Thursday, 17 December 2009

A return to Debian

As some of you may well know, some time ago before I started this blog, I once tried Debian. At the time, it was Debian 4.

Now, with Ubuntu seeming too simple, and my laptop temporarily unusable, I've gone looking for a new Linux distro to use on the desktop PCs, and thus I turned once again, back to Debian.
This time, it's Debian 5, Lenny.

Not much, visually, has changed since Debian 4. Since I prefer graphic installers over text ones if available, that's what I used to install it with.

The destination is a not too old custom desktop, the specs of which I won't bore you with here.
For some time now, it's second hard drive, though small, has always had a Linux distro on it, primarily for emergency rescue for the Windows XP install still on there, despite it's little use lately, but also because whenever one of the family want to try out a distro, that's where it all starts.

Since no one's after that though, the previous Arch install there is being replaced with Lenny.
The graphic installer, while somewhat bland, nevertheless is clean, clear, and concise, leaving very little doubt about what is happening, and what choices you're being asked to make. I like this; it makes sense, and at only one point did I have any trouble, and that was the partitioning. Until I remembered to do it manually.

Once done, I had a working Debian Lenny install within 15 minutes, which for this old computer is a fair feat.
One old niggle I have with Debian is Firefox. For some reason unknown to me (Because I'm too lazy to find out) they don't like Firefox, and so instead rebrand an older version as Iceweasel.
Now, call mea fanboy, but I prefer to have Firefox say it's Firefox, so I went and downloaded it direct from them, to extract into /opt so I could enjoy my favourite browser just as it is. However, something appears to have gone wrong. I haven't figured out what yet. But, Iceweasel is an adequte replacement until then.
Setting up the NVidia proprietary driver was a bit of a pest at first, until I got Iceweasel to search Debian's help, and then a clean simple explanation solved it. With Compiz installed after, I have the full range of effects I'm used to.

The next little problem is Sudo. By default, Sudo isn't set to work for me.
A little change using Visudo, and that's solved. Almost too easy.
It's nice to know that they warn you about the dangers involved when you first use Sudo though.

A few key - at least to me - apps were missing, however, from the default Debian install. K3B is understandable, but is a standard for me as it's best burning program there is for Linux.
The Compiz Fusion Icon is the next essential, since it allows on the spot management and changing of the window manager. I use this a lot, especially when darting in and out of Openbox when I need a little extra resources that metacity and Compiz hog.
Finally, Wine. I don't really run that much Windows software, but I keep it around because there are times I do need to.

But based on the initial impressions it's made on me so far, I like it a lot better this time. I've actually managed to stick with it long enough to start fiddling around like I always do at post-install and after.
Gnome-look, as always, is the first port of call to get the look and feel I want. Dark themes are the current fad here, so long as the main controls are clear still.

On other distros though...
I thought I'd look into Slackware 13, and (after arguing with a Linux Mint install that was segfaulting) finally got it burnt to a disc. However, trying to install from it gives an inexplicable Kernel Panic. For some reason, I can't help but laugh when I see that, despite that it means something's gone wrong.
Arch was given a try, through the unofficial LiveCD Arch, and it's installer, larchin. However, since it couldn't recognise the wired network interfaces, and I don't have wireless on this computer, it was short lived.
Gentoo once again got a look in from me. I keep coming back and trying to learn more with a kind of morbid curiosity. I always come to it, thinking I'll try it this time, and then go looking to find out more, but always find something that puts it off again.
BSD, for the first time here, also got a look in. I've not tried it yet, but it's possible next time I get bored, I'll have a look.

And finally, in other news, I've decided I prefer deb-based systems, but want RPM's yum package manager. Where this will lead, no one knows.

Have a happy christmas everyone.
Rock on.

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