Tempted By a Sexy Debian from the Future

After you decide to leave something behind, there’s nothing left but new. Or, perhaps, returning to what you left behind a long time ago instead.

I decided that Ubuntu and I were no longer going to work out. We had a good thing for a while. A pretty face, took care of the domestic chores for me, while I brought home the bacon. I left Debian for Ubuntu, knowing that Ubuntu was little more than an imitation of Debian. I was seduced by its beauty and how little it demanded of me. And all the while I knew Ubuntu wasn’t just doing it for me – Ubuntu wanted something back. I can’t blame it. I gave it money instead of attention. And I was rewarded. But lipstick and sculpted abs only go far. The superficiality was becoming an issue, and I didn’t like where Ubuntu was leading me. So we called it off.

I can’t go long without a workstation, though. Ubuntu and I were through. I found myself looking around for anything, anywhere. Any glimmer of intelligence, beauty and strength, and most importantly, a good heart. My first night I went to the city, to the warehouse districts where things were new and exciting. So many of the fresh, beautiful people talking about Arch Linux. I’d been there before. Once. It was raw. Passionate. Like how it used to be when I was a kid, just starting to explore. And now, here I was again. The dark warehouse allies of the city, in the arms of hairy Arch Linux again.

But all the while, my thoughts always wandered back to Debian. So steadfast. So true. So set in its ways, but always still evolving. Taking the punches dealt out from young upstarts who want a piece of their own. Always remaining an example. An inspiration. Being something that others can always look to and count on to offer advice and help. Someone that lets others even blatantly steal from them, and remains nonplussed – for imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.

But I couldn’t go back. Not after being away so long. I remember what it’s like being stuck there, day after day, for 2 or more years at a time. I’m not some 9 to 5 desk jockey who always needs the same things, unchanging. I want new, spice and variety! Yet not in the savage streets. I couldn’t go back yet.

So I decided instead to travel to the future, to a future Debian, who I know will always have the good heart. Last night I installed Debian Sid, or unstable. It’s where I will live, while still exploring. We have an understanding this time. Debian unstable can be just that, unpredictable and every so slightly dangerous, yet free to let its hair down in all its glory. I’ll be gone at night, checking what else is out there, but will be coming home to Debian Sid until I find something better. I know, I’m a real fucker. But Debian takes it, from everyone and everything else. It’s an amazing organization that has evolved over the years. And always, the servers I deal with will run Debian stable. Unless we need something wild… then we’ll see…

So I’ve moved in to Debian Sid now on a temporary basis. I’m not going to make myself too comfortable just yet. But I tell you, the future Debian is quite a sight to behold. What a fool I was to ever leave for Ubuntu. No, I can’t say that. Things wouldn’t be how they are now, otherwise, and things now are good.

The install of Debian Sid (unstable) was pretty painless. I started with a “business card” image of the stock Debian installer, cat’ed it to a USB thumb drive, and booted the install. I selected the advanced install, which allows you to select other Debian distributions, like testing or unstable.

The install was mostly flawless, after realizing its failure was my fault for having created a 100Mb LVM partition for it instead of a 100Gb one. It did fail at installing grub on the boot sector, saying it couldn’t find the drive. Not bad, though. Who needs to worry about a grub install failing when grub’s already on the drives?

So here I am in the future Debian, the unstable branch. It’s using Gnome 3, which I got my first taste of in Fedora. But somehow, it feels like a better experience here. It is certainly much better than Unity. And I’m not exactly happy with Gnome 3’s disconnect from Compiz, either. I shouldn’t eat so many sweets, anyway, though.

Now, Linux Mint has a version that is based upon Debian instead of Ubuntu (which is, of course, also based on Debian). Perhaps the Mint people have been getting some of the same feelings I’ve been getting about Ubuntu, and have decided to start migrating to the source, rather than going through any middle-men.

That is why I decided to try Linux Mint’s Debian-based distribution, which takes from Debian Testing, I believe, so it will have newer software packages than the stable branch. My thinking was, maybe the Mint people will work out any bugs that might come through from using one of Debian’s non-stable branches, so I don’t have to worry about anything breaking.

