State of Debian GNU/Linux

Now that I have my server running again I fired up a virtual machine to play with Debian GNU/Linux:

  1. In a virtual machine of 512 MB RAM and 8gB storage, I did a standard desktop installation of Debian GNU/Linux Squeeze.
  2. I then put it in maintenance mode to free up RAM for a dist-upgrade (telinit 1), edited /etc/apt/sources.list to change squeeze to wheezy and ran apt-get update;apt-get dist-upgrade. That operation went a while and hung up on a package.
  3. I then tried aptitude dist-upgrade and the process completed successfully.

I think this example shows the strength of Debian GNU/Linux. Even though the next release is many months away and there are more than 1K bugs known, the system is still usable. I will stick with Squeeze in production systems but in the virtual world, Wheezy is taking shape quite nicely. This whole process took only an hour including downloading 1200 packages. It was quite easy with no critical decisions on my part except to read some notes and accept defaults.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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20 Responses to State of Debian GNU/Linux

  1. oldman says:

    “Also lot of X11 server faults are being fixed.”

    Good, when that faultsare fixed, when that ABI is stable, and when major closed source commercial vendors are porting their products to linux, then we’ll se.

    Untill then this is all bushwah.

  2. oiaohm says:

    oldman Quality control does not mean a mistake cannot be made. Openssh error was many levels of fail.

    JairJy To be correct Debian and Scientific Linux in user-friendly scale is about 12 months behind the bleeding edge of Fedora and Ubuntu. Mostly due to the delays of quality assurance process. Basically all the user-friendly features do appear in time.

    Really I don’t manage either from the command line. JairJy for my home usage. Debian has some very nice graphical package managers.

    The most developed configuration interfaces for Linux are normally web based JairJy like webmin. Mostly due to historic issues with X11 it was not seen as a stable location to place configuration tools for the system or secure. KDE is now starting to expand out into graphically configuring items like printers. Also lot of X11 server faults are being fixed.

    Basically you have two paths down to command line or up to web. Really if you have a close look at windows servers most of there interfaces are web altered to run on desktop. If that came to Linux it would be very friendly for new users.

    Phenom lets be simple here lot of the Linux world hates mono but we do have it. There is python that in fact does a surprising number of desktop programs. Of course you miss that python has a pyc what is a byte compliers built version of the source.

    Then we have ruby, perl and so on. Then Smalltalk and many other languages without pointers.

    “No uninitialized variables, no buffer overruns…” That is pretty much status normal for all of them.

    In fact .net programs have another issue object leakinging. Buffer overruns and programs attempt to use uninitialized variables can be blocked by build time options in C and C++. Most of what you raise is bogus in enterprise class distrobutions since most binaries were built with the features turned on to block those events.

    Coders choose from a vast range of options on Linux and still choose C and C++ for a lot of operations.

  3. JairJy says:

    oiaohm, I agreed, non-LTS version of Ubuntu are worse than betas. But I don’t like Debian nor Scientific Linux. Those type of distros aren’t user friendly at all. Even if I can use the terminal, and know all the commands that I need, I just don’t want to use a terminal. Come on! Is 2011.

  4. oldman says:

    “A GUI hides all kinds of details. Therefor, one does not need to think/be aware of them.”

    Correct, and this is a problem because…?

  5. A GUI hides all kinds of details. Therefor, one does not need to think/be aware of them.

  6. oldman says:

    “I use old GNOME on one machine and XFCE4 on all the others. I want a minimal GUI. I type and think. Therefor I am.”

    Just because one uses a GUI doesn’t mean that one does not think Pog.

  7. I use old GNOME on one machine and XFCE4 on all the others. I want a minimal GUI. I type and think. Therefor I am.

  8. lefty.crupps says:

    I’ve been running various Stable and Testing and Sid releases and they’re all working quite well. Funny how the ‘other OS’ people are going out of their way to bash (!) Debian, yet Debian keeps chugging along and kickin rear end.

    Which desktop are you running? KDE isn’t moving too quickly in Sid, http://gnuski.blogspot.com/2011/10/debian-sid-idles-at-kde-465.html

  9. Phenom says:

    “Part of the problem is the sloppiness that C encourages, using unitialized variables deliberately”

    With that other OS, Pogson, people have something called .NET with C# and VB.NET. No uninitialized variables, no buffer overruns…

    On Linux, people have only Java, but Java for desktop sucks donkey balls. Desktop apps in Java are slow, consume lot of memory, and ugly as hell.

    “Developers, developers, developers!”, and Linux is especially hostile for them with its lack of productive tools.

  10. oldman wrote, “a member of that wonderful team succeeded in compromising the security of the openssh code and creating a mess that is still being cleaned up from”, as if the thousands of programmers at M$ who have created millions of bugs and vulnerabilities in that other OS are any better. Have any of them been fired or apologized for creating the $multi-billion industry of taking care of that other OS?

    here’s the coding that caused the problem:

    274 /*
    275 * Don’t add uninitialised data.
    276 MD_Update(&m,buf,j);
    277 */
    278 MD_Update(&m,(unsigned char *)&(md_c[0]),sizeof(md_c));
    279 MD_Final(&m,local_md);
    280 md_c[1]++;
    281
    282 buf=(const char *)buf + j;
    283″

    A discussion of the vulnerability is here.
    This comment was later added… in 2009.
    “/* We know that line may cause programs such as
    + purify and valgrind to complain about use of
    + uninitialized data. The problem is not, it’s
    + with the caller. Removing that line will make
    + sure you get really bad randomness and thereby
    + other problems such as very insecure keys. */”

    Here, we see Kurt asking the developer list for openssl, “What do you people think about removing those 2 lines of code?”.

