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Re: Etch is REALLY fast! :-)

Gustavo Franco wrote:
   Since Etch is nearly ready to be released, I decided that my best
bet was to keep the new kernel and replace everything else!  ;-)  I
chose to dist-upgrade to Etch.
   I've been using Etch now since Sunday night, and everything is
working really smooth.  Everything seems a lot faster, too.  No doubt
some of that is due to the improved video card, but boot time is
faster and everything I do when working without X also seems faster.

Hi Dave,

You feedback is really appreciated. Btw, if you want to install the
same set of packages as the default (GNOME) desktop environment, i
recommend you: aptitude update && aptitude install desktop
gnome-desktop (there are xfce-desktop and kde-desktop too). Keep in
mind that desktop and gnome-desktop aren't metapackages but tasks (as
in tasksel). In other words, d-i uses tasksel to install set of
packages and not metapackages or a 'hardcoded into d-i' list of

Well, it's much too late for me to be able to follow this advice. In fact, I carried out my upgrade to Etch in a bizarre sort of way:

1. The 'apt' tools were so easy to use when I first started learning about Debian that I just installed tons of packages that I either only looked at once or never used at all.

2. Selecting "desktop system" when I first installed caused both Gnome and KDE to get installed, but I ended up preferring Gnome and wanted to remove as much of K as possible.

3. I read the _Debian GNU/Linux 3.1 Bible_ and a lot of Martin Krafft's _The Debian System_ during 2006, as part of my long-term project to learn how Linux (Debian in particular) works under the hood, ramping up to develop my own software (or maybe become a DD in the future).

This combination of factors led me to modify 'sources.list' and 'apt.conf' to point to Etch, then run 'aptitude' -- with which I was able to pick over my entire Debian system one package at a time, watching the effects of upgrading one important package, removing unwanted cruft, seeing the list of "broken" packages jump to nearly 100, then counting down to zero as I continued to mark stuff for upgrades (or purges). It took hours and hours... I was reading masses of documentation as I discovered new and interesting things about what really goes on inside a Debian OS. In the end, I realized that the process that took me about 9 hours could have been carried out automatically by

  aptitude update
  aptitude dist-upgrade

in about 40 minutes -- for it took only 25 minutes to download 663MB of packages and 15 minutes for the debconf questions and setups -- but I would not have learned nearly as much, and would have not felt nearly as satisfied! ;-)

I thought it was particularly hilarious that I had to recompile my entire kernel, whereas my original decision to upgrade to Etch was intended to allow me to preserve it. Sarge runs XFree86, but my new video card required a new driver blob and kernel module. The Etch upgrade, of course, installed XOrg and the module I had compiled for Sarge was targetting XFree86. I thought I could just compile a new kernel module, but then realized that I had just installed a new version of 'gcc'. I got "gcc version 4.1.2 ..." when I ran 'gcc -v', but I had compiled my kernel with gcc 3.3.5. So, I had a fresh '.config' file to use, and just recompiled the whole kernel along with the ATI module -- it only took about 15 minutes. Later, I realized that there is also a 'gcc-3.3' package on my system, and probably could have just compiled the ATI module alone after all. (Sometimes ya gotta learn the hard way!)

I've a question on behalf of the Debian Ombudsman Team:
- Is there any current issue you would like to see solved into our
post-etch release (Lenny) ?

Well, I have been pretty busy since upgrading on Sunday. I'm more familiar with peeves I had with Sarge, such as:

  - 'fam' often refusing to let me unmount my USB drives until
    I ran '/etc/init.d/fam restart'.

  - 'gdm' going postal if I tried to log in more than once -- solved
    by adding "AlwaysRestartServer=true" in 'gdm.conf'.  (I guessed
    this had to do with the proprietary ATI driver, though.)

  - the font called "Cursor" causing much of Gnome to go apopleptic
    if you tried to use it.

I haven't had time to put Etch through the ringer since upgraded on Sunday. Your question seems sort of open-ended. Did you mean to narrow the range of "issues" at all, or are you inviting comments, criticisms, and gripes in the broadest possible sense?

BTW, the constructive criticism from Wim de Smet is a good one. I noticed that myself, about 'info' giving manpages instead, but I either assumed I was doing something wrong or that the documentation was out of date. Reading the bug page for #139569 makes, unfortunately, for hilarious reading. It's like a cat chasing its own tail... imagine the Debian swirl!

Dave W.

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