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Debian GNU/Linux

Recommended for: Intermediately experienced and upwards. Novices might encounter some difficulties with post-installation configuration.
Targeted Role: pretty much any, usually: server or desktop/workstation

Debian is one of the first Linux distributions around. It has a great package management (apt/dpkg) which makes software installation nice, quick and simple. Debian focuses on stability and has strict policies regarding the freedom of the software provided. The release cycle of Debian is a bit painfully slow though, which tends to lead to the stable release feeling a bit outdated after a while. There is some discussion going on how to improve this point - the main reason why the release cycle is so slow is that it takes time to make sure all the 15000+ packages work and to not have any release-critical bugs on all the 10+ hardware archtectures Debian supports.

For desktop and workstation use one may want to take some packages from testing/unstable though so it won't feel as outdated. The stable release is very nice for servers, but if the current slow release cycle continues, even there one will eventually feel the staleness.

The installation of Debian was once in a time infamous for the amount of questions presented in the installer. That has been pretty much fixed now. Even novices should be able to go through the installer without problems, but there are some post-installation configuration issues that tend to occur which is why I wouldn't recommend Debian for the novice that wants to everything to Just Work(TM) after the installler has done it's part.
The size of the installation is very much in your hands, if you want a slim system just pick and choose the things you want. Also from the other side of things it is easy if you want a desktop installation without having to bother with choosing packages yourself, just check the "Desktop Environment" option in the installation when you get to that point.

Documentation is extensive, but the format of it is not very much adapted to the "impatient novice".
Democracy is the dictatorship of the clueless masses.
In the land of the idiots, the mediocre man is a king.

Last edited by dastrike; 08-27-2005 at 04:30 PM..
Old 08-27-2005, 11:15 AM dastrike is offline  
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