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Apt rocks; Gnome rocks.

The following is a copy of email I have sent to a friend who has been
working with Debian.  I have expressed doubts to him many times
concerning the problems I had been having with my own Debian system.
I had been having trouble compiling 2.1.X kernels, and in other ways
too the system was broken.  I didn't have time to update/upgrade, and
apt wouldn't deal with the kludged up system.  Finally I have
reinstalled from a 2.0 LSL CD, upgraded to up-to-date Hamm, and then
straight up to Slink via apt-get dist-upgrade.  Now I am selectively
upgrading to some potato packages.  

The following is my take on the amazingly clean Debian distribution
and its amazing tools.  As a  user of  Debian for well over three
years, I have been plagued by doubts.  Today, I want to express my
gratitude to the many Debian developers who have contributed to this
system, not to mention to all of the thousands of programmers who have
contributed to the extant free software base.  (I over heard a local
computer shop owner saying that Windows 98 upgrades are causing all
kinds of problems; perhaps he was seeding his clientele with FUD, but
all the same, it makes me laugh.)

Thanks.  (I have taken the liberty of mailing copies to debian-user
and debian-devel).

Alan Davis


I've been having fun with Debian since my upgrade.  Apt is a FANTASTIC
piece of work.  Please try it.  

After I reinstalled from the older CD, I ran "apt-get update; apt-get
upgrade" to bring the installation up-to-date.  It took a few hours.
Apt goes out over the internet to  Debian's main server, and ftps the
files necessary to bring the system up to date, then installs.  It
works well.  Only a few glitches.  Solvable---right now X11 is a bit
fragile if you update to slink, but to update Hamm is really cool.
That is the CD was Hamm, and I told apt to update Hamm to the up to
date files on the FTP site, since there have been a few fixes, etc.
The update went well.  

Then I pointed apt to the slink area on the FTP site and told it to
update the distribution to slink: "apt-get update-dist".  100MB of
files were required.  There are currently some glitches, since slink
is not yet "stable", so I used the -d (download only, do not install)
switch to apt-get.  There is discussion on the mailing list about
problems with the upgrade, but I couldn't get any answers (the list is
much larger, the subscriber base has apparently grown beyond
imagination, and what was once one-to-one help in virtually every case
is not apparently happening.  Maybe people are tired of my requests

I finally decided, the next day (after the 100MB of files had been
FTPd automatically) to give the install a try.  It took a bit over an
hour, I guess.  X was broken.  A couple packages were broken.  There
were some glitches with apt downloading packages I hadn't requested,
and apt not following the list of wanted upgrades and holds I had
carefully tried to do with dselect---it's possible that I don't yet
understand how to use it all.  Dselect was always out of my control.
Apt is amazing though.  It updates to slink, finds no
inconsistencies.  I had to manually get the x11 files.  The problem is
that there is no one-to-one mapping  of hamm to slink in some
packages.  One hamm package is found in four or more slink files.
(More of the rampant fractionalization I have detected in Debian
before.)  It took a couple hours to get it fixed.

By the way, outside of mainstream hours, suddenly there is a radical
improvement in PCI.  I was getting consistent 3.3 kb/s ftp speeds.
Thus the 100MB took only a relatively few hours!  

Once I had slink going, I pointed to potato, the newer distribution
that isn't yet even frozen, so all ongoing new compiles have been
going in there since October.  I have used apt to upgrade specific
packages from potato, such as the packages needed to compile the
newest kernels. AND THEY COMPILE OK!  

And there is new video code in the newest kernels, including multiple
matrox support.  Including a whole new way of abstracting the video
hardware.  It works well, I think.  This is pre 2.2.0 code.  2.2 will
be the next stable releases, it's been way over a year and a half that
2.1 has been in limbo.  

I started tweaking with apt, installing some specific packages, and
decided to try to install some x11 files that I saw on the FTP site,
in potato.  I used "apt-get install <packagename>."  Well, some
package couldn't be installed, cause of  unmet dependencies on some
libraries.  Apt get told me, and suggested I try to reinstall with the
-f switch to apt-get.  It worked, installed all needed packages to
meet the unmet dependencies.  So I tried gnome.  

That's the subject of this message.  Gnome ROCKS.  There is a Gnome
application called electric eyes for browsing directories of
graphics---wow.  Of course the GIMP is also more than compatible,
since Gnome also depends on the GNU gtk+ libraries, etc.  Mc was
written by the guy who I think started gnome, Miquel van Smoorenberg
(spelling wrong).  This guy is in Mexico, and has been a key linux
developer.  I am now apt-getting the gnome mc package.  

Hey, it's installed and I started it up.  Looks like a great file
manager, with graphical folder icons, etc.  

I've been tweaking afterstep.  But this Gnome is radically better.  It
runs well under Windowmaker, which is a good window manager.  

I'm stoked.  

Don't sweat any longer  the small stuff.


----------END MAIL TO MY FRIEND------------

Alan E. Davis                       Marianas High School (Science Department)
AAA196, Box 10001    adavis@netpci.com   http://www.saipan.netpci.com/~adavis
Saipan, MP  96950    15.16oN 145.7oE    GMT+10       Northern Mariana Islands

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