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I wasted an entire week of my life with Debain. Well, I used to be a Gentoo user, and I was content with Gentoo. It wasn't great, but it worked ...
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  1. #1
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    Thumbs down Ranting -- pissed off about Debian


    I wasted an entire week of my life with Debain.

    Well, I used to be a Gentoo user, and I was content with Gentoo. It wasn't great, but it worked well on my Apple PowerBook G4, and it was very customizable. But there are plenty of drawbacks to it, notably that it is difficult to find a binary distribution of OpenOffice for Gentoo, and it is too big to compile from source.

    I thought, since I have a bit of free time this week, I thought I would try a more solid distribution -- Debian PowerPC. It was easy to install, adding packages was a breeze with apt-get, dselect, and synaptic... but outside of that it is absolutely awful so far. If I can't get some of these issues resolved, I am switching back to Gentoo.

    The the "Etch" live-CD installed a working laptop -- with too much stuff. I only wanted Xfce, I even got the "Xfce" live-cd. But it gave me both Gnome and metacity without my permission. Fine. I went back and removed them by hand.

    The backlight on my screen doesn't work anymore, despite the fact that I re-compiled the latest kernel (2.6.28.1) with powerbook back-light support and installed pbbuttons.

    Suspend-to-disk (when you close the lid) stopped working entirely. It worked fine under Gentoo with pbbuttons, I have no clue what is wrong. I re-compiled the kernel with support for that too, but "apmd -s" only succeedes in shutting the screen off momentarily before combing back with an error message "no such device".

    After recompiling the kernel, the sound stopped working, and I had to re-compile the kernel 4 more times (trial and error) with different arrangements of drivers. Compile drivers built-in or as modules? I guess as modules works best. I finally got the sound working properly again on the 4th try.

    X.org no longer uses DRI (direct rendering interface) for my Radeon graphics card. It worked under Gentoo after some coaxing with drivers, but the same kernel configuration doesn't work under Debian, that or my Xorg installation doesn't support DRI, that or the esoteric xorg.conf is all wrong again, who knows! It worked under Gentoo, it doesn't work under Debian.

    I saved my home directory from Gentoo so all of my Xfce settings are the same under Debian. Unfortunately, the Apple-key no longer functions as the Meta-4 modifier key under Debian. Instead it acts more like the "Windows" key, so when I press it its treated as a full keystroke rather than just a modifier to a keystroke, which has screwed up all of my keyboard shortcuts. I tried fidgiting with xmodmap with no avail.

    And finally, the Haskell Programming language is essential to my work, and Debian doesn't have the latest compiler available to it (only version 6.6, latest version should be 6.10 -- big difference). I tried to change apt-get's settings to use "testing" packages so I could at least have version 6.8. But I must have done something wrong when changing to "testing" because it so thoroughly screwed up my local package database that I had to re-install the whole system and start again from square one. I am still trying to compile the Haskell compiler from source, but the resulting compiler keeps segfaulting for some reason, probably an optimizer problem (not much anyone here could do about it I suppose, but it still pisses me off).

    The bottom line is that none of the software seems to know or care about any of the drivers I have installed. Pbbuttons, alsa-sound, apmd, the Xorg DRI module, all of these things are supposed to be installed, but none of them are working. Using "update-rc.d" doesn't do anything. This is a complete nightmare.

    So that concludes my rant. So if anyone is thinking of installing Debian onto their PowerPC system JUST DON'T DO IT. Try Gentoo or YellowDog. (I have yet to try YellowDog).

    However, if anyone can help me out with any of my problems, I would be most grateful.

    PS: Fsck Debian.

  2. #2
    Linux Engineer jledhead's Avatar
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    with apt you can either use etch sources or lenny sources (or sid) and upgrade and install packages from those. If you want to mix packages then use apt-pinning
    apt-pinning - Google Search
    so you can (for example) stay on etch but upgrade a package and dependencies to lenny. I would guess that you will probably want to go with lenny since coming from gentoo, packages are pretty up-to-date.

    if you are running etch and want to upgrade to lenny then do a dist-upgrade
    debian dist-upgrade - Google Search

    and if you only want to install what you want and not the whole thing, get either the business card or netinstall and then install a base system and from cli install what you want.

