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Old 09-15-10, 06:26 AM   #24
Nerd, Geek, Freak
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Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Finland
Posts: 703
Default Re: Is Debian any good

I wouldn't be using Debian for ten years straight if it wasn't good. :-) That being said, Debian is not aimed at Joe Average, but rather to someone with ideology. Debian doesn't come with proprietary packages, drivers or such. In other words, it's more or less likely that you'll have to worry about your graphics card and WiFi yourself. Most of the time it is easy to find everything you need from a few "unrestricted" repositories, but default installation doesn't include these, still.

As for Debian stable/testing/unstable/experimental, well, you have a choice. Stable is just what it promises: packages that work, and won't break when you update your system. Stable receives security and bug fixes backported to old version, which means application won't be broken because of new features. Stable is pretty much guaranteed to stay the way it was when you first installed it.

Testing is where new stable is tested. Testing receives updates from unstable every now and then. Unlike in past, nowadays testing also receives security updates.

Unstable is where things happen. Unstable is where most of the development is done, so when new versions are available, this is where you'll find them in timely manner. It is worth noticing that while unstable is the first to receive the latest and the greatest, security team does /not/ cover unstable. Unstable may break your system, and there's noone you can cry about it.

Experimental is a sub-distribution (on top of unstable) playground for new things that are likely to break your system unless you know what you're doing. Finall, volatile has packages that keep changing for whatever reason.

I've used unstable as my desktop OS for ten years without much trouble. During that time I have never rendered my system unbootable, but such events are not unheard of. I have, however, rebooted to new kernel just to realise that nvidia's graphics card is no longer initialised. Each and every time there has been a way to resolve the issue, but you'll have to be ready for it. Similarly, I have used stable for my home server for ten years. The only issue I have had with stable was after a major kernel upgrade, when harddrive devices changed. This meant only the root filesystem was mounted at boot and others were not. Switching to UUIDs instead of device paths solved the issue once and for all.

I'd recommend stable wholeheartedly for server, and desktop for most. For those who're more concerned about new software, I'd recommend trying testing for desktop. One shouldn't choose unstable unless they know what to do when things break up.

All in all, I love Debian, and I've had much less trouble with it than with Ubuntu. If it works for you, use it.
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Christianity, noun: The belief that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree. [mad.frog]
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