Debian Misconceptions

As a follow-up from my previous post, Is Gentoo becoming more like Debian? I unfairly treated Debian as an outdated distribution without proving the full facts.

A friend of mine (who knows the OS much better than I do), provided me with a more realistic insight into the misconceptions of Debian being an outdated distribution.

He writes:

"Debian isn't really outdated. This is really bad misconception.

And the misconception stems from the fact that those who don't know Debian believe Debian is just one GNU/Linux distribution. It's not.

Debian is in fact several different distributions.

The main one's of which are Debian GNU/Linux Stable, Debian GNU/Linux Testing and Debian GNU/Linux Unstable (for the purposes of this article, I'll here on in call them Stable, Testing and Unstable respectively). Other Debian distributions include GNU/Linux Experimental, GNU/Linux Frozen and even GNU/Hurd, but they are not as widely used by Debian users and are not central to my point).

Which one of the main three you choose is depending on what you require from your software distribution.

Unstable is a developer's playground. Unstable is where new packages are introduced in to the system by the Debian Developers. It is considered bleeding-edge, as it receives new functionality (new software versions) daily. While the quality of Debian software is generally very good, sometimes Unstable breaks in bad ways (e.g. loss of data, or requiring you to rebuild the machine). If you must have the latest and greatest of every application version on your computer, regardless of the fact that your machine might get hosed every now and again, use Unstable and be prepared to fix your machine if it breaks.

Testing is a good trade off between the latest applications and better quality then Unstable. Packages are only introduced in to Testing after 12 days of no one reporting a bug in the Unstable package.
This means that when Testing breaks, it's usually a trivial part of the system rather than debilitating the whole system. It's not an absolute guarantee, but the Debian Developers and Users are usually pretty good about noticing problems in Unstable before they get moved in to Testing. If you want a reasonable amount of quality and mostly up to date application versions, Testing can balance this trade-off quite well.

Finally, let me dispell a final myth about Debian software. Stable is indeed updated frequently but with a catch, only for bug fixes. Once a new version of Stable is released, the only reason it will receive an update is to correct security flaws that are discovered in its software. And while this means that no new software functionality is added, it also means you get really good quality software that is frequently updated for security problems. If you require really good quality software with as little downtime for breakages as possible (say on production servers that run 24x7), Stable is what you want.

So yes, while Debian Stable has fewer functionality upgrades than Gentoo, it is actually desirable to be so. Stable means to be (like the name says), stable. If you want more up to date software, you may wish to consider Testing or Unstable depending on your proficiency or willingness to fix breakages.

And now you know that Debian is updated constantly - just with different caveats attached depending on which of the Debian distributions you choose.

P.S. More information on Debian release cycles and Debian distribution goals can be found at Debian’s website (http://www.debian.org/releases/). If you wish to know how Testing becomes Stable, follow the links on that page to the Debian FAQ."

Thanks go out to Spods for providing an insight into this issue.
Till next time.


Installing Hamachi under Gentoo

I have found an easy way to cleanly install Hamachi within Gentoo!!
just follow these easy step-by-step instructions.

1). Follow the instructions here for information on how to get tun/tap support (alternatively there is a forum thread here)

2). Download and extract the net-misc folder fom the hamachiOverlay tarball found here to your /usr/portage tree (or wherever you keep portage tree)

NOTE: This is an Unnofficial eBuild!!!

3). Run 'emerge hamachi' and if all goes well hamachi should install with no errors.

NOTE: Hamachi is distributed as a binary-only package and therefore no compiling output is displayed during emerge.

4). Configure hamachi :) if your not sure of what its commands are, simply type 'hamachi -c /etc/hamachi ?'

NOTE: When configuring hamachi I noticed that I had to continually use the -c option

I have been using this utility for some time and it is supprisingly stable, secure and works fine even over dialup! (one of my friends is having "difficulties" upgrading to broadband. If you're reading, this you know who you are! :P).

Thanks go out to those that developed the hamachiOverlay ebuild :)

This is not an official howto! and I take no responsibility for any of the content mentioned here or externally. I will also NOT be held liable for any loss of data, hardware or software as a result of following these instructions.

/info.depot/ Knowledge for those that seek it.

/info.depot/ Knowledge for those that seek it.

Another freind of mine Spods, has begun work on documenting some of the cool but fiddly things that can be done with unix. for now it has a kind of howto for setting up remote X.

More to come in the near future (if I bug him to update a little more often :)

The Tech Dragons Hax: Windows Port of Xscreensaver

The Tech Dragons Hax: Windows Port of Xscreensaver

Do you remeniss about the good old unix days?
Having to endure working on a Windoze system all day?
Then why not bring some unix charm to you Windoze desktop with WinXScreensavers!

The package comes in a single installer, has a single executable to manage all the installed screensavers as a MetaSaver that allows you to choose the ones you like, and displays them at random.

NOTE: My own testing has deduced that some (most?) of the screensavers only display on one screen of a multi-monitor setup.


Is Gentoo becoming more like Debian?

As it seems that the Gentoo stage3 tarball is fairly outdated, I decided to find out why and/or find an estimated release date for a newer one. I have been pouring though (almost) all of the Gentoo documentation to find out what I can and there seems to be no information about a newer stage3 release (nameley 2006.1).

I have found it increasingly difficult to build from an outdated stage3 tarball, due to newer profiles are being merged and the massive list of updates to get to current from the base 2006.0.

Since 2004 I have seen diminishing releases each year, with 3 releases in 2004, 2.5 (if you count 2005.1-r1) in 2005 and 1 so far in 2006.

What is happening to this brilliant OS?
Is it going the way of Debian (it's suppossed beginings) by being constantly delayed and outdated?

Perhaps I should deal with it by being more patient instead of ranting (whining) about it.

NOTE: Although Debian may be outdated, it is by far one of the best Linux distributions around due to it's stable branch being... well very stable!).