back to article Good news: Debian 7 is rock solid. Bad news: It's called Wheezy

Debian, the daddy to many a Linux distro including Ubuntu and Mint, has been updated for the first time in more than two years. Codenamed Wheezy, Debian 7 actually brings the GPL operating system up to speed with some of its more famous offspring, though, true to its roots, Debian's stable release continues to focus on just …


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  1. jake Silver badge

    Debian's a nice distro.

    But I'll stick to my variation based on Slackware, thanks.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Debian's a nice distro.

      and I'll stick to mine (Mageia) also, but thanks for all of the coverage of everything Debian ...

      1. Rebajas

        Re: Debian's a nice distro.

        Thanks for the status update guys :\

  2. Pete 2 Silver badge

    But what can it do?

    Having the latest versions of utilites is nice. If you're a hobbyist, that confers bragging rights within your group of nerdy friends who are still running last month's version.

    Having the latest and greatest kernel can be a good thing, too. If you happen to need support for new hardware (and most kernel relases these days are for bug-fixes, hardware support and minor tweaks that nobody notices). It can also be a bad thing, when bugs creep in, or if poorly thought out changes cause more hassle than they're worth. However, ultimately an O/S is a bit like the engine in your car - it does its stuff unseen and if you do need to get involved with it, that's probably a sign that it's failing.

    So, as with any new release of Linux, Windows, Android and any other software release that comes along (not just the O/S, but the apps too) the big question for people who just want to get stuff done is always:

    What will this let me do, that I couldn't do before?

    Maybe new user-level functionality, old stuff that's significantly (i.e. not less than 100%) faster, with all major bugs fixed, better integrated, documented properly or downright novel stuff that nobody has thought of before. When I see a release that answers these questions, rather than just listing out: this app has been updated to version 10.4 and that utility is now version 3.66 and this other one has had a major upgrade to 0.2 THEN is the time to take note. So long as releases just come with lists of version numbers, I'll continue to assume they are intended for the geeks.

    1. Neil Lewis

      Re: But what can it do?

      While the question is undoubtedly valid for a commercial OS, i.e. one you pay for and therefore expect to provide better to be worth the cost of upgrading, free software doesn't really have the same limitation.

      In fact, I'd go further than that. With commercial OSs, there *has* to be a long list of questionable 'new' features just to persuade anyone to buy, irrespective of whether any of those features are actually useful or even wanted.

      With a free OS like Linux, and Debian in particular, those considerations simply don't apply. The updates and improvements may only be incremental, but since it's not costing you anything, any improvements are just that - improvements. They're not simply marketing tools intended to hoodwink you into getting your wallet out. I said 'Debian in particular' for a reason, by the way. That reason is the fact that most users of Debian (and many other Linux distros) will hardly ever reinstall from scratch to get the latest and greatest version anyway. If it's set up to do so, an installed system can update itself seamlessly from one version to another with the user hardly even noticing. It won't even need a reboot unless there was a kernel update.

      That's precisely why a super-stable, incrementally upgraded system like this is perfect for actual production use, not just for geeks. It quietly gets on with doing it's job (or gets out of the way of you doing yours) more or less forever instead of insisting on regular user intervention.

      1. Pete 2 Silver badge

        Re: But what can it do?

        > With a free OS... but since it's not costing you anything,

        Well the cost is in one's time, even for a home user. There is a measurable "cost" in terms of the hours taken to to a major software install - even if no money changes hands. This still has to be justified, unless software installs & upgrades are your hobby. For those of us who see OS's and applications merely as the means to an end - getting stuff done - upgrading is an annoyance and a risk that needs to hold out the promise of some significant benefits for the time it takes - time that could be spent on doing something we like.

        1. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Re: But what can it do?

          Time taken to install???? My laptop came with W7 'installed' I turned it on and it went into some upgrade thing. After 45 minutes it was still fucking about so I switched it off, stuck in a Mint DVD and 25 minutes later had a working system.

          So Linux was cheaper and faster to get working so I could do things I like.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @Tom 7

            No kidding. My very cheap laptop came with win7. What it did wasnt so much run as crawl in pain. It was not in a realistically usable state and MS updates (needing the reboot!) was painful. So slow my mouse would lag! That was after removing crapware in hope of improving the experience.

            I too went for the latest mint and you wouldnt know this was a cheap laptop. It takes a little longer (personal observation) to boot but it uses vastly less resources and runs like a medium power system. Instead of 10+ seconds to open an application it now takes 2-3. Updates take a vastly shorter time to install and it demands no reboot.

            I have nothing against windows, I believe in the right OS for the job. But win7 was not the right OS to put on this cheap laptop. XP could have worked I reckon.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: @Tom 7

              You just needed a ReadyBoost compatible USB key. Would have made all the difference.

