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Re: Debian, Knoppix, and other varients

On 2004-02-09, Krikket penned:
> What took me by surprise, when I started poking around with Knoppix is
> that it uses a number of different branches off the tree.  To get
> gnome running, I had to use *experimental*.  But it is running, and
> without a problem.  (Although not enough time has passed for me to
> determine how truly stable it is.  Only a few days so far.)

I'd just like to clarify a point here.  It's one thing to have a running
system, and it's another thing to have an up to date system.  The best
way to have an up to date system is to have a system that makes it easy
to upgrade and apply security patches.  In my experience, of all the
linux distros, this is where debian excels.

As far as I can tell, people aren't criticizing Knoppix for not
*working*.  It works great.  The question is, is it easy to keep a
Knoppix hard drive install up to date?  I have no experience with this,
but it sounds like a lot of people feel that it's non-trivial.

My first distro was RedHat, and while I know it was my own fault that I
left a vulnerable version of bind on my machine and consequently had my
box owned, I also feel that, had RedHat's update system been anywhere
close to as smooth as Debian's, I wouldn't have been reluctant to update
my system.  I *knew* my installation was vulnerable, but I found the
RedHat way to be intimidating.  I had to go and find the rpm; I had to
install it.  I had to do this for every package on my system.  It was
confusing.  It was tiresome.  It was error-prone.  Due to this
confusion, I was as likely to have things installed from the upstream
source as to have an rpm for it, which just added to the maintenance
nightmare, because I now had to remember how I'd tweaked the source to
work on RedHat ... and figure out how to cleanly replace everything ...
Man, what a mess.  Granted, this was several years ago; things may
have gotten better in RedHat land in the meantime.

I probably had a point there somewhere.  Oh, right.  Having a running
system is nice, but unless you plan on keeping your machine offline,
having an easy update mechanism is vital.  If the Knoppix hard drive
install makes it harder to use this update mechanism, and if therefore
new users will be reluctant to update their systems, that is a problem.
It sounds like the hybrid nature of the Knoppix install would inevitably
make this update process more complicated.

Again, I've not tried a Knoppix hard drive install.  I'm just trying to
express what I think some of the other posters may have been trying to
convey.  It's not that anyone thinks it should be hard to install a
system and get it running; it's that most debian users have decided
that, given a choice between an easy install and easy maintenance,
they'll choose easy maintenance.  You can't fire and forget a system
when it's on a network.  You have to be vigilant.  Having a system that
"just works" is no good if it doesn't keep you safe, too.

Okay, I need to go to bed now.  I hope I made some sort of round-about
sense there.


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