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Debian Software Linux

Debian And The Rise of Linux 438

There's an article in this month's LinMagAu that asks a question about how the rise of Linux will impact Debian and what that could mean. Good article, especially interesting if you have been a fan of Debian.
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Debian And The Rise of Linux

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  • by Dionysus ( 12737 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @08:09AM (#6329689) Homepage
    I think for Linux to grow more, it needs a reference implementation so that developers and users know that something will work for sure.

    I think Debian GNU/Linux should be this system for several reasons.
    It's non-commercial, meaning SuSe can't complain that the reference system is partial to RedHat or anyone else.
    It's conservative, which is very important for reference systems. If you write for Debian 3.0, you know it will be around for awhile. This doesn't mean that RedHat can't extend their distribution to add more recent libraries or programs. It just mean that something written for Debian 3.0 will work in the RedHat system that says it follows 3.0.

  • by James_Duncan8181 ( 588316 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @08:13AM (#6329706) Homepage
    I can see that it is clearly not disgned to have that much polish in GUI areas. Debian has been and will (IMHO) continue to be primarily designed for the technical user/Debian Developer, as these are the guys making the design choices. No walkthroughs, no neat GUI config a la Mangrake, not that much focus on usability as the assumption is that almost all users will be technically proficient.

    This is a self-fullfilling prophecy, and to change this will take quite a major change from the existing Debian (fairly elitist) culture.

    Where Debian will shine is not nessicarily as a mainstream distro itself, but as the basis of systems that are more widely used, such as Xandros and Knoppix. Is this a bad thing?

    It does run the risk that Debian-as-distro/brand become marginalised, but all that needs to happen for the Debian project to stay healthy is that Debian-as-underlying-system is widespread.

    This said, my Ideal World(tm) is every man and his dog running Deb... ;)

  • by ultrabot ( 200914 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @08:17AM (#6329717)
    Debian should release a stable SERVER subsystem, then build a rapidly improving desktop subsystem that remains compatible with the *stable* server subsystem. Kinda like the UnitedLinux idea, which isn't all that bad. People can tolerate when their desktop apps crash every now and again if their server side is rock solid, as we have come to expect from debian Stable. That server subsystem could also be a basis for various Debian derivatives, commercial and non-commercial.

    An example release could be "Debian 4.2, based on Debian_base_3.4"
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 30, 2003 @08:20AM (#6329733)
    is the slow release cycle. I'd like to be able to pin the newest KDE/gnome/whatever to stable and do an apt-get upgrade without breaking a million things. Last time I pinned kde 3.1 and updated I spent three days finding broken stuff and fixing it.

    And yes, I am aware of the other debian-based distros that are more up to date, but they're all (to my knowledge) pay distros, and I am looking for something cheap/free.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 30, 2003 @08:23AM (#6329745)
    ... to much people around comming from Windows.

    Debian was always about doing "The Right thing", about not only making things work, but make them work like they should work.

    But you cannot build a good distribution on software getting worse and worse. Think about more and more software unable to do basic things, because people did not thought about them as they are not feasable with one human before one computer. Because people grew up with windows and do not even know how it could work.

    On good example is konqueror and its identification of file type through filename's suffix. Do you have time to tell 300 users of your computers to rename "download.htm" to "bild.gif" to be able to click on it. (Oh, sorry I forgot, you are using your computer alone...)

    Even Debian, which was formerly known to be usable by admins, is now working on abolishing its old working menu system to one build up on KDE's
    menus. (Instead that someone would finaly get a menu-method for KDE and the old one.)
    It's a shame, the old system capable of creating a menu looking the same under all window-managers (except KDE, because the KDE people do not want to integrate) making life for an admin really easy, is dropped for a thing not nearly capable of it.
    (No possibility to specify a menu-hirachy. And the proposed format for icons is png. absurd.)
  • by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @08:23AM (#6329746)

    I started using Linux with SlackWare when it was the only distro available out there. I used to love them tarballs, but then at the time systems still had manageable sizes, so one really could compile everything in a reasonable time.

