my 0.02€

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my 0.02€

Postby an.echte.trilingue » 2006-10-31 12:00

I am not going to pretend to be a linux expert, although I have been using it for my desktop for so long that I get lost in front of windows or OSX. I will also not pretend to understand the differences between init and upstart or whatever the new boot process in Ubuntu is.

However, there are many, many keystrokes spilled over the differences between Ubuntu and Debian when, frankly, there aren't that many. I have one Ubuntu 6.06 my laptop because there was just too much about it that debian didn't like, and a desktop that runs etch because Ubuntu's devs broke support for the on-board pro-savage8 video card, causing regular hard crashes. Both are pretty vanilla, and they are the same. They both have technical weaknesses and strengths (usually these are the same but not always, luckily for me). Seriously, the only substantial difference is the art.

This demands the question, what makes ubuntu so popular? There is no doubt that ubuntu is more popular: if you search the internet for a debian problem, you get answers about Ubuntu. The linux press goes ga-ga over ubuntu beta releases, while when debian gets a mention it is to poke fun at the late release date. There may be more debian systems out there, but new users (and the devs/sysadmins of tomorrow) go to Ubuntu.

A lot of people say it is because Ubuntu is so much easier to install, technically. I do not think this is true. Sure, the debian installer is ncurses based (which will change soon), but there is nothing hard or scary about that. Also, people say that it is easier to install software in Ubuntu. Sorry, but no. It takes about 15 minutes of reading to figure out how to use apt, versus 15 minutes of experimenting with the UI to figure out how to use synaptic. It certainly is not the marketing: do you know anybody who actually buys that "humanity to others" line? I don't. Others say it is the vibrant user community in ubuntu that makes things like easy to understand insallation checklists in the their wiki. I think there is more to this argument, but attributing Ubuntu's popularity to its popularity is kind of a circular argument, no?

I think the answer lies in the mirrors. You can install and configure Ubuntu as a Desktop, web server, whatever, in two hours, no problem, including the time spent downloading the CD. Debian takes all weekend. I am not talking about taking all weekend sifting through man pages and editing config files. You spend all weekend waiting for the stuff you need to download at 13.5 kbs. Ubuntu's servers run at 400 kbs. Furthermore, you have to be actually sitting at the screen all that time so that when your updates finish, you can answer config questions, then download openoffice, then gimp, etc, etc, etc. It is a pain.

Worse, if you are new to *nix and you mess up your new install and don't know how to fix it or to back up your apt-cache (don't pretend you were never in this boat), you start all over. That is enough to chase anyone off to another distro. So people who would be using debian are on Ubuntu. New users gain experience, which brings in oodles of people to do the things that most developers have little interest in doing (such as artwork, bug finding, and documentation writing).

Don't get me wrong; I am not complaining. I happen to enjoy sitting by the computer reading a book while apt gets stuff. I am also enourmously appreciative of this wonderful software that is free/gratis/libre. I also understand that it is hard to buy bandwidth without the $20,000,000 cash dump (just say that out loud: twennnnty milllllliiionnn dolllllars) and continued corporate backing that Ubuntu gets. However, you cannot ignore the reality that a broader user base, even if these users are non-technical, is ultimately beneificial to a linux in general and GNU/debian in particular. Third party participation (such as manufacturer drivers) grows in correlation to user base.

Finally, why does all this matter? I am not sure that it does, to be honest. They are both great distros and I do not understand all the vitriol being spilled between them which seems to periodically make the pages of slashdot, digg or distrowatch when the only palpable difference is bandwidth.

This is a little long winded and off topic. Thanks if you are still reading.

just my 0.02€
i have never seen E.T.
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Re: my 0.02€

Postby Grifter » 2006-10-31 13:49

an.echte.trilingue wrote:This demands the question, what makes ubuntu so popular?


the installer and the autoconfig of their system

personally I think it's great that ubuntu is so popular, if interest and popularity grows, maybe we'll see more commercial games ported to linux

doesn't matter which distro you use, as long as you use it
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Postby john_h » 2006-10-31 16:28

Ubuntu certainly is easier to install. However, once you have a mature, established Debian system up-and-running, I don't see that there's much advantage to Ubuntu over Debian - unless you're a newbie, when I can see that Ubuntu would have a lot of advantages (I started off on Libranet, which was another attempt to make Debian more desktop-friendly; I'd never have managed to install and set up Debian as a total newbie, though YMMV).

