Monday, 27 August 2007

Distro blues

Today, I bought the new issue of Linux Magazine. To my delight, the cover DVD this month is Debian Etch. I've been itching to try Debian for a while. Don't get me wrong, I love Kubuntu, but I'm always eager to try new distros, and Debian sounds like a good choice. For one thing, it's very similar to Ubuntu, so the skills I've acquired with Ubuntu will transfer across easily. Also, I have had some problems with getting Ubuntu working on my laptop, and I'm hoping that Debian, with its strong reputation for stability, might be more resilient. The other thing that tempts me is Debian's gargantuan repositories. Apparently, with over 18,000 packages, it has about three times as many available for it as Ubuntu, the distro with the next biggest repository.
I've also been tempted by Slackware a few times, but this would be a huge step into the unknown. For one thing, the Debian package management tools are easy to use, whereas Slackware is much harder.
Ultimately, there's one thing I really want in a Linux distro above all else. I won't consider any distro where I can't get the wireless working. That's very important. I had a look on the Debian Etch DVD and I found Network Manager in there, so it's very likely that I could get wireless working in Etch. I've tried the alphas of Kubuntu Gutsy, and I had a problem with installing anything from the repositories. I reported this as a bug, but I'm not sure they'll be able to do anything about it. If Gutsy does have these kinds of problems with my laptop on final release, I'll have a hard choice to make. If I can't install from the repositories, I can't use that version of the distro, so I'll either have to stick with Feisty (which hasn't been very reliable, I'm afraid to say) or look for a new distro. If I do switch, then Debian is very much at the front of the queue, thanks to its familiarity. It even has a graphic installer these days.
Never mind. Here's hoping they iron the kinks out of Gutsy (please! I love it so far!)

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