Re: redhat vs debian

From: H. S. (
Date: 11/12/03

Date: Tue, 11 Nov 2003 22:17:20 -0500

Wow, you have actually just repeated my nightmare story almost
perfectly. I went through the same insane questions/answer/guessing
routine while I was installing Debian for the first time just 3 days ago.

Jim wrote:
> On Tue, 11 Nov 2003 15:56:28 +0100, Michael Heiming wrote:
> I went back and revisited debian today to see if the install was any
> better. I wiped and attempted to setup a new HDD.
> Afte wiping it and attempting to do the install, the partition portion of
> it was extremely confusing. Note to developers: it is more important to
> simplify and give lots of feedback then it is to become extremely
> technically competent in the making of partitions.

So true. Debian installer *so* sucks as compared to RH. I am not
religiously in favor of one Linux distro or another, so I this comment
is not biased. Linux developers harp so much at being so logical and
tech savvy and programming savvy, but the designer of the Debian
installer has brought same to all Linux users/programmers. Seeing how
the installer works, it leads me to some curious ideas:
1) was s/he fanatically motivated to do his/her utmost to prevent anyone
else from liking Linux: "drive them away right at install time".
2) was s/he under M$ payroll: "If someone tries installing Debian, and
then installs Windows, the user should *never ever* dream of trying
Debian again".

Whatever, but these are the effects that the installer should be having :)

> I had to do alot of guessing but I finally got it done. End users without
> any computer knowledge would be hard pressed to make any choice. They'd
> be totally lost.

Totally agree with that. I guess the installer is *the* reason Debian is
not as popular as RH, at least in North America (is it the same
situation in Europe?).

> Once the file system was in place I chose to set the network card up. The
> listing of cards was extremeley limited and had very cryptic names and
> vague descriptions. Since I work fixing computers every day and have for

vague? some modules and drivers have no description at all! And in
Debian does it somehow, even after one by some superpowers tells which
ones of the listed vague drives is the one to be used for the car, show
which NIC is eth0 and eth1 (in case of two cards)? I didn't notice if it
showed me such information. The only way I could guess was through "ADSL
configuration" in KDE. This was important to me since I use
masquerading. One more curious thing, Debian detects my two cards as
eth0 and eth1, and Redhat the other way around.

> When I moved on it asked me if I wanted to use something called dselect. I
> unfortunately chose yes. I went through this list of far to many packages

oh yes, that happened with me too. First it asks for one package
installer (dpakcage or something), and then about dselect (or is it the
other way around). Anyway, the YES to the second option is a grave
mistake for a new comer to Linux. *This* is where the little man with
wings on your shoulders begins to convincingly say "Go back to RH .. go
back to RH". And there is NO "back" button!! What a GUI design! Even
microsoft does better in such things -- remember, I am giving you my
opinions *without* bias for any one brand.

> to even make sense to try to select additional packages. Looking at the
> help screens was a shocking reminder of the old dos character based
> switches/screens gone nightmarishly wild--almost completely undecipherable
> unless you are a developer or such. I backed out and moved on thinking
> that I could go back and reinstall.

True. Actually, I screwed something here (Debian assumes everybody knows
the keystroke shortcuts for all the commands) and had to reinstall :((

> During these screens it seems the installer was constantly trying to query
> the network neighborhood (or whatever). It repeatedly dumped out error
> message right in the middle of the screen relating to that.

HA, i missed that one!

> Again, if the end-user on the desktop experienced this then they would be
> totally miffed and feel alarmed. Which they should feel that way.

And the little man with wings on their shoulders would be having a field

> After this it took its time copying files and creating configuration
> files. Some error message were displayed and a huge list of entries were
> displayed so fast it made no sense to display them. Why display this info
> when I can't actually read it. Some were readable such as one I noticed,

Yup, why indeed? The only explanation I see is that this is a very rough
replacement for the progress bars: you at least see text scrolling up
the screen so know that things are progressing :))

> Finally, when it managed to finish I rebooted the computer and had LILO
> on. No other boot loaders seemed to be provided as a choice. I choose to
> start and was then prompted to log in. After this Debian presented me
> with a message about warranties, etc. When I tried to start the X windows
> system it locked the computer.

It is totally clueless about my monitor and video card. RH detects then

> Oh, and before I finish this story, I was prompted to specify which mouse
> type I had for X windows. I read this screen carefully and it made note
> that some mice are USB. Well, frankly every mouse I have used for the
> past 2 years is USB. Even so, the debian selection screen had no choice
> for USB. Redhat on the other had has routines to ensure that at any time
> you plug in a usb device it will function properly.

True, I screwed up twice just because of the mouse. I was not sure which
one I should use. I was not sure I should have chosen the "bus mouse"
option or the "usb devices" option or the "human computer interaction"
options during kernel module choices. And in all their explanation, no
once do they say anything useful about a USB mice. The "/dev/input/mice"
finally worked.

> Bottom line, I plugged back in the RH HDD and rebooted. I brought the KDE
> desktop up and chose to wipe the Debian install.

:D I have installed now, can dual boot between Debian and RH.
Eventually maybe I will shift to Debian (for reasons you have already
stated), but there is no possible reason Debian should have such a
nightmarishly poorly designed installer. Average Joe User is better off
using any other distro but Debian.


(Remove all underscores from my email address to get the correct one. 
Apologies for the inconvenience, but this is to reduce spam.)

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