So, I've been doing some reading, mainly because I'm thinking about going on another distro-hopping spree. My situation at the moment is that I run Linux for all my personal computing needs, but also manage my family's computers (when I'm home). After seeing the ageing hardware go further and further downhill with Windoze, I moved them to Linux too - and they've taken to it well. However, since I'm not home (and in any case, do not have the patience) to be constantly fixing broken packages, updating the systems (there are 3 PCs at home) and generally doing my best to avoid all the nightmares children under 15 create on computers, Ubuntu's 6 month release cycle is too much. Even as things were, with an LTS installed, it was too much effort. I switched them to Debian (stable) - time will tell if this was a good or bad move.
It did however get me thinking! Should I move myself? One of my aims with my personal computing is ensuring my hardware, my OS, my programs - everything - fits like a glove. I also (and yes, I know, it sounds slightly OCD-ish) hate "clutter" - untidy folders, unused programs taking up space and time to download/install updates, potentially even wasting clock cycles running in the background. Debian seemed to intuitively scream "MINIMAL!" - since even Ubuntu "minimal" is based on Debian. I started thinking about checking this out a little further, and I looked up some of the "differences" between Debian and Ubuntu. My list of findings is as follows:
- Debian generally comes with root enabled. However, as I discovered, opting for the "expert" install allows you to chose to use sudo or not - personally, I prefer the use of sudo for day to day activities, but like the ability to "su root", if I know I'm going to be doing something a little more extensive in the terminal. Either way - this can be discounted as a pro/con for neither Ubuntu/Debian, since both allow root to be enabled/disabled.
- aptitude vs apt-get. I've got comfortable using apt-get, and so far, even when instructed in an online tutorial to use aptitude, I've used apt-get without problem. Can someone confirm there is no difference in the package management functionality (i.e. I know there is a difference in package search functionality) between the two?
- Free vs non-free software. Where possible, I think it's important to use and support FOSS. However, lots of my friends use Skype to chat, and so I'm cornered into using it to. Gnash does not provide like-for-like functionality with Flash (last I heard) and neither does IcedTea/OpenJDK do the same for Oracle Java. On the laptop I use currently, networking hardware seems to work marginally better with proprietary drivers - as do graphics cards I've had in the past. The list goes on - media, fonts, particular games. Although I know Debian has a more conservative approach than Ubuntu to FOSS, I know in either case that it is possible to install proprietary software, and support for doing this is available - so as with the first point, it can't really be marked up as a pro or con.
- Stability vs latest and greatest. I know this is a bit of an issue, but in any case, with my Debian install I'd be moving to jessie (testing) or sid (unstable). Since Ubuntu takes many of its packages from upstream anyway, I don't think it's fair to say that it can be a pro for Ubuntu. If anything, usage of sid would put me ahead of the Ubuntu-curve, so this could count as a pro to Debian?
That more or less shows all of my findings! Is there anything (perhaps at the level of the kernel?) that Debian/Ubuntu tweak, which give either an edge? I know I'm perhaps biasing the outcome by asking this on an Ubuntu forum, so please, objectivity is important folks!