Apparently people have been having problems dist-upgrading from Dapper to Edgy recently, which has just confirmed me in my own intention to stick with Debian Testing - reasonably cutting-edge (even if not absolutely latest-and-greatest), have been running it with weekly upgrades for a year with no major problems. "Install once, upgrade often" is a deal-breaker for me.

But I don't know what the problem is you've been having with the Debian mirrors. I've never had a problem with speeds as slow as those you describe - normally Aptitude downloads at around 200 to 350 kB/s, which is near the peak of my internet bandwidth.

But I agree that really there is no point having a war between the two. Horses for courses.
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Re: my 0.02€

Postby thamarok » 2006-10-31 17:12

Grifter wrote:
an.echte.trilingue wrote:This demands the question, what makes ubuntu so popular?


the installer and the autoconfig of their system

personally I think it's great that ubuntu is so popular, if interest and popularity grows, maybe we'll see more commercial games ported to linux

doesn't matter which distro you use, as long as you use it


Not only commercial games, but the leading business corporations are also thinking of porting some of their commercial software to Linux.
But usually the free software beats the commercial software in the Linux world by far.

As an example: I think everybody knows about NeroLINUX, which is practically Nero Burning Rom ported to Linux and is commercial. K3b, while free, gives better performance than NeroLINUX (personal test results) has a better GUI (did I mention that Linux programs always look wonderful?) and is very great.
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Postby Lavene » 2006-10-31 17:21

As I have said in similar threads; I don't have a problem with Ubunu's popularity. Personally I don't like the Ubuntu distro for noumerous reasons but I can certainly see the appeal it has to newbies. It's easy to install, it's a complete 'ready to run' OS on one single CD and it has a failry sober selection of software.

What I find a bit sad about Debian is it's reputation. It's said to be sooo hard to install and maintain... you have to spend a weekend configuring etc etc. It's not really true any more (although it has been). It's not a 'ready to run' distro, and probably never will be, but the installer has come a long long way since i.e Woody. Hopefully Etch will be another nail in the coffin for that old myth.

I have to admit that I actually has Ubuntu Dapper installed on a small partition on my system. Since I run a fairly mixed Etch/ Sid system and like to 'live on the edge' breakage is almost unavoidable and I chose Ubuntu as my back-up system simply because it 'just works'. It took about an hour to set up, it has what I need in an emergency and it is reliable. A bit slow, ugly and dumbed down but does the job. And that I think is the Ubuntu secret; It does the job... and for the vast majority of todays computer users that's what they want.

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Postby thamarok » 2006-10-31 18:45

By the way, reading your posts Lavene always gives me new ideas.. And now I am not sure, but I want to ask that if unstable/sid is stable enough?

The problem lies here, some good programs are packed and are found only in unstable. I know I could compile the sources or use other repositories or add the sid repository to my sources.list, but somehow it feels etch is useless :?

Some programs that can be found only in the sid repository:
audacious (I know I can compile the sources, but I am lazy :P )
mplayer (Marillat has it, but I don't understand why only sid has it from the official Debian repositories.)
qtparted (I had problems compiling the source and I am not familiar with PartEd, also I was not able to find GPartEd or KPartEd pre-build. So QTPartEd was my last hope)
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Postby goweropolis » 2006-10-31 20:10

Why is mplayer just entering sid now?
http://people.debian.org/~mjr/mplayer.html

No need to download mplayer from sid, you can get mplayer for etch here:
http://www.debian-multimedia.org/

If QTParted isn't working for you, how about GParted?
http://packages.debian.org/gparted
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Postby plugwash » 2006-10-31 20:23

thamarok wrote:By the way, reading your posts Lavene always gives me new ideas.. And now I am not sure, but I want to ask that if unstable/sid is stable enough?

if you run sid then you should expect things to break from time to time and you will get very little support in fixing them, learning how to use dpkg manually when the frontends like apt fail you is also pretty damn important.

