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Old 01-27-2009, 05:19 PM   #1
Chriswaterguy
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Is Debian right for me? For speed, stability and using Skype.


I'm looking for stability, light weight and speed, wide access to packages, not super-geeky. I also need Skype audio to work - if webcam works, that would be even better.

Whichever distro I go with, I plan to stick with Openbox and LXDE for the window manager and desktop environment. (I've gone geekier than I planned to by using just OpenBox, which is great but a stretch for my level. Sometimes I use LXDE, which I like - it's easier but not quite as light.)

I've had lots of problems on my system (ThinkPad R60), with wifi and general stability; Xubuntu 7.04 and Ubuntu 7.10 were extremely buggy for me. Mandriva has been the best for me so far, and wifi works on Mandriva 2009.0, but there are still things that don't work: audio on Skype, and when I use LXDE or OpenBox I have problems with flash and audio; when I use GNOME I have occasional crashes of the OS and frequent crashes of Firefox/Swiftfox.

I could spend more time hacking at it (days and weeks of frustration, I estimate) or I could go back and try a more recent release of Ubuntu as some have suggested... but I'd rather go with something that is fundamentally more stable.

I'm leaning towards Debian (the standard release, not the development release). A geek friend says he prefers something like Ubuntu as it has more cutting edge stuff. My reaction is that:
  1. I want something stable and with minimal bugs as the first priorities, and
  2. Isn't it just the OS that's “conservative”? I would expect that most new packages are available as .debs before they're available for most other distros. In that case, I don't see what I'm missing out on if I go with Debian – since I'm usually using Openbox at present, I'm obviously not looking for a flashy OS.

Another possibility, for stability and speed, seems to be Arch Linux, but too big a step for me right now. Forcing you to compile every package seems like it would make for less hardware conflicts (I'm guessing). That's something to think about later though, after I've spent some time with Linux geeks learning things like how to make shell scripts and compile programs. (I've looked up some how-tos on shell scripts and it was not clear – and I don't have spare time to spend days and weeks learning on my own.) I'm in Guatemala at the moment, so hanging out with geeks at a LUG is probably some months away.

So – how does that reasoning sound? Is Debian the right choice for me?

Last edited by Chriswaterguy; 01-27-2009 at 05:31 PM. Reason: mention hardware
 
Old 01-27-2009, 05:55 PM   #2
Catacombs
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If you want something conservative and stable, but not too geeky, then Debian is probably a good choice. It has automated package management with dependency resolution, but is rock solid and stable.

However, my main problem with Debian has been its fanaticism about non-free software. If you want to be able to use Flash Player, play mp3s, and other things which people expect to be able to do with an operating system "out of the box", you're out of luck. Debian seems to make you bend over backwards to do such things. It is possible to enable extra repositories, but I never managed to work out its complex package management system.

If you're tempted by Arch Linux for those reasons, then you really need to try Slackware. I've had a few months out in the wilderness, OS hopping, and now I'm coming back to it with the new 12.2 release. Compiling from source code isn't that hard, just follow the following steps:

Download source in tar.gz format.
cd to the directory you saved it to.
tar -xvzf [name of .tar.gz file] (or tar -xvjf for .tar.bz files)
cd to the new directory created.
./configure
make
su root (or use sudo if you're more comfortable with that method)
make install

This process must be followed for all the dependencies, starting with the lowest level of dependency (ie. the dependency of the dependency of the dependency).

If that's too much trouble, simply use the installpkg and upgradepkg commands and use pre-packaged Slackware binaries, and do the same for its dependencies.

If you decide to go ahead, I'm more than happy to help. I'm new to this forum. I know how hard it is migrating to Linux or using more "difficult" distros so I want to try and help people make the leap. There's so many forum users, who post saying "rtfm" or ask you to supply your entire hardware specifications and version numbers for every library you have, as well as a print of every text file in your /etc directory before they will answer your question. And then they still don't. We'll never fight the Windows monopoly unless people are willing to help each other more instead of trying to belittle "newbies" to boost their own egos.
 
Old 01-27-2009, 06:23 PM   #3
craigevil
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InstallingDebianOn/Thinkpad/T60/etch - Debian Wiki
http://wiki.debian.org/InstallingDeb...nkpad/T60/etch

Debian works just fine on the Thinkpads.


Installing flash,java, multimedia codecs is easy.
 