              1. Ian 55

                Following the request in the story about the Wheezy release

                Could Chris N's comment be kept as a reminder of the approach to dealing with Windows: Slow? Throw more hardware at it!!

                1. Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Following the request in the story about the Wheezy release

                  although I do see Linux has a readyboost-like solution - i.e. using a USB key for swap partition. Google it. (Other search engines are available)

                  It makes sense when you think about it.

              2. Anonymous Coward

                Re: @Tom 7

                5 thumbs down! jeez Louise. Linux fanbois much.

              3. Roo

                Re: @Tom 7

                How about Microsoft sort out their piss poor file system I/O ? They have had a lot of money and time (30+ years) to do it, free to rip-off research + source code (eg: BSD) and so far they have failed to address their rubbish file system performance since I first fired up Win 3.1 donkey's years ago.

                Personally I gave up waiting for them to fix it with NT4. I recommend that you give up the USB sticks and multi-billion dollar SSDs and give a linux distro a try instead. It'll save you a hell of a lot of time in the long run.

                1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
                  Thumb Up

                  @Roo Re: @Tom 7

                  Finally! Someone says it!

                  Hard disks are quieter and faster now, but that's the only thing that has somewhat hidden the fact that the MS OS still makes the hard disk thrash like hell for no real reason.

                  I recently used windows 7, after a windows break of nearly 3 years, and couldn't believe they have the same crappy IO and memory/swapping routines that they always had.

                  1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

                    Re: @Roo @Tom 7

                    An anonymous thumbs-down without any refute. And you MS fans say that Linux people are fanbois

                2. Not That Andrew

                  @Roo Re:NTFS

                  Isn't ResFS kinda meant to be a successor to NTFS? What little info I kind find on it points to it being pretty much unusable in a production environment at the moment, though.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @Pete 2

          "Well the cost is in one's time, even for a home user. There is a measurable "cost" in terms of the hours taken to to a major software install - even if no money changes hands."

          I agree with that to be honest, but that's also because I run my own business. Its easy if you end your working day and then can basically do whatever you want; the pay check will be in the mail (so to speak) at the end of the month. It becomes a bit more of an issue if you have to pay for your own time (which sometimes means that you're still working around 2am because you're trying to get a job done as quickly as possible).

          But there is justification here. As others mentioned already it's not so much a collection of new features which gets presented here; with Debian it's more of a "re-evaluation" (as I like to call it) of the whole distribution and a check up on how things (still) work together. If there have been any issues in the past with package dependencies and such which would have risked a big impact then these are the moments those can be addressed.

          Then there's also the more obvious issue of upgrades. Stable is just that: stable. So it often uses older (but still supported) versions of the software. But even with open source environments there comes a time where people need to move on; stuff changes, things work differently and older versions get obsoleted. And that is what this is also about: newer software versions which have proven to be stable will be implemented. Even if that sometimes means that there are only minor changes.

          It's not only about features, with Debian stability and continuity are also key issues.

          As said: I agree with you on your time = money comment. But also realize that the "oldstable" release will be supported where security updates are concerned for approx. one more year. So there's plenty of room to plan for an upgrade.

          But if this model doesn't work for you, then well... Maybe it's time to look into other models. The BSD environments for example strictly separates 3rd party software from the base system so that upgrading also becomes easier. But just as with Debian a release of the base system is approx. supported for two years, where it actually becomes often more strongly advised to consider an upgrade.

          Then there's always the option to go commercial and look into stuff like RedHat Enterprise Linux. Or their free counterpart CentOS.

          Which is another issue to keep in mind here: if you don't like this model then there are plenty of other Linux (or more Unix-like) environments to chose from.

          In the end keep well in mind that you get much more than you paid for. Never underestimate the time and effort that goes into keeping an OS like this supported.

        3. TomChaton

          Re: But what can it do?

          "Well the cost is in one's time, even for a home user. There is a measurable "cost" in terms of the hours taken to to a major software install..."

          I'm guessing you've never used apt then?

          1. I think so I am?

            Re: But what can it do?

            Hes probably more of a yum kinda guy haha

        4. Neil Lewis

          Re: But what can it do?

          'Well the cost is in one's time, even for a home user.'

          - which was precisely my point about not actually needing to spend any time at all on upgrading with a system like this. Install once and you can 'upgrade' it on a permanently rolling basis for year after year without having to spend any time doing so. That's real saving of your time. Upgrading is only an annoyance when it's a faff, and a Linux system is usually a no-brainer to keep properly up to date.

        5. sisk

          Re: But what can it do?

          There is a measurable "cost" in terms of the hours taken to to a major software install - even if no money changes hands.

          Hours? I think not. This is Debian we're talking about.

          user@machine >su

          Enter password

          root@machine >apt-get dist-upgrade

          (You can walk away now. You're done. The machine can finish updating itself without your help.)

