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RE: The Real Problem With Debian


I honestly empathise with your points.  Many of them I have stated myself.
Most I do *gasp* agree with.  A few points though:

1.  Debian is not an easy distribution to work with - i'm finding this out
myself.  And i've semi-used rh on and off since rh 5.2.  It's only since
i've started using Debian that i've taken Linux seriously, with the aim of
having everything set up on it so that I can discard Windows, or at least
have a smallish windows partition purely for games that wine etc won't play
on Linux.  

2.  Debian is secure and is stable.  I'd compare redhat/mandrake and Debian
as to what services are running, and ports are open on a standard default

3.  Debian gives you the chance to learn *nix.  I've found that having the
gui is great, having the config tools is great, but you don't tend to learn
what and WHY you are doing. That's why I moved from rh to debian. I'm going
thru teething pains now trying to get my hand around all of that.  It's
bloody hard, but it is rewarding.  I've noticed a few people on irc that I
"hang" with that are using Gentoo.  One asked me the other nite, how do I
play xine (a dvd player) as I can't get it to load from gui.  Simple really
- xine & in a term.  Yet he didn't know that.  Over-reliance on gui/config
tools can dull the brain and when something does break, and the config
tool/gui can't fix it you're stuffed.  

4.  Elitism.  I've noticed it on irc, some (very few I admit) posters on
this forum *gasp* as well.  It doesn't sit well with me at all, I've voiced
my opinions on this before and started a huge flame war on it.  :-(  It
happens, it is rife and it needs to be completely cut out as a attitude of
power linux users.  To be fair though, there are experienced linux users out
there, many, many of the debian user lists that are very patient and helpful
(note: Thomas Schoepf comes to my mind for his absolutely stunning help he
gave me with getting kde 3 onto my system).  

5.  Config tools etc.  Be warned - they are proprietary in a lot of cases
(ie mandrake' drakconf, suse' yast2/yast, whatever rh does).  They are
incompatible with each other.  They do things differently.  They don't
always use the same sub tools to perform tasks, quite often they are custom
written by the distribution in question.  Whilst this is good in some ways,
it is bad in others.  These auto config tools don't always *accurately*
place config files in their correct places.  Samba on mandrake comes to
question - afaik it should be /etc/samba/smb.conf but it isn't on mandrake.
That's just an example.  My knowledge of *nix isn't particularly super
great, but in most cases I can handle things myself (kde3 was an exception).
Personally, I think we need to have a standard gpl suite of configuration
tools that take the best of drakconf, yast2 etc etc that can be installed on
*every* linux distribution by default.  That way, for those that want to use
a config tool, they can.  For those that want to manually configure things
they can choose that path as well, and ignore the conf tools.  Or you can
use a combination of the two, perhaps using the auto conf tools until you
are more familiar with linux and more confident.  I find that i've learnt
more about linux in the past near 4 weeks of using Debian (and trust me a
lot of swear words and temper tantrums have flown from my end) than I ever
did from rh.  That's an honest statement.  Yes, i'm a dumbass ex microsoft
user to many debian users due to my newbieness (and oft stupid questions),
but...better to ask, than to sit their quietly, even if it is a silly
question.  Back to auto conf tools, I think each distribution have it's own
unique and proprietary conf tools is bad.  It will cause splintering of
linux unless kept under check. I see no reason why the distributions could
not all get together in the spirit of open source and with a *combined*
effort provide an uber auto conf tool that is reliable and fantastic to use
for those that desire to do so.

6.  I think you'll come back to debian in the end.  Yes, I know a lot of the
'latest & greatest' applications are not available on debian (or easily
gettable).  That is a drawback I admit.  Depends on what you want to do I

As a suggestion, why not install mandrake on a partition, keep a small
partition of debian going as well?  I do admit I looked at mandrake 9 and
went *yummy* and was partially tempted to cross over to it, but then my sane
self kicked in and said "No, Dave, you use debian linux because you want to
learn.  Mandrake will not help you do that" - previous experience has taught
me that auto conf tools dumb your brain and you do not learn well.  Others
can choose to disagree on that.  My maths teacher (many years ago now)
eschewed the usage of calculators in his classes, why?  His words "they make
you dumb".  Go visit your local supermarket and see the people in the
checkouts - without the terminal they are mathematically lost.  

Best wishes whatever your choose Rick,


-----Original Message-----
From: Rick [mailto:rspillan@ic.sunysb.edu]
Sent: Tuesday, 1 October 2002 11:36 AM
To: debian-user@lists.debian.org; David Pastern
Subject: The Real Problem With Debian

This will be my last post to the Debian users list.  I want to thank
for all their help, and patience.  However I would like to say a little 
something as well:

Debian is supposedly a great OS, it is configurable, custimizable, and 
powerful, but Debian is ultimately misleading for many people.  Debian is an

OS that may be used on a server, or a developer's computer, so he can really

feel the balls in his system, but it should not have been used on my 
computer, or a couple of my friend's computers.

The Real Problem With Debian is that it is MANUAL.  Everything must be done 
manually, now although there may be a script or two to ease things along, 
these often DON'T WORK.  I have spent two weeks fighting slackware, trying
get it to work with my printer, and sound card.  Then I spent two weeks 
fighting Debian, trying to get it to work with my mouse, printer, network 
card, and sound card.  After installing Mandrake, everything worked 
instantaneously, sound, card, network, printer, EVERYTHING.  It ran faster 
too, I don't know why, but it did, and it had newer programs, like KDE3.xx.

Which distro do you think I stuck with?

This is not an attempt to convert any Debian users on this list, but it is a

statement.  I spent a month fighting Slackware and Debian, and 45 minutes 
fighting Mandrake.  Full balls is nice, but how about having a system that
full balls, but ALSO is as easy to configure as mandrake?

People on IRC tell me that my hardware is flaky, yet it works perfectly with

Mandrake.  People on IRC were rude, and even elitist, and made fun of me
often then helping me.  A stark contrast to the helpfullness of the folks on

the mailing list, odd.

The ironic thing is that my computer was so stock, it was Lynksis NC100 card

(tulip module) with a ESS1969 Solo card, a s3ViRGE 4mb video card, and a 
Logitech USB wheel mouse.  This should not have taken me two weeks to 
configure on ANY distro.  The point is that Debian is flaky, it is too
some call configuration tools "bloat", and call guis "evil", but 
configuration tools are the way of the future, and guis have been around for

20 years.  The problem is that these are the same people that work on
it is too bad some of the corporate "customer comes first" mentality didn't 
get into Debian.  I donated $4 to Debian, more then many can claim, I guess
got EXACTLY what I paid for.  Good luck to all of you, and thanks again.

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