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Re: Hesitating to take the plunge in Debian

On 11/1/2000 Renaud Dreyer wrote:

1)How easy is it to install Debian for PowerPC right now, for someone who's
used MkLinux and Linuxppc for the last 2 and a half years? The only
installation instructions I've seen are at:

depends on whether the boot floppies like your box or not.

debian is not as easy to install as redhat (of which all ppc distros except debian derive) but its far more flexible and powerful, you can end up with what you WANT and NEED, without all the cruft that seems mandatory on redhat systems. dselect does take some getting used to, but you really only need to use it once and then apt is sufficient for any further package installations/removals. if you have GNU/Linux experience you will be able to handle debian installer, its not bad at all, just play with it a bit to get used to it.

I have not yet installed debian on ppc but have several times on an intel box, the installation procedure should be the same except for the bootstrap process. most of your questions apply to debian in general, as Debian is pretty close across architectures.

I have installed linuxppc R5, and tried to fix its out-of-the-box brokenness, I was quite unimpressed with it, and from what i have discovered of the debian folks from my intel experience with debian is that they care very much for doing things correctly, and not tolerating brokenness in their distribution.


Are these still accurate and is there any other documentation?

not that i have found, it looks like it will be pretty much the same as i386 except for the bootstrap process (which is an obligatory pain on powerpc machines it seems :)) once its booted you should get the same options for base system installation, configuration and such. after that just follow the dselect tutorial.

2) Is there anything missing from the distribution, compared to Linuxppc?

Debian is probably missing all the rediculous bugs linuxppc has :)

Will I still be able to run windowmaker, TkStep, Nextaw, FSViewer,
postilion, MOL, Netscape, xmms, xemacs, exmh,

yes, i think so. Debian has thousands of packages most of which should be ported to PPC afaik.

 Rage 128 accelerated Xpmac,

dunno about that one there was some recent discussion about Xpmac...

compile my own kernels?

as well as that can be done on ppc...

 Are Debian packages also available in source form
(like the source RPM's)

of course, apt-get source packagename

 so that I can compile anything not available for
PowerPC in binary form? How well does the RPM to Debian package converter
(alien?) work, for any RPM not available in Debian form (like MOL?)?

I have only used alien a bit, but i prefer to get a real deb or just compile and install in /usr/local in those cases. I also just compile and install in /usr/local for development stage stuff like MOL. but thats just me.

the main problems you come across with alien is when there are files installed in the redhat centric filesystem locations and such.

How do the administration tools compare with the Red Hat ones?

emacs, joe, vi premium, reliable tools (well except vi maybe) <g> but seriously there are counterparts to some of redhats utilities and from what i have seen are superior. and you can get linuxconf if you want (though i don't know why anyone would WANT to <g>)

I have found debian to be MUCH easier to configure, especially if you want to do something manually rather then through some frontend. especially the initscripts, none of that redhat spaghetti here.

3) This mailing list seems to be pretty low volume, is it because very
few people are running Debian PowerPC or is it because it's trouble free?
Are these any good Debian mailing lists I should know about?

I suspect its because debian is not full of dumb problems like linuxppc is.

4) Finally, when the official Debian distribution for PowerPC comes out,
will I be able to upgrade to it trivially, or will I have to do a complete

potato is supposed to freeze this weekend, followed by a week long evaluation, a two week test period (possibly repeated if serious issues necessitate a fix and retest) release is aimed for mid to end february.

as far as installation, debian's upgrade system is amazing, since you would be installing potato directly you will be able to upgrade any new packages in two commands when it becomes stable though you should upgrade every day or so to keep up to date:

edit /etc/apt/sources.list to point to potato, and later stable if you wish to follow stable rather then potato explicitly.

apt-get update
apt-get dist-upgrade

that is all there is to it. I have NEVER downloaded a .deb file myself, any time i need a new package i just search for it, and run apt-get install packagename, and apt checks the depenencies and asks permission to install the needed packages along with my selection, then downloads, installs, configures, done. excellent system, RPM cannot hold a candle to it.

if you don't like dpkg then you must not like package managers in general ;-)

Ethan Benson
To obtain my PGP key: http://www.alaska.net/~erbenson/pgp/

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