Saturday, September 29, 2012


Over the past few days, I've installed Debian Wheezy (which is still the current Debian Testing) on two different notebooks. I used the debian-testing-i386-xfce+lxde-CD-1.iso image, burned a CD using K3b in Mepis 11, and installed Xfce.

The first notebook has no other distro installed on it; the second one has Ubuntu 12.04, openSUSE 12.2, and Sabayon 10.

I really prefer to use Debian Stable instead of Debian Testing; in any event, the installations went well, except that on the multi-boot set-up, the installer failed to pick up the other distros. This was solved by running update-grub during my first Wheezy session. Perhaps that'll be corrected by the time Wheezy goes to Stable.

I added Dolphin and KSnapshot, two KDE apps that I don't like to go without. I also added the Geany text editor, Desktopnova for automatic wallpaper changing, and Google Chrome.

A few screenshots are in order.

The Settings window:

A few looks at the menu:

I thought I'd have to add Synaptic, but it was included. The default desktop came with a top panel and a bottom panel, but I deleted one panel and kept only the bottom panel, tweaked to fit my tastes. For example, instead of the default clock, I went with the Orage Panel Clock. I tweaked some of the panel icons, and added a few launchers. I added some wallpapers, customized my bash prompts, and enabled the compositing so I could have a little bit of transparency. I don't like desktop icons, so I got rid of those.

My only real complaint has more to do with Xfce 4.8 than with Wheezy: Still no native menu editor! Why Xfce can't include something simple like Openbox's Obmenu is beyond me.

In my opinion, Debian isn't very difficult to install, but I guess that could depend on the user, and the hardware. It can be more time-consuming than installing other distros, though; and, once installed, expect to spend some time configuring everything to fit your needs.

When installing Debian, it's important to remember to read the documentation, follow the instructions, and keep good notes. The first time installing Debian may be a bit tough compared to some of the other distros out there, but it gets a lot easier after that, especially if you've taken good notes. You can always do a test installation, and then reinstall, taking advantage of your first experience.

I did install Debian Squeeze, the previous Debian release, when it was still in Testing; that ended up going well, with no major issues. I figure that I'll have the same experience with Wheezy. In my experience, once Testing gets fairly close to going to Stable, it's about as solid as anything else out there not named "Debian Stable." (But, always keep in mind, they call it "Testing" for a reason!)

I'm actually considering replacing Mepis with Wheezy on my main computer, my desktop pc. That would be a departure for me; I've continuously run Mepis for the past six years or so, going back to Mepis 3.4. Mepis was the first distro I installed on my own, and I have mixed feelings about dropping it. But I've gotten to the point where I don't think I have a need for Mepis anymore (although I'd still like to keep a Mepis DVD handy for live sessions), and I've become a bit fed up with the lack of communication coming from the developer. Also, I guess these days I have a preference for "major" distros instead of so-called "one-man distros."

But Mepis does give the user a very nice Debian Stable-based system, with a quick and easy installation, great hardware detection, a very useful live DVD, and a friendly forum community that's second to none. It has a lot going for it. I think the developer, while not very involved with the community, is some kind of Linux genius. He always seems to put out excellent releases. Mepis is still one of the best distros out there, in my opinion, even though I've decided to go in other directions now. I just think that these days I get what I need from Debian, and that Mepis no longer offers me enough to make it worth maintaining the system.

As much as I like Debian, I don't think I could ever be someone who uses only one distro. I enjoy logging into different distros on different days, and I don't want to feel tied down to any one of them. Also, I find it hard to even describe any one as "the best Linux distro." They each have different strengths; each have their pros and cons.

So, I think that, going forward, I'll be running only Debian, openSUSE, Ubuntu, Fedora, and Sabayon -- all excellent Linux distributions. Each one sorta comes with its own philosophy, its own way of doing things; and, this gives me a nice little variety to (hopefully) keep me from being bored.

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