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Re: Article: Debian's Daunting Installation

On Thu, Oct 05, 2000 at 03:10:59PM -0400,
James Antill <james@and.org> wrote:
> Christen Welch <chaotic42@pobox.com> writes:
> > I digress. My point is, Debian isn't difficult, even relative
> > to the other 'main' Linux based distros out there, to install. 
>  That's cute, it's loyal, but it isn't _true_.

Of course, it's all subjective. I've installed Debian, Red Hat, and
SuSE, and they all seemed to be about the same "difficulty" to install.
I really didn't like YaST or whatever with SuSE, but it wasn't hard.

>  Things that "got" me...
> 1. The partioning stuff didn't tell me how to make extended partitions
> (I realise _now_ that for cfdisk logical == extended, but I didn't
> know then). This could be classified as an upstream problem, if you
> assume that debian can't use whatever RH uses.

That's just terminology. You call it one thing, it calls it
another. It doesn't obfuscate the process, it just uses a
different word.

> 2. Even though I'd changed the default partition setup I didn't change
> it much (I just needed a couple of xtra 3 Gig bits on the end for my
> old drives and a bigger swap space). But the default partition setup
> doesn't make any sense ... it doesn't give a hint of which partition
> should be used for which mount ... about half way through the first
> install I realised that /var was on / and / was pretty small and so I
> probably wasn't goign to be able to get a full install (and if I did
> log and cache/apt would be big problems).

To be honest, I don't remember the partitioning portions of the
other Linux distros. However, unless you specifically set aside
another partiton, everything will be on /. For example, hdb2 is
my /, and hdb3 is my /home. 

Seems kind of obvious, but I could see how someone could have problems,
sort of.

>  To be fair the above was at about 3 am, I decided to sleep and forget
> about it at this point.
>  So the next day...

heh, I do that alot. I should learn to work on projects while I'm 

> 3. I partitioned properly this time and installed, I didn't really
> like they way it would ask me questions while the install was
> going. Esp. as I already had working XF86/exim/etc. configs ... but
> that was no large pain. However on this second install I'd forgotten
> to enable my ethernet card in modconf so I couldn't see my network and
> it took me _ages_ to find the "modconf" program. A top level
> "deb-conf" which points you at the other *conf programs would have
> been a great help.

Yeah, this is what's nice about apt-get, if you know it exists. 
Package installation needs to be simplified. Dselect is a piece
of crap.

> 4. A whole bunch of modules are manually loaded into the kernel, is
> there a reason for this (not a big thing, but looks wrong). Did I do
> something wrong with modconf ?

I think this is just the "general use" kernel. I've always 
recompiled mine. Hardware selection should be replaced with 
good hardware detection, so that you only load up what you

> 5. So the computer rebooted for the first or second time or whatever,
> and it was supposed to have installed everything. Yeh right... bits of
> gnome were missing (gdm I remember specifically because when I
> manually installed/started it it didn't run a window manager). The

Was a window manager installed? 

> ispell language was set to spanish and english/american hadn't been
> installed (the look dictionary was on german and also didn't have
> either english or american installed). 

Now this I don't have a clue about. Mine always installed

> Traceroute was missing (I had traceroute6 though... gee thanks).


> I'd asked for a full development
> environment and autoconf/automake/libtool/cvs/gdb were all missing as
> were the debug version of the c library and gnome headers.

Don't know about this either. Can't really comment.

> 6. There is nothing like rpmfind, eventually I worked out how to do
> grep's over /var/state/apt/lists/* to do what I want but it's still
> annoying.

Try apt-find.
> 7. xemacs with gnus with tm doesn't work at all (Ie. "xemacs -f gnus"
> dies on load if you have configured gnus to use tm).

Don't know about this either. Just messed with emacs last night
for the first time (I like vi). 

>  Those were all pretty big annoyances and if I hadn't promised myself
> that I would take a serious look at debian after the things I'd heard
> about it I'd have probably gone out and bought a RH 6.2 CD.

Hope some of my suggestions can help someone. 

> 8. After getting the network and ppp setup I diald up the modem (I'm
> ona static modem that's dialid up 24/7 and I'd bee AOL for about 14
> hours at this point).


> 9. /etc/network/interfaces doesn't support aliases very well, copy
> and paste is your friend but (to be fair RH might be just as bad).

Don't know here either (seems like I'm not being very helpful).
> 10 dpkg -S isn't as good as rpm -qf in many cases, and things like rpm
> -qif have to be done with multiple commands.

I've personally never had problems.
> 12. gnome-apt doesn't allow you to de-select a package after you've
> selected one (I'm pretty sure gnome-apt is unsupported, but still).

I've never used it :)

>  Having said all that debain _is_ much easier to use _after_ you've
> set it up. There've already been a few times when I've done apt-get
> install <blah> and I smiled happily. And I'll probably put it on
> my other machines, but I doubt I'll recommend it to most people over
> RH (unless they can buy it pre-installed).

Yeah, there are a lot of times that apt-get install just
seems to be so great.

> > It could be made better, but it isn't worth not using 
> > Debian over.
>  I'd say that about the after install experience it could still be a
> lot better and it's at least as good as anyone else (and if you are
> installing a bunch of software it's better) but the install didn't
> even compare to RH IMO (and, yes I will try and help fix it), and I've
> heard some of the more proprietry like distros are even slicker than RH.

Well, some of your complaints were subjective, but I do
see how a lot of this could be frustrating. It's obvious
that grandma couldn't install Debian. It is a bit rougher 
than RH or SuSE. None of my installs have had any problems,
and I've talked to quite a few who haven't had any either.

I'm glad that you posted with such detail. Maybe someone
read your post, and took action on shoring up some
of your complaints. I know that there are some in the
Debian community who don't want grandma to install it,
but those elitist few don't speak for everyone. 

I personally don't have the raw coding talent to do much
at this point about it. I'm glad that you are willing to
help. I still stand by my point that there isn't anything
in the Debian install (1.3 + 2.1 anyway) that can't be
overcome with a bit of patience, and some reading. 

Chaotic42 <chaotic42@pobox.com>

The greater the obsticle, the more glory in overcoming it - Moliere

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