[Grml] Re: Debian Etch and grml

Michael Prokop mika at grml.org
Mon Jan 8 23:17:18 CET 2007

* Marc Haber <mh+grml at zugschlus.de> [20070106 11:15]:
> On Fri, Jan 05, 2007 at 06:34:12PM -0700, s. keeling wrote:

> > I look at things like grml as terrific features on top of Debian and
> > free software.  grml's on the frontlines in the war on bugs.  They're
> > just a little bit more careful than Sid people about when they stick
> > their heads up.  They're also confident that even "unstable"
> > Debian/Linux/FS is way usable, and can perform some pretty awesome
> > tricks.  I think that's pretty cool.

> We have never claimed that sid is ready to be used by end-users. sid
> is a development platform and might be dangerous. We expect people
> running sid to be able to fix major issues that might be present
> themselves, there is no support. There are times (usually shortly
> after a release) where even I don't dare updating my sid systems.

I'd like to add some more words. All of the following is definitely
"just IMHO" and I hope that I could find the right wording. Feel
free to correct me if you think I'm writing non-sense. :)

I do not agree with:

> stable       --> ancient and full of bugs, but patched
> testing      --> less ancient, less bugs
> unstable     --> current and basically stable* (grml)

as well, I already wrote some more notes regarding
stable/testing/unstable/grml in another mail:


But I do not fully acknowledge Marc's opion as well, sorry. ;)

I'm of course aware of 'We have never claimed that sid is ready to
be used by end-users' - but I think reality shows something else in
common practice.  Debian/stable is really fine for servers, but
sometimes does not fit as Desktop operating system very well.

Why? People often want up2date software. The stuff with all the
"hot, rocking, bleeding edge, hot off the press" features. They want
to be able to install software presented in the news, magazines,
blogs,... or just the new version of already present software with
the rocking new feature as fast and easy as possible. You get this
with Debian unstable quite well nowadays as all of you might know. :)

If you have recent/up2date hardware Debian/stable might be quite a
problem.  Think of Xorg and its drivers and the Linux kernel. 2.6.18
already has knowadays(!) some problems with brand new chipsets and
controllers. In about half a year d-i of Etch with its 2.6.18 might
encounter serious problems on brand new hardware - especially on

Oh, and even developers (I do not mean DDs only here!) have the need
for recent software: compiler versions, libraries,... - stuff you
just might not get with Debian/stable. I had to learn this on my own
as well: once in a discussion at Security Treff Graz with several
developers and once experiencing in reallife on my own when
maintaining grml-robocup for the Robocup team at Technical
University Graz/Austria.

And AFAICS there are companies out there that are aware of those
facts. ;) For the business market think of for example Open/OS
Corporate Linux (open-os.com). Talking about the end-user market
think of Canonical and their Ubuntu (trying to reach the server
market as well now...). There's a reason why so many people seem to
use Ubuntu on their systems, I see this at university at many
laptops in reallife. Those people often don't really care what's
behind the Patch-Distribution Ubuntu but see the positive aspects:
get up2date software with Debian's brilliant package management.

Finally just think of DD that maintain core software packages and
don't even use the Debian kernel. ;) Just think of all the
developers that use unstable on their system in all day practice and
have just a chroot-system of stable laying around. How many DDs do
work in a Debian/stable environment really all day long?

> I mainly still see grml as a live CD that is a _very_ good tool during
> system analysis, debugging, recovery and installation. I doubt,
> however, that such systems are a good solution to install on a hard
> disk and actually use.

I wrote grml-debootstrap so it's getting easier to install plain
Debian even on up2date hardware. Nowadays it's maybe not that
relevant as a new stable release is coming soon (though I install
all servers using grml-debootstrap anyway ;)). But this probably
will become more important as soon as Debian etch is released and
2.6.18 is ancient enough so d-i of Debian etch maybe does not boot
at all. Then you might use an up2date grml live-cd for installing a
plain Debian using grml-debootstrap.

Some words to grml on harddisk: first of all it's just very easy to
get a working Linux installation using grml2hd - just press a few
times "OK" and a few minutes later you have a working system. ;)

When using grml on harddisk you get the features of Debian/unstable
I meantioned above *plus* a system adjusted and pre-configured for
texttool-friends *plus* all the nice and useful helper-scripts
(grml-scripts, grml-vpn, grml-crypt, grml-network,...) *plus*
"point-releases". grml provides an upgrade-path with each of its


I'm the one who is running daily updates and report all the problems
I can find (including patches if possible) to the Debian BTS. This
way Debian gets some quality-assurance (at least for the packages
used at grml) and grml-users on the other side don't have to run
"daily" updates to be sure to be able to follow the Debian/unstable
pool. They can wait ~2-3 month until a new grml release is available
and be sure that the upgrade works quite well then.

I hope this clarifies the situation a bit. :)

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