    Then I had the (mis?)fortune of being hired by a certain Caldera spinoff and was forced to use OpenLinux 1.2. That was my first contact with RPM, and that was a painful contact. Part of my work also involved writing and maintaining specfiles for various cross-platform packages. That's when I learned that (1) RPM was better than tarballs because it had dependencies, (2) RPM dependencies are not powerful enough and (3) RPM isn't backward-compatible. In short, RPM is not good but it's better than nothing.

    At that company, I also had the misfortune of meeting a Debian fanatic. Note that I say he's a fanatic of Debian, not that Debian made him a fanatic. Having tried Debian long ago myself, when it wasn't ready for prime-time, and having found it complicated and messy at the time, I was conforted in this idea by the truly detestable way this guy was patronizing everybody who didn't use Debian, and was turned off Debian for another 2 years.

    Then, several months ago, it was a sunday afternoon, my local computer shop was closed, and I couldn't find my RH CD to reinstall my box. I though : what the hell, I'm no more stupid than the average Debian user and I have nothing to do, let's try the Debian network-install. Well, I went through a little pain (it's not quite totally polished yet), but I've never looked back. dpkg and apt-get are just a godsend, and I too am now a convert today.

    Moral of the story : I avoided using Debian for several years entirely due to the advocacy of one (well, several actually) Debian bigot. You can always say that I should have been more intelligent and I should have made my own opinion, but I never had time and the experience you get from other users do count for me.

    In conclusion : what's the biggest good that could happen to Debian ? that other distros' package management got better so Debian bigots wouldn't have such an powerful incentive to behave like asses and disgust other people of Debian before they even try it. Or better still, that the Debian bigots start realizing that they won't win anybody to Debian by being patronizing.
  • by Reservoir Penguin ( 611789 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @08:24AM (#6329751)
    What could possibly be a reason for writing such an amzingly content-free article? Either the author is completely bored out of his mind or its what we call in Russia "black PR", could it be coming from Redhat that he seems to be whoring in the "article"? RedHat has apt now Debian is dead? WTF? Does Redhta also provide over 4K packages in stable testing and unstable forms? Or is it just a measely freshrpms depository that is only useful for upgrading standard packages that come with Redhat? Debian will contunue to be used by people who value Freedom and stability based release schedules over push the latest buggiest crap now preferebly couple with unresonblu upping the version number.
  • Oh Dear God No (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Saint Stephen ( 19450 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @08:26AM (#6329758) Homepage Journal
    Why I like Debian:

    (1) Serious philosophical principles. The only people to say GNU/Linux with a straight face. People concerned with my liberty above all else.

    (2) No Prepackaged Experience. I run Fluxbox, Gnome-Terminal, Mozilla, and Konqueror, and have a proper GTK/KDE library environment. It all works the way I want it.

    (3) The system state is transactional. Glitz is antithetical to transactionality. Glitz hides transactions. I like transactions.

    (4) No waiting forever to compile stuff pointlessly.

    #1 is the crucial element. Liberty is paramount.
  • by Mr2cents ( 323101 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @08:28AM (#6329769)
    I don't think Debian is going to collapse soon, But I do agree the installer could use some rethinking. Things I would like to see included: System recovery (using distributed backups over the lan), hardware autodetection, an installation blog - or something like that where you can put your installation remarks/choices, etc. Also, I'm looking for a command that would backup all config files that have been changed, or all files not managed by apt.

    Also, if there were a central repository for those installation blogs, developers could easily see where most of the problems arise.. Just some random thoughts..
  • by martin-boundary ( 547041 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @08:35AM (#6329797)
    So the guy wrote about apt, and how it's been adapted to run on other distros, but he didn't at all mention one strength which is unparalleled by any other distro: platform independence. Debian runs on what, ten different architectures (from memory, too lazy to look it up). No other operating system in the world runs on more hardware than Debian. That's extremely sellable to large companies.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 30, 2003 @08:35AM (#6329802)
    I kind of agree with the premise of the article. I am a new Debian user and I just don't think that most people who are not computer geeks (I'm not a computer geek--I'm just hardheaded and will keep trying until I figure something out) will stick with Debian long enough to enjoy it, at least as it is set up now.

