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Matts (1087)

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I work for MessageLabs [] in Toronto, ON, Canada. I write spam filters, MTA software, high performance network software, string matching algorithms, and other cool stuff mostly in Perl and C.

Journal of Matts (1087)

Friday November 23, 2001
04:36 AM


[ #1346 ]

Yesterday I installed Debian on an old laptop I have. It went reasonably smoothly - installing it via the wireless NIC over the internet. But I didn't like debian.

I can't really put my finger on it. Everyone I know who uses debian raves about it. But for me it was a bitch. Maybe it was because I was using unstable/woody.

- It wouldn't recognise my touchpad in xf86cfg. And to this moment I still have no idea why it started working.

- It wouldn't give me the option of running gnome, despite getting it working.

- It has no options for configuring sound, that I could immediately find.

- It didn't autoconfigure my network card, despite installing from it just fine. I had to manually add it to /etc/network/interfaces.

- Fonts were still screwed up in X, despite installing the MS fonts.

- It wouldn't install evolution due to some module "not being available". WTF?

- It incorrectly setup my keyboard, despite me answering all the right questions.

- It gave me a kernel without apm support. HELLO! This one is incredible, as it meant the laptop switched off every time I touched the off button.

I think debian will make a great server OS. But I'm the kind of person who just wants to get his work done, and doesn't want the OS to get in the way.

In short, I'll be going back to Mandrake.

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  • ... but I still had trouble.

    Some of what you're talking about seems rather inexplicable. During the install it asks about your network config and sets it up (or at least it has for me on several different machines).

    With gnome, I simply installed all the gnome packages and then when I typed 'startx' it used gnome. Simple enough.

    The 'missing module' bit for evolution occassionally happens in unstable when someone uploads a bunch of new packages with inter-dependencies. If the mirror you're using hasn
    • Hmm, I started by saying I did have trouble and then went on to say all the things that worked.

      Where I _did_ have trouble was setting up X to use an external monitor or the laptop screen properly. But I can't imagine any other distro would handle this better.

      But the actual Debian install process was very smooth.
    • Sounds like you had similar problems to me, only I have higher expectations.

      Yes, Mandrake got all this right (including sound - works right out of the box). But then I had the CD, rather than trying a funky network install. Maybe I should try a net install with Mandrake.

      And no, I haven't compiled my own kernel since the early days when cdparanoia required SCSII emulation, which wasn't a default option. And I expect not to have to. Fixing OSes isn't my job. Hacking Perl is.
  • Something that is pure GNU was actually hard to install and use?