After I couldn't get Redhat up and running on my new computer at work, I was given an old computer with Debian on it. The machine's not bad, but I'm reasonably certain that the new box would have left it in the dust -- if Linux could have been installed on it. Still, I have a box and I'm getting my work done, so no complaints. Yesterday, one of my coworkers asked me how I liked Debian and all I could do is shrug. An OS is an OS, right? Heck, I would have worked with Windows if they told me to. I'm here to do a job. I chose Linux because I wanted to learn it better.
The only significant difference between Debian and Redhat that I can see is Debian's apt-get appears to blow rpm out of the water. With Redhat, I'm constantly searching for the next dependency that I don't have (maybe that's just my ignorance, though). With Debian, it just worked. If it finds unsatisfied dependencies, it asks me if I want them installed -- just like the CPANPLUS shell. Very comfortable.
As for Window managers, I shrug at the difference between Gnome and KDE. I use KDE because I know it. I've used Gnome and while I notice a few differences, given the sort of things that I tend to use a computer for, it's all window dressing (if you'll pardon the pun). For me, one window manager is as good as another. In fact, the only reason why I prefer the Linux window managers over Windows is their ease of customization. Personally, I think this is a huge psychological advantage. Unless Microsoft has done some radically different things with the latest Windows, Linux window managers still dominates in the themes area. Given that so much of the populace is attracted to shiny things, this is a great benefit. I've had plenty of "Windows only" friends ooh and aah at my box just because I've had funky borders on my windows.
Yesterday changed things, though. I achieved Nirvana. Well, Enlightenment, anyway. This is an incredibly cool Window manager. Unfortunately, like so many other things in the Linux world, I can't say much about it other than "it's cool". It has abandoned much of the "let's copy everyone else's look and feel" approach and gives you a virtually empty desktop. This can be very intimidating to newbies, and I honestly can't think of any defense of it other than "it's cool", but that gets very repetitive after a while. This seems to be something that gets geek types very excited, but I would be hardpressed to recommend this for a general desktop environment.
The only annoyance I had with Enlightenment (given that I only used it for a short time) was not with Enlightenment, but with Redhat. On my Debian box, it just installed and I ran it. On my Redhat box, it's not so simple.
[root@ovid enlightenment]# rpm -ivh enlightenment-0.16.5-1.i386.rpm
error: Failed dependencies:
fnlib >= 0.5 is needed by enlightenment-0.16.5-1
libFnlib.so.0 is needed by enlightenment-0.16.5-1
libImlib.so.1 is needed by enlightenment-0.16.5-1
Trying to satisfy those dependencies has left me with plenty of "foo installed from bar conflicts with baz". I'll have to try later. In the meantime, I do kind of long for the simplicity of Windows. At least with Windows, things that I installed just worked. Yes, they often came to a crashing halt later, but I still never had this level of problems. Of course I'll keep plugging away with Linux, but I do look forward to not being such a newbie and getting past these issues.