful.

    Debian goes through such a long and arduous path of development and testing when it gets released it is all but indestructible. Starting with red hat in 1996 Linux has been the best and most rewarding operating system for us.

    In my opinion... Debian is the pentacle and it provides enough air above itself to allow adventures of useful learning and experimentation with testing and unstable & experimental to learn and achieve real skills.

    Ubuntu needs to recognize openly that it only exists on the mountain of productivity because Debian, is the mountain.

    Want to live in space... use aptosid... I am quite happy with it all and with aptosid I have learned more and achieved more skills than anywhere else.

    It can be made to be beautiful to use and be very fast. So can Debian be so as well. apt-get it

  22. Tony 34
    Coat

    One Word. Slackware.

    If you want to be tied down by one man choose Apple.

    If you want to be tied down by a committee choose Ubuntu.

    If you want a nice OS that does what you want with rock solid stability no horrible "They did it WHICH way?" surprises then choose Slackware.

    If you want "I dunno - it came with the PC / Office / Phone" then stck with MS I suppose....

    Mine is the one with the Pipe in the pocket.

    1. Cameron Colley

      Linux From Scratch FTW!

      You and your poncey Slackware...

      You missed on also:

      If you want an exciting distributed OS with a novel desktop paradigm chose Plan9.

      1. Tony 34
        Thumb Up

        Linux From Scratch FTW

        Yeah - Every linux user should have to run through a from source LFS install at least once before being allowed to post advice on the forums. It is simply the best way to be introduced to what is great about linux. Unfortunately the forums seem to have become terrible these last few years.

        Since Ubuntu came out it is almost as bad looking for community support on the forums as it is on the support forums for windows.

        Shitloads of apparantly random advice.

        Still - Like another poster said - I am really happy we are debating different linuxes. 10 years ago I was hoping for at least this.

        Great stuff.

  23. ray hartman

    don't believe you

    The **smallest** step off the UBUNTU straight-and-narrow has always meant failure for me. Linux is systematically **non-robust** like that for a casual-lusr.

  24. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    for the people

    "Please, explain, how Debian are so very qualitatively different from all other organisations in the world. How are they 'by the people, for the people' where no-one else is? Please explain that, and forget all your other dribblings, as that is all I'm arguing against."

    The Debian developers make a point of using free and open source software exclusively. (Personally, I'm pragmatic, I don't care a bit about binary-blob firmware if it's just being loaded onto a device; I don't like binary drivers but I use them, and I do use flash), however this ensures the people have full rights to examine, modify, and redistribute all the software they are using. They make debian as portable as possible, and it does take extra effort to write portable code compared to writing something that is x86 or x86-64 only. They make sure the distro as stable and secure as possible (this is actually why KDE and Gnome are bit behind, Debian is almost like an enterprise Linux version in this regard.)

    It's "by the people" because debian is not corporate-backed, it's truly a collection of people that believe in debian. it's "for the people", the use of exclusively free software is for the people. The portability really is "for the people", it takes effort to keep a distro going on that many platforms, but basically debian or gentoo are what will run on a lot of platforms these days, with most distros running on only x86 or x86-64. This is truly a public service.

    -----------------

    On a side note, believe it or not I just managed to get a debian install onto my Droid 2 Global cell phone. I didn't install KDE, Gnome, etc., just a fairly bare system. It's sitting in a chroot jail in /data/debian. I figure, if I can't find an android app to do sometihng, I'll install or build one in there. First thing I plan is to get squid (a caching web proxy) going.

  25. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    It's all getting easier

    "The **smallest** step off the UBUNTU straight-and-narrow has always meant failure for me. Linux is systematically **non-robust** like that for a casual-lusr."

    I do like Ubuntu quite a bit, and I do think they are leading the way in terms of ease of use. But, I've seen recent Debian installs, gentoo build (with appropriate USE flags), and so on, and they've been getting easier too. In some cases, the software was improved on it's own (so Ubuntu's version improved the same time as everyone elses). In some cases, I'm sure the Ubuntu guys made an improvement, and sent it upstream. I've seen cases too where some fix is pulled straight from one distro to another (i.e. some improvement hasn't been accepted "upstream" into the actual project, but multiple distros end up with the same fix).

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "It just works"

    ..until the installer throws a Stallmanesque hissy fit and refuses to let you use something common like a Broadcom NIC unless you supply firmware yourself. A minor irritant, but being arsey loses friends quickly.

    Debian is nice and solid, once it is running on a machine, it is mostly great. However, I would hesitate to suggest it to less savvy friends and family, as explaining such little toys-out-of-pram fits gets a little tiring.

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