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  1. #1
    Linux Engineer RobinVossen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    The Netherlands

    Exclamation Debian Linux Rant

    I am going to write down a story about Debian linux here. It's meant for people who are going to use it who are inexperienced with Linux at all. It's a rant. I had a lot of issues using Debian in the past. And It might be just me, but I want to put it here anyway since I think it might be useful for other users, while reading this please keep in mind I used Gentoo Linux for a number of years and ran Arch Linux for about three years. So I was used to 'Rolling Releases'.

    Ok, the story begins on a quite afternoon when I suddenly got asked to get an company entirely running on Linux to suppress costs and stop the errors in Windows (mostly since users 'can fix it them selfs' on those systems).
    I started thinking about the best way to do this so I asked linux forums (Click to see the topic here)
    After this advice I decided to give Debian a try. So first I loaded up virtualbox to check Debian out.
    And guess what, it looked nice handled nice and was even easily installed.
    So a couple of days later I decided to give my own laptop a whirl remove Arch Linux and give Debian a live-on-hands real test.
    I only had to be sure I wouldn't destroy my /home as I had a lot of important data on there and I really couldn't afford to lose (and yes I am one of those people who only make backups after its too late).
    So I downloaded Debian, loaded it on my laptop. And installed it using the Graphical installer. And the first issue I noticed. I selected country to be USA since I want all the US settings (eg Keyboard, Language but also there way to display time, money and numbers). So, I did this and I could only select timezones from the US. While I am in the GMT area somewhere, but yea I thought I can change this after the installation even with some kind of hack. No biggy.
    I continued installing, everything went really smooth. And I installed everything. After the installing I booted and I saw a lot of stuff printed on the terminal during boot. It was hard to read since there wasn't any enter (\n) in the text. It was horrible.
    But still, no biggy. It booted and I connected to the internet using my Ethernet cable. And installed Xfce4 it was so easy.
    But then, I pressed startx. And It couldn't find my Graphics card.
    I thought, what might this be? X -configure did the job and I could load X. So I pressed startx.. And I got a scrambled X screen...
    The opensource NVidia drivers debian picks my default are where not compatible with my GFX card. And I thought, bummer. But no sweat. Being used to fight with my system at the beginning before I get it to used was no new thing with me (remember, gentoo).
    I installed the nv driver after enabling contrib and non-free and it just worked. So I did all my settings and rebooted my box. And X didn't start anymore. I did x -configure and I got an error that my GFX card was not detected. No problem I thought I'd connect with my wifi (that I had setup) and download the new driver. But too bad. My wifi wasn't working anymore.

    Now (slightly annoyed) I got the cable back and tried downloading it all again. And oh-no looks like the nv driver didn't work anymore. After poking it for a while I did managed to get it to work. And I was happy enough. I did all my settings right and got to bed (3AM). The day later I got up to get to work. I packed my laptop and before I went I wanted to quickly check my email. I booted my laptop and... X crashed yet again.. As I was in a hurry I left it home and got to work.
    When I got back I connected to the wifi again and tried to download it again. But now I got this very funny message that the firmware of my wifi card wasn't found..
    This got me mad, so I got the debian cd again and reinstalled everything again. Now using the graphical installer. I got the same kind of issues for about 2 hours and kept just reinstalling it. (Yea I did read a manual).
    And then at 3~4AM I managed to get everything up and running. No scrambled bootscreen, a working wifi card, working gfx card and sound etc the works.

    It got be happy. The day after, I booted my laptop. Did a dist-update and... yea you guessed it I lost it all again..
    I thought, if debian doesn't work I might just be stupid or just don't understand how debian works. So I got Linux Mint this is a distro that is based upon Ubuntu and that is based upon Debian.
    Installed it, and got the same issues as in Debian..
    Getting debian to work took me way to long for such an 'easy' distro. There were some things I liked about debian but a lot of things did I didn't I downloaded Arch yet again. And I got everything running in less then a hour. Everyting except one thing.
    I told Arch Linux to use the partitions debian had made. It did so without a problem. But after installing most of the applications that I use I got a message that there was no space left on my device. So time for some investigation.
    cocytus# df -h
    Filesystem      Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
    udev             10M     0   10M   0% /dev
    run              10M  440K  9.6M   5% /run
    /dev/sda3       3.8G  3.6G   12M 100% /
    shm             2.0G  1.2M  2.0G   1% /dev/shm
    /dev/sda1        31M   15M   14M  53% /boot
    /dev/sda5       431G  391G   19G  96% /home
    Problem found.. But, how odd. I got a 500G harddrive.
    Thats by a longshot not 500G. So, I got gparted on a livedisk.
    And the issue got found rather quick. Debian made overlapping paritions. My partition table got scr*wed royally by Debian.
    So now I would have to make a backup.

    Bottem line of the story:
    • Stick to what you know and love.
    • Make sure your hardware is supported before using a new distribution.
    • Make backups so you can wipe your harddrive everytime when you want to install a new distro.
    • Don't be like me.

    I know Debian isn't unstable. And I would encourage people to try it. Since when it works (as I saw in virtual box) its a real nice piece of work.
    But for me, it didn't work.. If you detect this try something else and don't be stubborn like me and try something else.

    Hope this was amusing to read. And I really hope this message won't be seen as spam/hate so mods will remove it.
    I just want to educate about issues you can have with a linux distro while you clearly know linux already. I am sure I'll have the same kind of issues if I'll try Fedora while I won't have it using a source based distro like Lunar Linux
    New Users, please read this..
    Google first, then ask..

  2. #2
    The minimal Debian CD is just like Gentoo... you're expected to chroot into the install and fix things up (install all firmware, generic drivers etc...). After you've done all that, you make a squashfs image and install in other PCs.

    The real problem with Debian is apt.

  3. #3
    Penguin of trust elija's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Either at home or at work or down the pub
    Odd. I've used Debian 6 (Testing) and now I'm using Linux Mint Debian Edition with none of the issues you have had. I did have an issue of Debian 5 borking partition tables when there was a ext4 partition in place. I can't comment on the partitioning issue you had but then I always create my own partitions which to be honest LMDE doesn't make easy!

    The real joy of Debian is apt or aptitude if you prefer. Just don't mix them *_^
    Should you be sitting wondering,
    Which Batman is the best,
    There's only one true answer my friend,
    It's Adam Bloody West!

    The Fifth Continent

  4. $spacer_open
  5. #4
    Linux Enthusiast Bemk's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Oosterhout-NB, Netherlands
    Why is everybody always having issues with Debian based distributions? I mean, seriously, everybody who tries Linux in my environment (besides my grandpa) ends up with numerous issues, while I just go get a laptop, install it and every single thing (besides really exotic hardware, but that's to be expected on any platform) works out of the box!

    (I am using a Lenovo Thinkpad R500, Acer netbook, another thinkpad but that one is 5 years, a 5 years old discarded packardbell machine(even 5.1 sound works) and a 5 years old dell optiplex gx260, grandpa uses a 7 years old toshiba)
    Full time computer science student, spare time OS developer.
    @bemk92 on twitter.

  6. #5
    Well, I started to have problems with Debian too. It appears the maintainers forgot to fix dependencies of libgl1* packages.

  7. #6
    Linux Engineer RobinVossen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    The Netherlands
    That might be it. XD

    Thanks I might hit the Debian tree later yet again.
    New Users, please read this..
    Google first, then ask..

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