The problem lies here, some good programs are packed and are found only in unstable. I know I could compile the sources or use other repositories or add the sid repository to my sources.list, but somehow it feels etch is useless :?

testing is what will become the next release, generally most packages should be a couple of weeks behind sid except when there is a problem of some sort (either bugs or things backing up because of a transition) or when a release is near.

one thing that can work quite well (and is what the knoppix guys do) is to put both testing and unstable sources in sources.list and then set apts default release to testing, then it will only upgrade from testings version to unstables version of a package if you ask it to with -t unstable on the apt-get command line.

Some programs that can be found only in the sid repository:

lets look through packages.qa.debian.org and find the reasons
audacious (I know I can compile the sources, but I am lazy :P )'

very new package, should hit testing pretty soon assuming there are no RC bugs found.

mplayer (Marillat has it, but I don't understand why only sid has it from the official Debian repositories.)

seems to be an argument between the packages maintainers and the security team about static vs dynamic linking ( http://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=395252 )

qtparted (I had problems compiling the source and I am not familiar with PartEd, also I was not able to find GPartEd or KPartEd pre-build. So QTPartEd was my last hope)

gparted is in testing

qtparted has a very nasty bug with its handling of logical drives in extended partitions ( http://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=294520 ) which is keeping it out of testing.
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Postby Grifter » 2006-10-31 20:24

I use testing always, but get a few choice packages from sid because they're brand spanking new like dosbox and aircrack-ng, it's fine mixing a few packages like this, it's when they have dependencies that you have to be careful, watch out for things like libc6 and glibc
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Postby Lavene » 2006-10-31 20:50

thamarok wrote:By the way, reading your posts Lavene always gives me new ideas.. And now I am not sure, but I want to ask that if unstable/sid is stable enough?

The problem lies here, some good programs are packed and are found only in unstable. I know I could compile the sources or use other repositories or add the sid repository to my sources.list, but somehow it feels etch is useless :?


Stable enough? That depends I guess. If you run a mission critical system I would say no. That's why I keep a back-up system. I have actually all three brances in my sources pinned with Etch as highest, Sid as number two and Sarge as three. But I do experience the accational brakeage... to *me* that is acceptable (and endeed even fun to mess about trying to fix it). So you may say it's a calculated risk. I wouldn't recomend it to newbies though, or people that don't want to spend time fixing a broken system.

Something that also might cause problems is of course that some packages goes into Sid, are found not be good enough or too bug ridden to go into testing and are instead removed completly. And, if you know the movie 'Toy Story' you'll know that it's called "Sid" for a reason :)

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Postby dawgie » 2006-10-31 22:56

thamarok wrote: I want to ask that if unstable/sid is stable enough?



Unstable is not a repository of unstable packages.
It is an unstable repository of stable packages.
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Postby thamarok » 2006-11-01 13:20

Thanks all to your replies. I guess I'll add Sid to my sources.list and apt-get update 8)
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Postby Lou » 2006-11-01 13:20

The way i look at it, it is just a matter of needs and what you like. Etch/Sid for me, it's a deal in which you get to play with the latest at the expense of some problems, bugs, etc. You can't expect stability when they are trying to test new software. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

I like Stable, with a couple of apps from backports.org (firefox, fluxbox) for my simple needs, it's fast and reliable, just perfect.

Last weekend, i installed Etch and did not like it. Firefox jerked when scrolling, plus i had issues with my Home key and Down arrow in my keyboard. Unacceptable. IMHO, Etch ain't ready yet.

Went back and installed Sarge with Firefox 1.0.4, configured it, and it looks exactly as 1.5, and scrolls perfectly. I do an update/dist-upgrade once a week, just in case there's a security/lib upgrade and that's it, but that's just me.

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Postby thamarok » 2006-11-01 13:26

I like fixing problems and I know a lot of commands to do stuff even without a desktop environment, but sometimes I hate it when the problem has occured very rarely and there are no solutions for it.
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Postby an.echte.trilingue » 2006-11-02 11:09

john_h wrote:Ubuntu certainly is easier to install.


It isn't easier to install, that's my point. All it is, is faster to download. Seriously, the only thing that is MAYBE hard is the partitioner. The only difference is the fast mirrors!
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