Why a Debian distro?

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Why a Debian distro?

Postby MintWithaHole on Fri May 18, 2012 11:09 am

Can anyone tell me what the reason is behind a Debian distro?

Since Ubuntu is based on Debian and Debian seems to be significantly out of date, why have two flavours?

Are there any technical reasons to use the Debian distro over the Ubuntu one?
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Re: Why a Debian distro?

Postby SiKing on Fri May 18, 2012 12:23 pm

http://blog.linuxmint.com/?p=1979
Read through the (brief) FAQ.
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Re: Why a Debian distro?

Postby TBABill on Fri May 18, 2012 8:29 pm

All depends on your needs and wants. Great stability = Debian Stable. More cutting edge software, desktop environments, etc = Ubuntu/Mint with somewhat less stability than Debian, mostly depending on hardware.
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Re: Why a Debian distro?

Postby LifeInTheGrey on Fri May 18, 2012 8:56 pm

MintWithaHole wrote:Can anyone tell me what the reason is behind a Debian distro?

Since Ubuntu is based on Debian and Debian seems to be significantly out of date, why have two flavours?

Are there any technical reasons to use the Debian distro over the Ubuntu one?


1) You are about 18 months behind the debate of this idea.

2) Debian Stable is significantly out of date, but as was in the reading materials (which you most certainly read before opining on), LMDE is based on Debian Testing, which has even more recent packages than the latest version of Ubuntu.

3) Debian is far lighter on resources and more efficient than Ubuntu.

4) Ubuntu is straying farther and farther from Debian (and GNOME, and free software in general), so getting back to roots is not necessarily a bad thing.

5) Linux is about choice. Condemning choice while promoting Linux is inherently oxymoronic.

There we are then.
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Re: Why a Debian distro?

Postby cra1g321 on Fri May 18, 2012 9:55 pm

Debian aims towards security and stability rather than most other distros which aim for providing the latest and greatest.

This may mean that packages and software is older, but it means that those packages run with far less issues.

Also debian is very popular as a server OS, so this also plays a part in it.

Note this just my opinion on how I see Debian in my own experience.

Personally it's the best distro i've ever used, I would rather have secure and stable packages over say new features.

Although the downside is that debian may not support newer hardware due to using older packages.
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Re: Why a Debian distro?

Postby craigevil on Sat May 19, 2012 1:42 am

cra1g321 wrote:Debian aims towards security and stability rather than most other distros which aim for providing the latest and greatest.

This may mean that packages and software is older, but it means that those packages run with far less issues.

Also debian is very popular as a server OS, so this also plays a part in it.

Note this just my opinion on how I see Debian in my own experience.

Personally it's the best distro i've ever used, I would rather have secure and stable packages over say new features.

Although the downside is that debian may not support newer hardware due to using older packages.


Most of that only applies if you are using Debian Stable. And even Stable has backports for newer packages including newer kernels.

While Testing and sid have newer package version than Ubuntu. The only distros that have newer packages are true bleeding edge distros like Arch, Gentoo, and Slack somewhat.

That said even Debian unstable is more 'stable' than 99% of other distros, and way more 'stable' than any of the Ubuntu distros have ever been.

I use Debian because it is a community distro and because I tend to agree with Debian's DFSG.
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Re: Why a Debian distro?

Postby buzzingrobot on Sat May 19, 2012 12:15 pm

MintWithaHole wrote:Can anyone tell me what the reason is behind a Debian distro?

Since Ubuntu is based on Debian and Debian seems to be significantly out of date, why have two flavours?

Are there any technical reasons to use the Debian distro over the Ubuntu one?


Debian has been around for a very long time, in Linux years. Ubuntu, Mint and all the other distributions that are dependent on it are relative newcomers.

Debian's sites are extensive, as is its documentation. They claim to have about 1,000 volunteers maintaining Debian. Its software respositories are, very likely, the most extensive.