          1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

            Re: But what can it do?

            If anyone on a techie forum is seriously asking this question, then the answer is quite clearly:

            For you, nothing.

  3. John Robson Silver badge

    I think I'll wait for a while...

    To let Wheezy prove it's mettle as a stable release...

    Me - an early adopter? Well, OK, sometimes...

    1. sisk

      Re: I think I'll wait for a while...

      Meh, I've been running Wheezy for ages as the testing branch. It's stable, no worries there. If you stick to stable with Debian you'll never be an early adopter. You have to run testing at least and maybe even unstable or (getting really scary here) experimental for that.

  4. Jess

    It was a pig to install.

    I installed it on an old toughbook, that had previously been running an older debian happily.

    It refused to connect to my wifi. (The old version and everything else I try are fine.) It did recognize an old usb-ethernet adapter that I bought a couple of years ago and had never had any success with, however, so I used that.

    The grub install failed, so I repeated the install and let it do the partitioning, rather than re-use the old layout. I told grub to install on the first partition, (hoping it would leave the bootmanager I need for CD boot, it didn't.)

    However it now boots successfully, and I found that disabling dual wpa/wpa2 support in favour of wpa2 only allowed it to connect.

    The media player dies in a heap. (Perhaps it needs a P3?), but apart from that it looks like it runs OK.

    I burnt a CDROM successfully.

    Given the hardware, it works quite well.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It was a pig to install.

      Please take the time to install reportbug and report the issues you found so that fixes go into updates.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Social contract?


    1. Forget It

      Re: Social contract?

      better than dot-Commies

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Social contract?

        For once not INVADING Finland, but coming OUT OF Finland!

        1. eulampios

          Re: Social contract?

          As well as by not INVADING the Nazi Germany, but coming out of Democratic Germany ( Yet it's not SuSe, however, "Ian Ashley Murdock was born in Konstanz, West Germany on April 28, 1973.")

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Social contract?

      Two downvotes? The joke alert icon needs to be more obvious.

  6. wolfetone Silver badge
    Thumb Up


    I've been using Red Hat/Fedora since I first got in to Linux back in 2005. I remember trying Debian back then, and I hated it. Right now, I don't remember why, I just remember not liking it. But since then having stayed loyal to Fedora, I do feel it's time for a change. It was ok when I first started as Linux wasn't my main operating system, I just used it as something to learn and mess about with. Now though, I use Linux all the time (except for when I'm playing Football Manager), but Fedora continues to become less stable. I often find Evolution, for example, crashes like a bitch without warning. It disrupts my work with applications just crashing. I am getting on with it, but why should ?

    So, I read this article and the other Debian article with interest, especially in terms of it not being updated all the time. The idea of Debian, how it works etc, right now appeals to me. I want something that will just work, like an old Toyota. I'm not one for fancy graphics, or fancy ways of doing things. If Debian can provide me with a platform whereby I can just work and not worry about updates etc affecting the system then I'm going to be converted from being an .rpm type of guy to a .deb. So, it's currently downloading, and later tonight I'll be installing it on to my PC at home.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Conversion

      >Fedora continues to become less stable

      Fedora uses need to complain louder about having Lennart's next big code fart forced upon them time and time again really. Everyone else is very sick of the Fedora guys taking over critical things like udev and screwing them up.

      >So, I read this article and the other Debian article with interest,

      >especially in terms of it not being updated all the time.

      A lot of "desktop" Debian users run testing or unstable from my experience. Some people run stable + backports but if you don't mind getting your hands dirty sometimes testing is pretty good IMHO.

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        Re: Conversion

        I agree regarding Lennart's. I know that Fedora is the test bed for future Red Hat releases, but a bit of stability would be nice. Something similar to Ubuntu's LTS but for Fedora. I know I'm not alone, and I get the feeling you know this too. But no matter how loud someone shouts, if you want to ignore them and be headstrong about your own ideals, you'll just ignore the noise.

        1. Richard Lloyd

          Re: Conversion

          "Something similar to Ubuntu's LTS but for Fedora"? Er, it's called CentOS :-) I use it on my home and work desktops and it's rock solid. Like Debian, don't expect to run the latest and greatest of anything unless you manually install it (e.g. Firefox, Thunderbird, LibreOffice, Oracle Java, Flash etc.).

          Big advantages of CentOS are: 10 years of updates, GNOME 2, Grub 1 and System V init scripts - none of which you get with the latest Fedora or Ubuntu. The downer is that the forthcoming CentOS 7 will ditch the latter 3 and I suspect will be inferior to CentOS 6 because of that.

    2. Caoilte

      Re: Conversion

      As a long time Debian user who has to use CentOS at work, I can see why some of the differences could grate.

      Have you tried CentOS by the way?

