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First of all, I've spent the last couple of hours surfing about and generally checking out Debian (as much as you can without actually installing it anyway).
I'm trying to decide which version I should choose. Woody seems too old. I have a relatively new system (mobo with an SIS655 chipset, Radeon 9700 Pro) so that is a concern. I'm also quite taken with KDE 3.1.
So it seems that I'm looking for a version that sacrifices a little bit of that hardcore Debian security/stability in order to gain some hardware support and newer software. I'm perfectly happy with that idea, but I'm after a little bit of perspective from existing Debian users regarding exactly which way I should go.
Try the bf2.4 kernel and don't use ext2 or 3 as file system.I had file system corruption twice with a sis chipset and ext3.Works fine with reiser.But that might just be me.
You can get kde 3.1 for debian as you can pretty much anything else that isn't for whatever reason in the official distro.
You just need to find the source for it and add it to the sources list for apt.Google is your friend in finding sources.
I have only used Debian very briefly but :
Although the current stable build seems old, that is because Debian ships out only stable copies - they go through lots of testing, etc.
You can install an 'older' copy happily - Debian has the wonderful APT system. Once you are up and running, you can add 'unstable'/'testing' repositories to the sources list and can get the bleeding edge stuff. From what I have read, even the bleeding edge software/OS is very stable.
I'm running Sid(Unstable) which is the most bleeding edge you can get without compiling yourself. I'm very impressed. I haven't had anything crash or cause problems yet. Yes, the Debian hater has moved to Debian... Hell has frozen over.
I'll go and have a bit of a read about Knoppix. Maybe it will grab my attention. In any case, I think I'll give Debian a shot.
Just one more question if you don't mind. I really like to play with operating systems. When I install one for the first time I always consider it to be a test run. That means I'll give it hell trying stuff out and wont worry too much if I kill it, or atleast wreck it a little bit. That's when I'll remove it and install it again (a little differently most of the time) and take it out for another spin. With Mandrake for example, I usually end up installing it about 3 times or so before I understand most of the quirks and am satisified with the configuration and software choices that I've made.
With Mandrake though, all the packages that I would have downloaded to try out are still on my hard drive ready to install the next time. So that's my question about Debians apt-get. Can I save the packages somewhere and use apt-get to install them from a local source (my hard drive) the next time?
yes - I believe there is a download only option. I'd suggest that you type apt-get install synaptic - it's a great gui and simple to use. It also means you don't have to remember all apt commands (also available for Red Hat!)