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Greetings from Debian 7

04 Jun 2013

So after yesterday's rant, I decided to shop around for different Linux distributions. I'm no stranger to distro-hopping; I've tried a majority of the Linuces out there at some point in time. My decision very quickly came down to two Linuxes:

  1. Ubuntu - The Debian-derived elephant in the room. Everyone knows about it, everyone has opinions on it. A lot of people use it.
  2. Linux Mint - Another Debian derivative that's garnered a lot of praise recently for its polish.

I started investigating the Linux I knew the least about - Linux Mint. They just launched version 15, codenamed "Olivia". They offer two versions of what I know as the Gnome desktop - "Cinnamon" is a rework of Gnome 3 and "MATE" is a rework of Gnome 2. Their software repositories are updated regularly and the community is vibrant and thriving. For all intents and purposes, Linux Mint was exactly what I was looking for.

Except for two things... First, I really dislike Gnome in all of its forms. The Gnome devs have a penchant to remove features to push their design philosophy, which to me smacks of Apple hipsters. And sure, I could install KDE, but this transition away from Arch is about doing less work, not more. Secondly, they have an odd software update process involving "software levels". Level 1 means "most tested" and Level 5 means "barely tested". Something about that turned me off.

So I moved on to looking at Ubuntu. First thing was to update myself on what Ubuntu has been up to since I last looked... which included sending all your search data to Amazon, signing everyone up for their Ubuntu One cloud service, ditching Gnome in favor of their own clearly tablet-focused Unity desktop, and planning to dump the Xorg server for their own server, Mir. These all sent me a clear message: Ubuntu is out for itself, and not for the Linux community at large. A man is not an island and neither is a Linux distribution, especially the one with such a huge user base.

I did some more googling, and then I ran across Micah Lee's blog post entitled "Why I'm Leaving Ubuntu for Debian". He put words to a lot of the feelings I had about Ubuntu and convinced me to look at Debian.

Debian and I have never really gotten along. I've made fun of it a lot in the past... I might as well have written the hilarious Debian Uncyclopedia page. But Debian 7, released less than a month ago, has made some significant changes since I last looked:

So I decided to pull the trigger... and I'm impressed. Everything "just worked", out of the install. Debian developers, well done. I'll post as I experience more things, but I'm really pleased.

Screenshot of my Laptop running KDE 4