[kwlug-disc] What's the best desktop distribution?

unsolicited unsolicited at swiz.ca
Sun Feb 7 22:08:00 EST 2010

Khalid Baheyeldin wrote, On 02/07/2010 7:37 PM:
>            I can see your point is some (?) years as Drupal settles down.
>            You've pointed out that Drupal is currently still in rapid
>            evolution. In your experience / expectation, is LTS, today,
>         reasonable?
>         Ubuntu LTS is indeed viable. I never had something break on me
>         on a server because of an apt upgrade. Shouldn't say "never",
>         but at least I don't recall such
>         an incident.
>     You took me the opposite way. What I meant was, if you're in the
>     middle of frequent updates anyways, does non-'LTS' really add any
>     significant effort? Do you gain / lose much?
> Sorry, now I take the question to mean: "If non-LTS forces frequent 
> upgrades, then what is the value in using them at all?" Hope I got it 
> right this time?

Close. If you're there already for Drupal updates, in your experience, 
is the gain of non-LTS currency against the expense of more frequent 
updates it brings, over LTS, balance the scales in any way? Because 
you're already there for Drupal updates anyways. (This is getting hard 
to say.)

> First, a bit of background: One thing that Ubuntu does which is 
> disconcerting is that after a while the repositories of non-LTS versions 
> will be made unavailable, meaning
> that you cannot install anything some time after the release becomes 
> unsupported.
> The reason I use non-LTS releases on the desktop is Ubuntu's decision 
> with 8.04. That release was meant to be an LTS release, supported for 5 
> years for servers and 3 years for desktops. That was true for servers 
> and the Gnome Ubuntu. For KDE, the release of KDE 4 caused the Canonical 
> team to decide that 8.04 will NOT be an LTS release for Kubuntu. I 
> decided to skip 8.04 on the desktop. When I got a new laptop I installed 
> 9.04 on it since it was the latest available. That was a very buggy 
> release, and had lots of problems. Now with 9.10 out, things are back to 
> being both stable AND functional. But it is not LTS and hence I have to 
> keep upgrading until an LTS comes out.

I remember your commenting on 9.04, which matched my own experience, 
and others. How likely are you to not stay with a more current release 
on the desktop, anyways? Heck, there are still warts in 9.10 that I 
don't expect to be fixed until the next release. And not long after 
we'll be into this cycle again.

OTOH ... as Eric demonstrated, you could always mirror that old 
release, could you not? [But, to your earlier point, the loss of the 
repository also means the loss of security updates. Do you really 
think your desktop is at risk by the time of repository loss from a 
that long unfound bug? Especially when you're usually behind your own 
firewall? In your opinion.]

>         Drupal will not slow down in the foreseeable future, just
>         because the pace of web technology is fast. Even if it does,
>         core may stabilize a bit, but modules will always be in flux.
>         There is nothing stopping a Drupal company from backporting
>         patches to obsolete versions. This has been discussed several
>         times in the community,  but there were no takers.
>            Or/and is Debian stable a more reasonable platform for production
>            than Ubuntu LTS server (in these particular circumstances)?
>         Either
>            way, you're still updating Drupal more frequently / more
>         often than
>            just 'OS' releases?
>         I have not managed a Debian server long enough to form an
>         opinion, although I helped a few clients with specific aspects
>         of it.
>          From what I understand Debian stable and Ubuntu LTS are close
>         enough, but I just happen to use the latter.
>     I guess what I'm wondering is what Ubuntu LTS gains you over Debian
>     stable. I take your points, recently, about Ubuntu vs. Debian. (In
>     fact, I just experienced it myself on the new laptop - I had to pull
>     Debian testing off in favour of Kubuntu 9.10 - Kubuntu just had more
>     working out of the box, like network. Although, unfortunately, not
>     wireless.)
> I guess you nailed it: Ubuntu is easier to install, works well out of 
> the box, and
> provides a better Debian.

Right, but this topic (content) switched to servers, despite the 
subject line not changing, some messages back. Or I missed something. 
Or I assumed LTS -> server in my take /reading of the message, missing 
desktop LTS.

