[Grml] Re: Debian Etch and grml

Marc Haber mh+grml at zugschlus.de
Sat Jan 13 14:07:20 CET 2007

On Mon, Jan 08, 2007 at 11:17:18PM +0100, Michael Prokop wrote:
> 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.

It's always the same problem during our release cycle: After a
release, many people use stable. Stable gets old, while sid goes
throught the usual heavy development phase where things sometimes go
badly wrong. While stable gets stale, sid's breakages get less and
less, while end users migrate from sta(b)le to sid because they want
later software (or get misled by media reporting that apt pinning is
going to get them the advantages of stable and sid together while in
reality they only get the disadvantages of both combined). These
migrations are supported by third parties saying "use sid, it's

Then, some late breakage occurs in sid. And thousands of end-users are
unable to fix this breakage. Bad. Do not use Debian sid or even Debian
testing if you are not able to fix any system breakage yourself.

>   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.

If they are technically knowledgeable, they can go ahead with Debian
sid or Debian testing, helping development by reporting and even
fixing bugs. If they are not technically knowledgeable, they are
better off with a distribution geared for the Desktop such as Ubuntu
or OpenSUSE. I don't know how good a job grml does do as a desktop
running off a hard disk installation, since grml is a rescue system
for me and I only use it running off CD or USB stick to fix other
distributions that are installed on the hard disk.

>  You get this with Debian unstable quite well nowadays as all of you
>  might know. :)

Yes, but you also get the latest breakage. Which you might not be able
to fix if you don't know your way around a broken Linux system very

> 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
> laptops.

I have heard that Debian plans to issue (unofficial) stable intaller
releases with later kernels.

> 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 have done development quite successfully in chroots, and developers
are usually able to fix breakages (and thus qualify for sid).

> 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.

Debian's package management is not _that_ much better than RPM on
rpm-based distributions. It's the development model that is better and
works better. Which is left behind by Ubuntu.

> Finally just think of DD that maintain core software packages and
> don't even use the Debian kernel. ;)

You mean, like me?

>  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 used to do this until June 2003, where a change of workplace made me
install a new workstation. I used unstable there for the first time.

> > 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 ;)).

I use grml to install a tarball containing a Debian system on my
servers. I rarely use the Debian installation methods.

>  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.

Which is a rather interesting application.

> 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)

... which Debian certainly appreciates.

>  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.

How are security issues in packages available with grml handled?


Marc Haber         | "I don't trust Computers. They | Mailadresse im Header
Mannheim, Germany  |  lose things."    Winona Ryder | Fon: *49 621 72739834
Nordisch by Nature |  How to make an American Quilt | Fax: *49 621 72739835

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