Re: current Redhat user evaluates Debian
----- Original Message -----
From: "montefin" <email@example.com>
To: "John L. Fjellstad" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Friday, July 28, 2000 7:17 PM
Subject: Re: current Redhat user evaluates Debian
> "In a galaxy far away, John L. Fjellstad" wrote:
> > Hi,
> > I'm a current RedHat user (started with Linux on RedHat because
> > it was available at Fry's), and I'm currently evaluating
> > Debian for a possible switch.
> > Can anyone come up with a list of advantages of using Debian
> > Linux over Redhat Linux?
> > I would also love to hear any the weaknesses Debian has compared
> > RedHat.
> I've been dual-booting Red Hat and Win98 on a PII 350, since March,
> 1999. Before that I'd been dividing my computing pretty much equally
> between MacOS and NT.
> In January, 2000, I got serious about setting up a network to serve my
> websites, front-ended by a firewall box that wouldn't quickly become
> just 'a piece of Swiss cheese' between my LAN and the outside world.
> In other words, I wanted a system configuration that would impose a
> strict, consistent, logical hierarchy and be easy to maintain and update
> against any new security exploits that would inevitably come at it.
> I looked into Slackware, SuSE, Debian and also OpenBSD and FreeBSD.
> In March, 2000, I picked up a 1992-era 486DX 66 with a modest 514Mb hard
> drive, at Goodwill of all places. $120 and all the hardware was Linux
> The local LUG (Linux Users Group) here, offered to make free burns of
> any distros members wanted to try. I got a CD each for Debian, Slack and
> Since I'd already started auditing this (the debian-users) mailing list,
> I popped in the Debian CD first and found I only had part of what I
> needed. But it made enough sense that I downloaded a set of tools from
> http://www.debian.org to floppies and partitioned the 'Goodwill Special'
> as 100% pure Debian and installed a workable 'Slink' (Debian's current
> stable release) base system.
> Over a 56k modem and using 'dselect' (Debian's front-end to 'dpkg', the
> package management tool), I fleshed out 'Slink', but realized it was
> pretty outdated as compared to the Red Hat 6.1 conglomeration I was
> using on the PII.
> So I ordered a set of CD's for Debian 'Potato' (at the time, Debian's
> unstable release) from the nice people at Greenbush Technologies
> http://www.greenbush.com/cgi-greenbush/order/index.cgi .
> But before the CD's arrived I'd discovered apt-get (Debian's system for
> upgrading from file, http or ftp sources). I never used the CD's.
> Once you get the hang of apt-get, you realize there isn't much else out
> there that you can even compare it with.
> Almost overnight, online, I went from 'Slink' to 'Potato', without
> having to bother the great folks on this list too much (I hope). All of
> a sudden, Red Hat was looking outdated!
> BTW, if apt-get is my #1 reason for going forward with Debian for my
> firewall, this list is a close second. I have attempted about nine times
> to get email support from Red Hat, support I paid for, and never got
> past a bot or a 'customer service' representative who couldn't
> understand how I could possibly be feeling frustrated. Never once did
> anyone who knew anything ever respond.
> In late June, 2000, I upgraded from the 56k modem to a 192k/192k SDSL
> connection, installed linux-2.2.16, set up the network, ssh and ssl,
> then just last night decided to 'apt-get' myself from mostly 'Potato' to
> full 'Woody' (Debian's current development release).
> Maybe I've gotten too confident in the Debian development team for
> 'Woody' on a firewall?
> If apt-get was great at 56k, it is mind-boggling at 192k. Especially if
> you've ever tried to get a crucial security update from Red Hat or one
> of its mirrors and gotten an insipid dialogue saying more or less 'sorry
> all circuits are busy' or 'that site/directory/file does not exist'.
> Best of all, once you've done an 'apt-get dist-upgrade', a complete
> upgrading of everything you have chosen to have on your Debian system --
> online -- in under an hour -- whenever you want (I do it weekly) -- you
> never want to go back to anything like the horrors I experienced
> upgrading from Red Hat 6.0 to 6.1.
> RH 6.2? No thank you.
> However, I'm continuing to run Red Hat 6.1 on the PII.
> Are there advantages to Red Hat over Debian?
> Well, just the day before yesterday, a brand-new Red Hat user snuck onto
> this list and asked why Red Hat wasn't recognizing his new ethernet
> card. I think they do that because they've heard if you want Linux help,
> ask the debian-user people. Some have even admitted that.
> Off the list, I attempted to walk him through the various steps I'd had
> to learn to set up my network 'the way I wanted it'. I began by asking
> him questions about his routing table, his kernel, etc., so we'd have
> enough information to 'just do it'.
> Finally, he wrote back saying "Hey, thanks, but I know nothing about my
> kernel since Red Hat did it for me, and somebody else told me just go
> into linuxconf > Basic host information > Adaptor 1, select the right
> kernel module, and it worked. But I learned a lot from your questions."
> And you know (slapping my forehead), I knew that! But it was just too
> Does Debian have weaknesses as compared to Red Hat?
> For the paradigm I started with, I'd have to say no. But, for people who
> just want to 'do it'? Yes. Debian takes work, a greater willingness to
> read the HOWTO's and manpages, and a strong, dedicated support group in
> close touch with the developers. Luckily, that last 'weakness' is more
> than overcome by the debian-users mailing list.
> Will I switch the PII from Red Hat to Debian?
> Probably. But, I don't feel any pressing need to switch now that Red
> Hat's security looseness is tucked in behind a Debian mediated firewall.
> Of course, security is relative. But, I'll feel relatively secure as
> long as nobody writes back "Don't do Woody on a firewall!"
> Still, when friends ask me about 'this thing called Linux', I recommend
> they go out and buy the latest Red Hat boxed CD set; try Linux; and, if
> they like it and want to get serious, switch to Debian, Slackware or
> Sorry for the story format and not a neat list. Hope it helps.
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