Old 01-27-2009, 06:26 PM   #4
amani
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Location: Kolkata, India
Distribution: 64-bit GNU/Linux, Kubuntu64, Fedora QA, Slackware,
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I think Vector Linux would be ideal for you
 
Old 01-27-2009, 06:41 PM   #5
Catacombs
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Quote:
Originally Posted by craigevil View Post
Installing flash,java, multimedia codecs is easy.
With Slackware, I just downloaded the Flash shell script from the official site and executed it. This never worked with Debian for me. Perhaps it's because Debian does not use Firefox, but Iceweasel, and the official script does not recognise it. I tried some open-source Flash equivalent from a Debian repository and that didn't work. I tried adding a repository for non-free software and that didn't work. Perhaps I gave up too easily.

Quote:
I think Vector Linux would be ideal for you
Of the Slackware-based distributions, my favourite has been KateOS, which uses the Xfce desktop and resierfs file system as defaults, with limited dependency resolution. However, its repository is very small. I found it useful for installing or updating some of the important libraries, and then compiling the program itself from source. In any case, Slackware 12.2 is now 94% downloaded, and I can't wait to get back home.

Last edited by Catacombs; 01-27-2009 at 06:43 PM. Reason: Spelling errors
 
Old 01-27-2009, 07:44 PM   #6
craigevil
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apt-get install flashplugin-nonfree or use the debian-multimedia.org repo and install flashplayer-mozilla

How is that difficult? Or use Synaptic and search for flash.

Shockwave Flash
File name: /usr/lib/flashplayer-mozilla/libflashplayer.so
Shockwave Flash 10.0 r15
 
Old 01-27-2009, 08:24 PM   #7
Chriswaterguy
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Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Catacombs View Post
If you want something conservative and stable, but not too geeky, then Debian is probably a good choice. It has automated package management with dependency resolution, but is rock solid and stable.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Catacombs View Post
However, my main problem with Debian has been its fanaticism about non-free software.
That was a concern for me, but the other answers on this thread are somewhat reassuring - enough for me to give it a try.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Catacombs View Post
Compiling from source code isn't that hard <snip>

This process must be followed for all the dependencies, starting with the lowest level of dependency (ie. the dependency of the dependency of the dependency).

If that's too much trouble, simply use the installpkg and upgradepkg commands and use pre-packaged Slackware binaries, and do the same for its dependencies.
The process looks fiddly, and dealing with dependencies looks daunting. I'm liking the sound of Debian :-). Seriously, automated package management with dependency resolution, in a very well supported distro with lots of packages, is very, very desirable for me. It means time to do my own work, instead of time working on getting Linux to work.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Catacombs View Post
We'll never fight the Windows monopoly unless people are willing to help each other more instead of trying to belittle "newbies" to boost their own egos.
Agreed! I'm happy to say though that I've rarely come across the "rtfm" attitude, and never on LQ. I really appreciate your advice, and all the other helpful and prompt answers!
 
Old 01-31-2009, 08:30 PM   #8
Catacombs
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chriswaterguy View Post
The process looks fiddly, and dealing with dependencies looks daunting. I'm liking the sound of Debian :-). Seriously, automated package management with dependency resolution, in a very well supported distro with lots of packages, is very, very desirable for me. It means time to do my own work, instead of time working on getting Linux to work.
That's pretty much what I thought a few months ago, when I gave up Slackware for a while to try out some distributions with dependency resolution, which I thought might make things easier. It didn't prove to be the case for me. In my first few days back with Slackware, now on version 12.2, I haven't needed to install any software that hasn't already got its dependencies satisfied. I haven't needed to compile anything from source either. I chose to, in the case of ktorrent, though a pre-compiled package was available in the "extras" directory.

I'm also impressed that Slackware is the only Linux (or BSD) distribution that gets on with my Radeon 512MB AGP graphics card "out of the box" and lets me watch films without lots of flashing, stuttering, jerking etc.

Anyway, I hope you have better luck with Debian than I did, because one thing's for sure, OS hopping isn't much fun.

Quote:
apt-get install flashplugin-nonfree or use the debian-multimedia.org repo and install flashplayer-mozilla

How is that difficult? Or use Synaptic and search for flash.
That sounds like pretty much what I did. I tried both those packages, both from command line and GUI. Everything looked like it had installed, but then I tried firefox and it was still flash-less. Also, one of my attempts at adding a repository broke the system and dumped me to a command line where I was forced to edit some configuration files with vi to get the X windows system back up.

I found Kubuntu (and Xubuntu) much more idiot-proof than Debian for package management, though I do appreciate it is a little too "cutting-edge" and therefore less stable.

Sorry, I am a "newbie", only been with Linux for about 18 months now, still a lot to learn. However, I find I'm learning more from the distributions that keep it simple and give me complete control.
 
  


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