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Re: Debian Newbie problems.

suresh@mycampus.com wrote:
>I am surprised to note that debian distributions in cdrom donot contain
>Why is it that Redhat distributions contain netscape while debian cdrom

Netscape is non-free. In this context, that means that it doesn't fit
the DFSG (Debian Free Software Guidelines), which you can find at
http://www.debian.org/social_contract#guidelines. Only software that
meets this definition is allowed in the main distribution of Debian.
Only the main distribution [1] is legally safe to distribute; non-free
software might have conditions like "you may not charge for distributing
this software on a CD-ROM". As a result, to protect themselves, Debian
CD-ROM distributors usually only distribute main.

I haven't read the Netscape copyright in any detail; perhaps it does
allow CD-ROM distribution, or perhaps Red Hat have an agreement with
Netscape, or perhaps they simply don't care. But Debian is an
organization dedicated and committed to promoting free software (as
defined by the DFSG), and if Netscape doesn't fit then, bluntly, that's
too bad. Note, though, that you can download Debian Netscape packages
over the net; fairly standard /etc/apt/sources.list lines should let you
use 'apt-get install navigator' or 'apt-get install communicator'.

[1] Well, you can probably distribute contrib too, but that tends to
    depend on non-free software to actually do anything useful.

>As I a newbie to Debian, could anyone please tell me the plus/minus points
>of debian over redhat distribution. Please consider this as a very genuine


Commitment to free software.

Firm, clear policy to ensure consistency of packages.


Open development process - anyone can get involved.

Responsive and open bug tracking system.


Several thousand packages in the official distribution.

In my experience, the vast majority of packages "just work" (back to the
consistency thing again).


A lot of third-party software is distributed as .rpms (though you could
always use alien).

Red Hat is more popular, so it might be easier to find support for it.

Slow release process (people who want to track the latest software tend
to use the downloadable unstable distribution).

dpkg is slower than rpm (though this may be a function of the large
number of packages I have installed).

I'm told the Debian installation process isn't very newbie-friendly; you
could always try one of the Debian forks, like Corel [2], if that's what
you want.

[2] ... though you may then lose the openness and non-commercialism that
    causes many people to like Debian.

Colin Watson                                           [cjw44@cam.ac.uk]

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