[lug] RFI Debian vs. Slackware

J. Wayde Allen wallen at its.bldrdoc.gov
Thu Oct 5 05:45:19 MDT 2000

On Thu, 5 Oct 2000, Michael J. Pedersen wrote:

> Actually, Wayde, you're leaving out 'apt', which is one of the nicest package
> management tools out there (with dselect being the most atrocious thing I have
> ever seen). 

OK, I've always used dselect.  Looks like I'll need to fire up apt to see
what that looks like.

> dselect is an incredibly powerful package management tool.

Very true.

>  Unfortunately, it takes the complexity of any variety of unix,
> squares it, and then throws in the line noise user interface of
> sendmail.

Oh come now <grin>, it isn't any worse than emacs is it <BIG GRIN>?

> For instance, to mark a package as being 'held' (a state where the
> package will be ignored for upgrade purposes), you use the '_' key.
> dselect is a user interface nightmare.

I don't think it is that bad.  I don't like the fact that it starts up
with a split screen, but that is easily turned off by pressing
"shift-I".  You can get more or less info about the highlighted package by
hitting the shift-I key combination again and again.  Let's see, to
install you use the arrow key to highlight a package and hit + to
uninstall you simply hit - .  The underscore _ says to uninstall and
expunge the package.  To put a package on hold you press = .  If you want
to search for a package hit / and then type in the word to search
for.  There is definitely a learning curve, but I wouldn't call it a

> However, apt is a user interface thing of beauty. Configure it once (specify
> where you wish to get packages from), and then you can, with almost every
> program out there, issue something like this: 'apt-get install program' and
> actually expect to see the program installed and configured correctly for your
> setup by the time it's done.

OK this confuses me.  Typing "apt-get install program" looks to me a lot
like typing "rpm -i program" which is I believe the rpm way.  I actually
setup dselect to use the apt-get method, and kind of like the psuedo
graphical interface.

> Anyway, my two cents on the whole comparison?
> 1) Debian has the WORST installer out of the lot. With 2.2, it's finally where
> Slackware was several years ago.

Huh?  I actually LIKE the Debian install.  It makes more sense to me than
many of the newer graphical installations, and my success rate with it on
older and oddball hardware seems to be higher.  I think that is because
there are many places you can intervene.  The highly scripted graphical
interfaces don't seem to be as forgiving.  This is all highly subjective
stuff though, and probably depends more on familiarity than anything.

I like chocolate ice cream too, perhaps you'd rather have vanilla <grin>?

> 2) Debian has the best package management I've ever seen. I can easily get rid
> of, install, and configure any package in the system. Those that have system
> wide configuration will put their configs in /etc by default, making it very
> easy to find a given config file.

Yes indeed!

> 3) Debian's stable is just that. My main server has been up and running for 46
> days now. It would be closer to 106 if not for two planned outages (kernel
> upgrades, and hardware upgrades) spaced almost a month apart. System issues, I
> find, are caused by me tinkering with settings more than anything else.

This is partly due to Debian being slower to adopt changes though.  Debian
distros tend to be less aggressively cutting edge than either SuSE or Red
Hat.  Slackware is whatever you want it to be.

> 4) Comparisons to RedHat? I prefer Debian over RedHat any day of the week for
> technical reasons (see #3 above), and for philosophical reasons. I like their
> desire to make a totally free OS, quite a lot. And I really enjoy using it
> because it is so internally consistent. Redhat's x.0 releases are generally
> regarded as being the way to destroy a system. x.1 is considered good for
> non-production servers, and x.2 is considered the one to work with. Any of
> Debian's stable releases are considered good for production.

I have similar feelings.

> 5) Comparisons to others? I've been on Debian for well over a year now.
> Everything I've got at this point is nothing more than hearsay about the
> others. And I have no intention of correcting that. Considering I used to
> change distros like some people changed underwear, that says a lot for Debian.

I kind of like to know a little bit about the more popular distros since I
get lots of questions.  Otherwise, Debian is what I use at work.  My home
machine runs KRUD (this week anyway).

> Final note: I'm not flaming any of the current work done by others on their
> distributions. In fact, anybody that can put together a working distro gets my
> respect. I just happen to prefer the Debian distro above all others.

Agreed!  These are all just opinions.  Take them for what they are worth
to you.

- Wayde
  (wallen at its.bldrdoc.gov)

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