    Am I glad that I chose Debian for my first Linux distro? Yes. I learned a lot about my computer and a lot about Linux by choosing Debian. Will I stick with Debian? Yes, it does everything that I want it to and more and I like the fact that I learn more about my computer just by using Debian. Would I recommend it to my little brother who is thinking about Linux but is not the type to spend hours trying to figure out what driver will make his sound card work or how to configure X if he set up his monitor wrong and just gets gibberish on the screen? Hmmm, I have to think about that one for a while. Maybe another distro will work better for him.
  • by Soothh ( 473349 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @08:37AM (#6329811)
    The company i work for uses a good deal of redhat for workstations and high end servers. Even our NT admin converted to redhat and uses vmware for when he needs to run NT. I personally now run debian at work, and am trying to get them to change to deb.
    After using redhat for many months here, then changing to debian, ill never go back to RH. It can be a pain to get installed, but once there, its solid. where as on redhat I had lots of dep issues because I was always installing cutting edge crap. I have done the same on debian, but with alot less issues. With in a few weeks ill have the chance to change over our DNS server to debian. And onward from there...
  • So what? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rknop ( 240417 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @08:39AM (#6329818) Homepage

    If Linux gets a lot bigger, but Debian doesn't get bigger with it-- so what?

    The Debian developers seem to be happy to work on Debian for their own use and for the use of the people who use it now. As long as that audience doesn't shrink too much-- and I doubt it will, for though many slashdot posters love to scoff at this, there are some people who use Debian for philosophical and other reasons-- then the same number of people will continue to use Debian.

    Yeah, I agree that Debian needs to move forward and needs to make sure it stays as close to the "cutting edge" as possible. But I don't understand why other Linux distributions exploding into extreme popularity among people not currently using Linux at all must detract from Debian. That sort of "must be the market leader to survive" mentality may work for commerical entities (be they open or closed source companies), but Debian isn't one such beast.

    Indeed, I suspect what will happen is that the "mainstream" distros will become more attached to proprietary offerings. Red Hat's made amazing contributions to the open source community, but if their users are demanding crossover office sorts of things bundled with Microsoft Office, and M$ agrees to licence that, I'd be surprised if Red Hat didn't go for it. There will be those who will stick with Debian for philosophical reasons-- and so long as there are enough of them to provide a core of Debian maintainers, why not? It doesn't hurt anybody else.

    That's the great thing about free software. Anybody who wants to do their own thing can do their own thing, without being beholden to what somebody else is doing, and without requiring anybody else to be beholden to them.


  • by zr-rifle ( 677585 ) <zedr@[ ] ['zed' in gap]> on Monday June 30, 2003 @08:42AM (#6329828) Homepage
    It looks like user-unfriendly != survivability. User-friendliness was not the reason I switched to linux in the first place. I trashed M$ because I was getting increasingly frustrated by the lack of transparency, the lack of customization options and, most importantly, the lack of understanding of things that I wanted the machine to do and things that I didn't want the machine to do. JoeUser@Work doesn't want make output flying by on his shell (shell, what's a shell?), neither do Wall street brokers need to tweak the number of running processes on their box to get maximum performance. They want things to be clearly understandable and to operate without any hassle, to get the work done. RedHat is for them. For everyone else, Linux stands for having fun learning how an operating system works, tweaking and, of course, bragging about how well configured, stable and updated their own box is. That's what Debian and Gentoo, among other, are for. So they're not user-friendly. So they start you off with a void, depressing shell prompt. So much the better for us. We soak knowledge from learning things the hard way. And doing things the hard way means fun for us. Rather than competition from RedHat, I see Gentoo overtaking Debian. User migration is far more substantial and has far more meaning for the linux community.
  • by qtp ( 461286 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @08:48AM (#6329866) Journal
    Every distro has it's fanatics, hell, I've run into several RedHat bigots myself. It does make advocacy more difficult when the water has been tainted by people who use thier OS choice as a political statement or use advocacy as an outlet for thier personal axe grinding.

    Debian's choice to be all DFSG [] distro is actually the only practical choice for a non-comercial org producing an OS. The battles in the past over the Troll Tech license had more to do with avoiding future troubles that a vaguely worded or confusing license could produce.

