(TL note: nareshov's diary)

A New Semester

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Been a week since the new semester began. All the initial registration/post-registration/add-drop exercise is finally over (damn! we need to replace those UG office clerks by software :X).

The first week tends to be a little boring and happens to give me time to check out distros 🙂 (Has this become a semesterly-routine after I’ve started using Gentoo :})
This semester’s distro check was special. Tired of endless compiles on my 1800Ghz AMD64 machine I went out looking for candidates that could replace my Gentoo.
First, it was OpenSUSE. The last time I tried OpenSUSE was version 10.0 – had given up after experiencing KDE apps crashing. This time, it was beranger’s blog that prompted me to give it another shot and 10.2 ended up occupying my harddisk for a couple of days :P.

OpenSUSE seems to not respect GNOME’s default look and try customise it with mono-goodness (sarcasm? maybe). Novell is into UI and Interaction design research and all that, maybe they are doing a better job. Probably just me not able to cope up with a new default GNOME look-feel-experience after using upstream’s for a long time. OpenSUSE did have a lot of packages and yet there were several unofficial repositories floating around. IIRC there was privoxy in one of them but no tor 😐 (which I need in order to browse sites such as Orkut in my campus). For some reason, the beagled seemed to use up a lot of CPU although I thought it must’ve finished the first-time crawl after the install. The package-manager (Yast2) did a nasty job (refreshing mirror info) at every fireup – was annoying.

Next up was OpenBSD. I had tried this one out once during it’s 3.8 days. Now it’s 4.1 and expected my sound device to work. Unfortunately it didn’t. All that disabling and enabling USB etc. just made me give up on this. Their packages are sweet though. KDE was well packaged (except for konqueror crashing at times when I’m browsing the openbsd ftp mirror). GNOME was stuck up at 2.8 I think.
Ah yes, I tried FreeBSD before this and after too. I had done a silly thing with

setenv ftp_proxy username:passwd@proxy:3128

and blamed fetch for timing out 😛 (that was silly of me, I even managed to get people flaming on wget vs. fetch on ##FreeBSD =P.
The correct scheme was

setenv ftp_proxy http://username:passwd@proxy:3128

. For some reason portsnap never worked for me. (It could fetch, but not extract). Was a little weary of the i386 packages. Thought they were suboptimal. Tried out amd64 too. No ease. FreeBSD doesn’t satisfy my desktop-usage needs.

After seeing Rohit going ga ga over freeculture and fedora thought I’d try fedora too! Oh yeah, Manu Vajpai was distro-hunting too. He too was “let’s try this one out dude”. Since my DVD writer doesn’t seem to write properly I started using my brains a little and downloaded the fedora install cd’s kernel image and initrd and put in on my /boot. I quickly downloaded the F-7 DVD from one of the mirrors on LAN onto my hard disk. Next boot was a simple grub command line invocation to boot fedora’s installer kernel and point at my DVD iso on the hard disk. Installation was fast :}. The fun ends soon though. For some reason I wasn’t comfortable even after disabling SELinux. There was no linuxdcpp in the repositories – which gives you a clue that there is something missing here, more like, “this distro is so damn US-centric that it doesn’t even have a p2p program that’s immensely popular in Europe and LANs in India”. Probably something else. They’re one of the few distros that have Indic fonts.

It looked like I missed an important distro. Yes – Debian. I was playing with debian when amd64 port was still unofficial. Now the port is not only official but has plenty of packages that interest me. No need for unofficial repositories and all related hassle. I used a netinstallation CD which was a weekly snapshot of the testing version. Unlike Fedora or OpenSUSE, this netinstall CD has support for (authenticating) proxy! This is amazing for us “third world” countries who depend on proxy servers while some institutes enjoy class A networks. Well, let’s leave that for another day. I upgraded to sid/unstable and nothing has broken so far – unlike ubuntu in the < 6.04 days (haven’t used the recent versions and don’t plan to).
Debian is maturing. It’s always been. Today, I see useful apps such as the module-assistant. Handy when it comes to dealing with nvidia drivers. The Iceweasel and Icedove is something else. Doesn’t matter to me as long as it does my job like Firefox and Thunderbird did.

TODO: get ZFS-fuse working 🙂


Written by Naresh

August 8, 2007 at 11:49 pm

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