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DebianPlanet: An Unbiased Review of Debian 3.0

Oct 21, 2002, 22:00 (18 Talkback[s])

"This is a critical review of Debian 3.0, but I want to say right from the start that I'm not trying to bait anyone. However I feel that reviewers often root for Debian as the open-source underdog, and give it marks which it doesn't deserve. If RedHat 8.0 came out with installation software like Debian 3.0 it would be savaged. I think it's time for an honest review, to spur the Debian developers into making the best possible distribution. I really want Debian to succeed. I want to use it daily, and recommend it to my friends. But I can't do that right now and I think it's important people understand why.

"My first experience of Linux came with a boxed version of SuSE 6.0, back in the middle of 1999 when Linux was starting to get noticed in a big way. The entire thing was a text-mode affair, powered by the venerable YaST version 1. I spent days just poring through the manual, trying to wrap my head around fdisk, and hoping it would all turn out okay. It did, and I never looked back. Six months later a version of RedHat (five point something or the other I think) was shipped with a magazine I bought, and I gave it a whirl. This too was backed with a text-based installer, but it was a lot easier to use than YaST. I didn't even bother with the documentation, I just slipped it in the CD drive and winged it. Shortly thereafter I tried the first version of Mandrake, which had pretty much the exact same installation process..

"The point of all this reminiscing is to show that I'm not a complete neophyte (though I'm nowhere near being a guru for that matter). Since then I've tried the RedHat and Mandrake graphical installs, and while RedHat is the one I like best, Mandrake has been the distribution I've stuck with solely because of drakconf and it's associated tools, which make configuring a Linux system a breeze. However lately I've been aspiring to ascend to guru status, or at the very least PFY, so I gave Debian a whirl. I have to admit I was disappointed both with the installation procedure and the finished system. In all my time with Linux, Debian's is the worst installer I've ever had to use..."

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