Sunday, July 21, 2013

Debian vs. Ubuntu

Hello guys and gals,
It's been a while, and I want to assure everyone that I'm still out there and doing geeky things, but between recent family health issues and work being a bit in a mix-up after a merger, I've been otherwise engaged.

But here to talk about the latest of the grand activities and give a quick background on why I came to ask myself the question "Debian vs. Ubuntu".  To start off I'd like to confess that I've been a strong Ubuntu user and promoter over the last six years.  While I think it is still a solid distro for new or novice users, I was running into issues with library compatibility, intolerance for proper release cycles and some of the choices that Canonical are making in regards to the technology choices they are making.  While I would _never_ begrudge them the option to make those choices, I just want to say that I don't 100% agree.  I say this not to start a flame war, but to declare that I recognize their freedom to make those choices and my freedom to choose another distro.

So my distro hunt was on.  I've been very impressed with the performance of Arch on a few machines I've owned, but I've also found it very easy for me to not pay close attention to things and find myself with a broken system and not sure how to recover.  I looked for about 20 min at several RPM based distro's out there which have enjoyed recent popularity, namely Mageia.  While the system was fine and there was no remnants of the old "RPM Dependency Hell" it was just a little out of sorts for me now that I've got nearly 8 working years on Ubuntu and Debian based systems.

So I went back and looked at the key features I would enjoy.  A rolling distro for the first time on my production machine would bring me some satisfaction, based on the Debian package system puts me in my comfort zone and keeping more with community standard desktop environments and graphic server standards and I felt that those points leaned me back to a core, base Debian install.  With Debian 7.0 on a very recent release I thought to give it a go.

I had very good success with Debian 7 on one of my slightly older machines.  Then, as a minor derivative for my net-book I installed CrunchBang #! using the Openbox window manager vs. Gnome3. I was quite pleased and comfortable in both.

As a result, I'm backing up my production machine right now in order to install Debian 7 in a dual boot with the windows 7 needed for some work applications (not my choice).  I've been pleased with the system, the installer is a little lacking, but not difficult to follow.  I've been able to re-install even closed source software which was advertised for Ubuntu (Debian based right?) without issue and feel that I'm in a real happy place with not having to worry about a "upgrade" breaking things like the wireless security protocols to connect to the corporate wifi.  I learned long ago with Ubuntu that it was almost always a safer bet to format and reinstall the system when a new release came out, to avoid older libraries and program settings conflicting with new ones.  The recent update to 13.04 was no exception and while I thought I was going to save some time by doing the in-line update, there were a very few things which were not content with that choice.  Those broken things are what started my research.

So while I do have a fond place in my heart for Arch, I don't feel comfortable enough there to lean on it for production as I have a very high AUR dependency (personal issue, I'm in a 12 step program).  And I have no courage for slackware or gentoo.  I think that Debian will offer me the ease of use, with a solid system on a rolling-distro.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.