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Re: Why Debian?

Johan van der Walt(johan@fskdjvdw.puk.ac.za) is reported to have said:
> 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.
> 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 started out using Slackware, then redhat, then suse 7-8 years ago.
I liked them all except redhat.  I had Slackware and Redhat running on
the same system and redhat was a nightmare (then, now?).  I dropped
redhat and installed Debian.  Kept both updated over a 2-3 year period
and then Debian came out with an upgrading system that made it so
easy to upgrade that, looking back, I wonder why anyone would use any
other dist.

I now have Debian running on 4 boxen.  The ability to have a box
upgraded to different levels, (ie stable, testing, or unstable) allows
me to run stable on sensitive boxes and testing/unstable on others.
All of them are upgraded weekly with apt-get, the upgrading tool.
When I want to upgrade a box from one level to the next I do not have
to erase all of the old level's software.  Apt-get upgrades the system
'while the system is being used by users'.  I am not aware of any
other dist that does this.  Note: I am upgrading my testing box while
I am writing the mail on it.

> Someone told me the other day that Debian is the most stable
> distribution. Is that so and why? 

Because Debian developers will not release new software to stable
unless it works!  This bothers some but in reality I don't understand
why.  The stable distribution can, using apt-get, be upgraded to many
of the packages in the higher releases if you work at it. Bottom line
is that keeping a vital system running is far easier on Debian then on
any other distribution I have used.

If you check the http://www.lwn.net site you will find that when
security updates come out, Debian is ususlly the first to have
implemented them.  This is where a weekly update makes Debian shine.

The reliability of Debian is covered nicely in an article "The Debian
Story: The Importance of a Non-Comercial Linux" in the March 2002
issue of Linux Magazine.  Companies like HP and IBM have switched to
Debian.  I suggest a read of that article.  I believe it is available
on line.

Hope this helps.

All programmers are playwrights and all computers are lousy actors.

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