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Re: unhappy customer

On Tue, Mar 30, 2004 at 09:32:10PM +0200, Ulrich Fürst wrote:
> Hubert Chan wrote:
> >I wonder if that isn't a general GNU/Linux problem, and not just
> >Debian.  e.g. I wonder if RedHat would be different.
> O.K. I must admit that I never installed another distribution. (I tried 
> to install RedHat but had to find out, that I couldn't boot from DVD)
> But you wanted to know why people think it's difficult to install debian 
> so I described how I see it.

I don't think you can make a simple statement of hard/easy for GNU/Linux
or individual distros. I've installed Debian with (relatively) few
problems on 4 different laptops. Of them, I've had one major problem on
three of them, and one that worked out of the box:

1) video card wasn't supported in debian stable, had to upgrade X to
unstable--not very difficult, just took a short time to find out that
was what I needed
2) 3c59x got "TX Ring Full" errors--upgraded whole laptop to unstable
and the latest generic kernel; still had problems with one card, swapped
it with another (also 3c59x) and it worked fine, so I suspect hw problem
3) no sound--this is the latest laptop, and I have not invested much
time in figuring it out

Outside of these three issues on three different laptops, everything
else worked out of the box or with very little tweaking (so little I
don't remember it). These were three Dells and one Gateway (that worked
100% out-of-the-box).

> >sound than RedHat because RedHat ran sndconfig for me.
> I ran sndconfig by myself but to not much effort.

Gah. sndconfig never helped me.

> >Hardware detection and configuration is important to getting Debian
> >(and GNU/Linux in general) usable to the general public.  I know the
> >new Debian installer has some hardware detection, but I've never tried
> >it, so I don't know how good/extensive it is.

I think this may be one large "problem" people see--Debian doesn't
autodetect or assume things and instead asks during installation. I
don't think most of these questions involve a tremendous amount of
technical knowledge but for Grandma it's quite difficult. RedHat is
slightly better, but suffers from many more problems *after* install
because it assumed something wrong.

Apple/Mac has GNU/Linux clobbered on this respect because they do the
hardware and the operating system, so it's only the rare third party
item that they need to work hard on; Microsoft/Windows has the advantage
that vendors spend more time writing drivers, but suffers similarly when
the drivers are only available for older/newer OS.

IMO, Debian 'stable' really isn't meant for modern desktops. Debian is
very focused on server/service priorities (stability and security) so
you can run a box for years with minimal downtimes, but servers tend not
to have need for special multimedia devices. OTOH, home users will have
newer hardware focused at multimedia (gaming, video editing/watching)
and while they want stability, they are not as stringent--rebooting
occassionally is acceptable as long as it isn't disruptive (can be
scheduled, rather than a BSOD)--and security is less important (fewer
services, less bandwidth, etc.).

Running Debian 'testing' or 'unstable' tends to give the same hardware
support that other recent Linux distros have with a small tradeoff on
stability (but still better than other distros). Knoppix is wonderful for
this. I haven't tried the beta installer, but my recommendation is only
to use it for 'testing' and 'unstable' distros since those would be the
ones people will need for the better hardware support.


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