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Debian Testing, Four years using it.

Date: 2010-12-22 00:00:00 -0400

Debian Linux logo

Introduction

Debian is one of the oldest Linux distributions, it was created by Ian Murdoc in 1993.

From Wikipedia:

Debian (pronounced /ˈdɛbiən/) is a computer operating system composed of software packages released as free and open source software especially under the GNU General Public License and other free software licenses. The primary form, Debian GNU/Linux, which uses the Linux kernel and GNU OS tools, is a popular and influential GNU/Linux distribution. It is distributed with access to repositories containing thousands of software packages ready for installation and use. Debian is known for relatively strict adherence to the Unix and free software philosophies as well as using collaborative software development and testing processes. Debian can be used as a desktop as well as server operating system. It focuses on stability and security and is used as a base for many other distributions.

My experience with Debian

I first met Debian because of Ubuntu (I was using Fedora in that time), I was introduced to Ubuntu Dapper Drake in August 2006 more or less, and then when I realized it was based on Debian, I decided to test Debian, and started with Debian Sarge the stable release in that time.

The differences with Ubuntu were huge, Dapper Drake was years ahead of Debian Sarge, but then I switched to Testing (Etch in that time), actually I’ve downloaded and installed a Debian testing from scratch, and then I switched my /etc/apt/sources.list file to etch instead of testing. Well the differences with Ubuntu were not that big comparing it to testing.

I’ve noticed that I had a lot more problems with Ubuntu (broken packages, and other issues) than with Debian testing so I completely switched from Ubuntu Edgy Eft to Debian testing, in my servers, desktop and laptop. I still have a CentOS server since those days and it is still working well.

Smooth upgrades in Debian

I also like how smooth are the upgrades in Debian, a lot better that in lots of other distributions, what I did since that time was: As soon as Etch became stable, I waited two or three weeks, before switching to Lenny, maybe that is not needed, but I wanted to give the mirror server time to sync everything.

When Lenny became stable, once again I waited for two to three weeks, and then it was time to upgrade from Lenny to Squeeze.

Testing is stable

Yes, at least for me in all this years I have found not a single issue because of being running this debian branch, I must say that I’ve even upgraded my computer from a Core 2 Duo to Dual Core and my video card from an ATI to a Nvidia Gforce, without re-installing Debian, I’ve just switched the hard disk to the new machine and installed the Nvidia driver, reconfigure Xorg and I was on the road again.

I’ve cheated on Debian

In all these years I’ve not been 100% faithful to Debian, I have tested Mandriva, OpenSuse, Xandros, Mint, Crunchbang Linux, and others, but none of them were better than Debian for me, so I’ve always returned to Debian.

I must say that two other distributions I’ve tested really caught me, those were Arch Linux, and Slackware, which I use now in my Laptop in dual boot configuration, and in my office desktop I use Arch Linux, but at home in my desktop computer I still have my old Debian installation.

What I expect from Debian

I would really like to see a Desktop oriented branch of Debian, and please do not tell me that I can use Ubuntu, because that is not Debian, maybe we can think about Linux Mint Debian Edition, but if Debian does not offer a real Desktop oriented release, all those based on Debian, have two options, in my option:

  1. Patch the packages like Ubuntu, to offer an up to date and stable release (Ubuntu is based on Sid)
  2. Offer an almost vanilla Debian more or less like Mint Debian Edition, but this approach will have the problem that when testing is frozen, the distribution based on Testing will be frozen too.

So, I think we really need a constantly evolving Debian branch, one independent from Testing, one that never goes frozen, it can be rolling, or with a scheduled release, but not every some years.

I’m not expert on how Debian branches works, but I’m sure that can be done, and in that case I’m sure lot’s of people may switch from other Debian based distributions, to a native desktop oriented Debian release.

Debian 6.0 Squeeze release is almost here

There is still not a real date, but it may occur any of these days, and when that happens I will switch to the next Testing release, and will wait for the new versions of packages to appear. I hope to see Firefox 4.0 in the new Testing as soon as it appear.

More info

If you want to know more about Debian visit these links:

http://www.debian.org/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debian http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=debian

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