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

Khalid Baheyeldin kb at 2bits.com
Sun Feb 7 22:46:47 EST 2010

On Sun, Feb 7, 2010 at 10:08 PM, unsolicited <unsolicited at swiz.ca> wrote:

> 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.)

With Drupal, it is only one application, and I know where to get updates (
and how to get alerted on new updates (update.module in Drupal 6). That
works well for minor version updates (6.x to 6.x).

The Drupal cycle is now around 2 years, if not more. So major version
upgrades are the less painful when we had a 6-8 month cycle.

With Drupal, I can replicate the site to a test machine in 10 to 15 minutes,
and upgrade it there. I can't upgrade my laptop from a non-LTS version every
6 months and find out that wireless did not work, or the screen resolution
is bad, and then back it out. I can't do work without my desktop.

This is why the rule is to be on LTS, and make exceptions where the need
arises (e.g. KDE unstable, Drupal on servers, ...etc.)

Did I get it this time?

>  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.

If I were forced to stay with 9.04 (e.g. 9.10 hypothetically never was in
the making), then I would have done something drastic. I was already
considering Xubuntu (no Gnome, no KDE) because 9.04's KDE 4.x was so bad.

Now that 9.10 all works for me, I will stay with KDE. However, I can only
stay so long on it, because it is a non-LTS. I think 12 or 18 months is when
they obsolete those. I have to move, and I hope it would be an LTS so I can
stay on it for 3 years.

> 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.]

That is an idea. It addresses the connectivity side of loss of repository,
but does not address the security updates. I will be running something
insecure eventually. I would only consider it if the next release is as
disastrous as 9.04, but otherwise I will keep upgrading until an LTS comes
out then stay with that.

>  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 (
> http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=asus_eee_1201n&num=3 ->
> https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/%2Bsource/linux/%2Bbug/401126 ->
> https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/linux/+bug/401126/comments/15)
> 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.

In both cases I mentioned, it was some Google searching that started me on
correct path to a solution, then I write what I find on my blog, so when I
search Google the next time, it is indexed and ready for me!



>         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?

>From a day to day thing, they are the same. I feel at home enough on client
machines that are Debian. Did not do full version to version upgrades though
to say one way or the other.

Now, if it is RedHat/CentOS with Plesk, I start cursing in Arabic ...
Khalid M. Baheyeldin
2bits.com, Inc.
Drupal optimization, development, customization and consulting.
Simplicity is prerequisite for reliability. --  Edsger W.Dijkstra
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. --   Leonardo da Vinci
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