Somewhere in all that documentation someone says something like this: The purpose of Debian is to make Debian Stable. The goal is to have a Stable release that is essentially free of significant bugs, with a software repository comprised of software that does not introduce conflicts when installed on a Stable system. That's a real accomplishment, and something that cannot be said of most other distributions, where it is common for packages in the distro's repository to conflict with other packages in the same repository. This does not happen with Stable.

As Debian developers prepare new packages, they are first included in Debian's Unstable repository, aka Sid. The label of Unstable comes more from the fast changing nature of the contents of the repository, not necessarily the instability of any given piece of code.

Once code in Sid has met certain criteria, it moves to the Testing repository. Neither Sid nor Testing are intended to be stable releases that people can count on day in and day out. They are intended as stopping places along the way to Stable where software is tested and debugged.

Debian works on a two-year cycle. About 18 months into a cycle, a freeze will be declared for Testing. Developers will spend 6 months fixing bugs in the code that's in Testing at the time of the Freeze. When Debian is satisfied that Testing is ready, all those packages become the new Stable release.

So, things move slowly in Debian, primarily, I suspect, due to its voluntary basis. At a minimum code in a new Stable release is going to be 6 months old.

That kind of stability is probably excessive for the ordinary desktop user. But, it is not excessive for server environments where downtime is expensive and machines are expected to run 24/7/365. That's Debian's real target. Sid and Testing change a lot because that's the nature of the Debian process.

Debian derivatives, like Ubuntu, typically take code from Testing or Sid and massage it. The advantage for the Debian derivatives is that Debian has already done the lion's share of debugging. Also, a company like Canonical, presumably, has employees who are much more intimately familiar with the state of play in Testing/Sid than we might be.

If you want access to the latest code, then try Sid. Be aware, though, that Sid exists as a testing and debugging platform. It's there so Debian developers and users can find bugs.Code is vetted after it's in Sid, not before. My own limited experience with Sid has been that sometimes it is pretty stable, and at others you can't even get it to install correctly.

Personnally, I think that most Linux software is sufficiently mature that the typical generalist user does not have a compelling reason to fixate on using the very latest code.
Last edited by buzzingrobot on Sat May 19, 2012 6:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Why a Debian distro?

Postby craigevil on Sat May 19, 2012 5:02 pm

Debian -- Reasons to Choose Debian - http://www.debian.org/intro/why_debian
Why Linux? Why Debian? - http://people.debian.org/~srivasta/talk ... /talk.html
Debian Social Contract - http://www.debian.org/social_contract
Debian -- Support - http://www.debian.org/support
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Re: Why a Debian distro?

Postby MintWithaHole on Mon May 21, 2012 5:31 am

LifeInTheGrey wrote:1) You are about 18 months behind the debate of this idea.


New to MINT. Couldn't see an answer on the forums.

LifeInTheGrey wrote:2) Debian Stable is significantly out of date, but as was in the reading materials (which you most certainly read before opining on), LMDE is based on Debian Testing, which has even more recent packages than the latest version of Ubuntu.


Personal experience. Found lots of libraries out of date when installing certain packages on Debian. Missed the fact that LMDE is based on Debian Testing though.

LifeInTheGrey wrote:4) Ubuntu is straying farther and farther from Debian (and GNOME, and free software in general), so getting back to roots is not necessarily a bad thing.

5) Linux is about choice. Condemning choice while promoting Linux is inherently oxymoronic.


I can't agrue with that and its my primary reason for looking at Mint. Really don't like where Ubuntu is going.

Thanks for your patient replies.
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Re: Why a Debian distro?

Postby MintWithaHole on Mon May 21, 2012 5:51 am

buzzingrobot,

Thanks for your detailed reply which I found very helpfull in understanding the background to these distros.

buzzingrobot wrote:Debian works on a two-year cycle. About 18 months into a cycle, a freeze will be declared for Testing. Developers will spend 6 months fixing bugs in the code that's in Testing at the time of the Freeze. When Debian is satisfied that Testing is ready, all those packages become the new Stable release.


That explains why some libraries are a version or two behind when the distro is released.

buzzingrobot wrote:That kind of stability is probably excessive for the ordinary desktop user. But, it is not excessive for server environments where downtime is expensive and machines are expected to run 24/7/365. That's Debian's real target. Sid and Testing change a lot because that's the nature of the Debian process.