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        Re: Conversion

        I only ever use CentOS on my VPS systems. I may well try it in the future though, I want to see how I get on with Debian first.

    3. Andy Roid McUser

      Re: Conversion - Football Manager

      Football manager 12 runs under Wine and PlayOnLinux , so you don't need to suffer the Windows tax to play this.

      Football Manager 13 is also running on the Steam engine, which works rather nicely on Linux.

      Along with the other commentators , CentOS is rock solid and probably what you're looking for.

      Personally I succumbed to installing Mint 14 on my desktop for no reason whatsoever and rather like it.

  7. davcefai

    Debian Flavours

    Please remember that Debian comes in Stable, Testing and Unstable flavours. Frankly I have fewer problems with Unstable than I used to have with any version of Windows.

    There is also "Experimental" but i would recommend safety clothing before playing with it :-)

    The way Debian works, Unstable is cutting edge (for Debian anyway). Packages then drift down to Testing and finally to Stable. With Unstable you always have the latest and greatest - at a slight risk of course. Version numbers are irrelevant here. I installed debian once, over six years ago, and have had a relatively pain-free (almost boring) experience ever since.

    Interestingly, I twice unsuccessfully tried to install Ubuntu on clean machines - Crap! Now I won't touch it - it has gone "commercial"

    1. ElNumbre

      Re: Debian Flavours

      I use the Deb SID (unstable) on my machine without too much issue. The only major problem tends to be with packages from the Debian Multimedia repository and dependent libs confusing the hell out of aptitude. Generally, a manual read of the error message and taking the appropriate action resolves the issue. And this is specific use case; if I didn't use those libraries, I expect there would be no problem.

      1. LaeMing

        Re: Debian Flavours

        I use Testing, pulling anything I specifically need the latest of down from unstable (which generally works, unless there are major library changes going through). The stuff I use for 'work' is usually advanced-enough from Testing to keep me happy and only 'play' stuff that doesn't matter if it crashes or fails comes from Unstable (presently MineTest is using far too much of my weekends - and I don't generally even like computer games much).

        Besides, someone has to test the stuff in Testing, and my home machine is not that critical -- at work I use Stable on our un-managed machines, pulling from Testing when needs-must.

        1. sisk

          Re: Debian Flavours

          I used to run Sid, but after completely hosing my system with apt-get dist-upgrade (Sid was midway through the transition from hotplug to udev at the time) I went back to the relative sanity of testing. My servers, on the other hand, run stable. Actually oldstable now I guess....and I suppose I need to dist-upgrade the one that's still running Lenny now that it's not even oldstable anymore. Anyway, I don't have to touch those servers. The only downtime any of them have had in years were power outage's.

    2. David Given

      Re: Debian Flavours

      To use terminology from other distros: stable is the LTS branch; testing is the rolling-release branch; sid is the bleeding-edge branch.

      It's also worth pointing out that when Debian talk about a 'stable' distro, they're not talking about the software. They're talking about the packaging. Stable packaging means that, e.g., you can rely on package upgrades not suddenly breaking dependency chains and causing other packages to stop working. This is vitally important for any production machine.

      Desktop hobbyist users will probably want to use testing. That way you get continuous package updates as they come in, but there's more of a risk of something suddenly breaking (although this hardly ever happens).

      I've been using Debian for years, and maintain a handful of packages. I think it's brilliant. Whenever I find myself using another Unixoid which doesn't have dpkg and apt I feel crippled.

      1. Andrew Wigglesworth

        Re: Debian Flavours

        Not quite right.

        Testing is not a "rolling release", it is where the next release of Debian (ie. stable) is developed. Therefore, early in the development cycle it will get lots of software version upgrades and latr on much, much fewer. Its purpose is to be gradually developed into a new stable release.

        Unstable is what you may call a "rolling release" if you like. It gets the newest software packaged for Debian, from where it may be accepted into Debian Testing depending on the development cycle etc.

        If something goes wrong in Testing then it can take a while for fixes to be made since it is the testing arena for new releases. In Unstable fixes are pretty fast.

        Testing now has a security team, Unstable does not, but then again, fixes are pretty quick since they come through software updates.

        I run Unstable (also called Sid) on my desktop and have never had a real problem with it. I run Debian Stable on my servers as that's the version severs should be running if possible.

  8. Joseph Haig

    Good news: Stable; Bad news: Name

    I much prefer this to the opposite. For example, I think that 'Vista' is quite a good name ...

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: Good news: Stable; Bad news: Name

      Why does the name bother people? You're using Debian, not Wheezy.

      1. Lars Silver badge

        Re: Good news: Stable; Bad news: Name

        @wolfetone. I have thought about it too, but would it rally be any better with, for instance, Debian 8s.

