Sunday, November 6, 2011

Debian 6 - Squeeze

         Ubuntu is one of, if not the, most popular Linux distribution; but it didn't just rise from the abyss. Ubuntu is actually a fork of another distribution called Debian, which takes to calling itself the "Universal Operating System". The reason for the fork was to create a familiar environment that is just updated more frequently than Debian was, and it seems to have stuck. Ubuntu is not the only fork of Debian, other distributions such as Linux Mint and Gnewsense are based off of Debian.

      I was fearful of trying Debian at first, since I hadn't yet stepped out of the "user friendly distributions". When I first installed it a few months ago my fears were confirmed, and nothing seemed to be going my way. First of all, network drivers for my wireless card (Ralink) were not installed during the installation like other distributions have done. At first I blamed Debian for being a poor distribution, but it turns out it was done for a reason: my drivers were proprietary, but I did not yet know that. Next I ran into issues with composting, since Gnome 2 doesn't have a composting manager by default.

    With all the trouble I was having with Debian I retreated back to Ubuntu, discouraged by everything that went wrong. 3 months past, and I was more eager than before to move away from Ubuntu. I searched around for what the root of my network problem could be until I found that it was caused by a proprietary driver not installed by default. I tracked down the exact driver I needed here, downloaded it from a computer with internet, and installed it on Debian with the command "sudo dpkg -i (filepath to the .deb). Now that I had internet, I was a happy camper since I would be able to search around on how to fix problems on the OS that was causing them.

   After some work on it, I had it finetuned exactly to my liking, and all was good... until I managed to break it to the point that reinstalling would be the easiest thing to do. After a reinstallation I lost interest in Debian since I would have to reinstall all of the software I had lost and reset all of the keyboard shortcuts, settings, etc. 

   Overall I found Debian 6 to be an amazing Operating System once you get everything on it working. One of the greatest tricks is editing '/etc/apt/sources.list' to add, change, or remove repositories. The repositories for Debian 6 were somewhat outdated, even to the point where it still used Gnome 2, so adding a few new ones for more recent software is a good idea.

  My recommendation to anyone considering trying Debian would be to not go with the stable release, but unstable or even the experimental one.