Again, that makes a lot of sense and in a server environment and I agree that stability is important here. Also one would not be running the latest desktop software that often requires the most up-to-date libraries here.

buzzingrobot wrote:Personnally, I think that most Linux software is sufficiently mature that the typical generalist user does not have a compelling reason to fixate on using the very latest code.


From an enthusiast and desktop user point of view I would agree so I will be sticking to the Ubuntu based main distro for now. However eventually I will also need to get some tools running on a server which currently will not install on Debian because of outdated libraries so it seems that I may end up using the mainstream Ubuntu version for the server as well.
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Re: Why a Debian distro?

Postby buzzingrobot on Mon May 21, 2012 6:42 am

MintWithaHole wrote:
buzzingrobot wrote:Personnally, I think that most Linux software is sufficiently mature that the typical generalist user does not have a compelling reason to fixate on using the very latest code.


From an enthusiast and desktop user point of view I would agree so I will be sticking to the Ubuntu based main distro for now. However eventually I will also need to get some tools running on a server which currently will not install on Debian because of outdated libraries so it seems that I may end up using the mainstream Ubuntu version for the server as well.


Debian looks to be preparing to freeze Testing next month, so a new Stable will likely be out in early 2013. Besides Ubuntu for that server, you might check out CentOS. CentOS is a non-commercial release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. CentOS recompiles the Red Hat source, removing the banding and trademarks at Red Hat's request. As a desktop, it runs Gnome 2. It's widely used on servers. CentOS gets the upstream patches and security fixes released by Red Hat and turns them around reasonably quickly. The kernel is, I believe, from the 2.6 series but includes much patched into it from later kernels by Red Hat.
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Re: Why a Debian distro?

Postby widget on Wed May 23, 2012 6:28 pm

There is, since Squeeze (current stable) actually 4 different repos for Debian. Stable, testing, unstable and experimental.

Experimental does on have a release version like the other three. You can pull packages from in to Sid (or testing if you are silly). This is were the major screw ups in code is now handled. This has made Sid more reliable and, because of that, testing more stable.

I can't say that I really, for me, like the LMDE package management system. I can admire it a bunch though. I think it is a better way for a noob to have the Debian testing platform presented than the system Ubuntu uses. Much safer and more stable. A really nice system that works.

Gives the nearly cutting edge packages without the vast majority of cutting edge problems.

Has become my recommendation for new linux users.

It is compatible with the Debian testing repos which gives users that feel they can handle it an easy way to shift over to Debian if they want to. Really an elegant way to do things.
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Re: Why a Debian distro?

Postby KBD47 on Wed May 23, 2012 7:52 pm

buzzingrobot wrote:
Debian looks to be preparing to freeze Testing next month, so a new Stable will likely be out in early 2013. Besides Ubuntu for that server, you might check out CentOS. CentOS is a non-commercial release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. CentOS recompiles the Red Hat source, removing the banding and trademarks at Red Hat's request. As a desktop, it runs Gnome 2. It's widely used on servers. CentOS gets the upstream patches and security fixes released by Red Hat and turns them around reasonably quickly. The kernel is, I believe, from the 2.6 series but includes much patched into it from later kernels by Red Hat.


Iagree that CentOS would be good for a server. I devoted a section of my hard drive to Centos, I would never recommend it to a newbie desktop user, or anyone else who plans to use it as an every day operating system. It can be done, but getting flash, msfonts, codecs, readable fonts, extra repositories--wow, be prepared with lots of patience for that exercise :-) The payoff is a rock solid OS, but it will cost some time.
There are some Debian Stable friendlies out there, my favorite is SolusOS, followed by SimplyMepis, and SalineOS is recommended by some.
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Re: Why a Debian distro?

Postby Bergschreck on Tue Jun 19, 2012 8:37 am

In contrary to some posts here, I favour Ubuntu. I will explain why:

Debian stable is often too outdated because of it's 2-year-cycle. Debian Sid is for testing and too unstable for the normal desktop user (that's the cause why LMDE has it's own repository und updates it via update packs).