    I would recommend upgrading to lenny before dealing with those other problems. and isn't the reason you came to debian because you didn't want to have to recompile the whole system all the time? then try upgrading to lenny and don't compile unless necessary.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the advice, I appreciate it.

    Actually I didn't mention this but I erased my system and started again, only this time I used the install CD and installed only the base system, which is something that could have been done with the business-card-sized installer. This left me with a bare-bones system of course, and I spent an entire day selecting packages I needed, and installed the whole thing in one big chunk.

    But after all that, my computer still would not suspend-to-disk properly. After upgrading the kernel and getting the sound working again, I found that the DVD playback has become totally screwed up -- it plays but without sound and a totally garbled image. Mplayer, VLC, and Ogle all do the exact same thing. I think it might be a problem with GStreamer but I don't know.

    So my plan now is to wipe my system yet again, but this time backing-up my kernel and modules. Re-install with Debian's defaults, take out the stuff I don't need, update my kernel from the backup, re-install "pbbuttons" and see what happens.

    I like Gentoo; it really doesn't bother me to compile from source. The reason I switched from Gentoo was that I didn't like compiling things from source *all the time*. I often like to look at the source code, so I usually compile from source, but I also like to have the option of installing from binaries (especially OpenOffice), and I was having difficulty finding a powerpc binary package server for Gentoo. I heard Debian allows installing from source (though I haven't figured out how to do that yet) so I thought Debian might be better, but so far it's not any good.

    Thanks again for responding!

  4. #4
    Administrator MikeTbob's Avatar
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    It sounds to me that you'd be better off sticking with Gentoo. I'm a Gentoo user myself and what I do most of the time is dual boot Gentoo and one rpm based Distro, Gentoo I use everyday, the RPM distro I use mostly for when I want to install a package right now! So I would just install OpenOffice on the RPM side to avoid a 48 hour compile time. Hope this helps in some way or gives you an idea.
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  5. #5
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    How do you get an RPM-based package manager to work on Gentoo?

  6. #6
    Administrator MikeTbob's Avatar
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    No, that's not what I meant, I use Gentoo and Fedora/Suse on separate partitions.
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    All new users please read this.** Forum FAQS. ** Adopt an unanswered post.

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  7. #7
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    Oh, I see. Well, I don't have space for any more partitions on my computer. I guess it's time to get a new computer.

    Thanks for the idea though.

  8. #8
    Trusted Penguin Dapper Dan's Avatar
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    Sorry to hear of your troubles. I know what you mean about having to compile from source all the time. Like Gentoo, CRUX is source based but the neat thing about it is, I can also install Slackware binaries if I so choose. I compiled OO from source on 2.5 but previously just went to LinuxPackages and got the Slackware package which installed without incident in a a minute or so every time. Can you not install Slackware packages on Gentoo? It's been a long time since I used it so I don't know.

    I think MikeTbob is right... perhaps you've just confirmed that Gentoo is a better fit for you.
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  9. #9
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    Yeah, Gentoo. It's just irksome that I can't figure out how to solve these problems with suspend to disk, and now DVD playback. I know there must be something I can install or some config file I can write to make it work under debian just as well as Gentoo, they are basically the same except for package management.

    Could it be the init process? I think Gentoo's init process is slightly different from the Debian init process, so maybe I need to configure some files in /etc/init.d ?

    Well, I guess I'll just go with what works for now, which is Gentoo, although I think I'll check out this CRUX before I wipe my system again. I've never heard of that.

  10. #10
    Trusted Penguin Dapper Dan's Avatar
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    If you're going to check it out, pick up the just released 2.5 .iso here. I'll also shamelessly point you to my CRUX "Howto." As an experienced Gentoo user, CRUX should be a piece of cake. Good luck!
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