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Re: Unidentified subject!

(I've replied to debian-user instead of debian-devel because this
really belongs on -user)

Ian Keith Setford <ians@jove.acs.unt.edu> writes:

> Yo-
> I would like suggestions and input on how to "sell" Debian in the sense of
> Debian versus RedHat, FreeBSD, or any other distribution.  I will attempt
> to persuade a small committee of faculty to install Debian on a yet to be
> purchased machine.  The machine is an experiment at my university to see
> if a select group of students can successfully administer a machine.  I
> have my own views of why Debian is better and honestly I love it to death
> but the marketing and X-based configuration of RedHat seem to be weighing
> against me.  I am also aware of a notion that FreeBSD is somewhat more
> "secure" than linux which I must also combat. 

Well, I can only provide some anecdotal evidence - my
undergrad. school recently (in the past year) switched the
student-admisitered unix box from an ugly slackware version to
FreeBSD.  While both, as far as I can tell, are administration
nightmares (though the people managing it now seem to be making saner
decisions than the old slackware group did, so it's not as bad), at
least it was possible to get X working on the box when it was
Slackware.  This has not been possible so far for the FreeBSD folks.
Also, last I looked at FreeBSD it was still using some old X - that
is, earlier that X11R6.3.  The consequence is that X windows on
FreeBSD was _much_ less secure as anyone who could telnet in could
grab a picture of the display (or worse).  That, however, may have

So if X is a priority, don't go with FreeBSD.

Where FreeBSD's "more secure" reputation comes up is that occasionally 
bugs are found in the Linux networking kernel code that make it possible for
people to write programs which take the machine down.  These are fixed 
and patches are usually distributed within a week - often before many
people even know the bug exists.  FreeBSD rarely has this problem.
This is in my experience the only time the reputation of FreeBSD being 
more secure is justified; also, it's a relatively minor worry, what
with recompiling the linux kernel being as easy as it is.

Finally, I'd avoid FreeBSD for the same reason I'd avoid slackware -
no packaging system.  On a student-run box (and therefore, presumably
administered by volunteers and/or people with less than 5 years
experience as unix sysadmins), this is a definite priority.

RedHat's only advantage over Debian that I can see is in the ease of
initial setup - and there, only in the ease of initial X setup.
(which is, IMHO, a major flaw in Debian 1.3.1 - X Setup is poorly
documented, or at least it was when I did it - maybe the FAQ-O-Matic
has taken care of things).  RedHat is a pain to upgrade and a royal
pain to administer remotely.  With Debian, it's a snap.  (The bo->hamm 
upgrade notwithstanding, which is easy if you actually read the
documentation beforehand).

> Please suggest the best hardware configuration for a machine that will
> host thousands of users and be up 24/7.  I suspect that an i386 machine
> would be most suitable only because I am unaware of the stability or
> availability of Alpha/Sparc ports and due to the lesser price of i386
> hardware.

Sure - Pentium or whatever.  The most important thing is to have gobs
of memory - 64 meg minimum.  Also, if you buy the hardware in
components yourself, make certain you have enough fans.  (Some Cyrix
chips are known to overheat - if you have the money, there's nothing
wrong with buying genuine intel).

> Please point me towards any information that might help me get Debian on
> such an important machine at my university.  The machine that am I asking
> for advice in building is a replacement machine for the machine in which
> this e-mail is being created.
> I am sorry if this message seems somewhat convoluded but I feel very
> strongly about having Debian an the operating system on this computer.  I
> lack the advanced programming skills(I receive my degree in Finance in a
> few months) to be a Debian developer but I sincerely desire to help
> promote and help the Debian project.
> On a side note, with whom do I need to correspond with to discuss the use
> of the Debian logo and name?
> If anyone was wondering, I attend the University of North Texas located in
> Denton, Texas (30miles north of Dallas/Ft.Worth).  It is the 3rd largest
> university in Texas.
> Please feel free to reply directly to me or to the list!
> Thanks again,
> -Ian

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