Debian is not GNU [at least current GNU]
[Debian's default installation gives 2 year old emacs and 6 year old
non-GNU awk, while sporting the "GNU/Linux" branding]
Summary: Dan says the debian install process should at least
ask/inform the user that he is not getting current official GNU tools
despite the GNU on the box, and in some cases [awk] he isn't even
getting a GNU tool.
That is all very well and the reasons for doing this should be stated
on an install screen, and the user should be given a button to push if
he still wants a more GNU version. A button is better than some
lengthy or even simple apt-get instructions that one must copy via
pencil while handling the CD installation.
Otherwise there is a big let down when we say emacs at the prompt and
it's grandma's version. Or we say awk --help and it is cold and
>>>>> "JG" == Jeff Green <email@example.com> writes:
JG> Not a detailed reply because I am only a user not a developer or
JG> advocate or anything particular. I don't have any idea why the install
JG> takes you into dselect, apt is installed by default and if you know
it guides one to tasksel, and mentions dselect for those who want to
JG> the name of the package you want you can apt-get install it. If you
JG> aren't sure of the name apt-cache search will usually help you.
I'm talking about the most basic of user. All these names are
foreign. He has just inserted the 8 woody CD's given to him by a
friend and is following instructions.
JG> One thing though I am sure about I like debian not having the latest
JG> brand new gizmos by default, that is the whole point!
well, then we would all be using version 7 unix from bell labs...
JG> I use debian because I need to run machines that are thousands of
JG> miles away from me that I have never seen and never will see and all I
JG> can do is to ask someone to reboot it or tell me what the screen
JG> says. I can remotely log in to a debian box and install a fiendishly
JG> complex set of applications with a one line command, they will
JG> install, they will not break anything, the machine won't crash, it
JG> won't even pause in what it is doing it will just work!
OK, then you are an advanced user and can tailor your debian
installation to reflect your special needs.
I'm thinking of the most basic user that sees the shiny GNU/Linux
label and, thinking that debian is "more GNU" than the other Linux
distributions, chooses debian, only to find out that if he wants GNU
versions [gawk], or current versions [emacs21] he must do fancy
maneuvers [apt-get]. Why not put the fancy maneuvers burden on the
experts? Why not install current _official_ versions of all GNU tools
by default? If there is something wrong with those tools then "go
file a bug" with their maintainers.
OK, compromise: during the debian installation questions, ask
Do you wish to
1. install current versions of all GNU tools.
2. install a possibly more stable group which may involve some non
current or non GNU versions.
3. See exactly which ones we are talking about and return to this question.
JG> If there are any security issues another one line command will install
JG> well worked out and extrememly promptly supplied patches, again with
JG> virtually no chance of problems. IMO Debian is not for people who want
JG> to play with the latest toys and show how macho they are, it is for
JG> people who want their machines to just work, day in day out.
I see, the even more basic beginner than my innocent exploring young
person who has just popped it the 8 CDs and will be learning old emacs
until one day he is told that it is old.
You are aiming at the people who's brief brush with Linux is to make a
web server work and be done with it. OK, that also can be handled in
the quiz questions: Are you just wanting a stable server or do you
want the latest and maybe greatest? etc.
P.S. I found aptitude lacks several help screens present in dselect.
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