Debian advantages (was RE: Disk space, but no disk space...)

Joshua Penix jpenix at
Thu Feb 21 16:18:52 PST 2002

> -----Original Message-----
> From: John H. Robinson, IV [mailto:jhriv at]
> Sent: Thursday, February 21, 2002 3:14 PM
> To: kplug-list at
> Cc: lbarnes at
> Subject: Re: Disk space, but no disk space...
> On Thu, Feb 21, 2002 at 02:34:29PM -0800, Neil Schneider wrote:
> > Wait till they try the install, painful, slow and very difficult to
> > configure. I still can't believe people are so enamored with a
> > distribution, that only claim to fame is a package manager.
> 1) start-stop-daemon

What's this?  Same thing as /etc/init.d/ scripts (plus the 'service'
command) which allow easy startup and shutdown of servies?

> 2) 8,000+ packages (8483 currently in woody[1])

RPM-based systems surely have more than this many packages available, but
I'll grant you that they're harder to come by.  So I'd say "8,000+ centrally
located packages.'

> 3) 13 supported archtectures (not all will be released with 
> woody though)

Granted, Debian is probably second only to OpenBSD (that's the really
portable one, right?).

> 4) 100% volunteer effort

Is that why it takes them so damn long to make a stable release? :^)

> 5) open bug tracking system

RedHat has same.  Can't speak for other distros.

> 6) Allows complete control over the system configuration with 
> no GUI to get
> in the way. (directly from

All distributions I've ever seen allow this.  Yes, they provide other tools
to make it easier, but that never stops you from doing it the good ol'
fashioned way.

> 7) a default install that can fit in < 150M

Slackware may be able to do this also.  Granted, RedHat and friends are
looking at 300MB minimum without seriously tedious package selection.  From
my point of view, though, I've never wanted nor needed a Linux distro that's
so stripped down.  Smallest hard drive I can find laying around my office is

> 8) Debian is the only one respecting the GNU idea 100%. (directly from


> 9) Why Debian for HP's development? It's the best way to get software
> out to all of the distributions, because Debian's process is 
> so fair and
> so visible. (directly from

Yes, just read a Linux magazine article on HP's choice of Debian.  But since
when have Linux geeks listened to anything a big corporation does?  Or if
you're gonna start listening to big corporations, then you should consider
that HP's biggest competitors - IBM and Compaq - have organized around

> 10) diversions (it's a way of saying ``i have pythoin 2.1 and pything
> 2.2, but when i say ``python'' i mean python2.2, or, more 
> likely, i have
> vim and nvi, but when i say ``vi'' i mean ``vim'')

Yes, this is a neat feature and is well implemented in Debian.  RPM has a
similar thing from a packaging standpoint - any package which provides
"mailerdaemon" will satisfy the dependencies of packages expecting such a
thing, and they don't care if it's Sendmail, Postfix, Exim, etc.  But
Debian's ability to apply this in userspace is nice... one user can have
'vi' bring up elvis, and another can bring up vim.

> 11) menu methods (a way of making _any_ supported window manager (and
> most are, and all are to some extent - even the console!) 
> have complete
> access to all installed and menu-registered programs.)

Yes, another nice centralization.  Something that's possible when a single
project has complete control over the 8000+ packages.

> 12) multi-kernel (yes, the hurd port exists!)

LOL who uses it?

> 13) It's also probably the easiest to install. (directly from

HAHAHAHA. You wish.  Step back a second and look at Debian's install from a
non-super-tech users' standpoint.  It's not nearly as easy as distributions
such as RedHat or SuSE.  Yes, it gets the job done assuming it recognizes
your hardware.  You can usually just keep hitting <ENTER> on the topmost
option and off you go.

But, the "assuming it recognizes your hardware" part is the other joke.  It
doesn't.  It breaks.  It requires post-install tweaking to get sound and X
working on many machines.

But installation is a minor part - once that hurdle has been cleared, the
rest of the system is what really matters.

So yes, Debian has a good package management system.  And some niceties such
as the diversions and auto-menus.  But I bet frequent users of the other
distros could come up with a bakers' dozen of their own "things my distro
does better than others."


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