    When an org has limited rescources, no comercial structure, and consists entirely of volunteers with no binding contract, then it makes sense to adhere to a very strict only Free Software position.
  • by xdroop ( 4039 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @08:53AM (#6329910) Homepage Journal
    ...pretty amazing.

    More to the point: Debian is already marginalized to a certain extent. In the semiconductor industry, if a simulation or regression tool runs on linux, it runs on RedHat linux. A specific version of RedHat linux.

    It is one of the first questions that technical support will ask: what version of linux is the tool running on? And if you answer incorrectly, you get a free trip to the sorry but that is not a supported configuration hang up. I am responsible for about a hundred linux boxes and none of them are Debian, for precisely this reason.

    The real question is: so what? If the Debian developers are really as keen as everyone says they are, then it really doesn't matter -- they will keep coming up with technical innovations which will get tried, proven, and then absorbed into "more popular" distributions. Let Debian users be on the cutting edge, while those of us with real work to do can use the distilled and canned solutions to get on with our lives.

  • by wadiwood ( 601205 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @08:54AM (#6329916) Journal
    Just because Debian is for a niche market doesn't mean it has to die if it doesn't go after the mainstream we-don't-care-how-it-works market. "Turn-key" solutions are not for everyone.

    My current favourite magazine has several debian articles including this one updating debian []
    Unfortunately I cannot find the web link for the July issue workshop article about setting up Debian. I expect they'll make it available in August. They're very enthusiastic, and have included the install files on CD in the July 2003 issue. If I had a spare PC I might try it. Especially as they say you can use it to resurrect a pentium 100 (So I guess my pentium 133 would be ok).

    I think Debian will survive as long as the guys who are building it now continue to be interested and new programmers take up the quest for the perfect OS, where perfect is defined more in terms of reliabilty, stablility and security than easy good looks.

    What will get the mass market but never the geek market, are cheap (reliable) computers that are more compatible with people. They're still years off true user friendliness in hardware, software and people interfaces. Imagine no pain switching versions, or upgrading. Imagine not needing "training" to learn how to use the latest word processor, or to get the best out of animation software or video editing or being able to play the newest adventure game without having to read 300 pages of the manual, and learn lots of weird keyboard or mouse tricks to control the interface. Imagine computer games that you could play and keep fit at the same time. Hmm, I remember a rowing machine that had a video game of a shark chasing your rowing boat, and you had to row to keep ahead of the shark. That was nearly 10 years ago, but the gym I went to most recently didn't have it. Just numbers. Boring. Imagine having to pedal to keep your aeroplane off the ground in flight simulator?

    Hmm got a bit carried away there.

  • by WanderingGhost ( 535445 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @08:57AM (#6329930)
    Oh. I forgot: upgrade between major versions, without the need to reinstall. You can upgrade a server from 2.x to 3.0 with APT.
  • Re:up2date vs apt (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Alkarismi ( 48631 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @08:58AM (#6329933) Homepage
    There are a few of us who also operate in the 'real world' who may not quite share your view ;)

    I am by no means a Debian 'bigot', I don't us it as my personal desktop for instance, but I strongly assert it has a place, not least in the enterprise, an area we're no slouches in ourselves 8^)

    I'm glad you like using Red Hat. I find your experience of the superiority of up2date over apt interesting, but not really backed up by my own experience.

    In my experience, 'enterprise customers' are more least as likely to go the Debian route, of course, ymmv but it is in no way as cut and dried as you seem to assert.
  • Joe User and Debian (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Gleef ( 86 ) * on Monday June 30, 2003 @09:08AM (#6329988) Homepage
    The article claims that since Debian's technical advantages can (and to some extent have been) be "borrowed" by other distributions, and since Joe User doesn't care about the policy advantages of Debian, then Debian is doomed to be marginalized as the Linux market grows with unprecidented numbers of Joe Users. I strongly disagree.

    Debian has always had a strong following with Systems Administrators who want a strong, stable, supportable platform for their GNU/Linux based services that can be centrally administered without waisting a lot of time. The same forces will make Debian significant as a corporate desktop. This is a huge market, and while Joe User might be on some of those computers, he's not the one making the decision.

    Red Hat wins its share of this market through marketing, Debian wins its share through precisely the same policy superiority that the author discounts. Sure, Joe User doesn't understand the policy advantages, but Joe User doesn't play in this field. Sure, Red Hat and other corporate marketted distros will mean Debian will probably never even get a majority share of this field, as long as there are systems people who are allowed to make systems decisions, Debian will be a player here.

    The other two markets are Small/Home Businesses, and Home Users. These are the fields Joe User plays. And no, he's not necessarily likely to gravitate towards Debian (actually, from my experience he is, but all my evidence is anecdotal, and it's irrelevant for my point). What the author misses is a key differentiation distros that borrow from Debian.

    Some distros, like the example of Red Hat borrowing apt-rpm/apt-cacher, are alien distros borrowing a tool that was developed by Debian. While they probably will contribute to development of the tool, these don't do much for Debian as a whole.

    Other distros are derivative of Debian. They put their own installation and look and feel, do their own marketing and often usability testing. They might not even mention their relation to Debian, but, at their core, they're Debian, and developers developing for these Distros are directly helping Debian development. Some significant distros in this category are: LindowsOS [], Progeny [] and Libranet []. They're not Red Hat, but they're growing, and growing strong [].

    I feel Debian's chances of being marginalized are slim.
  • by RickySilk ( 117953 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @09:10AM (#6330010) Homepage
    Let me preface this stating I know very little about Debian so please be gentle. I am more a web developer than a sys-admin, though I wear both hats. I don't like babysitting the server I have a few sites running on therefore I chose RH for the RH Network and up2date. I prefer RH 7.3 but recently I got a little worried when I read something here about RH cutting 7.3 off. I tried 8 once and it just wasn't stable. I havn't tried 9 yet but I guess I'm not all that optimistic after my 8 experience.

    Anyhow, this got me thinking... would this be a good time to go ahead and switch to a different distro? Of course Debian was first to enter my mind since I read it's praises here all the time. Here's my question, after the initial investment of time into the install how much time should expect to invest in a Debian install? Will apt make it easy for me to keep my server updated with the latest security patches? Are there Debian lists to let me know when there's a security patch I need?

    I hope I've explained myself well enough to get some helpful responses. Also, if there's another distro you would recomend let me know.
  • Why care so much about Joe User?
    Let RedHat, ALT Linux and other commercial firms
    care about them. They would get their revenues
    and give their contribution to OpenSource world,
    including Debian.

    Users switch to Debian not from Windows (or complete
    computer illiteracy), but rather from other Linux

    Personally I switched to Debian from RH (four or five years
    ago) when I found out, that when I need some piece
    of software which is not included in my distro,
    I routinely go to and grab orig.tar.gz from there.

    There should be at least one distro in the world,
    which cares about clever people, not stupid ones.

    Debian perfectly fill that niche. It is created
    by clever people and targetted to clever people.

    With apt-get dist-upgrade who need installer
    at all, once he learned how dump/restore work?
    And for first time in the life you better
    to call some more experiencd friend.
  • by VernonNemitz ( 581327 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @09:45AM (#6330208) Journal
    It's my understanding that Corel Linux was based on Debian. Rumor has it that Microsoft was so afraid that they bought up a bunch of Corel shares and made the company cease and desist. More recent rumor has it that Microsoft has now dumped Corel, not unlike rats leaving a sinking ship. BUT-- Corel still has Name Recognition. Without Microsoft to say them nay, why shouldn't Corel distribute Debian Linux once again?
  • by ntrfug ( 147745 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @10:10AM (#6330384)
    That idea is unfortunately Dead On Arrival.

    The rationale for a reference implentation of Linux was facilitating commercial adoption. The Linux Standard Base, under the influence of commercial interests, elected to specify a package management standard, and the standard adopted was RPM.

    I suspected at the time (and I still do) that the reason for this decision was to ensure that Debian (the only major NON-COMMERCIAL distribution) would never become dominant -- it can never be LSB-compliant since it doesn't use RPM packaging.
  • by chill ( 34294 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @10:40AM (#6330654) Journal
    I found very funny the messages that start like this. It seems no one dares to complain about Debian, because they've somewhat accepted that it's "superior" (note the quotes; I'm not saying it is, just quoting). ...

    Okay, I'll say it. I don't use nor recommend Debian. Nor do I consider it superior. Sorry.

    Why? Debian is a religion, not an Operating System. (Okay, GNU/Debian-Linux...whatever.)

    The original article was talking a great deal about Linux for "Joe User" and on the desktop.
    Joe User is NOT interested in debates over licenses, nor the relative merits of FOSS vs Closed-Source, not 90% of anything else that is discussed on Slashdot.

    Joe User is interested in getting their work/play done. All their friends have MP3, their DVD/CD player plays MP3 disks and the little gizmos sold at WalMart play MP3. They DO NOT CARE about the license or that it isn't "free". They DO NOT CARE about ogg-vorbis. They want to play their music and have no problem PAYING FOR THE LICENSE for the MP3 format. The bought the CD/DVD player, the RIO and (sometimes) the CD.

    Joe User wants to PLAY THEIR DVD without a crapload of hacks to get around licensing CSS. They DO NOT CARE about the politics or the license fee.

    Joe User wants to be able to edit/create Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Project, Publisher and Visio files. NOT understand the merits of "closed" vs "open" formats. They need to pay the bills, and if they work in an office that usually means MS Office file formats.

    Repeat after me: "The computer is a TOOL, not a way of life. The operating system is a TOOL, not a religion."

    Back to the beginning -- why I neither use nor recommend Debian. Because I'm not interested in making excuses for lack of perceived functionality to people who just want to do their work or play a game.

    If it is Linux, for a non-geek, it is Red Hat or SuSE. Most non-geeks DO NOT WANT TO BECOME geeks, which is what they will have to do to appreciate Debian.
  • The problem with up2date is the server. You can only use the specified server, which is available on a subscription basis. You can't use anything else. (I'm sure this is realtively easy to solve, but that's the way it's released.)

    RedCarpet updates leave you with a system which can't be upgraded with a later set of Red Hat CDs. This is no big deal if you keep /home, /usr/local, and any specialized directories on separate partitions. Not unless you do a lot of customizing of the system scripts. You can just do a reinstall instead of an upgrade. But it sure is a nuisance. (Also, when Red Carpet switched to the rcd [Red Carpet Daemon] I was never able to figure out what it was doing. *NOT* ideal. That was a beta, so I assume that they fixed this later. But I switched distributions and lost track.)

  • by ( 557454 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @12:13PM (#6331450) Homepage
    I think you are touching on an important point here that a lot of people miss. We all know that one of the big reasons that personal computers running DOS became so popular was the ability to twiddle with the hardware yourself. Part of the whole experience has always been being able to go down to the local hardware store and buy an upgrade card/chip/disk and fiddle with it till it worked. It is frustrating a lot of times and you might cuss a bit but overall it is fun to do. The part that we forget about is that the other half of the fun was that the OS itself was a tinker tool! I spent a lot of time back in the day doing thinks like customizing my prompt, tweaking my memory management, and writing batch files to simplify tasks. This was all before linux or the Internet existed, and since being a kid I didn't have access to any UNIX machine, this was all I had. As time went on and MS continued to release their products, I found more and more of my control over the system being taken away from me. I could still play with the hardware but MS was doing everything it could to maintain complete control over how things worked on my machine and giving me "permission denied" errors. Permission denied?! It's my computer! At about the time of Windows 98 I had finally got sick of loosing control and started looking for an alternative. That is when I discovered Linux. I found to my amazement that not only was there an OS that gave me COMPLETE control over my machine, but that it was totally free! It was very liberating! My love of tinkering had early on led me to an interest in programming, so I had become quite good at QBASIC since that was the only thing available to me in DOS. Now with Linux I found an amazing collection of development tools, and along with the help of the newly formed internet to get my questions answered I grew up to be a professional developer.

    My point is, "user friendly" isn't always a good thing, and it doesn't appeal to all people. In fact I see many Linux distros making the same mistake as MS in this area. The key is increasing "ease-of-use" while maintaining "user-control". This is why I love Debian. If you are a Linux noob, just the very act of installing it will make you learn more about your computer. Why is this bad? The end user isn't nearly as stupid as most people assume (and yes I have done help desk support). The problem is that people are trained to be stupid. They are milked along and so protected from icky-computer stuff that they don't let themselves believe that they can do anything with their computer unless it is all taken care of for them. Even if they are smart people! Of course there are certain things that need explaining to noobs such as "what is this hda1 stuff?" and how to use the man pages, but if you actually let people figure things out, it is amazing how much they will learn.

    I say Debian shouldn't change a thing. And if they take my advice, they may not ever be at the top of the market share, but the user base will never dry up. As more and more Linux flavors make the same mistakes as Windows has, right down to the poor UI, more and more people will turn to TRUE GNU/Linux.

  • by Newer Guy ( 520108 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @12:53PM (#6331779)
    When you've got the fastest growing desktop OS built on your Linux distribution, you're in no danger of becoming irrelevant. Lindows (if marketed properly, and I believe is has been/will be), has the potential to become the second largest graphical OS, beating the Mac. I believe that Lindows will soon be free, because they're clearly moving towards using Click n Run subscriptions for revenue. That's good for all of us, because Debian is already one of the easiest distrbutions to download and add programs to.
  • by devphil ( 51341 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @12:57PM (#6331811) Homepage

    (Disclaimer: I run Debian stable at work, and Debian unstable at home.)

    This is a self-fullfilling prophecy, and to change this will take quite a major change from the existing Debian (fairly elitist) culture.

    No kidding. Fire up your IRC client, connect to one of the Freenode servers, and join #debian. This is, in theory, a user support channel. In reality, the channel is run along the lines of, "if you have to ask a question, any question at all, you're a luser and deserve every flame we can give you." And they're proud of it; just ask mwilson.

    I used to try and answer questions on there, but the flames drown out the conversations too quickly. Basically, "The biggest thing holding Debian back isn't Debian, it's #debian." (i.e., the attitude, not the channel itself)

  • Re:Yeah watch out (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Delphiki ( 646425 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @12:57PM (#6331815)
    Is Debian really technically superior? After I had been using Linux for a while and had gotten the hang of installing things via RPM, portage, tarballs, etc, and editing config files, et all, I tried Debian. I hated it. If Debian had been the first Linux distribution I had ever used I would have returned to Windows and not looked back. Apt is better than RPM in some ways, but I still found it extremely awkward after having worked with portage.

    But what bugs me most is the attitude Debian users seem to have, which is an air of ridiculous elitism. Of course this isn't true of all Debian users, but at least the most vocal ones I've seen. After having used Debian I can't say that I can see what that elitism is based on.

    Anyway, I'm not trying to troll, just suggesting that maybe if Debian fades away, it's not the fault of people who don't look for the highest quality solution as much as the fault of them getting out of touch and too high in their ivory tower.

  • by CompWerks ( 684874 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @02:15PM (#6332492)
    I'm sorry, but when did the point of Linux become 'to destroy MS'?

    First of all I never once said the word destroy - I simply said "alternative"

    Red Hat seems more interested in making a profit - and as a corporation, that is, in fact, the one thing they exist to do.

    Second of all, what's wrong with making a profit? It's refreshing to see that some major corporate enterprises moving to RH. As I said before it's overall a good thing for the Linux community - the more it get's used, the more it gets better, and the more it offers it's self as a viable alternative to the M$ empire (No matter what Distro you pick)

    Also, let's not forget that the RH iso's are freely available for d/l, which is more then I can say for some of the other distro's. So I scratch my head trying to figure out why you would say that they "only" care about making a profit.

    They are simply trying to make money by offering support services and some more robust solutions geared towards the corporate enterprise marketplace. If you don't need the support then don't pay for it and RH is as free as it can get.

    Not really, no. Red Hat has a horrible history of security holes, including (for example) keeping Wu-FTPd as the default FTP daemon, despite security hole after security hole, for over four years (or at least, four years of everyone criticizing them for being so stupid).

    Do you actually run Debian? It's great stuff but your living with blinders on if you think Debian hasn't had it's fair share of problems. Granted, they are mostly relegated to installed apps, but then so are RH's

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