    The replies were not helpful and an opportunity was missed.

    The difference is that M$ causes $billions of damage every year and no one outside M$ knows who did what to whom. At least with FLOSS, the openness helps understand what went wrong, people who were concerned about one issue affected another. Part of the problem is the sloppiness that C encourages, using unitialized variables deliberately. This is almost always wrong whether in the control of processes or calculation. Any second-year student of the art could probably have done a better job yet Kurt Roeckx (there’s a call for his head here ) was later promoted to Secretary. He has been a package-maintainer since 2004. He maintains 15 packages these days.

  11. oldman says:

    “Debian is a enterprise distribution oldman no matter if you like it or not. Most of the core team are full time at different companies around the world. They are not some random persons.”

    SO what, a member of that wonderful team succeeded in compromising the security of the openssh code and creating a mess that is still being cleaned up from.

    As far as I am concerned from a business perspective, Linux is synonymous with either Red Hat or SUSE.

    All else is hackers delight.

  12. oe says:

    I have had good luck with Ubuntu LTS’s and Debian as well. Have found Linux a lot less painful to maintain than the two mainline commercial alternatives.

  13. oiaohm says:

    JairJy Failure to be able to update is a common reason why people move across to debian or mint based on debian or Scientific Linux from Ubuntu and Fedora.

    Robert Pogson and me most likely would be the same this way. We stick to enterprise grade stuff way less in the headache department long term. Enterprise stuff might bite you by not having the latest and greatest.

    You find that the Ubuntu LTS versions that are the enterprise versions upgrade between each other stable. yes I know you were not doing LTS to LTS by the problems you are describing JairJy.

    Short releases of Ubuntu and Fedora are like windows Beta tester versions. Don’t expect that upgrades will be smooth from Windows Beta test versions either.

    Quality is Quality.

  14. JairJy says:

    Well, my laptop was running Vista when I buy it. When I update to Windows 7 was very simple and easy, thanks to the GUI, and I conserve my personal files and configurations.

    On the other hand, I’m really afraid to upgrade my Ubuntu after many failure tries. I prefer to reinstall from scratch.

  15. oldman says:

    “Many people have to buy all new equipment to run “7″. Installing it on old equipment is frustrating.”

    The machines that In installed windows 7 on were both 4 years old. There were no problems getting them recognized, especially if vista drivers existed which they did.

    The real question is of course why the needed to install 7 at all. Assuming their software needs are stable, they should be able to continue with XP untill the hardware drops deal, in which case they will go to whatever version of windows is shipping.

    “You may think 4 hours is nothing but a small business with a few machines has to waste days getting it done which often means working late.”

    So what. Once it is over it is done Pog.

  16. oiaohm says:

    oldman you love to insult debian. Debian has a habit of being behind the game using the more tested.

    The so call improved bit is more a false logic. What distributions are Debian improved as such.

    Ubuntu nop there quality control systems are worse than debians.

    Yes of course oldman you don’t want to admit number 1 debian is one of the few distributions with a formal quality control system. Others include SUSE, Redhat Linux and Scientific Linux with a formal quality control process. So its one of the 4 you should be considering using.

    Debian is a enterprise distribution oldman no matter if you like it or not. Most of the core team are full time at different companies around the world. They are not some random persons.

  17. Many people have to buy all new equipment to run “7”. Installing it on old equipment is frustrating. People who have working systems are anguished by having to scrap them in order to print etc. with “7”. Why else do you think half the users are still on XP? If there were no anguish they would have long ago taken another step on the Wintel treadmill. You may think 4 hours is nothing but a small business with a few machines has to waste days getting it done which often means working late.

  18. oldman says:

    “I compare that with the anguish migrating to “7″ causes.”

    What Anguish Pog? It is a task done once, and then its over. Total time in my case about 4 hours.

    No matter how you spin it Pog, the case can be made that Debian remains, because of is techno political stance, nothing more that a hackers distro that needs to be improved by the upstream distros that are dependent on it to be relevant at all outside the geek community.

    Personally I would go near it with a 50 foot pole!

  19. Wheezy is not “Linux”. It is the next “testing” branch of Debian GNU/Linux and will become the next release in a year or so with further testing. Unlike that other OS that releases “beta” and “alpha” software as they did in Vista, Debian GNU/Linux bases its release on stuff that is relatively bug-free.

    Debian GNU/Linux in the stable branch is certainly ready for the desktop and from what I have found (everything working except the upgrade) Wheezy will be quite smooth. BTW, apt-get is ~deprecated. I am old-fashioned which is why I still use it. Aptitude does a much better job of getting around problems as my test indicated. If I had used aptitude dist-upgrade, I expect it would have been flawless. For a product many months away from release it is pretty smooth. I compare that with the anguish migrating to “7” causes. At first, there was no upgrade possible. Folks had to re-install. Is that other OS really ready for the desktop? I don’t think so.

  20. Phenom says:

    Quote:
    I then put it in maintenance mode to free up RAM for a dist-upgrade (telinit 1), edited /etc/apt/sources.list to change squeeze to wheezy and ran apt-get update;apt-get dist-upgrade. That operation went a while and hung up on a package.
    I then tried aptitude dist-upgrade and the process completed successfully.

    Yeah, Linux is totally, absolutely ready for desktop!

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