Hello Debian, my old friend

I’ve been using Linux as my primary operating system since early 2000. Similarly to many Linuxers, I’ve done my share of distro hopping. Here is, as far as I can recall, some of the distributions that I’ve used seriously (where seriously means for more than 6 months at one time) in order:

  • Mandrake (yes, that was before they changed their name)
  • Slackware
  • Debian
  • Ubuntu
  • Arch Linux
  • Lubuntu

Though I had known of Linux for a couple of years, it was only when I bought an issue of Linux France magazine that came with a Mandrake 6.1 CD and clear instructions that I decided to install Linux. I was quite lost at first, but after buying O’Reilly’s “Running Red Hat Linux”, I could do most of what I wanted to do.

Later on, I decided to try Slackware, because apparently that was for more hardcore users, and I wanted to be hardcore. Then came Debian, because I had heard great things about apt-get (and boy was I impressed the first time I used it!). I used Debian for a solid 4-5 years before Ubuntu appeared on the radar and started making a solid impression on the Linux world. I decided to try it out, and I really liked that it took away some of the drudgery of Debian.

I then had a foray of a year and a half with Arch Linux before I came back to Ubuntu, but this time I used Lubuntu since the first thing I did after booting Ubuntu was to uninstall over 100 packages relating to Gnome. As time went on, I kept using Lubuntu, but I became less and less happy with it, always hoping that the next major release would solve my issues, but it became clear that it wouldn’t happen.

Among the issues I had with Ubuntu were:

  • The upgrade process never worked for me, I always had weird issues that were usually resolved by reinstalling the entire OS.
  • The release process produced distributions that were less and less stable.
  • Ubuntu quickly pushed new products that didn’t feel like they had anything to do with the Unix philosophy
  • I had some weird bugs that I reported, but went without solutions.
    • If I used lightdm and the french Canadian keyboard layout, pressing and holding certain keys (the right and down arrow keys for examples) would not repeat them; changing the login manager or the keymap fixed the issue, but this was weird.
    • plymouthd (a piece of software that I just don’t understand) constantly used 5-7% of my CPU. Uninstalling it was not an option since so many packages depend on it. Disabling it caused other weird issues with the display
  • It seems that Ubuntu is becoming less and less a Linux distribution, and more and more its own OS.

Last week, I just had enough. I want a stable and simple operating system, and I was no longer getting that from Ubuntu. Debian Wheezy had been released a few weeks earlier, and I decided that it was time to go back to my ol’ trusty distro.

I downloaded the LXDE Live DVD, booted it and less than an hour later the system was installed and ready to roll. I added some repositories to have access to Chrome and the latest Emacs snapshots, the only two programs that I want to be as up to date as possible. In less than two hours, I had a system that looked and worked exactly like my Lubuntu setup (except that the load average was closer to 0.0 than 1.0 as with Lubuntu!)

It’s been a week, and I have had no problems with Debian. The first time I used Ubuntu was because of the promise of easy hardware configuration; Debian Wheezy has that. My sound card and video card were automatically recognized and properly configured, I only had to install firmware-realtek to get my Wifi card working, my integrated webcam worked without me having to install or configure anything, so did my multiple gaming controllers.

The Debian folks have produced a truly fine operating system. For the next two years, I’ll be doing my M.Sc and I most likely won’t have the time or the inclination to fiddle and hack my OS, so I think that this stable Debian installation will suit me perfectly.

It’s good to be back!

About these ads

One thought on “Hello Debian, my old friend

  1. Hi – I’m on debian with fluxbox. Does enough and crucially not *too* much.

    I came to this blog on finding some of your posts on clojure, which appear to end in 2009. I wanted to ask if you still use clojure – if not why not and do you consider this language to be “alive” or on it’s death bed having failed to gain critical mass.

    I’m working through “The joy of clojure” which in itself is educational so time is not wasted. I was just curious. Many thanks and apologies for drifting o/t.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s