Sunday, June 26, 2011

Debian Squeeze updated to 6.0.2 - and my nostalgic trip back in free-software time


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There are 60-something updates waiting for me in Debian Squeeze at the moment, and such a large number of packages staring at me from Update Manager usually means a “major” Debian Stable update.

In this case it’s the second update of Debian Squeeze, 6.0.2. Check the link for everything changing in Debian in terms of bugfixes and and security updates.

As always, while new installation media is available for download, any Debian 6.x image will still install a system that can be fully updated via the usual tools (apt, Aptitude, Synaptic/Update Manager).

Whether or not this point release is some kind of milestone (it’s not, I think), it’s a good time as any to assess where I’ve been on the Linux and BSD desktop over the past few years. Am I setting a personal longevity record with Debian Squeeze?

If you don’t count Sarge, and I don’t because I’m running it on my Sun Sparcstation 20 now and not in the deep, dark past when Sarge was the current Stable release, Squeeze is third Debian Stable release I’ve run for significant periods of time.

That means I’ve been messing with Linux for a bit more than four years at this point. I started experimenting with Knoppix, Ubuntu, Puppy and Damn Small Linux in early 2007 (maybe late 2006) and did my first Debian installation after I read about Etch going Stable in April 2007.

That I was able to install Etch with no trouble after only a few months using the “easier” distros was and continues to be a testament to both how Debian’s reputation for difficulty in comparison to Ubuntu is somewhat unfounded, and its performance and flexibility well worth any additional effort.

I did my current Debian Squeeze installation in late November 2010, and the release was declared Stable on Feb. 6, 2011.

So I’ve been running Debian Squeeze for seven months. Not that running a Linux release for that period of time is some kind of Herculean task — although it may be for you, I can tell you that it is for me.

My free-OS history

Looking back at the Click archives (the archive page being one of my favorite Movable Type features), as my “main” OS on my main laptop (first the Toshiba Satellite 1100-S101, then the Lenovo G555):

  • I’ve been running Debian Squeeze from late November 2010 until the present (7 months)
  • I ran Fedora 13 from mid-July 2010 until late November (4 1/2 months)
  • Ubuntu/Xubuntu 10.04 from mid-April 2010 until mid-July (3 months)
  • FreeBSD 8.0-release and 7.3-release (in that order) from late March 2010 until mid-April (maybe 3 weeks)
  • Debian Lenny from mid-December 2009 until my failed Squeeze upgrade in mid-March 2010 (3 months)
  • Ubuntu 8.04/9.04/9.10 from mid-May 2009 until mid-December (7 months)
  • OpenBSD 4.4 from late November 2008 until mid-May 2009 (just about 6 months)
  • Before this, on my Gateway Solo 1450 (currently running Ubuntu 10.04), Compaq Armada 7770dmt and Self-Reliant Thin Client (Maxspeed Maxterm with Via C3 Samuel processor), I ran tons of things in the Ubuntu/Debian/Slackware/Puppy/OpenBSD realm.

So Debian Squeeze is only now becoming the installation I’ve run the longest on my main system (I’m counting that Ubuntu stretch in 2009 as a single system since these were all in-place upgrades).

I’ve made it this far due to a number of factors, including being very satisfied with Debian Squeeze’s performance (and by extension the rest of the thousands of packages that go into the distribution, many if not most of which are so good not because of Debian but due to the upstream developers who code them).

This particular laptop, the Lenovo G555 meshes very well with Linux at this point. Working suspend-resume is something I’ve only experienced briefly before getting this laptop. I like having it.

The major changes that are keeping me happy with Debian Squeeze:

  • Newer kernels from Liquorix. If the G555’s sound issues had been resolved in the 2.6.32 Linux kernel, I probably would have never explored the Liquorix kernels. Since using a newer kernel did solve my sound problem (muting speakers when headphones are plugged in), I’ve stick with Liquorix and am now running 2.6.39.
  • Newer web browsers and e-mail client. I’m running Iceweasel 5.0 and Thunderbird 3.1 from the Mozilla Debian team, and Google Chrome from the Google repository.
  • Debian Backports. I added Debian Backports to my repository list last week and replaced OpenOffice with LibreOffice. That wasn’t strictly necessary, but I wanted to start tracking the office suite that most of the Linux world has already turned to in the wake of Oracle’s handling of OpenOffice.

To make it easier to get my work done on multiple machines, I’m using Dropbox though not feeling a huge amount of confidence in the service due to its recent security issue. Hopefully the problem, in which accounts were left unprotected over a weekend, will serve as a huge wakeup call for Dropbox and lead to greater security overall.