        1. wolfetone Silver badge

          Re: Good news: Stable; Bad news: Name

          It makes a difference to people who are all about appearances I would suppose. Me, I just want it to work. It could be called Katie Price's Big Pink Titty Bojangles OS for all I care, as long as it worked.

    2. sisk

      Re: Good news: Stable; Bad news: Name

      Actually when you consider that Debian takes it's names from Toy Story characters, Wheezy is a very good name. At last we have a release of Linux that's named after a penguin.

      Mine's the one with the spare squeaker in the pocket.

  9. Matt 43
    Thumb Down

    Stable - unless you use an SSD running ext4.

    I upgraded from 6 and the new kernel introduced a bug which messes up ext4 file systems on SSDs under load (such as apt-get upgrade of more than a few packages - ouch). I even went to the trouble of pulling a 3.8 kernel from unstable to try to fix the issue but it was still happening so today I had to migrate the drive over to XFS to try to make it functional again. Early indications are good, but I'm still testing...

    So, not-entirely-stable especially with the *default* file system.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is it me ...

    or is Linux rapidly becoming fragmented and problematic ?

    Ubuntu has gone well off the rails by "switching" to Unity. I played around with a 10.04->12.04 upgrade, and was astonished to discover that the Unity panels won't support any of the GNOME applets whilst not actually delivering a replacement. GNOME itself has gone pretty shite too. Upgrade broke my wifi too.

    I read here Debian has issues.

    Hardly encouraging. And I speak as a Linux fan.

    1. Lars Silver badge

      Re: Is it me ...

      With hundreds of distros and all the development going on there are always issues. Right now I have no issues with my Linux desktop but Silverlight, or what ever, but I have not booted Windows even once in many years because of that.

  11. Nate Amsden Silver badge

    As a debian user for the past 15 years

    Sounds like another solid release. Like many Debian stable users I don't care much about having the latest and greatest. Ubuntu 10.04 LTS has been my desktop of choice for the past 3 years (mainly for the reason cited in the article Debian didn't have the latest drivers). Though now that 10.04 is going EOL (on Desktop) maybe the next jump for me would be back to Debian 7. My laptop is almost 3 years old so hardware support should not be an issue. I have more than a year of on site support left for the laptop and it still works quite well so no reason to change that either.

    My (personal) servers run Debian stable too. I'll give Debian stable a month or two to sort any other bugs out before upgrading any of my servers, and probably six months before I consider upgrading my laptop+desktop. I'm tired of the frequent firefox updates on Ubuntu, though I suppose that will end now since it is EOL. I've had plugins that have been broken for weeks because of the latest firefox 20. I held the packages on my other desktop so they don't get upgraded until the plugins are updated to be compatible.

    The one good thing I hear is Debian 7 has a way to preserve the GNOME 2 look & feel which is, more than anything what I want. My Ubuntu setup works very well for me and I have no interest in changing that.

    I still do wish Linux had better driver support -- Take the e1000e driver for example. I can understand the kernel in Ubuntu 10.04 LTS when it was released did not support the NIC on my desktop. So I compile it from source, no problem. But I would expect as time goes on that this driver would get updated. But sadly it has not. So every time I update the official kernel on the system I have to recompile the driver to get networking to work.

    It is very unfortunate to have drivers tied to specific kernel versions. A user should not be "forced" into a newer version of a distribution only because of a driver(s) for their hardware. It's probably my biggest complaint with Linux. Fortunately most of my servers are VMs, so the driver situation there has been stable for many years now.

    Oh how badly it sucked hacking Linux installer kernels together just so the installer would see the NIC, or the storage controller.

    1. Andrew Wigglesworth

      Re: As a debian user for the past 15 years

      With a new Debian Stable release I don't "wait for bugs to be sorted out". This is because Debian is different from most other software projects, ie. it releases when ready, not according to a strict timetable.

      Therefore, Debian Stable should have as many bugs in it now (just released) as in 6 months or a years time. ie. none.

      Of course no software is bug free, but the point is that Debian does not release and then let things get reported and settle down over a perion. It is meant to be installed right away as it is "ready".

      So, read the release notes, and if that's OK, get upgrading :-)

  12. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Matt Piechota

      Re: What do people do on these OS's?

      "As along time and mostly happy windows user I read these Linux articles with interest. Not wanting to start a war but genuinely curious.

      What do people do on these OS's?"

      My normal computing. Mail, Web, streaming TV, etc. The rare occasions I need to edit audio or video, there are tools that work fine. I don't know how to use Photoshop, so it would be lost on me. Plus, I can't really draw.

      Of course, I've never been someone that learns a tool, but concepts. I think in terms of what task I need to accomplish, not what buttons I have to hit. This way has it's pros and cons, but I can generally move between different tools and accomplish the same tasks relatively easily. I'm not going to say that I'm not more comfortable in Excel than LibOffice's Calc, but if I had to use calc at work I'd be comfortable pretty quick.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. keithpeter Silver badge

      Re: What do people do on these OS's?

