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Re: about debian

tristian radford wrote:

Hi i just wanted to know some info on debian my friend at college tells me all about it and he says it all good but what it is i was thinking about using debian (im currenly using mandrake) because it has its own installer which makes it easyer to get things and i head alot of good things about "app get". But i heard that debian is pretty hard to install and I just wanted to get the low down details.

Well the main reason why I want to use debian is because Yahoo has made an official messenger and as the latest version of gaim is broken its beginning to get me annoyed and with an official version of yahoo my mum will be pleased (im only 16 so it still normal to live at home ;) ).

Hello Tristian,

you can find alot about debian on our website:


Here are some reasons why you could use debian:

- Its entirely community-supported, ie. there's no large company behind it giving out new releases. Rather, its a bunch of friends doing all the release and development stuff.

- It is free (in the sense free speech, not free beer)

- Its there for 11 different architectures. The 'same' debian that runs on your box will run on the biggest IBM Mainframe (http://www-1.ibm.com/servers/eserver/zseries/800linux.html, e.g). So if you can use it on your box, you could -potentially - also operate it on such a mainframe (your bank surely has one or two of those standing around)

- There are three versions out there, 'stable', 'testing' and 'unstable' (codenamed 'woody', 'sarge' and 'sid' at the moment). Stable gets security updates, but is frozen otherwise, so most of the applications will be too old for your taste. 'Unstable' gets all the newest software, but it is the developer release, so it breaks often. 'Testing' is mid-way, so its quite usable with mostly recent packages. On the downside, it does not get security updates regularly, but rather you'll have to wait the usual ten days till the new version trickles in from 'unstable.

And here are a few reasons why using debian is tricky:

- Mandrake has a nice-looking graphical installer that guides you through all the process. Debian's installer is text-based, asks alot more questions, and generally requires you to know more about your computer than Mandrake does.

- 'apt-get' (which has also been ported to Mandrake, btw) allows you to install or remove packages. It will automattically satisfy dependencies, and fetch the packages from the net. Since this is so neat, Debian people use it alot, so most of the Debian Installation and Maintenance tools are text-based, commandline tools (not those stylish graphical tools mandrake has).

- If you want ot stay up to date (with the testing, or unstable distributions), you'll find that debian fetches a lot of soware from the net.

- Some software is free (you are free to use it for anythng you like, you are free to analyse it how it works, to adapt it, and ofc you can share the original or the adapted version with anyone you like), other software is not quite as free. Debian is rather strict about this distinction, and some things that you find in Mandrake (like for example Java), you'll have to get from third parties in debian (since Java is not free).

If you want an example of what debian might look like:

- Morphix (http://www.morphix.org) is based on debian, but optimised to run off a CD. I think there's a Gamer ISO at

- Knoppix (http://www.knoppix.org) is another live-CD distribution largely based on debian

And if you like debian, and want to contribute, you can also become a developer and become part of the project.

What I do for debian is I maintain a search engine for local webpages

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