Daily Archives: 30 May 2006

Distro Dementia

This post is going to ramble all over the place because I don’t
have the time to edit it to try to bring some kind of order to this
chaos. Sorry about that. But it’s either this or nothing at

So, my experiments with SUSE 10.1 came to an end over the
weekend. Although I really wanted to like this distribution, and I
have used it in the past, 10.1 just doesn’t seem to work with my

For example. using YAST to update my base system was hit or
miss. Mostly miss. Updates were very sssssllllooooowwwwww. If they
worked at all. YAST would lock up seemingly at random times. In
fact, the system became corrupted several times, probably because
of the problems with YAST.

Then there’s the speed, or lack of same. On the system being
used, which to be honest is an Intel P3-933 with 512MB of RAM,
everything ran so slowly I had to wonder if something was wrong
with the hardware. But as events would show, this was not true.

In any case, things got so bad that I decided to try something
else. So I downloaded the ISO for Kubuntu 5.1 and Debian
“testing” (also known as “Etch”).

I should note that I was using SUSE 10.1 and K3B to burn the ISOs
to CDs but I could not get K3B to work. I kept getting errors
saying it couldn’t flush the buffer or some such. So I ended up
using my laptop (which uses Windows XP), re-downloaded the ISOs,
and burned them there. Talk about irony.

I decided to try Debian first. The install ran fine but I had
forgotten that true blue Debian uses Gnome because, as I understand
it, KDE uses some commercial utilities to create its environment.
Although Gnome is okay, I’m not very familiar with it. But I
decided to give it a try anyway just to see what it was about.

Unfortunately, the learning curve from KDE to Gnome was just too
great. I couldn’t find stuff as easily as I could in KDE. To be
sure, this is not necessarily a knock on Gnome so much as I am just
more experienced in KDE. YMMV. Choose the tool that works best for
you. But I just didn’t have the time to learn Gnome.

In any case, the default install of Debian is rather stark. That
is, if you want to use Debian as a desktop as well as being able to
compile programs, you will probably have to add stuff. This is not
unique to Debian as other distributions also require you to add
packages to create an environment that works for you. In addition,
stuff like Adobe Acrobat, the Flash plug-in, MP3/ACC/DVD movies
support, etc, etc also has to be added in. Again, this is not
unique to Debian. But it does get tiring.

On the upside, using apt-get (or one of the front ends) really
is the best that can be had in the Linux world. I have a lot less
problems using deb files then RPMs. That’s not to say apt-get
doesn’t have it’s own problems. For example, if you add or delete a
package using apt-get, you *MUST* check which other packages will
be added or deleted. For example, removing one small package can,
for example *cough*, delete almost all of KDE. So, be careful when
using apt-get.

After trying Debian for awhile, I decided to switch to Kubuntu.
Since Kubuntu is based on Debian, much of what I said regarding
Debian applies to Kubuntu. The main difference is that Kubuntu uses

I haven’t spent much time in Kubuntu so I can’t say much about
it right now. More when I know more.


Microsoft Automatic Update

There is a lot of huffing and puffing over the recent use of the
Microsoft Update service to automatically download a non-critical
application. Said application, called Windows Genuine Advantage, checks
among other things, to see if the copy of Windows you are
using is legally obtained. If it can confirm this, no problem. If
not, from what I understand, it will pop-up boxes telling you to
stop using it (i.e., your supposely illegaly obtained copy of Windows).

In many people’s minds, the problem is that MS used the download
service for something that is clearly unrelated to patching
vulnerabilities. Although, I am sure, MS disagrees with this, I
have to question what else MS may decide is in its best interest,
but not necessarily of their customers.

I’ve talked before about the lack of trust that some people have
when it comes to MS so I won’t repeat it here. But this is an
example of what I meant.

That said, I’ve come to the conclusion that for most people,
they should continue to use the automatic setting because they
won’t get the truly critical patches otherwise. But for those 11
geeks tech savy readers of this site, you may want to set
one of the other options so that you can wait and see what kind of
reaction hits the Internet. If nothing much happens, then go ahead
and manually down the patch. But if an instant uproar occurs, you
may wish to wait awhile.

Better yet, switch to Linux. For all its problems with buggy
opensource software, at least you don’t have to worry about this
kind of fubar.