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I'm Really Starting to Dig Debian


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#1 ONLINE   raymac46

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Posted 08 May 2017 - 10:52 PM

I know, I said earlier that I was going to cut back on distro farming but having the power and the memory in my desktops, it's a shame to let it go to waste. So I've started experimenting with Debian testing and despite a few bugs, I am really starting to like it. Some of the reasons:
  • After years of using Ubuntu and Mint I am well experienced in  and have lots of knowledge about the Debian package management system.
  • Debian's net install is really nice. You download a small footprint ISO and choose your options. It isn't as geeky as Arch and at the end you have a bit more bloatware but it's easy to choose your desktop and get it installed.
  • It feels really solid. You can run the stable branch if you want rock solid, but testing is pretty stable.
  • GNOME Shell has come a long way and Debian gives you a nice vanilla version. You can always get Xfce or Plasma or many other desktops if you want. I prefer having Debian's version of GNOME to whatever Ubuntu is going to do.
  • You have to be a bit of a geek to get everything Ubuntu or Mint give you - especially with VirtualBox. The Guest Additions have to be built , you need to set up a proper build environment. You must add contrib and non-free repos to your sources.list to get some wifi working. But that is fun.
  • Lots of available themes to customize your look and feel.
I'm just experimenting with Debian right now in VBox. I don't have a real computer available right now for it - Mint rules on my big desktop and the netbook rocks with Arch. But I sure like what I see so far.
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#2 OFFLINE   Dr. J

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 08:29 AM

I've been using Debian Stretch on my laptop since I upgraded it with an SSD a couple of weeks ago. I went for the lazy option and did a full install with KDE Plasma and I've had a pretty smooth experience too... one or two small glitches I've noticed, but nothing I couldn't work around. I'm contemplating setting up some Arch based distro in virtualbox to keep in touch with what's going on in rolling release land, but other then that I'm happy to stay on the Stretch cycle... looks to be a great release, but then again so was Jessie for KDE 4.

As far as Ubuntu and Gnome is concerned, I am curious to see what they'll come up with... Part of me is hoping for a vanilla Gnome (with the Ambiance theme of course), but that could be moderately off-putting for someone used to the Windows interface... It was for me when I tried it the first time after using KDE and Xfce for a while.
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#3 OFFLINE   saturnian

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 09:26 AM

View PostDr. J, on 09 May 2017 - 08:29 AM, said:

looks to be a great release, but then again so was Jessie for KDE 4.

Still hanging on to Jessie (KDE and Openbox) on my "main" computer, although I've installed Testing on two other machines.

View PostDr. J, on 09 May 2017 - 08:29 AM, said:

As far as Ubuntu and Gnome is concerned, I am curious to see what they'll come up with... Part of me is hoping for a vanilla Gnome

"Vanilla" GNOME for Ubuntu's default might be too much to hope for. We'll see, but it seems like whenever I install Ubuntu (I go with LTS releases only), a big part of the installation process involves getting rid of stuff. I did add GNOME Shell to Ubuntu 16.04, and lately I almost always log into the GNOME session instead of Unity.

#4 OFFLINE   Hedon James

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 10:01 AM

View PostDr. J, on 09 May 2017 - 08:29 AM, said:

I've been using Debian Stretch on my laptop since I upgraded it with an SSD a couple of weeks ago. I went for the lazy option and did a full install with KDE Plasma and I've had a pretty smooth experience too... one or two small glitches I've noticed, but nothing I couldn't work around. I'm contemplating setting up some Arch based distro in virtualbox to keep in touch with what's going on in rolling release land, but other then that I'm happy to stay on the Stretch cycle... looks to be a great release, but then again so was Jessie for KDE 4.

As far as Ubuntu and Gnome is concerned, I am curious to see what they'll come up with... Part of me is hoping for a vanilla Gnome (with the Ambiance theme of course), but that could be moderately off-putting for someone used to the Windows interface... It was for me when I tried it the first time after using KDE and Xfce for a while.

I read an article recently with a Mark Shuttleworth interview.  As I recall, and I'm paraphrasing, he's talking about presenting Gnome "in the manner the Gnome devs want it presented".  Not sure exactly what that means, but it caught my ears.  Does he mean "Vanilla Gnome"?  And since when does Ubuntu present anything the way the original devs intended it?  Ubuntu customizes, polishes, and sometimes innovates in the process.  If they're gonna start presenting "vanilla", might as well use Debian, right?