Right now, as I’ve written many times in the recent past, I’m going to let the GNOME 3/GNOME Shell and Unity environments age/ripen more than a bit before I leave GNOME 2 behind. And right now I’m looking hard at Xfce and LXDE.

I’ve messed with success before, mostly to scratch the distro-hopping itch, but now that I’m doing more with my Debian Stable installation than ever before, I don’t see myself moving away from it in the months or even year ahead.

  1. Matt

    Sunday, June 26, 2011 - 21:40:40

    For me this article is a nice conincidence since I started using Linux in 2007 and I was running Ubuntu 7.04 first before upgrading to my all time favorite ubuntu release 7.10. The computer I’m working on is the result of a sudden laptop failiure when I first hit college. So I put my computer smarts to use and cobbled together a simple desktop. Over the years this machine has recieved a few upgrades here and there but something was always the same for this machine. It always had a Linux install on the machine. Since I was first formally introduced to it by some dormitory neighbors I’ve run Linux. I’ve had that distrohopping itch too. Though it has taken me awhile mid last year I eventually settled on using only debian and debian varient systems so that I wouldn’t have to worry too much about learning different package management systems. Also I’ve found that in those years I’ve come to love the simplicity of debian and how I’ve always been able to find someone who could help me out when I had a tough time with one computer problem or the other. I’ve learned many good lessons about how to keep a computer and how to best assist new folks with their various problems. I love to leave a irc window open sometimes just to read solutions to problems. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  2. tuxradar

    Monday, June 27, 2011 - 02:49:12

    You should try Arch Linux with a DE like KDE.

  3. steven

    Monday, June 27, 2011 - 03:04:58

    Where’s there more pain, Slackware or Arch?

  4. tuxradar

    Monday, June 27, 2011 - 03:36:02

    https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Beginners%27_Guide

    If you like pain, there’s gentoo.

  5. ottermaton

    Monday, June 27, 2011 - 05:36:31

    “I’m using Dropbox though not feeling a huge amount of confidence in the service due to its recent security issue.”

    Me too, which is why I’ve switched to SpiderOak. I’ve only just installed it, but my initial impressions are that it is MUCH better. I’m not affiliated with them in any way, just a disillusioned Dropbox user who wanted to make a switch. If you want to try it, it would be cool if you could use this link. https://spideroak.com/download/referral/ac8e87ab737ec5d792c7f2ff94dcf31d . Like Dropbox they have referral program that gets you more space, but more generous. Same goes for anyone else who’s reading this!
    cheers
    mark

  6. istok

    Monday, June 27, 2011 - 12:18:06

    squeeze is a good release. it was good to run on so-called production machines a good year before it was released as stable. i flirted briefly with wheezy but it’s not good for the computer i use for work, it requires too much fixing. which i’d gladly do however in the middle of the working week i need a computer that works without a hitch.. so wheezy was put on an old testing notebook. just to monitor the progress of the development cycle :)

    so i upgraded squeeze last night, and broken internet radio streaming in MOC was fixed, yay! now i’d like to find out how, and what did it. anyway that’s the one difference i noticed. otherwise it’s the good old solid, superb debian. as usual.

    to the folk suggesting arch.. i’ll try and be as polite as i can, but come back when you have a decent distro with signed packages to promote. what on earth are you thinking putting an OS on your computers that’s less safe than windows?

  7. steven

    Monday, June 27, 2011 - 21:34:51

    I think Debian is a nice compromise between the do-everything type of experience with Arch, Gentoo and Slackware and the do-not-as-much philosophy of Ubuntu, Mint and the like.

    When I ran Slackware the first time (around 12.0), I fell behind on updates. Once I picked up on slapt-get/Gslapt, it was just as easy as Debian/Ubuntu.

    I won’t say that I’d never return to Slackware. It’s way easier to deal with than OpenBSD or FreeBSD.

  8. DebWolf

    Monday, June 27, 2011 - 22:52:18

    Get Arch, or else </8”#¤&% Come on - get real folks.

    One thing I do not understand is that so many computers seem to break when running testing-versions.

    5 years ago I started out with Ubuntu as my main system on server-side as well as on desktop/client-side and I have never had a faulty system. My main desktop-system always ran the Alpha/Beta/RC version and I was selfom on the same version for more than a month.

    Same with Debian. Three or four days after having installed Squeeze I changed the repos in /etc/apt/sources.list to wheeze and my desktop-system haven’t failed me once.

