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[comp.os.linux.misc] Re: Debian distribution?

I know cross-posting is a bad habit, but this might be overlooked. We have to
stress that we have fans like Lars people might have heard about before.

Dirk Eddelbuettel		                   

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From: wirzeniu@cc.Helsinki.FI (Lars Wirzenius)
Subject: Re: Debian distribution?
Newsgroups: comp.os.linux.misc
Date: 7 Aug 1995 21:38:36 +0300
Organization: University of Helsinki
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[ Should I post this?  Heck, I Jerry Pournelle can make an ass of himself
  on BYTE every month, I can do it once on news. ]

rpjday@cybernetics.net (Rob Day):
>   Does anyone have experience with the Debian distribution?  Pros?
> Cons?  Advice on the most up-to-date/stable/complete distribution
> currently available?  Just curious.

I just bought a new computer, with a CD-ROM drive.  For some reason :-)
I've been getting free CD-ROM's from the Linux CD-ROM manufacturers,
at least from Info-Magic (Developer's Resource), Yggdrasil (the
Internet Archive set, not their own distribution, which I haven't seen),
S.u.S.E (German, both their distribution and _their_ ftp site archives),
Red Hat, Softcraft, and maybe someone else, I forget.

I installed a couple of distributions, before going back to Debian
(but installed from the ftp archive cd-roms).  I didn't give anyone
a good enough chance to win me over, mostly because I don't want to
be stuck with a commercial CD-ROM that gets old, and I don't want to
ask the producers of CD-ROMs for more gifts.  Also, I'd used Debian
before, and was happy with it.

I don't remember anything specific about the test installations I did
(I hadn't been able to sleep for the week before I got the computer,
since I was waiting for it like a child for Christmas :-).  However,
I didn't have any important problems, and I didn't get annoyed by anything.
(On the other hand, I was walking several inches above ground level
as it was...)

Debian is still BETA, and their package tools are still evolving.
However, it works, at least if you're willing to use the command line
package installation tool.  They don't have all the small goodies that
Slackware has in a pre-packaged form, but that is changing, since it
is possible (I don't know about easy, since I've never done it myself)
to produce Debian format packages.  The archives are slowly filling up.

I like the Debian package system.  For comparison, I hate the Slackware
one (though I haven't checked newer versions during the past approximate
year, since I went with Debian).  A Debian package is _one_ file, which
includes a description, and doesn't give a damn about which floppy it
should be stored on.  In fact, the way to install Debian is roughly:

	1. Boot from installation floppy.
	2. Install base system from a three floppy set.
	3. Boot base system, and configure it.
	4. Install rest by doing essentially:

		mount /cdrom
		cd /cdrom/debian/binary
		dpkg --install --auto `find . -name "*.deb"`
		< go eat something, or something >
		< done >

Although, I have to admit, it doesn't _quite_ work well enough yet.

They're working on a full screen interface for dpkg, which will hopefully
be easier to use for novices.

Debian lacks some frills, like colors during installation, but the
system works pretty well.  I also like the fact that they have a public
bug list (start at the Debian WWW page at http://www.debian.org/ and
continue from there).  Most Debian packages are also updated as bugs
are noticed.

On the negative side, you might not want to go with a system that isn't
publicly announced as ready.

Lars.Wirzenius@helsinki.fi  (finger wirzeniu@klaava.helsinki.fi)
Publib version 0.5: ftp://ftp.cs.helsinki.fi/pub/Software/Local/Publib/
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