The thing I really detected in that article though, was an undercurrent of bitterness.  Not sure if it's Mark's, being picked up by the author; or if it's the author injecting their subconscious perspective.  But Mark talks about becoming somewhat disillusioned with the Linux community, in general, as he used to view "us" as part of a benevolent force fighting against mainstream proprietary control.  Now he views "them" as contrarians who simply rail against all that is mainstream, simply for being mainstream.  He believes this is what happened to Ubuntu....it became "mainstream" and, ergo, a target rather than an example.  As an additional example, he also cites the cries for competition to break the Apple/Android duopoly, but when Ubuntu Touch was provided, it was summarily rejected and vilified.

Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't....but as I recall, it was never a viable OS for phones or tablets, as the UX sucked, and the uptake never happened.  I haven't heard these contrarian criticisms of Sailfish, nor Tizen, both Linux-based mobile OS...so maybe the criticism against Ubuntu Touch is well-founded?!  Anyway...I digress...back to the Ubuntu Gnome discussion....

Ubuntu single-handedly caused the birth of Cinnamon, Mate, and perhaps other desktops (Pantheon?  Budgie?) when they introduced the Unity desktop and FORCED it on their user base, with no ability to change what they didn't like.  This caused HUGE CHUNKS of users to migrate to other desktops, of which Mint was the most notorious beneficiary distro, and XFCE was probably the desktop with the largest influx of new users, due to its resemblace to old Gnome2.  Those who remained with Ubuntu (myself included) actually LIKE the Unity desktop.  If Ubuntu learned ANYTHING from their introduction of Unity, and forcing changes upon Linux users, they will provide a pre-configured OPTION for the Gnome Shell desktop to resemble Unity, or they are likely going to run off a chunk of the remaining Unity fans.  Failing to provide the option would be monumentally stupid, IMO.  I, for one, will be interested to see if they learned anything from the last time...

Linux users don't fear change...they simply want the freedom to make their desktops look and act in a manner that suits them.  To take away those freedoms is the ONE CHANGE that simply cannot be tolerated!  JMO...

#5 OFFLINE   V.T. Eric Layton

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 11:50 AM

Ol' Debian used to be my all-time #2 favorite main line distribution (Slack being #1, of course). Unfortunately, it saddened me when Debian instituted the complicated SystemD initialization system rather than keeping in line with the tenets of UNIX and keeping the simple plain text method of SysVinit.

#6 ONLINE   raymac46

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 01:36 PM

I use Cinnamon all the time. It isn't my favorite desktop (that is now Xfce) but Mint polishes it up pretty well and it's easy for new Linux users to navigate. I would not install it on other distros though as it seems a bit rough in those cases.
Plasma is really a nice desktop but I have used the GTK apps for so long I don't want to switch. I know you can mix and match but that seems a bit kludgy to me.
Unity is OK but like HJ I don't want the distro shoving it down my throat like cod liver oil. It might be good for me, but I'd prefer to decide that on my own. In that way Ubuntu is a bit like Windows - you'll use it and like it, no questions asked.
GNOME was arrogant in that way and if you want to go back far enough you could blame GNOME Shell for Unity, MATE. Cinnamon, Budgie and widespread popularity of Xfce.
What's funny is that I am starting to really like GNOME in its current version. Maybe those guys were on to something. It still feels a bit weird and after Xfce a bit bloated. But like Debian it is growing on me.
I don't want to start a systemd debate but the more I learn about it, the more logical it seems to me. Mind you, I don't have a "Lennart Poettering Fan Club" T-shirt hanging in my closet.

Edited by raymac46, 09 May 2017 - 01:36 PM.