Debian Testing is somewhat more stable than Sid, but also not as stable as I wish it to be. See for example the printing issues here: viewtopic.php?f=198&t=99361
And even if errors get fixed in Debian testing, LMDE is some months behind (badly LMDE has not the promised 1-month cycle for update packs).

Ubuntu has a 6-month cycle. They grab the packages from Debian Sid and make them stable. This way they give a lot of bug fixes back to Sid (see the printer bugs, they were solved by Canonical developers), but until these reach Testing, the new Ubuntu release is already out. So, with Ubuntu I always have the newest code with the most stability.
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Re: Why a Debian distro?

Postby monkeyboy on Tue Jun 19, 2012 9:20 am

The drive to have the latest packages is great if you need to correct a problem or sometimes to extend the functionality of a particular piece of software. However some users seem to just want updates because the updates are newer. At times some such users find themselves with broke or less capable installs because they grabbed the update all button without upstanding the implication of the act or even if they even need to update at all. However blind updates are just one of the joys of Linux, where we all get to chose and the support is sort of free. :D
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Re: Why a Debian distro?

Postby KBD47 on Tue Jun 19, 2012 12:29 pm

I have a growing conviction that a 6 month cycle is a terrible way to go. As many new problems arise as are fixed by the latest and greatest. Just look at the terrible freezing problem introduced by Ubuntu 12.04, there still is no fix I'm aware of and it has affected many users. The only advantage I see to such rapid releases is if the user has fairly new hardware that won't function on more stable releases because drivers are missing. I think a two year release cycle with point releases to bring in more drivers and security and patches and newer kernels is a good idea. Debian Stable requires more of users, but as mentioned, there are a few distros that help mitigate this. LMDE is great out of the box--but then what do you do with it? Wait forever for updates in Latest, or roll the dice following Testing repos? My conclusion is to take it out of the box but then set for Stable repos when practical. I don't blame Ubuntu for wanting to tame Debian, nor Mint for that matter, but the only truly practical approach I see is to keep the Stable base and repos, and port in newer apps to make it user friendly, and newer kernels to fit more hardware, this is what SolusOS is doing, and Mepis to some extent. I wish Mint was doing this rather than trying to follow Testing which is often broken and sometimes does not even get fixes.
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Re: Why a Debian distro?

Postby Red.Baron on Tue Jun 19, 2012 5:21 pm

From all the arguments I would think the question should be asked "Why an Ubuntu distro?" If Ubuntu is straying away from Debian and Mint is already breaking up the flow with update packs. Mint already has its own UI and seems not to be going in quite the same direction as Ubuntu, Why the middle man?
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Re: Why a Debian distro?

Postby squeezy on Tue Jun 19, 2012 5:29 pm

Red.Baron wrote:Why the middle man?


This is the question I have asked repeatedly. It may be due to the development resources required, but I think Mint should step up and become a first tier distro, i.e., based directly off Debian.
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Re: Why a Debian distro?

Postby KBD47 on Tue Jun 19, 2012 5:43 pm

squeezy wrote:
Red.Baron wrote:Why the middle man?


This is the question I have asked repeatedly. It may be due to the development resources required, but I think Mint should step up and become a first tier distro, i.e., based directly off Debian.


+1 squeezy. I actually believe Mint would use far fewer resources and have a much better Debian release if it had:
Mint Debian Stable with newer kernel and some key software updated.
Mint Debian Sid for those wanting a cutting edge true rolling version.
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Re: Why a Debian distro?

Postby squeezy on Tue Jun 19, 2012 6:23 pm

KBD47 wrote:Mint Debian Stable with newer kernel and some key software updated.
Mint Debian Sid for those wanting a cutting edge true rolling version.


Exactly! You'd have a new LMDE Stable every two years or so following Debian's release schedule, and a true LMDE rolling distro where the adrenaline junkies (you know who you are :wink: ) could get their kicks.

Best of both worlds.
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