[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Debian info for Sys Admins - RFC.

A group with whom I work is interested in using and supporting Linux.
These people have substantial experience in supporting many flavors of
Unix.  Some of them have used RedHat on their own computers but none
have experience with Debian.  As I am an enthusiastic Debian user and
I want to spread the word a bit, I offered to do a sample installation
for them this afternoon.

I wrote a few notes on things that you may not otherwise find out in
the documentation.  I enclose them below.  I welcome comments and
especially corrections if I mis-stated something.

Remember that the audience being addressed is a group of sophisticated
Unix Systems Administrators.

 The full name of Debian is Debian GNU Linux reflecting the fact that
 Linux is substantially based on the GNU system.  The Free Software
 Foundation sponsored the initial development of Debian by paying
 Ian Murdoch's salary for some time when he first started the project.

 The name Debian itself comes from Deborah and Ian Murdoch.  Ian
 resigned as director of the project several years ago but the name

 The distribution is currently the property of a non-profit
 organization called Software in the Public Interest.  The director is
 Bruce Perens.  He is also the chief architect of Debian.  He works for
 Pixar as a System Admin.  If you see mail from him on a mailing list
 or news group it is worth reading.  He is very good.

 There is always a "stable" and an "unstable" or development
 distribution.  In the master and mirror ftp sites those names are
 symbolic links to actual directories named rex, bo, hamm,
 ... (characters from the movie "Toy Story").  Right now bo
 (a.k.a. Debian-1.3.1) is the stable distribution.  It is ELF-based but
 uses the Linux libc5 (based on GNU libc 1) libraries.  These are not
 thread-safe.   The unstable directory is hamm, the development version
 of Debian-2.0.  It is based on libc6 (GNU libc 2) which is (should
 be?) thread-safe.

 A goal is to provide parallel releases for Intel x86, Alpha, Sparc,
 PPC and any other architectures on which Linux runs.  Understandably
 the most complete release is that for Intel x86.  Within the
 directories for distributions you will see subdirectories for source
 and for binary-alpha, binary-i386, binary-sparc, etc.  There is
 usually a symbolic link "binary" to binary-i386.

 In addition to "stable" and "unstable" you will see directories for
 "contrib" and "non-free".  Packages in these directories are not
 covered by the equivalent of the GPL or the Artistic License.  They
 can be installed for personal use but should not be redistributed by
 CD-ROM manufacturers unless the manufacturer obtains separate
 permission.  Debian encourages people or companies to create and sell
 CD-ROMS's from their distribution.  There is no royalty required.
 There are tools for creating CD-ROM images.  This may be handy if you
 eventually decided to create a CD-ROM for your own installation.

 Be aware that even the "stable" distribution changes frequently.

 Because Debian is a distributed development effort there has been
 considerable effort in creating the package management tools.  The
 basic tool is called "dpkg".  It installs, uninstalls, verifies,
 ... packages in Debian's .deb format.  That format contains a gzip'd
 tar archive of all files to be installed for the package and another
 gzip'd tar archive of the control information.  The control
 information lists package dependencies and also contains any scripts
 that should be run before or after installation or removal.  These
 scripts eventually end up in the /var/lib/dpkg/info/ directory.  For
   total 3500
   drwxr-xr-x   3 root     root        33792 Aug 13 08:58 .
   drwxr-xr-x   6 root     root         1024 Aug 13 08:58 ..
   -rw-r--r--   1 root     root           61 Jul  9 21:29 acct.conffiles
   -rw-r--r--   1 root     root          540 Jul 11 17:10 acct.list
   -rwxr-xr-x   1 root     root         1026 Jul  9 21:29 acct.postinst
   -rwxr-xr-x   1 root     root          615 Jul  9 21:29 acct.postrm
   -rwxr-xr-x   1 root     root          365 Jul  9 21:29 acct.preinst
   -rwxr-xr-x   1 root     root          576 Jul  9 21:29 acct.prerm
   -rw-r--r--   1 root     root          667 May 19 10:22 mysql-manual.list
   -rw-r--r--   1 root     root         1096 Apr 12 14:43 mysql-manual.md5sums
   -rw-r--r--   1 root     root           17 May 11 08:35 mysql.conffiles
   -rw-r--r--   1 root     root         1965 Jul 31 13:46 mysql.list
   -rw-r--r--   1 root     root         3235 May 11 08:35 mysql.md5sums
   -rwxr-xr-x   1 root     root          269 May 11 08:35 mysql.postinst
   -rwxr-xr-x   1 root     root          386 May 11 08:35 mysql.postrm
   -rwxr-xr-x   1 root     root          194 May 11 08:35 mysql.prerm
   -rw-r--r--   1 root     root           23 May 11 08:35 mysql.shlibs

 The dpkg program is the raw interface to package management.  It is
 fine for installing one or two packages or quick maintenance chores.
 For larger scale work where dependencies can get messy the full-screen
 tool "dselect" is used.  It is really a bear to get used to.  Once you
 do get used to using it, it is very convenient.  I update the software
 on my system at least every week.

 *Very important* - the first time you use dselect after an
 installation from scratch, just take the default settings that it
 gives you and install them.  Don't do any selection at this point or
 you will get hopelessly muddled.  That is, when you get to the select
 option from the initial screen, you will get a screen with packages
 already selected.  *Just hit return* and take the recommended
 selections, then go to install.  Later you can come back and do the
 actual package selection.  You have been warned!

 The primary distribution site is ftp://ftp.debian.org/.  I use a very
 fast mirror from Brookhaven National Lab called

 As described in file README.non-US at the top level of the
 distribution site, any packages that cannot legally be exported from
 the U.S. are kept at offshore sites.  These packages include pgp and
 ssh.  For me the best mirror is Jim Pick's site in Canada

 An rpm package is available for Debian to install or uninstall RedHat
 .rpm files.  Especially commercial software tends to be packaged as
 .rpm before being packaged as a .deb file.  The recommended way of
 using .rpm files is to install both the "alien" and the "rpm" packages
 and use alien to install the .rpm file as a virtual Debian package.

 There is a development underway to produce a new package tool called Deity.

Douglas Bates                            bates@stat.wisc.edu
Statistics Department                    608/262-2598
University of Wisconsin - Madison        http://www.stat.wisc.edu/~bates/

TO UNSUBSCRIBE FROM THIS MAILING LIST: e-mail the word "unsubscribe" to
debian-devel-request@lists.debian.org . 
Trouble?  e-mail to templin@bucknell.edu .

Reply to: