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How long Have you been using Debian?

Submitted by hardik

Tags: none.
Last 1-2 Years  <-> 38% 458 votes
Last 3-4 Years  <-> 29% 352 votes
Last 5-6 Years  <-> 18% 218 votes
Last 7-8 Years  <-> 10% 125 votes
From First Release  <-> 2% 27 votes
Total 1180 votes

 

 

 

Re: How long Have you been using Debian?
Posted by cvweiss (68.248.xx.xx) on Thu 1 Dec 2005 at 18:37
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I bought my laptop online about three years ago - custom made with no OS. While I was waiting for it to ship to me, I used my college roommate's computer to download RedHat (forget what version it was at the time).

The laptop came, I went out and bought an on sale pcmcia card so I could hook up the wireless network my landlord had set up for our building, and promptly installed RedHat.

The install went great, everything looked wonderful. I put in the pcmcia wireless card and whala! nothing... it didn't recognize the card. Research indicated that pcmcia wireless was poorly supported, as was USB.

I humbly installed WinXP (pirated of course) and was disappointed I couldn't get Linux to work.

A year and a half goes by, I'm in my last semester of college and doing an internship at a local library. The network admin there wanted to see a non-windows system setup for the project he had outlined for me. I therefore spent two weeks downloading iso's, burning and installing them on the target machine. Of all the variations and flavors I tried, DamnSmallLinux got my attention. So I scratched that and installed straight Debian and began to climb the steep learning curve. I spent that internship learning as much as I could about Debian, meanwhile writing an interactive website for the users.

During that internship I wiped Winblows off of my laptop and installed Debian, and what do you know, the pcmcia card worked right off the bat! Since then I've tinkered and tinkered, breaking Debian on purpose so I can learn how to fix it. I don't think I can ever go back to Windows unless I decide to buy a dedicated desktop gaming PC.

The server from my internship still runs off that original install of Debian to this day. The only problem it has was when I remotely (I live 200 miles away from that college) upgraded between stable versions last spring and I failed to notice grub-install wasn't called on the new kernel. A quick call to the library's network admin and walking him through it using a boot cd (DSL!) fixed the problem. Nowadays I rarely hear from the machine except when stable has an upgrade, it will email me - then I just go in and run apt-get upgrade, log out, and all is well until the next email.

I've come to rely on Debian and it's reliablility and stableness, and am quite pleased to see Ubuntu and other flavors of Linux catch up worldwide.

[ Parent ]

Re: How long Have you been using Debian?
Posted by philcore (216.54.xx.xx) on Thu 1 Dec 2005 at 21:54
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Since bo. I believe that was 1997, and kernel was 2.0.29.

[ Parent ]

Re: How long Have you been using Debian?
Posted by core (68.190.xx.xx) on Fri 2 Dec 2005 at 06:25
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I was a developer of Yellow Dog Linux (PowerPC based on RedHat) in 1999 and I noticed that nearly all the other developers used Debian at home. Some even did their development of YDL in a chroot. In late '99 I too made the switch and loved the package format so much that I joined in an effort to switch the distro to Debian. Our pleas were shot down and we all left. But the good news is I've found the light at the end of the tunnel and it's definitely not RPM. RPM bad... 'specially after you work on 2 or 3 distros based on it. ;-) I really don't understand Gentoo users. Such a waste of bandwidth and CPU. Oh well... enough rambling... Long live Debian!

peace,
core

[ Parent ]

Re: How long Have you been using Debian?
Posted by Anonymous (213.164.xx.xx) on Tue 6 Dec 2005 at 12:51
You didn't say why apt is superior to rpm.

apt has until recently lacked signed updates and multiarch support. As a developer, how do you find the apt package format superior? For what reasons were your plans shot down?

[ Parent ]

Re: How long Have you been using Debian?
Posted by Anonymous (213.164.xx.xx) on Tue 6 Dec 2005 at 12:53
"apt" should say "deb" in some places..

[ Parent ]

Re: How long Have you been using Debian?
Posted by core (68.190.xx.xx) on Wed 7 Dec 2005 at 12:24
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Hi Anonymous,

Anonymous wrote:
%%% You didn't say why apt [deb] is superior to rpm.

Indeed, I did not. I'm unclear if you wanted a quick or verbose response. In any case, I've just drank a cup of coffee and this seems worth elaborating on. To be honest I haven't really thought about why I hate RPM and love Debian for some years. Here's a bit of comparison based on what was available in 1999 and what is expected to be available in 2006.

%%% apt has until recently lacked signed updates and multiarch support.

To be fair, you must understand that you speak of concerns which were not even on the radar in 1999. However, they seem valid arguments which deserve discussion. Neither of these factors influenced my overall opinion.

Signed packages are a major concern from a security perspective. [4] Sadly, I wager that 99.999% of the Linux users of the world actually checks their package signatures. Further, I would not be surprised, if when prompted that integrity was questionable, most users would proceed despite a failure to verify the package. The devil really is in the details, as Kurt Seifried demonstrated. [4] Closer investigation of the RPM package specification shows that “the information in the signature header structure is based on the contents of the package file's header and archive only.” [5] In this way a malicious attacker can create a modified package with a proper MD5 hash such that it passes all checks. This approach is vulnerable to the same attacks (trusting file integrity) as one who might attempt to verify the system integrity after a break-in by running `rpm -Va'. Debian is not immune from the exact same attack. An attacker could poison the DNS and provide an apt-repository full of Trojan horses. I feel strongly that GPG signatures should be enforced on most package operations. In Debian, the description files (.dsc) are PGP signed by each maintainer. The problem lies in either making this transparent to the user or making the learning curve easier to overcome. Debian developers have long been aware of this issue and it's come up over and over again, it's just a matter of time before we get it integrated. [1] Personally, I use testing-security as Steve discussed in his article. [6] It's not enough to stop at verifying the packages before installation. One should also use a file-system integrity checker and store the valid signatures on WORM media or something to that effect.

To address your statement regarding multi-arch debs... The closest thing to multi-arch support existing in 1999 (in the PowerPC Linux world) was Altivec enhanced binaries. Back then the only customers desiring Altivec support were research scientists running Beowulf clusters and there wasn't much of a push to move this to the desktop. In fact, taking full advantage of Altivec required modifications to the applications. As you are well aware, Linux distributions actually write very little code and are mostly wrapping up the efforts of a myriad free software built with the same toolchain. With regards to modern multi-arch distributions (mixing 32-bit and 64-bit on the same system) I was, briefly, the maintainer of the ia64 (Itanium2) port of Tao Linux (an RHEL rebuild) while working in the HPC industry. Multi-arch is a big issue in HPC at present due to innovation by the major CPU manufacturers. One of my acquaintances from the NCLUG forwarded me an article addressing multi-arch Debian as early as 2003. [2] I think Matt Taggart's proposal covers most of the issues and I know that eventually all the kinks will be ironed out. The truth remains that very few applications to date take advantage of multi-arch and I feel it's not something that's going to be a long term issue. What do you think? I can't imagine multi-arch remaining long after 32-bit becomes extinct and running old 32-bit code is no longer fruitful. The fact that Debian is more patient with change doesn't bother me at all.

%%% As a developer, how do you find the [deb] package format superior?

I didn't imagine anyone reading the poll responses would require convincing. Since you've put me on the spot, I've gone to a small effort to corroborate my opinion. I find the RPM format, from spec file to binary format, to be poorly designed. A lot of legacy crap still remains including the old lead structure. [5] Here are a few reasons I enjoy the Debian package format and dislike RPM. A proper treatment of the differences deserves more time and effort than I'm willing to endure, so I'll be brief:

1. RPM has one monolithic file which describes everything from the copyright to the changelog and all sub-packages called a spec file. The spec goes into the SPECS directory with every other packages' spec files. The pristine source and a small mountain of patches and additional files from desktop icons to additional man pages end up in the SOURCES directory. To contrast there are many files which handle the spec funtionality in Debian making the process more manageable. And yet all of the files required to build a Debian package number just 3: the pristine source, the description file and the differences archive. I can find many points of aggravation to highlight from personal experience developing and entire distributions based on RPM:

a) If a developer wishes to create two versions of a package with the same name, using standard paths, one of them would overwrite the other in the SPECS directory since they are all named package.spec. One of the first frustrations encountered is accidentally overwriting hours of work installing another distributions version of the same RPM to compare or cannibalize. ;-) Therefore the only sane approach is to override %_topdir for each and every package and create the entire tree with at very minimum %_topdir/{SPECS,SOURCES}. Debian does not suffer from this oversight.

b) RPM was designed such that all of the sources and patches for every package are tossed into the same directory (SOURCES). It can become quite a mess! Debian creates a nice single dpatch file (i.e. foo_1.2-3.diff.gz).

c) I don't like the ChangeLog being integrated with the spec file. Better to do like Debian and create a distinct file which is placed in a consistent location after installation of the binary package.

2. Debian `rules' is actually a GNU Make file! This means it intelligently handles dependencies based on established rules. It also allows importing templates or rules.

3. And I could ramble on about annoyances with the RPM tools, database corruption [7], and poor dependency checking requiring the user to continue to append files to the end of a command line exceeding hundreds of characters. My old roommate wrote YUP (now YUM) to perform some apt-get features and save a person's sanity. In fact, Connectiva even created an apt-get for RPM. But the package format itself lacks sufficient granularity to allow the level of ease Debian affords.

4. I've yet to see an RPM system upgrade for 3 or 4 releases of RPM seamlessly.

Beyond the package format, the quality of the packages themselves are far better in Debian. This has less to do with the format and more to do with attention to detail and solid effort to focus on quality. One can actually rebuild the distribution from the available source. Something that isn't always possible with rawhide or release SRPMS. Do they actually build their system from the same SRPMS they released? Sometimes I've had serious doubts that commercial distributions ship the same spec which created the release RPM.

Now let's get beyond the nuances of the package format, the convenience commands such as yum/apt and into the task of creating a self-hosting distribution. Let's talk about automated, dependency-driven builds, without root privileges in a pristine environment. Debian provides a wealth of packages such as pbuilder (combined with deboostrap) which when combined with buildd allow automated, dependency-driven builds of the entire distribution. To my knowledge, every RPM developer ends up writing their own hackish system to attempt something like this. At YDL I had python scripts which did a moderate job of this but not near as sophisticated or advanced. Whitehat and Tao developers each have their own set of shell scripts and only after trial and error, installing the packages on top of themselves and rebuilding until all failures are resolved do they end up with a distribution built on itself. Even the conventions behind RHEL are disgusting. For example build half the packages on RH9 and the others on RHEL3. What a pain for anyone hoping to build a compatible system. Better have to build roots handy. Surely, every commercial distribution must have a small team dedicated to maintaining a proprietary build system which accurately manages dependencies and builds in the proper order. A friend sent me a link to such a system for RPM a few months ago but I can't seem to find it. It's my opinion that Debian affords rapid development, automated builds and testing much more easily than RPM. I think this is why we're seeing so many amazing distributions built on the work of the Debian community such as Knoppix and Ubuntu.

I also enjoy having more ways to manipulate Debian packages. There are tons of commands from dpkg-source to dpkg-deb instead of just rpm and rpm2cpio. Anyways... the coffee has long worn off. I hope this gives you some small insights into why I prefer Deb to RPM.

%%% For what reasons were your plans shot down?

I cannot speak on behalf of the CEO or board of directors. I do have a few assumptions. At the time, there was a small niche market surrounding PowerPC Linux. The original reference release was created in part by Mark Hatle based on Red Hat. [3] I think that our hopes of adapting YDL to a Debian base was ill fated due to customer demand for Red Hat. An endemic notion predominating purchasers of Linux distributions for a long time, and perhaps still in many locales, is that Red Hat is synonymous with Linux. In fact if Red Hat hadn't been influenced by Intel to abstain from creating a PowerPC port, YDL would scarcely have had a chance to exist. We now see that distributions such as SuSE, Mandrake, and Ubuntu are squeezing into this once obscure niche.

In summary, this all amounts to personal preferences. I know that Debian is taking the proper measures to integrate good features from other paradigms. I feel strongly that Debian produces a higher quality product and in all the years of using it I've yet to encounter a problem I couldn't recover from. In all my years of using Red Hat and prior to that Slackware 3.1, I have to conclude that something is seriously lacking in the design for the fundamental underlying systems which manage dependencies and maintain a database of all of the files on the system. Yawn Well.... that's all I feel like ranting about for one night. I imagine that I could be talking completely out of my ass, have it all wrong, etc... feel free to enlighten me to the virtues of RPM.

peace,
core

References:
1.http://lists.debian.org/debian-devel/2000/04/msg00245.html
2.http://people.debian.org/~taggart/multiarch/
3.http://mark.hatle.net/
4.http://www.seifried.org/security/articles/20011023-devil-in-detai ls.html
5.http://www.rpm.org/max-rpm/s1-rpm-file-format-rpm-file-format.htm l
6.http://www.debian-administration.org/articles/174
7.http://www.rpm.org/hintskinks/repairdb/
8.http://www.netsplit.com/blog/tech/autopackage.html

[ Parent ]

Re: How long Have you been using Debian?
Posted by Anonymous (213.164.xx.xx) on Wed 7 Dec 2005 at 13:55
Thanks for taking the time to reply to my questions. Very detailed, useful, and informative.

I would agree that using a single SOURCES (etc) directory for every package is hackish, and that a better approach is needed.

The problem with clean build environments has been addressed, mock is now the standard way to do this.

Hopefully the next time someone mentions apt vs rpm, your comment will be used as a reference.

[ Parent ]

Re: How long Have you been using Debian?
Posted by core (68.190.xx.xx) on Wed 7 Dec 2005 at 16:12
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Hi Anonymous,

You're quite welcome. I hope someone will get inspired to do a full honest comparison. Perhaps packagin a simple hello world and then a very complex multi-arch package with tons of subpackages and dependancies and making a chart of which does what. The commands available and their equivalents. Or maybe somewhere on the web there is already a rosetta stone for package formats. Thanks for reading the post. I'm off to bed. Hrm... on a side note I found a Rosetta Stone for Unix:

http://bhami.com/rosetta.html

peace,
core

[ Parent ]

Re: How long Have you been using Debian?
Posted by uroboros (217.11.xx.xx) on Fri 2 Dec 2005 at 11:43
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I used: SuSE (a week), RedHat (a year or so), Gentoo (3 days), Slackware (a long long time, it was very good distro), Debian (switched to it right at the moment Sarge was released as stable).

--
If you're smart enough to ask this question, you're smart enough to RTFM and find out yourself.

[ Parent ]

Re: How long Have you been using Debian?
Posted by matej (158.193.xx.xx) on Fri 2 Dec 2005 at 15:26
right after RH9 was released. I have occaisonaly used slack since 1.2/1.3.x IIRC, but some years later, I have finaly dumped ms-dog and installed RH 4.2 (or so). later on when I got into running some servers, I always worried of comming new major release.. if you have some exp with remote upgrade rh4-5 or rh5-6, you definitely won't try rh6-7 or rh7-8. so I was stuck really long time with 7, so long that 9 came along and some of my servers, althought protected well^H^H^H^Hacceptably, deserved upgrade.

as it used to be, some updates were ready really fast - and what was my surprise after doing rpm -Uvh kernel-...rpm glibc-...rpm. I did it 3 times - clean instal, different order of the two, the same result: system was unbootable and after rescue reboot & chroot: rpm database was broken.

in that time, rh was thinking of some paid access to updates, or delayed updates for non-subscribers.. however, I canceled subscription, and I was sure that I will not subscribe again. and I have reinstalled back to 7.2, restored data and begun searching for new distro.

I was lucky to try woody, although older than rh9, but I was impressed. I was not so capable debian user, so I pretty easy run into depency problems but man for dpkg and apt were helpful enough, I managed to fix everything, I made some tests of running mixed woody-sarge-sid hybrid and managed to get it back to woody. once sarge was out, I was already running some sarge packages on my desktop, but servers were mostly woody. dist-upgrade was so smooth that I decided to reinstal rest of the servers remotely.

I haven't one problem with debian I was not able to solve with debian. ups, yes, some were postponed a week or month but everything runs fine, including nvidia drivers on my desktop etc - nothing serious.. redhat is dead, god save debian.

[ Parent ]

Re: How long Have you been using Debian?
Posted by Anonymous (70.27.xx.xx) on Fri 2 Dec 2005 at 16:39
Pretty sure I'm at around 5-6 years now. Dunno how many machines I've put it on. Lots. Laptops, servers, development machines. Worked a while as a consultant; if I needed a *nix box to hack stuff on at a job, or a webserver to put a Wiki on or somesuch, and they were mostly a non-nix shop, I'd bring in a Woody minimal network install CD I've had a few years now, scrounge a PC, install from the minimal CD, then update stuff. Currently got it running on a T21 I carry 'round, and a sorta general 'home' box that serves as firewall/router/hack box.

I've done so much on Debian boxes, over the years now. Swear there's no problem in the world cannot be solved with a bash script, some Perl, and judicious bits of C and C++. And between apt and CPAN, it's so easy to pull the stuff you need together fast.

[ Parent ]

For a girl!
Posted by pgquiles (81.202.xx.xx) on Sun 4 Dec 2005 at 21:08
It was October 1998 and I was in my second year in the University.

There was that really, really pretty girl I liked so much. I knew she was boyfriend-less because I had listened by chance to a conversation she had with a friend.

A lab assistant was to start a 2-hours-a-week Linux seminar and I saw the girl going in. So I went in, too, and it was just because it was my opportunity to flirt with her.

As you may have already guessed:
- She never came again nor did I flirt with here a single time (I cannot even remember her name)
- I fell in love with Linux and have been a Debian user & advocate ever since
- I am NOT fucking with the penguin :-)

Yes, I know, this is not a "I started to use Linux because I hated Microsoft"-story, but it's my story and it's true.

[ Parent ]

Re: How long Have you been using Debian?
Posted by hardik (61.95.xx.xx) on Mon 5 Dec 2005 at 04:41
I am using Debian from last 1.5 Years. I have tried lots of Linux
distro. But i found Debian most reliable beccaue of it's apt-get
package system. I loke Debian logo, Versioning system, Community.

Cheers,
Hardik Dalwadi.

[ Parent ]

Re: How long Have you been using Debian?
Posted by Anonymous (84.163.xx.xx) on Mon 5 Dec 2005 at 15:15
From Dec 1996... which put me in a bind, since it's more than 8 years (almost 9 now), but it's not "From First Release" either.

That was rex, Debian 1.2, on a box that I still, mostly unchanged, have and use (yay for the ASUS T2P4... and that no-name PSU still runs too (cheapo case with built-in PSU))

[ Parent ]

Re: How long Have you been using Debian?
Posted by Anonymous (85.60.xx.xx) on Tue 6 Dec 2005 at 02:52
The first time I installed Debian it was Hamm 2.0, just released. By this time i had a modem dial-up connection and the CDs (which I got through a magazine) were broken and some packages didn't work because of that. Since I wasn't happy to have a unclean installed system I switched to RedHat 5.0 and then upgraded to 6.0. Some time later, I bought Debian 2.2 CDs and installed it. It's been working since then, but now it's updated to unstable with some ubuntu packages.

georg_H

[ Parent ]

Re: How long Have you been using Debian?
Posted by ajt (204.193.xx.xx) on Tue 6 Dec 2005 at 13:59
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I used Red Hat 5.1, then 6.0 and various 7.x at home. However I was still using MS Windows NT as my desktop system.

A friend at work suggested Debian, so for about 12 months I started to run Woody as a desktop system. This summer I got two new desktop boxes and one is running Sarge as is my home server, the other is running Etch.

So I've been running a Debian as desktop OS for about 18 months now and Debian as a server for about 2 years.

At work we use Red Hat Enterprise because it's certified by SAP, Debian isn't.

--
"It's Not Magic, It's Work"
Adam

[ Parent ]

Re: How long Have you been using Debian?
Posted by rw (193.154.xx.xx) on Wed 7 Dec 2005 at 15:16
About 7 years now. That was, what, bo? hamm? Thereabouts. After a 3-4 month run-in with Slackware I grew tired of the manual dependency-chasing, installed either Redhat or Suse (I honestly don't remember - the only thing I still know is that the boot messages were in color), got grey hair trying to figure out where they kept what, and installed Debian.

And that installation still works. The hardware's been replaced many, many times, the OS upgraded and stuff - the entire system at times - restored from backup after various failures (of both the hardware and user-input kind), but it never needed to be re-installed.

I ditched Debian once on a single machine, and still regret it, but the Linux 2.4 kernel alone is just plain buggy on sun4c, (and now even Debian itself has officially given up sun4c) - but I guess there's not many people wanting to use pre-1990 hardware ;)

cheers,
&rw
--
Any sufficiently advanced Political Correctness is indistinguishable from irony.

[ Parent ]

Re: How long Have you been using Debian?
Posted by Anonymous (193.178.xx.xx) on Thu 8 Dec 2005 at 14:07
About 1 year on my server:

1) 2002 Started out with Gentoo on the desktop. Liked it but not stable enough
2) 2003 Saved my girlfriends Pentium I from the stort and put OpenBSD on it as server. Too much troubles setting it up
3) 2004 put debian unstable on the pentium. Too many updates & sometimes broken
4) 2005 reinstalled as debian Sarge. Very happy till now :)
5) 2006 Very, very likely to remain on Debian/Sarge, but looking how to elegantly update bugged packages.

[ Parent ]

Re: How long Have you been using Debian?
Posted by Anonymous (203.129.xx.xx) on Sat 10 Dec 2005 at 04:42
Since Sarge came out. Works pretty well. Installed easy enough and allows multiboot, especially with other Linux systems. Now setting up some Debian systems for work (they presently use Redhat 7 something and SuSE 8 somethings).
Setting up Dual boot with Ubuntu is easy and a big plus - office workers love Ubuntu, but the engineers prefer Debian.

Sound and multimedia setup is still a pain, with no automatic (correct) setup.
Some Debian based distributions such as STG and Knoppix have no problem with this, so what is the problem with the mainline Debian?

[ Parent ]