Unfortunately, Linux Mint’s installer doesn’t recognize LVM/raid drives. For me, that’s pretty much a deal-breaker, unless there is some very compelling desire I have to try out a specific distribution that does not support it LVM/raid on the install. It isn’t rocket science, which means they should be supporting it, but it is very inconvenient to have to reassemble all that by hand. Do people still use just one partition of one hard drive on their workstations? I suppose if impermanence isn’t an issue…

So tonight I’ll be trashing Fedora off the workstation here and trying something else. I’ve had a few good suggestions from people and I really appreciate it. And for now, my venerable, steadfast companion Debian, from the future, is where I’m at. Smart, stable, strong and hot? It will take a lot to get me away from here this time.

The saga continues here: Heading Uptown to See Fedora Linux – A Tale of Science, Secret Agents and Corporate War

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  • Mike

    I have to admit, I sort of forgot about Debian after Ubuntu was around.  I figured that Debian was old and out of date.  You got me interested and I went and checked the packages site to see what Debian was up to these days.  Seems unstable and testing are right up there with relatively recent packages.  I have been running Fedora at home (though I only install every odd number version or so) and Ubuntu lucid (lts) at work and this got me pretty interested.

  • Well, I’d say it’s sure worth trying the unstable branch, if you can justify the time. It always drove me nuts eventually, how far the stable version lags behind. But all the other Debian-based distributions pull from testing or unstable, so I thought, why not try running it myself for a bit, at least while I’m looking around. I’m really loving it so far. There is always a somewhat cold, sterile feeling about Fedora to me. It might be my imagination. Do you feel that? It may be my unfamiliarity with how they’ve arranged stuff under the hood. Actually, I think I’ll keep it around for a while longer and spend some time there, too. 

  • Anonymous

    I feel kind of disgusted.

    Though, besides that I dig it. Ubuntu is no longer cool with me either. The aesthetic quality aside it is just Debian assembled for the common masses. So I’ve been using Debian sid for a while no problems

  • Yeah, that’s bothered me a little from the beginning – the fact that Ubuntu just pretties up Debian then turns around and calls it their own. They have added some stuff, and some services. But nothing special that I’m aware of. So far Sid has been great for me. I do worry a bit about updating it — I mean, I assume I can update it at any time, and there will be updates coming in… so maybe I should limit myself to some kind of schedule… ? What is your philosophy on that?

  • Mike

    I don’t find fedora to be “cold” or whatever but I do think that they try a little to hard to be “bleeding edge” and they’ll adopt something before it’s really ready.  I am pretty sure they were the first mainstream distro to have Gnome3 as the main DE for example.  They’re also not afraid to make changes like this filesystem hierarchy thing that’s coming.  The advantage is that rpmfusion has all of that “non-free” stuff that debian won’t include anywhere and it’s built for the right version of your system instead of trying to just build from whatever project’s website.

  • Mike

    Oh, another advantage of Fedora is that if you work with RHEL, you are already somewhat familiar with it.

  • That’s why I installed them a couple months ago – they had complete Gnome 3 support and I was curious. I think what I mean is, I come out of an IBM shop background, which is very organized, cold and clinical. I remember Linux OS’s being very organized and powerful, yet somehow had a warm, human feeling. The RH stuff reminded me of that IBM feeling. It’s not unpleasant, but it’s not homey, either. I really love and am grateful for all that RH does for the community. rpmfusion may be just what I need to warm it up a bit… I’d not heard of that before. I think I’ll switch over and check it out….

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  • Aaron


  • Lubunutu – interesting. I’d not heard of that. Possibly for the workstation, but doubtful. I’ll try it out, though. What I really like the sound of is for a couple light-weight boxes I have (Atom-powered). That might be perfect!

  • Aaron

    I use it on an underwhelming laptop, quite happily.

    To compare:

    Crunchbank is: a lightweight WM (OpenBox) on top of Debian, its packages and release scheme, in case Debian is what you’re into.

    Lubuntu is: a lightweight WM (OpenBox with LXDE) on top of Ubuntu, its packages and release scheme, in case *that’s* what you’re into.

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