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#7 OFFLINE   V.T. Eric Layton

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 02:09 PM

No. It's not my intention to start the systemd/sysvinit debate here, either. I was just stating my case regarding Debian. I do prefer vim over emacs, though. ;)

#8 OFFLINE   securitybreach

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 05:01 PM

View PostV.T. Eric Layton, on 09 May 2017 - 02:09 PM, said:

I do prefer vim over emacs, though. ;)

Vim FTW!!!! B)
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#9 OFFLINE   V.T. Eric Layton

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 06:29 PM

http://www.viemu.com...t_tutorial.html

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#10 OFFLINE   saturnian

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Posted 10 May 2017 - 02:51 AM

View PostHedon James, on 09 May 2017 - 10:01 AM, said:

Ubuntu single-handedly caused the birth of Cinnamon, Mate, and perhaps other desktops (Pantheon?  Budgie?) when they introduced the Unity desktop and FORCED it on their user base, with no ability to change what they didn't like.

When GNOME 2 was the default for Ubuntu, I didn't feel that GNOME 2 was being forced on me. Same thing when Unity became the default. I didn't like GNOME 2 all that much, and I've used other DEs and WMs with Ubuntu pretty much all along -- before Unity AND after Unity.

I think MATE came along because some (okay, many) folks didn't like GNOME Shell and wanted to continue using GNOME 2, or something that looked like it. Seems to me that even if, back then, Ubuntu had gone with GNOME Shell instead of with Unity, Mint would have switched to Cinnamon for that distro's default anyway.

Unity was never my favorite desktop, but I could work with it, just as I had no problem working with GNOME 2. I did feel from early on that GNOME 3/GNOME Shell was a nice step forward from the old GNOME (which is why I have never bothered to use MATE; also, I have never quite warmed up to Cinnamon, although I think that one's okay, too).

#11 ONLINE   raymac46

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Posted 10 May 2017 - 07:01 AM

When I first encountered Linux Mint they had a customized version of GNOME 2 that looked a fair bit like...well. Cinnamon. When GNOME Shell came out they built some shell extensions that gave them the Cinnamon look and eventually evolved Cinnamon as a DE in its own right,
I associate Cinnamon as much with LM as I do Unity with Ubuntu. Both have their own vision of what a DE should be for their flagship distro. That's why I believe Ubuntu will patch GNOME 3 to give it a Unity look and feel - or whatever they want to have. It won't just be GNOME straight out of the box. HJ is right - if that's all Ubuntu does, might as well use Debian.
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#12 OFFLINE   V.T. Eric Layton

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Posted 10 May 2017 - 11:38 AM

There's a big difference between Debian and Ubuntu. The later was designed and implemented to be "easy-peasy" for MS Windows refugees to install and operate without a major shift in their "point 'n click" mentality. While you could, as with all Linux distros, get under the hood in Ubuntu, if you wanted, its interface was meant to be comfortingly familiar to Win users. It succeeded at this. Many, MANY converts from Win to Lin have taken the Ubuntu route. It's only after getting comfortable with Ubuntu that they realize there's a whole 'nother world of Linux out there for them to explore. Some, like my brother and auntie, are not techie types, so they've stayed with Ubuntu from the beginning. Most of their computer "work" is done in the browser, anyway.

Debian is definitely NOT newbie-friendly. They're still using the same ncurses installation method that they've used for 15+ years. That ncurses scared the pee out of me when I first tried to install Debian 3.15 (Sarge) back in '06. Of course, nowadays, nothing scares me... well... Gentoo, maybe. ;) To be honest with you, though, the installer that was the MOST scary and complicated, in my opinion, was Arch's. Not because it's so techie, but because there really wasn't an installer per se. There was a method by which you installed Arch on your system; mostly involving downloading and command line usage to set up the install. It was (and still is, as far as I know) purely a CLI-driven install; no point 'n clicking for that baby.

Neither Debian nor Arch were ever designed to be the go-to choice for fresh-faced Windows converts, though. These distributions are for those with a bit more experience who are interested in really learning Linux. Like the ol' saying goes, "If you want to try Linux, install Ubuntu. If you want to learn Linux, install Slackware." Debian, Slackware, and Arch taught me a lot about what's under the hood in GNU/Linux. I know that's the case for Josh... and probably many more of you out there.

