Sunday, June 26, 2005

Debian - It Doesn't Suck Anymore

I know the title will have Debian fans frothing at the mouth but I truly mean it in a complimentary way. I've installed Debian in the past but getting all my hardware to work easily and getting a desktop environment setup, again, easily, was a pain in the ass. I've watched a Debian GNU/Linux expert install Debian only to have the mouse not detected. The mouse was a PS/2 mouse! Hardware detection seemed to be non-existent. Debian seemed to know nothing about your system and had to ask you everything.

But that was the past.

The new stable release of Debian (Sarge) has a much better installer. It's still text-based but it detected my wireless USB keyboard and mouse and setting up a KDE desktop was as easy as choosing a Desktop option and it was all installed for me. I had to choose the right video card driver, though. And the install did take about 1.5 hours (about double as long as the typical Linux distribution). It even offered to replace my boot loader with one that amazingly detected SUSE Linux and Windows XP Pro and offered entries for them. I didn't trust it though and tried to set it up in the MBR of its own drive (which failed). It's not perfect, but it's definitely a step in the right direction and the desktop install gave me a lot more applications than the average distro. And of course, being so new, it has the latest of everything.

I chose the Net Install ISO (about 110 MB) which I downloaded as a torrent using Azureus. Then the installer automatically gave me the option of adding desktop, web server, file server, development packages, etc. I just chose the desktop option and I appear to have both GNOME and KDE. In any case, if you had trouble with Debian in the past, it's worth another look. Download the ISO and try it out sometime.


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