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

Concerns and Challenges of Squeeze and Ongoing Elements

Hash: SHA1

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have been using Debian as my primary distribution for the
last 4 years.  I have been using Linux as my only OS since
1999.  My decision to move to Debian included the many
derivatives of Debian I may use for various purposes, the
concept of apt-get, and the different hardware platforms
supported.  I have been trying to use Squeeze since December
2011, but unlike Etch and Lenny to date I have not been able to
do so due to a variety of Squeeze issues.

Etch and Lenny were were generally positive experiences in
terms of stability with the exception of apt-get and apt-get
related cousins.  As of Squeeze I have experienced a number of
problems that include, but limited to:

* LiveCDs that do not work properly with some VM software, but
others just fine at the desktop GUI level

* Debian Squeeze Linux kernels that opps so many times it was
not funny, Debian Linux kernel sources that had several issues I
cannot remember them all both in terms of ability to compile,
major functionality differences outright crashes.  I was always
able to use Etch and Lenny Linux kernels in main or backports
with confidence.  With Squeeze it was a disaster right from the
base virgin install in every respect.  When I switched from the
Debian kernels to the Kernel.org Linux kernels all the Debian
Linux kernel problems disappeared and not one kernel opps since
using various Kernel.org 3.2.x and 3.3.x versions as released.
I have lots of kernel configuring, compiling and testing
experience since 1999.  One other distribution which I will not
name also had a similar disaster record with their distribution
specific Linux kernels and was how I got started in learning
how to configure and compile kernels from Kernel.org.

* Major and serious problems compiling packages from source.
What is even worse is Debian developers seriously challenging
why I would compile from source, i.e. security fixes,
kernels, etc.  Aside from some odd bumps in compiling from
source with Etch and Lenny there were no major problems.
However I cannot even compile many of the most basic and key
elements of Squeeze due to a number of problems related to
the package or more commonly the design of the packages in
Squeeze.  So you have a context of the extent of compiling
from source with Etch and Lenny it was almost all packages
were recompiled for a variety of reasons - security updates,
backports, et al.  Suffice to say aside from Debian I also
used to rebuild from source with RPM based systems prior to
my using Debian as my primary distribution.

* Major problems with one very primary and key software
package that had on many occasions, including the latest
security release, such that the entire system is brought to its
knees in what would clearly be classified a system DNS that
will last for hours and one cannot access the system as a
result.  I suspect, but have not confirmed that this many be a
double edge problem in that the very primary and key software
package may also be playing on top of a Linux kernel issue
that I have some extensive testing knowledge of.  

* apt-get and its related cousins that in fact cause more
problems, want to remove key user applications that clearly are
not related to the package the user wishes to remove, or will
want to revert important changes the user has made to customize
their system in normal user ways causing the user to constantly
having to spend alot of time redoing the configuration they set
up and choose each time an apt-get is run.  This has been a
problem with Etch, Lenny and Squeeze, progressively getting
much worse.  The net result is giving up trying to maintain
the normal user customizations or spending alot of time and
effort with creative workarounds.

* apt-get and related cousins become broken when a user
configures the system in ways a user is allowed to do so.
Again a problem with Etch, Lenny and Squeeze.  Again the net
result is not being able to use apt-get and related cousins and
spending alot of time doing such manually which defeats the
purpose of apt-get.

* Some packages seem to consistently have the same problems for
many version/security releases and/or releases (Etch to Lenny
to Squeeze) despite Debian bug logs indicating the issue was
fixed, in some cases several times. In some cases the same
problem would be reported by someone for the same package that
was supposed to have the problem fixed and was not.  I never
reported or added my experience to confirm the issue existed
even after I researched using other resources and skills to fix
these Debian packages so they would compile and/or install.
Frankly if the same problem was appearing over a few years and
several versions of the Debian package for these different
software packages then I saw little point to spending my time
spinning on the issue and not see it resolved as already stated
was resolved when it would take me about a hour or few of
research, fixing, repackaging, compiling and/or installing the
package myself. 

There are more issues, a few I tried to report over the years,
many I did not as I was almost always met with a challenge of
those that felt my concerns were invalid.  Once someone else
I never knew prior or after made a comment that my concerns were
very valid and made excellent points why.  Even then the
person(s) responsible were defiant.  They expected me to spend
alot of time testing something they already knew was an issue
for Debian, but not for any Debian derivative of at least the
past 5 years.  So I simply did not use Debian for the solution
I was working on.  I used another Linux distribution for the
matter at hand that worked.

As a result it now seems I have to sadly spend time researching
and testing an alternative OSS and/or Linux based distribution
due to the serious and addition issues that Squeeze has
introduced.  It also means I have to again migrate my system,
configurations and customizations a user is allowed to make to
their system.  This is not a small effort and one that takes
careful effort that include backups, a few weeks of effort over
and above trying out other distributions.  In essence I have
lost confidence in Debian as a distribution.  I fully
understand OOS, people volunteering their time, et al for a
distribution.  The point is Squeeze has made a number of
backward steps that are Debian specific including decision that
are temporary and not fully thought through in key areas of
Debian specific scope as opposed to the OOS.  A few examples
have already been noted in the points above.  I tried my best
to find solutions to the issues, and yes I did not report many,
because experience has been it is yet another layer of
challenges that my personal time like the Debian volunteers
have limited time is also limited, but at same time seems to
amplify such that much more limited time, not less or efficient
time is made of everyone's limited time.

I hope at some point Debian can restore the stability of Etch
and Lenny in future releases and bring more coherence to the
Debian specific elements of the Debian distribution.  If that
happens I would be very happy to give serious consideration to
Debian as my distribution again.  As it stands now I cannot
recommend Debian Squeeze to others.


John L. Males
Toronto, Ontario
03 July 2012 20:50

2012-07-03 19:38:59.935336752-0400-EDT

 3 Jul 19:38:59 ntpdate[14261]: ntpdate 4.2.6p2@1.2194-o Sun
Oct 17 13:35:14 UTC 2010 (1)

 3 Jul 19:39:57 ntpdate[14266]: step time server
offset -0.004486 sec

Linux 3.3.4-kernel.org-jlm-010-amd64 #1 SMP PREEMPT Thu May 3
17:02:56 EDT 2012

Modified Debian GNU/Linux 6.0.3 (squeeze)
Planning, Upgrade, Modifications from Highly modified
Debian 4.x Etch

Version: GnuPG v1.4.10 (GNU/Linux)


Reply to: