Distributions - Debian 2.2Debian isn't colorful, Debian isn't enormously up-to-date, Debian isn't "trendy" or "hype" or whatever, Debian can't be found at the stock exchange but on your Computer.
Debian GNU/Linux 2.2
After 18 months of development version 2.2 of a GPL-only based distribution called 'potato' is released. Different to other distributions Debian is not being developeed by a company but by a worldwide developer municipality to defend the hard achieved reputation according to the motto "higher, faster, further". More involved developers, more integrated software-packages and even more sophisticated mechanisms which - included into the system - masterly manage configuation and control work. On the other hand Debian GNU/Linux got the reputation of having high demands upon the user regarding the installation and configuration and being rather user-unfriendly.
ASCII wherever you look: Even anno 2000 the way ofevery Debian user leads towards a fully text-based installation process which doesn't differentiate from its predecessor slink.
While running through the different parts of the installation process lots of improvements hidden in details step out to simplify the the installation process.
The debian-installation differentiates clearly to other installation routines in the fact that the installation is principally done in two steps: In the first step (after booting using the CD-Rom or Bootdisk) a Basic-System is installed and basic configuartion (such as harddisk partitioning, timezone and keyboard), loading driver modules into the kernel, configuring the LAN (if a NIC is installed) and the configuration of LILO is being done.
This basic system boots to perform the second step of the installation: filling up the harddisk(s) with software. Those using Debian for the first time may be irritated by the fact that the steps of the installation process can be varied as you like: After choosing the "Next:"-button the next suggested step is shown, but furthermore the user can choose the next step out of a listing of all available steps.
After booting the installation, setting the root-password and the (optional) creation of user-accounts the more or less a long period of waiting till the installer finishes its work. For the first time you can see a serious difference to the previouse release:
This time the whole package configuration is based on the apt-tool and works better with distributions covering moer than one CD (Lehmanns potato-Pack for example comes with 4 CDs...) or different media (NFS, CD-ROM, FTP, ...). Furthermore tasks are introduced for packages to ease up the installation of packages that belong together (GNOME, KDE, ...). The pre-configuration of packages during the installation is done in two steps to lower the number of moments where packages can't be configured caused by depending packages wich are not installed then. Only the X-setup-tool anXious can not convince me: The installation breaks during recognising the (TNT2-)graphics adapter I use and X has to be configured manually. But apart from this error a runnable Debian GNU/Linux-system is available after a time consuming copying process wich hopely works exactly like his predecessor regarding stability and reliability.
Many installed packages are to be configured during the installation process. For further configuration the user can use a number of Debian-own tools (gpmconfig, pppconfig, kbdconfig, anXious, liloconfig, ...), edit the configuration files manually or use configuration tools (as e.g. XF86Setup) provided by the software. With the latter the user should know that the Debian-own mechanisms don't 'repair' those changes (e.g. while modifying /etc/modules.conf).
About 4000 packages await their installation once the system runs. More than ever in a Debian distribution. A patched Kernel 2.2.16, glibc 2.1.3, gcc 2.95.2, Perl 5.005.03, XFree86 3.3.6, Gnome 1.0.56 and PAM 0.72 - only some basic data about a perfectly coordinated, well configurated and long-time tested Linux system, wich provides software for every occaion from server service to workstation application on 4 binary-CD-Roms, completely subjeted to the GPL, and is able - thank to the sophisticated packet management - to configure and maintain this large variety of software. Remarkable is also the easyness of updating e.g. kernel packages or the whole distribution using the "apt" packettools. Using a 486er-dial-in and wwwoffle-server the update from Debian 2.1 to 2.2 via network worked without reboot or loosing connection or downtime (non-availability) even if the server worked rather slow with other tasks during the installation. In technical situations like this Debain shows its class...
Debian isn't colorful, Debian isn't enormously up-to-date, Debians isn't "trendy" or "hype" or whatever, Debian can't be found at the stock exchange but on your Computer. No doubt there are distributions providing highly up-to-date software, which are supported by large computer companies or whose creators sabotage the GPL/Free-Sotware-idea through providing non-GPL-software with their distribution. But even being noted at the stock exchange and the obviouse acceptance in the "great" market can not change the fact that Debian is unbeaten regarding technical questioans as before. Bugs concerning the safety are published on the Debian site rather fast and fixes and updates are provided as fast as possible. The always friendly mailinglist - read by thousands of users and developers provides qualified help to all problems regarding (Debian) GNU/Linux and actually a (german-language) Book for Debian is available in which the author Frank Ronneburg shows the way from beginner to Debian insider in a qualified and descriptive way. It's hard to find better...
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