Re: Switch MDK -> Debian, probably
Olaf Marzocchi wrote:
I'm a MDK user and I'm evaluating a switch to Debian mainly because of
the better package management system.
To make my mind I need to know few things:
-> with MDK, to update the main packages I have to reinstall the OS
every 6 or 12 months. I don't use linux as main OS (I use Mac OS X),
so it's pretty annoying... the time I spend mantaining the OS is too
much. What about Debian? Can I update the whole system (without adding
packages, I mean, only updates) without the need of a complete
reinstall? (MDK main OS installer is not really good in doing
upgrades). I don't want to reconfigure everything every 6 months...
If you stay within the Stable branch, then yes, when a new stable is
released (whether it's six months, or more typically lately 3 years),
then you can just update the whole system without adding new things
(except for a few new things as packages get broken up or consolidated
or a new dependency arises, etc). Reinstallation of the entire OS for a
Debian upgrade is simply not the Debian way.
If you break out of the Stable branch into the Testing or Unstable
branch, all promises are null and void. Still, it's been my experience
that running Unstable on all my desktop boxes has been almost painless.
-> In MDK, when I had to upgrade from KDE 3.1.x to KDE 3.2 (I had
MDK9.2, I tried to update only what I needed), I had to force the
urpmi system to uninstall all the kde packages (I had to force it
because urpmi keeps track of every dependency: a wonderful system, it
always worked beautifully except this time, not like the original
rpm). Unfortunately, the process wasn't flawless. When I started kde
3.2, I found that kdm (login manager) lost every WM other than kde...
OO.org never started anymore... and similar things. I heard a friend
saying in Debian the process would have been as simple as a single
cmdline. Is it true (I mean, *facts*, not "it should be so",
please...). Remember that a traditional update would be simple even
under MDK, I take KDE 3.1.x -> 3.2 as example because the packages
number/names changed, urpmi couldn't cope with this. What about .deb?
This point is important.
This is more problematic, as if you stay in Stable, you're not going to
get a new version of KDE until a new version of Stable is released. If
you get a new version of KDE via some other means, such as by upgrading
to Testing or Unstable, or by going to third-party .debs, etc, all
promises are null and void. Still, it's been my experience that running
Unstable on all my desktop boxes has been almost painless.
-> what about the kernel? Did the 2.4 -> 2.6 change require a complete
No. Not at all. But then I run unstable, and I'm not sure I've upgraded
a Stable box from 2.4 to 2.6.
-> kernels: are they patched? MDK ships a kernel heavily patched as
standard, in my opinion this is really useful. If debian kernels are
"clean", can I take a MDK kernel (let's suppose I compile it, but what
about taking the rpm with the kernel?) and use it in Debian? (I
suppose yes, but who knows)
Beyond my experience. But I believe Debian kernels are "clean".
-> rpm packages are everywhere... what about .deb? I'm able to compile
apps, but, since having a package allow me to uninstall it cleanly and
simply, I always prefer prepackaged apps. Will I be able to use rpms?
Many (not all) rpms can be converted into .debs via "alien". Also, I
understand that it's relatively trivial to create a .deb from a
source/binary package, but I've never tried, and my understanding may be
fried, so you can assume I've lied ("What's with the rhymes?" he sighed.).
-> will I be able to use MDK, SUSE and Fedora (the latter doesn't
matter that much, I never seen them) configuration tools? AFAIK,
Debian leave the user alone, there are no "debian" tool to configure
the OS (I originally chose MDK due to this). Note: this point is a
must. Without GUI tools to speed up system configuration, I won't
Then you might want to stay away from Debian. There are tools, but
generally they're command-line rather than GUI. There are
advantages/disadvantages both ways, so I won't try to sway you, but if
you really insist on sweet-tasting GUIness, perhaps you'd do better to
look into one of the Debian-based commercial distros; I _think_ Xandros
and Libranet are Debian-based. Knoppix is Debian-based (but probably not
really what you're looking for). I've never gone that route, and don't
have much experience, but I've got a cousin who has, and he's always
asking me how to do this or that, and I give the Debian answer, and he
winds up messing things up worse than when he started. For me, give me
pure Debian. It just works.
If you need to know, I'd choose the testing branch, even if don't
remember the kernel it ships... I hope 2.6. [update: no, it ships
2.4.something. What about 2.6? I want it]
2.6 is available for Testing I believe.
Last thing: what about reiserfs4? will it be among the FS choices? if
not I'll choose reiserfs, but is a rfs3.6->rfs4 upgrade possible
reiserfs is available with the new Testing installer. I don't know about
rfs versions. I don't know if you can convert to rsf without a reformat
of the partition.