    I don’t understand why the author didn’t try upgrding to Debian Testing which would have given him the 2.6.39 kernel, and that’s from the official repos even.

    My Debian X.x (testing) just works e v e r y day without a glitch. True. There are days where I get 7-8 updates, and days where I get nearly 80 updates, kernel-updates included.

  9. steven

    Monday, June 27, 2011 - 23:04:06

    I ran Squeeze as Testing for a good two months before it went Stable, and I kept track of it via live media for a good deal before that.

    I want to get away from upgrading every single package on the system just because I need a new browser or new kernel even.

    This is more of an experiment than anything — how long can I comfortably run Debian Stable without missing out on “key” application upgrades.

    I’d rather stick with the “slower” pace of updates in Stable, and as I’ve learned over the past few months, it’s easy to use a newer kernel with Squeeze, first from Liquorix and now from Debian Backports.

    I’ve found that on hardware that stays the same, an ill-timed upgrade can really break things — like mid-Fedora 13 when a kernel upgrade pretty much killed video on this particular ATI-running laptop.

    What I’m leaning toward is a model where in the case of hardware stays the same, and a given base system runs everything well, not putting that at risk every few months with a major upgrade or distro change.

    I’m not chasing the latest desktop environment upgrade or newest version of everything. I just want stuff that works, and I’m trying to avoid the regressions that seem to crop up all the time.

    The 2.6.32 kernel is less than ideal. If my sound issue wasn’t there, I’d be running 2.6.32 happily and not looking for newer kernels.

    But right now in Squeeze, GNOME 2 is as good as it’s going to get, NetworkManager is more functional than ever, and I’ve found little that is too broken to use.

    Squeeze is an known quantity on this hardware. Having a newer kernel, web browser, e-mail client and office suite (not strictly necessary; OpenOffice worked well enough, but I wanted to try LibreOffice) goes a long way toward making me happy with this particular installation. I shouldn’t need to get on the Testing/Sid/Ubuntu-six-month bandwagon just to get four up-to-date components on my system. And thanks to all of the help out there in terms of extra repositories and packages built against Squeeze, I don’t have to.

    If I had major problems with Squeeze, you can bet I’d be looking toward Testing, Ubuntu, or something else entirely. But Squeeze fits this hardware so well, it would be wrong to give it up. I’ve messed up Debian Stable systems before (my ill-advised and failed Lenny-to-Squeeze update way before the upgrade path was documented), and I’ve always regretted it.

    I’m talking here about my production machine. Other systems on which I’m experimenting — I’ll run anything.

    But for ease of maintenance, I’ve had great luck with Debian Lenny and Squeeze, as well as the Ubuntu LTS releases (6.06, 8.04 and 10.04). There’s something to be said for getting off the upgrade bandwagon.

  10. sonic

    Monday, June 27, 2011 - 23:34:16

    Hi, where can I download a CD image of Debian 6.0.2? All the debian repositories only seem to have 6.0.1. Thanks for your time!

  11. istok

    Tuesday, June 28, 2011 - 01:19:52

    @DebWolf

    i run a very minimal debian customized to suit me and only me :) from a core installation. in this case some xfce programs i run and depend on pretty much for work were broken because they came from xfce 4.8. it was a dbus/policykit thing. i could have fixed it, probably, but really had no time to dedicate to it right then. also, i could have given up on my way of computing (by adding stuff i don’t normally use) which fits me perfectly just so i could run testing, but i don’t want that. i’m sure if i used a full DE it would go smoother. but i don’t need testing to be honest.
    btw i run .38 kernel from backports, i needed it for the acpi for my thinkpad otherwise .32 was good. i tried liquorix but for some reason the cpu load was very high. bpo works great.

  12. Engel

    Tuesday, June 28, 2011 - 12:44:54

    I updated squeeze on my iBook, and I received the message : kernel failure; but everything seems to work, unless usb memory sticks no more automounting … solved creating new account, loggin off and restarting with old account …
    I didn’t understand, anyway …

  13. ravi kumar

    Sunday, July 3, 2011 - 17:14:21

    debian squeeze stable is great,i also plan to dual boot with debian gnu/hurd as well

  14. steven

    Thursday, July 21, 2011 - 00:53:56

    Thanks to Distrowatch Weekly for mentioning this post. Just heard it today on the podcast (I’m way behind …)


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Steven Rosenberg writes about many things in many places, including Debian (and FlatPress) right here.

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