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Re: Why Debian?

* Johan van der Walt (johan@fskdjvdw.puk.ac.za) [020301 00:06]:
> I am a physicist in the School of Physics of the Potchefstroom
> University in South Africa and is one of a few people on campus
> using Linux. Have been using Linux now for a couple of years. I am not
> a Linux guru and learn about the system as I go along.
> At present I have an older version of RedHat running on my pc. Older,
> simply because I still have a project to finish for which I have to
> use AIPS. However, I plan (have to) upgrade Linux on my pc as soon as
> I am finished with this project. 
> I therefore also have to make a choice on which distribution I should
> install. Basically I feel that I have to pick one from the following
> four: Debian, SuSe, RedHat and Slackware. I already installed RedHat
> 7.2 on my notebook to see what it is like. With all due respect one of
> the first things that put me off was that I could not find the HOWTO
> pages. This made me wonder to what extent does RH cater for the user
> that would like to know a bit more about how to do things on the
> system.  
> My question then is: what makes Debian GNU/Linux different so that I
> should use it rather than any of the other distributions? Is Linux not
> just Linux? From a scientific point of view I use IRAF and that comes
> with Debian which is something I like. However, that certainly cannot
> be the only reason for using Debian.

I'm surprise nobody has mentioned this yet, but "this list!" Debian has
a userbase comprised of many, many helpful and willing individuals who
can answer any question you throw up here (sometimes within minutes).

What I like most about Debian is kind of hard to express quantitatively.
It just feels "clean." I ran redhat for a while back in the day, and the
first thing I noticed was how easy Debian is to maintain and upgrade.
The thing that sort of dawns on you after using it for a while is that
it just doesn't deteriorate. I still feel like everything is where it
should be on my system, just like a fresh install. Running redhat made
me feel like every year or so I should back up my user data and
reinstall the system kinda like the periodic 2-6 month reinstall in the
windows world, just to trim the cruft away.

As mentioned before, Debian has a reputation for being one of the more
difficult to install, but conversely, it is (among) the easiest to
maintain. (I'd say it's the easiest, but I haven't used *everything* so
I'm really not qualified to judge -- it's really great, though). It
should also be said that the installation procedure is great if you want
to be able to customize your system and have enough GNU/Linux experience
to understand (at least to some degree) the procedure as it progresses.
The rest of the system configuration is extremely consistent -- there's
always a "Debian Way" to do something, and once you see how it works, it
becomes very intuitive. The first few times, before you kinda "get it,"
you ask on the list, get a quick answer, and think to yourself "oh yeah,
that makes sense. That's just how it should be!" As a developer, I often
solve problems by thinking to myself "well, if I were designing the
system, here's how I'd do it" and then find out that this is how Debian
does it.

Anyway, those are my opinions/experiences. I hope they help you make the
wise decision to choose the One True Distro!

good times,

Currently seeking opportunities in the SF Bay Area
Please see http://www.doorstop.net/resume/

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