	FWIW - Debian, Ubuntu, installation is installation. One didn't 
bother me more than the other. Probably because, in this case, of my 
pre-partitioning / dual-booting / vm one from the other via raw 
physical partitions. I can see the difference for a newbie, but I've 
done too many distro installs / attempts over the years to think 
anything of any of it. (Which, as far as I can tell, is typical of 
this particular list's participants / audience.)

> Wireless depends on the specific cards. The only 2 I have had to do 
> extra work
> to get working are the Broadcom on a Dell (notorious across distros, not 
> just
> Ubuntu), and the Intel Wireless WiFi Link 5100 with the iwlagn driver (I 
> think it
> is new or something).

Yeah, they switched chips. The Atheros wired just came up in 9.10, not 
so Lenny. Found the patch for the changed from 1005 Realtek wi-fi 
-> https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/%2Bsource/linux/%2Bbug/401126 -> 
but I couldn't get it to go. I'm not familiar enough with the Linux 
development environment to just glance at it and figure out the make / 
install type problem (on the assumption the driver does work). I ran 
out of time, will have to get someone to help me at a meeting. wlan0 
now appears and comes up, but it's not detecting any networks. Yet I 
can see a dozen or so under Windows.

>         One factor is me using Ubuntu desktops,
>     I hear you, but I wonder how that relates / matters? Familiarity?
>     (But your servers are gui-less, so ...) Just warm fuzzy feeling
>     comfort level? (Not a negligible thing, by any means.)
> Yes, familiarity, and not having to find that things are not the same.
> I use ssh for server, and a mix of GUI and command line for desktops.
> aptitude update && aptitude full-upgrade works regardless of which machine
> type I am on.

That was sort of my point / expectation, for server. i.e. Have you 
(anyone) noticed anything all that different, at a command line, 
between Debian and Ubuntu?

>         Debian's
>         slow pace of updates (perhaps not so much recently) and the
>         reputation that
>         Ubuntu has a few things that are more up to date than Debian's.
>     Again, I hear you, but you're building servers. Presumably mostly
>     based on rock-solid LAMP. I guess what I'm really asking is, since
>     the desktop has more quickly moving hardware (e.g. wireless) than
>     servers,  are there current frequent aspects where being more up to
>     date was important (given the service / hardware nature of servers),
>     even for servers (these days)?
> A few years ago, Drupal was on php4 only. But eventually Drupal 
> supported php5, and there was a big push to get rid of php4 in Drupal 
> and other LAMP products. It was a case of ISPs not upgrading because 
> their customers use php4 mostly, and software products having to support 
> php4 because customers say ISPs have only php4. Developing object 
> oriented stuff in php4 is painful since it is not really complete, and 
> for a product to get to the next level, supporting both php4 and php5 
> was a real pain (lowest common denominator and all that).
> How is that all related to Debian vs. Ubuntu? Debian stable had only 
> php4 at one point and for one to get php5, they had to go out of the 
> repository (defeating the whole Debian stable idea).
> This may no longer be an issue with Debian, but it was one reason Ubuntu 
> Server became popular. And the versions provided by Ubuntu are 
> current/recent, yet not bleeding edge: a nice tradeoff between freshness 
> and stability.
> In most cases, I want a desktop or a sever to "just work". I experiment 
> on a test machine, but would like my live machines to cause me the least 
> amount of work possible, whether it is troubleshooting, upgrading, 
> fiddling, ...etc.

Got you. Not likely, nor usual, to happen, but it does happen. And 
when it does, history says you're more likely to have a bit smoother 
sailing with Ubuntu server than Debian. i.e. It's not like you change 
php every other year. But it will happen some day. And if there's 
little enough to choose from between Ubuntu LTS server and Debian, and 
Ubuntu isn't significantly more frequently patched than Debian such 
that it becomes irritating, one may as well go with Ubuntu.

After all, if one was looking for standard, rock solid, really long 
term stability, without the need for anything new in the last 5 years, 
one would be running BSD. Short of that, it does sound like Ubuntu is 
worth the time over Debian.

> Hope this answers some of your questions at least.

Just trying to get a sense of the issues at the Linux server / distro 
level. I do appreciate your thoughts and comments.

More information about the kwlug-disc mailing list