      "What do people do on these OS's?"

      Sensible question. Shame you were down-voted for it.

      Probably what most people do; Web, email, Office document production (LibreOffice seems stable to me, I don't need extensive use of macros and I don't need to exchange complex documents in MS Office format), a little 'end user computing' (R mostly with some use of Sage Maths). Very basic podcast production (Audacity suits, Ardour is overkill for my needs), some screen casting (record-my-desktop with audio commentary over Impress slides then Openshot for editing). Music while I work. Updating my static Web site. Organising and editing the snapshots.

      Matt Piechota's point stands: I go for the task rather than the package.

      The only proprietary software I have not found an alternative for is Eastgate System's Tinderbox (Mac OS only, information logging and organisation). I manage.

      1. Cameron Colley

        Re: What do people do on these OS's?

        Well, I'm sure I'm not an average user but what I do is:

        Web browsing + posting/commenting.


        Watching video from a variety of sources (DVD, iPlayer, etc.).

        Some games (Alien Arena, Nexuiz et al).

        Second Life, sometimes.

        Run VMs with other distros, Windowses, web servers and the like for practice/fun/helping friends.

        IRC, occasionally.

        Skype, rarely.

        Google Earth.

        A few more things I can't recall.

        A couple of friends record their music using Ardour and other Linux based software. Apparently there are companies selling audio software for Linux and the Linux Audio community is huge including people who only use FOSS and those who will use proprietary also if it works for them.

    3. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: What do people do on these OS's?

      "What do people do on these OS's?"

      I'm a Web Developer, and I do all my designing of sites, workflow, development (both PHP and MySQL) all on Linux. I used to flit between the two, but it just becomes a problem then.

      You're right about Photoshop, and I tried many times to get it working on Wine but it just wouldn't work half the time. As I made the decision to go open source, I ended up using GIMP (The open-source alternative to Photoshop) and do near enough everything I did in Photoshop in GIMP. So I don't miss it.

      The one thing that I do need Windows for is Football Manager. Until this game is released on Steam for Linux, I have to continue to use Windows, albeit inside a VM. Furthermore, I use Windows for IE testing.

      You are also right about the office suites, they are a bit crap. But I use Google Docs for any word processing and any light spreadsheet work. On the odd occasion I have to create a CSV for a database, I do use LibreOffice which is alright to be honest.

    4. sisk

      Re: What do people do on these OS's?

      What do people do on these OS's?

      Pretty much the same things you'd do on a Windows PC or a Mac.

      You cannot run any industry standard software such as Photoshop.

      If you absolutely have to you can through Wine (and, realistically, Photoshop is web based now and shouldn't care about the OS), but honestly if you want to get away from MS and Apple badly enough and don't mind relearning a few things there's not much Photoshop can do that Gimp can't. (Disclaimer: I do prefer Photoshop now that I've finally broken down and bought it, but I used Gimp in a professional capacity as a web developer for many years).

      No decent music editing software

      I haven't done a lot of music editing, but I do DJ with Mixxx (very similar to VDJ) 5 nights a week. It can do remixes quite well if you have the talent (I don't, and couldn't do a decent remix with any software...I just play the music). Ardour and Muse are supposed to be good music production programs, but as I said I just play the music. For more basic audio editing capabilities, Audacity works quite well.

      No real video editing software.

      KDenLive. Feature equivalent to Vegas Pro. I've never had a complaint about it. (Not the only one out there for Linux, just the one I use.)

      Cannot run VS

      And? You act as if Visual Studio is the end-all be-all of IDEs with that statement. Even when working in Windows I prefer to avoid VS if I can.

      The "office" equivalents are all flaky.

      FUD. LibreOffice is rock solid and I haven't had any trouble opening from or saving to MS Office formats with it in years.

      I understand that many of these varieties are free but is this "cost" not offset by all the hassle?

      Fair enough question. There is a degree of hassle involved with learning a new system and having to learn new programs with it. Is it worth it? For some, yes. For others, no.

      Why go through all the fuss one reads about getting basic stuff like audio and wifi working? In one post here someone said " I managed to burn a DVD".

      I often wonder about that myself. Put simply, there is no fuss for me with that sort of thing. Audio, wifi, DVD burning, and all that sort of stuff just works for me in Debian. It has for years across probably a dozen different machines, from laptops to rackmount servers. I don't understand why people have those kinds of issues.

      1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

        Re: What do people do on these OS's?

        There is some very serious audio software available - not bells and whistles stuff but low latency, high connectivity, high reliability.

    5. P. Lee

      Re: What do people do on these OS's?

