Darxus

Debian sucks

Debian sucks

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June 2012
This is unpleasant to realize, since I don't want to run Ubuntu anymore.

I've been running Linux for 18 years. At first, Yggdrasil Linux, then RedHat for a little while, then I discovered the wonders of Debian's automated package management and used that for several years. Then I switched to Ubuntu, because "everything just worked" more often.

Well, going back to Debian, years later, I wondered if I would encounter less stuff working. I did.

The biggest problem is one that was also in Ubuntu until I reported. So maybe Debian can make it go away too (my bug report). My monitor is not being properly detected, which results in flickering which might be difficult for some to notice, but which causes physical discomfort. Yes, I'm still using a 57 pound CRT which is still too awesome (and functioning) to replace. This probably would not be a problem for anybody using an LCD, which is probably most people now.


Picking a Debian image to download sucks, there are too many choices which are too confusing. They should make it easier and clearer to download the 64 bit live isos, and never drop people into a directory listing.

I installed from the gnome live CD, for the stable release (debian-live-6.0.5-amd64-gnome-desktop.iso).

ctrl-alt-t doesn't bring up a terminal. As I've used on everything for years.

Installing from the live CD, it dropped my network connection multiple times (while trying to figure out what network hardware I was using, or something), and I had to manually run "sudo dhclient eth0" to get it back up.

It complained about my network hardware needing non-free firmware, while my network hardware was already working. Although it might have been talking about a wireless card I have plugged in but never got working, so this one might not count.

It selected the wrong default network device. It should've been eth0 (which it actually had in use for internet access). It picked pan0, I don't know what that is.

Installer doesn't ask all its questions before it formats the hard drive. Which means you have to answer a bunch of questions, wait for it to format, answer more questions, then wait a while (for packages to install), instead of asking all the questions at once, then waiting a while, which is obnoxious. When I switched to Debian, I think they were much better about this than RedHat. First question after formatting is if you want to use a network mirror.

It doesn't automatically select the fastest network mirror (although I don't think Ubuntu does either). There's a netselect-apt package which has been capable of doing this in Debian forever.

iceweasel (firefox) hung on me while running the install from the live iso. When I tried to close it, it didn't respond, and I had to force close it.

After the installation was done, I told it to restart my computer, and it restarted Debian, but didn't fully restart my computer - it never got to my BIOS or the boot loader (grub). This persisted after upgrading to Debian Testing. (Repeatable with "shutdown -rf now".)

[Update: The reboot thing was intentional and can be fixed by uninstalling kexec-tools.]

When I told it to shut down, it didn't. It never turned my computer off. This, at least, seems to work in Debian Testing ("shutdown -hf now" turns the computer off).

So to reboot back to a different OS, I have to shut down, lean forward, open the front of my computer, and push the power button. Not a significant hardship compared to, say, starvation, but really inexcusable for an OS.

When I finally rebooted back to my boot loader, I found the Debian install had failed to overwrite my boot sector (it asked if I was sure I wanted it to, I said yes). So I had to boot back into another OS to update the boot loader to be able to even boot into Debian.

When I try to run a command that's not installed, it doesn't tell me what package I'd need to install, by default. That feature could be available in a package I just need to install, and they chose not to install it by default because some people hate it.


Then I tried upgrading to Debian Testing. Because Debian 6.0.0 (Squeeze) was released on February 6th, 2011, and current Debian Stable has basically only had security upgrades since then. The choice between stable and old, and current and broken, is a classic problem with Debian. With Windows, if you are running an OS that's a couple years old, you can still download and install the latest versions of programs. With Linux distros, you can only install the versions available when your distro was last released, unless you want to compile from source, or hunt down a third party archive with newer versions, all of which is terrible. Ubuntu handles this by doing a release every six months.

The initial problem with upgrading looked like:

Errors were encountered while processing:
python
python-gi
python-pyatspi2

There were extensive version conflicts. I ended up letting it remove many packages. Including gnome-desktop-environment (the desktop environment / UI I was using), and linux-sound-base (probably all sound functionality). I later reinstalled them, and things generally worked. The problem with this is most people aren't going to have any idea what to do with this mess. They're going to assume that what the package manager wants to remove won't horribly break their OS. They won't know what packages to look for that are important that they'll need to try to re-install later.

During the upgrade it told me I was missing non-free firmware:

r8169: rtl_nic/rtl8168f-2.fw, rtl_nic/rtl8168f-1.fw, rtl_nic/rtl8105e-1.fw, rtl_nic/rtl8168e-3.fw,
rtl_nic/rtl8168e-2.fw, rtl_nic/rtl8168e-1.fw, rtl_nic/rtl8168d-2.fw, rtl_nic/rtl8168d-1.fw

I still don't know which of my devices is a r8169. But my on-board ethernet is working.

After upgrading to Debian testing, the System menu is missing, which contains Preferences, which is how you change lots of important things like your resolution. This is part of the transition from GNOME 2 to GNOME 3 apparently, and you can get to that stuff by running gnome-control-center.
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