One year ago I began as a Linux user installing Ubuntu 10.04 in my notebook. Few months later I installed Linux in my desktop at job but that time I chose Debian (stable) and then I switched to Debian testing in my laptop.
In this post I will explain the reasons that made me change and my experiences since then.
- I don’t dislike Ubuntu but…
- I am reluctant to innovation in user interfaces (let’s say that I like “the classical way”)
- I use Debian in servers at job and I wanted to follow the community, roadmap, news…
- Why not? Most of my fears to use Debian for desktop/laptop were based on prejudices
- Trust more in a community-driven distro that in a company-driven one (business is business…)
I was using Ubuntu because my sister recommended it and 10.04 because of the Long Term Support. I liked GNOME Desktop, I saw that Maverick (and later Natty) shipped with Unity (ok, you still can use the classic GNOME desktop, I know!) and I was not sure to like it.
I liked very much the software center and the ability to easily install drivers if needed. But I noticed that the information in software center about if certain software was libre software or not was not clear (specially when I began to find Spanish translations notes saying “gratuito” (“free-of-charge”) instead of “libre” (free as in freedom).
Then I read about this conference from Stefano Zacchiroli on Debian (and I liked it very much) and watched this one from Enrico Zini (and I liked it too). I began to feel interested in Debian community. I heard also several comments about (successfully) using Debian in laptops (sorry, I cannot link to the references) and I began to think: Ubuntu uses +85% unmodified Debian packages. Why not using Debian then? Let’s give it a try.
I know that Debian is famous for not shipping quickly last versions of software in the distribution. This is maybe beginning to change, but for now, for me, this is not a problem (“it’s a feature”) since I don’t get bored of my classical tools (in fact, as I said before, I was using Ubuntu Lucid…) I like to wait a little bit to try new experiences (and in the meantime, read what others say about them…)
So I installed Debian stable at job (silly Laura, installed Lenny few days before Squeeze was released, so later I made a clean install again).
For my notebook I chose Debian testing for several reasons:
- I listened an interview with Debian Project Leader Stefano Zacchiroli and he was suggesting to help Debian by using testing in laptops and send feedback about bugs or anything you find interesting. He was also reporting that “testing” in fact was quite stable (there are “unstable” and “experimental” branches too) and I trusted him.
- I wanted to have “more modern software” specially kernel and drivers, so my modern-but-small notebook works fine with GNU/Linux.
- With stable in desktop at job and testing in notebook at home, it was easy to follow Debian roadmap, see the differences between the two branches, and have a wider experience to give advice, opinions or support to my friends or colleagues.
- It was not necessary to sweep out Ubuntu. I made another partition to my hard disk and go!
What happened since then
Some bits of my experiences with Debian…
- After installing (plugged my ethernet, netinst installation) everything was fine except the wireless. I followed the instructions found on Debian wiki wl page and it worked. However, each time I update Linux kernel I have to repeat the process.
- Soon after installing Wheezy, Debian testing moved from OpenOffice to LibreOffice. My stable desktop stayed a bit more with OpenOffice, until the backport was completed. When I got the news, I followed the instructions and now I work with LibreOffice in both computers.
- I only sent a bug report about the lack of iceowl translations in Debian. I didn’t know that they retired the packages, it is a pity that these language packages are not maintained. Of course I can install Lightning extension to Icedove and forget it. I could also learn a bit more and maintain myself the Spanish translations. From now, I stayed with the English version of the stable package. In the middle of this I discovered Emacs org-mode so maybe I will not use Iceowl in the future…
- With Debian I did not experience some problems with jumping cursor (quite annoying in Ubuntu).
- No need to make any special tweak to connect my notebook to a multimedia projector. Just select monitor, mirror view and go! (some friends with Ubuntu 10.10 and newer were having trouble with projectors).
- Almost every day I have updates for my testing installation. It takes a little time because I like to stop and read the list of packages to update, but I am becoming more conscious of my Debian system.
- Some packages that I installed after the initial install: Iceweasel, Icedove, Chromium (but not using too much), Emacs (just for org-mode, I am not an Emacs (nor Vi) user, but maybe I’ll learn someday), R, R commander, R studio, Multisystem (this one is not working ok, my live usb are not booting – Grub problem), OpenShot, PDFChain, Git, Kile (still did not find my “perfect” LaTeX editor, from now Kile is ok).
- Some lists I am suscribed to: debian-news, debian-stable
- I follow Debian and Debian planet identica groups, and several people from Debian community (Stefano Zacchiroli, Raphael Hertzog, Olivier Berger).