      Debian is about the only maintained thing which runs on my G5. It does: web proxy, DVR, file server, webserver, time-machine server, DNS & DHCP, PXE boot for DVR clients and PXE boot OS installs.

      Suse or OSX on the desktop for work, with Windows for games and Chief Architect. Suse and Ubuntu desktop for playing with Steam on Linux.

      I found it a little too easy to break debian sid in horrible ways - suse saves me from myself there.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What do people do on these OS's?

      Run mission critical stuff is what people do. Our mail servers, firewalls, routers, file servers, oracle installations, as2 and B2B communication stuff all work on either debian or redhat. We do this because of the reliability and resource light nature of the OS and its flexibility. For me having to maintain a windows server is actually harder and more painful than Debian. I run 1000+ mailboxes on a machine with 8GB ram for example, try doing that with Exchange.

      On the desktop front however I can see where you are comming from, IMO Debian especially is not primarily a desktop OS. I control all my servers from a Win 7 desktop and Laptop. I *could* have saved £70 on a windows licence but tbh I just want something I can run bioshock or MSAccess etc on without hassle of wine. I try to use the best tool for the job and IMO windows 7 is that on the desktop at the moment. I do run some info screens on Mint but they just have a Firefox open. If more of our apps were web based then it could be that I could move some users over to Mint but I can't see that happening.

    7. The Vociferous Time Waster

      Re: What do people do on these OS's?

      I need a browser, rdp client, ssh/telnet client and text editor to do my job, that is all. I can get all that on just about any lightweight Linux distro without all the crap you get with windows.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What do people do on these OS's?

        @The Vociferous Time Waster

        Problem is that's not all most of us need to run. Access and sqlserver management studio are the 2 killers along with project are the issues for me along with a few industry specific windows only tools I need occasional access too. Just more convinient for me to run windows 7

    8. Andrew Wigglesworth

      Re: What do people do on these OS's?

      Hmm, I'd be a little careful with your statements if you "don't want to start a war" and you seem pretty set in your views for someone who who is "genuinely curious".

      Still, I'll try to take you at your word :-)

      What do I do with my Debian GNU/Linux box?

      Good grief, many things including all the ones that you suggest have no "decent software."

      Just because you don't recognise the name of a piece of software or it's not a supposed "industry standard" (what a loaded and misleading phrase) does not mean it is not "decent".

      I record and edit audio and edit video using some very powerful and easy to use software.

      I edit images using some very powerful and easy to use software.

      I don't personally use "office suites" but I know people who do use Libre Office, including in businesses on systems I support.

      I also do all that usual web browsing, email, IRC, messaging etc. I play just about any video or audio file (I haven't had one that doesn't play for years), I watch Youtube with free software (ie. Gnash and HTML 5 not Adobe Flash), I run servers for websites, I build run and maintain websites ... and more.

      Actually, for what I do on networks, servers, version control, bits of scripting and code to do jobs, a tiling window manager, Emacs ... I could go on and on. When I see a non-modular non-free system like Windows or a another proprietary system like OSX, I really do wonder how I could do it all and am glad that I don't havbe to.

      Most of all, GNU/Linux gives you a system that is truly discoverable. You can happily stay on the GUI (and many do), or you can start learning more about the system and setting it up to do what you want it to. There is nothing off limits, no "End User Licences" and secret software and codes. It is a free software (as in free speech) system that can be shared and adapted by everyone.

  13. brainwrong

    Have they fixed the bugs from the last stable release?

    I was rather disappointed when I switched to debian linux (squeeze) for my new computer.

    1) Nautilus file manager mixed up file names when running multiple large file-copy operations simultaneously.

    2) There are race issues with the startup on multicore processors.

    3) Graphics card support is dire. The PCIe card uses the closed source fglrx driver which won't do custom resolutions/timing properly, the onboard adapter uses the open source driver which has no features, and the 2 won't work together for dual monitor operation.

    I used to be able to do so many more things with my old win98 system than I can get this linux system to do.

    1. sisk

      Re: Have they fixed the bugs from the last stable release?

      1) Can't comment on Nautilus. I hate that program to begin with, so I don't use it (Thunar for the win).

      2) I haven't seen that issue with my quad core CPU. Could it be you were using a chipset that wasn't fully supported by the kernel Squeeze used? Just a guess.

      3) That almost sounds to me like you don't know how to set up your Xorg settings under Debian. That or you're trying to use a GUI to set it up. I've never tried to use two different adapters, but I do custom resolutions with my card (an older Radeon) with no trouble.

    2. AJ MacLeod

      Re: Have they fixed the bugs from the last stable release?

      Race issues on startup with multicore CPUs... are you sure this wasn't last century? I've certainly never seen anything like that on any one of many servers with between 2 and 8 real CPU cores over one or two sockets... not this century, or last either for that matter.

