May 26, 2011

“Debian:” Loosely Translated Means Potential


It takes a great amount of work to roll ones own OS. What I was/am after is a simpler way. I method to quickly assemble what I need , even if my own philosophy changes. I looked at several technologies that already exist: Debian Live, Debian Custom CD, and all sorts of tailoring options such as preseeding; but ultimately none of these gave me exactly what I wanted. From this has arisen a new project that I hope to write more about as I progress. This project is for a Debian Custom Installer which focuses around two scripts: FSLinux Create Script – to build custom Debian install disks/environments, and FSLinux Stage2 Installer – a simpler way to handle the installation of base package


Back in 2001 when I started trying desperately to use Linux there was no doubt about the potential behind Linux. The question was how to access that power.

For me this is where Canonical and Ubuntu stepped in. I started using Linux (with a lot of hacking) on my personal laptop and had it running for some time when I read about Ubuntu. The concept was simple; a commercially backed Linux distribution focused on ease of use, a regular release schedule, and a well organized community devoted to “friendly” communication… and based on Debian.

I gave Ubuntu a shot, never intending to replace my Debian OS. So I printed out my notes for hacking Linux onto my Toshiba and started the install. To my surprise I did not need my notes. Everything “just worked” as advertised. Working backwards through my notes I discovered that many of my “fixes/hacks” (which had long been documented in bug reports, forums, etc.) where all included by default in Ubuntu.

Shortly after I was running Ubuntu on everything I could touch. The community organization, forum, and documentation were outstanding. I spent many nights up, cruising the forums or on IRC trying to help folks. Then disaster struck when Canonical/Ubuntu changed.

Instead of trying to be a rock-solid Linux distribution focused on compatibility, Ubuntu became an agenda-driven OS who more often then not turns its back on its community. Ubuntu has forgotten that it was the community that made it successful; it was the community that made it number one.

I suppose it was the realization that my notes of fixes/hacks for Ubuntu had gotten longer, larger, and more involved then even my original Debian install on that old Toshiba that I realized it was time to move on.

Ubuntu did great things. They (Canonical and the Ubuntu Community) contributed a great deal to Linux and without them I am not sure if Linux would be where it is today. And I know there were so many posts where people warned (from the beginning no less) that this would happen, but I found myself turning back to Debian. This was a transition felt by many. Whole OS sprung out of similar frustrations and have continued to move along similar paths to my own philosophy (Linux Mint.)

Faced with a decision on where to go next I believed the answer was a Debian based install but not a typical “vanilla” build. If I was unhappy with my distribution it became apparent that I should do what the Linux community has preached since day one – “If you don’t like it, build your own.”


More to come…

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