Making the switch to Debian
I've been thinking about checking out Debian due to what i'm reading that there upgrade system is much better than rpm's, Deb was my original choice but I installed redhat because I figured the more commercial would be the better choice for upgrades support and software availibilty but after reading some stuff and going to the Debian page and seeing all the availible software and the fact that it's set up FOR Debain impresses me, and I want to try it out, how does the upgrade process differ? is there auto updating, Is it just running an executable and it put it were it belongs/or removes? or is it alot of source compiling? also I know that Knoppix is Debian based, could using that give me a good idea or should I just install the real thing?
To update your system you type:
It will update from the sites listed in your /etc/apt/sources.list.
how does the upgrade process differ?
With Debian, you download the list of all current available packages (and some info about them) with
Then (if you don't know the name of the package you want to install) you figure out what package you want by running something like
apt-cache search topic
With these apt commands, you almost always refer to packages by their simple name (no version numbers).
Then you install the package with
apt-get install package_name
This command causes your system to go on the net and find the specified package, download it's .deb file to your /var/cache/apt directory, and then install it. When it's done, you don't need the .deb file(s) anymore. There's options to apt-get to remove them if you like.
Under the covers, the apt commands use the dpkg command. You use dpkg to do things like:
List files in a given package
dpkg -L package_name
Finally, there are scripts in the .deb files that get run before/after the install. You can run these scripts yourself to reconfigure a package after it's been installed:
This reconfiguring uses an underlying system called "debconf" -- this way, whichever package you reconfigure, it always has a fairly similar interface (usually a console-based menu-driven interface).
Re: Making the switch to Debian
Debian packaging is great. Debian installation is very flexible, but many argue that it is in serious need of work and improvement. Meanwhile, commercial distributions and public distributions help reduce the difficulty in the flexible, but sometimes difficult to understand installation method. Great commercial examples of this include Libranet (my personal favorite, LindowsOS (a consumer favorite - most useful for the home consumer with broadband access), Xandros, a stable desktop system well suited for people who also use Windows software.
There's a growing category of Live CD implementations of Debian GNU/Linux software that have emerged in the past year or so. The one from which many others have evolved is Knoppix. This is one excellent Live CD version, but you can also install it to your hard drive. An arguably even better implementation, but not yet as well known, is the Mepis Linux Lve CD, which you can install to disk with just a few additional clicks. I recommend this one if you want to try the Live CD first. The last one I know of also shows great promise, though recently I've had problems with it, and that's Morphix. Also built from work started in Knoppix, Morphix offers several different packages, depending on what kind of interface you use. I had great success with the 0.3.4 release, but ran into problems with the 0.4 release. Still well worth investigating.
To cut this all down to size, my own personal preferences among these Debian GNU/Linux distros are Libranet for a very full, complete, and current system, and Mepis for a a quick LiveCD implementation that you can also easily put on disk.
Do I recommend using Debian packaging? Absolutely! Once you install one of these distros, if you connect to a Debian mirror (instead of just a vendor site) and you have a good network connection, you won't need any other system or other software, you'll be able to run Debian software indefinitely with great success.
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