  14. cheveron
    Thumb Up

    Great for legacy systems

    My desktop computer is a G4 Mac mini. It's been nearly four years since Apple released an OS update for it (10.5.8). I've been dual-booting Debian 6 and modified version of MacOS 10.3.9 (which I use for running GarageBand 2) for a while now. I managed to upgrade the system to Debian 7 without too much trouble. I appreciate that Debian still counts 32-bit PPC as a tier-one supported architecture. Gnome 3 was a bit of a shock though.

    1. Uncle Slacky

      Re: Great for legacy systems

      Check out MintPPC - it uses LXDE as its default (it's essentially Mint Debian otherwise).

  15. techmind

    Any connection to the Raspberry Pi Raspbian "Wheezy" based on Debian?

    as title

    1. cyberdemon Silver badge

      Re: Any connection to the Raspberry Pi Raspbian "Wheezy" based on Debian?

      see icon.

      Wheezy has existed for a long time, as the "testing" distribution, but it has now become "stable", i.e. the official release, to which no further changes will be made apart from security updates. This ensures that no future update can break existing software.

      Raspbian, being a rather experimental platform anyway, uses the testing distribution because the package versions are newer.

      Many people use sid, because it is even newer.

  16. W. Anderson

    Debian is for more than a gee-whiz! desktop

    Most of the negative comments on Debian 7 - aka Wheezy - in the article and in following comments center on "desktop usage". However there is a significant percentage of Debian usage that is in Server configurations, particularly in Europe, Asia and South America - even for large installations and government, but less so in USA. After all, Debian is not sexy and gee-whiz! as is expected by the techno-amateur masses here in America.

    None of the"leading edge" or "bleeding edge" functionality matters in this server scenario, and therefore the conversation on new Debian features should be more broad and diverse.

    1. vmistery

      Re: Debian is for more than a gee-whiz! desktop

      Exactly, We use Debian extensively on servers at work and have never even installed a GUI. Here in fm the UK we seem to be in the minority however looking at job adverts they are all for MS Server outfits.

  17. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    What I use Linux for...

    Betacam's question has been answered... but... web surfing, watching videos, e-mail, bittorrent (occasionally), software development (python, c, c++, Java, Android development). I have VirtualBox set up to run other stuff as needed. (Really, For something like VS I'd rather have it contained in it's own VM than mucking up the rest of my system anyway.) If you have to debug network issues, using Windows is like trying to do it with a butter knife instead of a scalpel, the linux utilities are MUCH MUCH better for this. I upgraded some Cisco kit via tftp upgrade off my netbook, that was fun 8-) Libreoffice in fact works fine for all the word processing and so on I've had to do, people like to make out like it's a complete basket case but really it's not. It's nice to have no worries about viruses and spyware, even if I engage in "risky" online behavoir, and have ALL software update in one place instead of having loads of seperate updaters remind me of updates. Believe it or not, a Linux desktop can actually be a joy to use (as long as you don't use Unity -- eww!) and so long as you aren't reliant on some Windows-only app you would not miss Windows after a while. I'm not about to suggest someone that uses Quickbooks or Photoshop frequently switch to Linux, unless they are comformtable running their main apps in a virtual machine.

    Side note, Photoshop is not web-based -- the so called "cloud" versions of Adobes apps, if you read the recent article and comments, are actually essentially the traditional versions of the apps with more restrictive rights restrictions system installed. The DRM disables your applications if it can't phone home, or if it does phone home and finds you haven't made your monthly payment.

  18. tempemeaty
    Thumb Up

    I REALLY like what I'm reading here about Debian

    The latest trend of a new release with lots of new shiny stuff in it and loss of each ones last repositories every five minutes is pants where work need getting done. Nothing sucks more than having installed midway between on any particular release of a distro and having the repository go tits up before you've discovered all the software you needed to install for certain tasks.

    I've also experienced a variability in stability with distros that have a fairly short release schedule which can be a point of aggravation. I think it's a great thing that Debian is dedicated to a more meat space work compatible release schedule, stability, and full version with repository on disk downloads.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What do I do with this OS?

    I do photo editing with GIMP and UFRaw. I also use digiKam and the KIPI plugins. I scan using Xsane. I keep a copy of Photoshop 9 (CS2) around just in case, but I never seem to find a case. I do finances with GNUCash, Web site management with Gedit, Bluefish, and Geany. Basic office stuff and some desktop publishing works with LibreOffice. Browsing works with Iceweasel (Firefox), e-mail with Claws, listening with Audacious, viewing movies with VLC, burning and ripping with K3B, music editing with Audacity, and tag editing with Kid3.

    On top of that, I control a telescope with Carte du Ciel, learn my lunar topography with Virtual Moon, and play games with Pysol-fc.

  20. sc1line
    Thumb Up

    Debian 7

    Excellently done!!

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