To make it clear: This is not a “why i left Fedora” thread. It is just what the title says – a personal review.
Due to Fedora updates, which sometimes tend to break things, i was looking for a good productivity distribution. Because i love Red-Hat products i tried CentOS 5.0. But i didn't find too many packages for it at that time, and my yum update process failed (scriplet failure). That's why i gave Debian a chance. I heard a lot of people saying it was really stable (nearly unbreakable) and comes with a vast host of packages. So i downloaded the first DVD-image, installed it and was truly amazed. Here are some of the strengths of Debian:
- nearly every package, which i required, was on the first DVD
- mp3 and (most) multimedia ran out of the box
- some multimedia packages (like libdvdcss, etc.) needed to be installed from debian-multimedia.org (much like our rpm.livna.org)
- with dpkg -i it is as easy to install packages manually as it is with rpm -ivh
- Synaptic (graphical front end for apt-get) is so much convenient, because it doesn't need every time an internet connection just to search the database for dependencies. It is sufficient to load it once, which is very convenient for 56K users (like myself). If updates are available you can refresh database with one click.
- another awesome feature is, that Synaptic allows smallband users with one click to generate a wget-downloadlist, which can be transferred to a friend with a fast internetconnection.
- UPDATES DO NOT BREAK THINGS
- SElinux is disabled by default, but can be activated easily
- some package versions are newer than some from RHEL5/CentOS5, for instance KDE 3.5.5a, while RHEL5 is shipped with KDE 3.4
- other great packages are Xorg7.1 Kernel 2.6.18-4, etc
- supports encrypted root partitions out of the box (can be selected in the installer)
- even power failure doesn't mess encrypted file system up (tried it A LOT of times, before migrating to Debian with all my personal, important data)
- due to usage of LUKS up to 8 different passphrases (per partition/container) are supported. They can be removed or added on the fly (no need for reboot, or complete reencryption)
- mounting and unmounting cd/dvd works like it was intended to: If i push the cdrom eject button it really comes out. In case somebody else (for instance root) is occupying it, kiomounthelper prompts the processes and their ownership which prevent the cd/dvd from ejection – just as it was meant to be
- every program which i could think of is provided for Debian (about 18.000 packages right now)
- with ALIEN it is even possible to translate .rpm's into .deb's (important for my canon)
- the installer puts only gnome on disc, but after installation it is a peace of cake to install kde via synaptic: just select the kde metapackage and you're good to go
- Debian runs absolutely stable
- great look and feel
- easy to handle, easy to keep updated (thanks to security.debian.org)
A word of warning: Though Debian is extremely userfriendly, it took me some hours to learn the differences between my loved Fedora and my even more loved Debian. For example: To install a package manually in Fedora we use rpm -ivh, while in Debian we use dpkg -i. Sounds trivial, but if one didn't know ... And i miss some of the Red-Hat tools like System-config-users (there are replacements – of course, but i have become used to it).
BOTTOM LINE: It was definitely the best distro choice, i ever made. Debian is a mature product, which is very well documented and has a huge, active community. Because it does NOT depend on a company it is a really free and community driven project (as far as i know, there aren't any usage restrictions to any countries at all).
Why i still plan to keep Fedora as a secondary system:
- always the latest and the greatest stuff (i am eager to see KDE 4.0/4.1)
- great look and feel
- great community
- i like the Red-Hat tools (like System-config-security)
- ideal to play around with the future technologies (Beryl & Co.)