#13 ONLINE   raymac46

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Posted 10 May 2017 - 04:56 PM

I think you are right Eric. Debian does now have a graphics based installer but it is just a pretty face on their ncurses one. It isn't any easier to install with.
You'll need a wire because most wifi modules are non-free and you have to get the darn system installed before you can add the contrib and non-free repos to the sources.list. That in itself requires nano and is sorta geeky.
If you install Ubuntu or Mint or MX-16 they'll take care of it all for you.
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#14 OFFLINE   sunrat

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Posted 10 May 2017 - 07:55 PM

Debian does provide "unofficial" images which include nonfree firmware, so that is one step easier for installation. It will allow you to use most wifi chips and AMD graphics OOTB. Of course there are some that are not so easy *cough* Broadcom.
The installer is not pretty but is fairly straight forward. You still need to know what you are doing but that goes for any installation and needs some reading to be successful first time. I'm sure many first timers manage to stuff up even the most user-friendly distro installers.
siduction has now adopted the Calamares installer which is an improvement on their old one.
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#15 ONLINE   raymac46

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Posted 10 May 2017 - 09:09 PM

I have used the "unofficial" netinstall ISOs in the past but lately I've had trouble with the rc3 ISO in VirtualBox. I just went to the daily builds and installed that. It isn't a big deal to use a cable and then install the firmware afterwards.
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#16 OFFLINE   saturnian

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 04:34 AM

View PostV.T. Eric Layton, on 10 May 2017 - 11:38 AM, said:

Many, MANY converts from Win to Lin have taken the Ubuntu route.

I was not one of those. I had a very inexpensive notebook that came with Linspire preinstalled, and that was really my intro to Linux, along with playing around with KNOPPIX live sessions. Later, I picked up a Xandros computer, also preinstalled, and I found MEPIS.

More than any other distro, MEPIS was what really got me going with Debian. MEPIS was the first distro I was able to do easy, solid Linux installations with.

I had both Ubuntu (or Kubuntu) and Linux Mint installed here for a few years. I parted ways with the latter after Linux Mint 9 ("Isadora"), except for a brief stint with Linux Mint Debian Edition, and some looks at Mint (with KDE and later with Cinnamon) in live sessions.

I remember being very excited about LMDE, but for me it simply wasn't as good as "the real deal" (Debian).

Looks like LMDE is still available for download, though (https://www.linuxmin...wnload_lmde.php). raymac46, have you ever tried that one?

#17 ONLINE   raymac46

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 07:03 AM

@saturnian I did run LMDE live but never installed it - even in VBox. Using Linux Mint and Debian together in the same sentence strikes me as a bit of an oxymoron.
By the time I found out about LMDE I was already familiar enough with Debian to go with the real deal. Besides I can't imagine that LM developers spend the time on LMDE that they do with their flagship distro.
Since I use Linux Mint to give a comfort level to non-Linux users who might want to run stuff on my desktop I don't want to make it anything but a smooth and relatively seamless experience.
LMDE seems to be an odd blend of something a bit edgier than mainstream Linux Mint but not geeky enough to satisfy my inner masochism, like Arch. I can't see anyone using it long term. Ether they go back to the mainstream distro for convenience or try Debian or Arch for fun.

Edited by raymac46, 11 May 2017 - 07:04 AM.

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#18 OFFLINE   saturnian

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 08:19 AM

Well, I guess the whole point of LMDE is to have a Mint system, but based on Debian instead of on Ubuntu, right? Actually, I kinda liked the idea. I think at one point there was a question as to whether Mint would continue to be based on Ubuntu, or switch to a Debian base.

#19 OFFLINE   Hedon James

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 10:23 AM

View Postsaturnian, on 10 May 2017 - 02:51 AM, said:

View PostHedon James, on 09 May 2017 - 10:01 AM, said:

Ubuntu single-handedly caused the birth of Cinnamon, Mate, and perhaps other desktops (Pantheon?  Budgie?) when they introduced the Unity desktop and FORCED it on their user base, with no ability to change what they didn't like.

When GNOME 2 was the default for Ubuntu, I didn't feel that GNOME 2 was being forced on me. Same thing when Unity became the default. I didn't like GNOME 2 all that much, and I've used other DEs and WMs with Ubuntu pretty much all along -- before Unity AND after Unity.

I think MATE came along because some (okay, many) folks didn't like GNOME Shell and wanted to continue using GNOME 2, or something that looked like it. Seems to me that even if, back then, Ubuntu had gone with GNOME Shell instead of with Unity, Mint would have switched to Cinnamon for that distro's default anyway.

Unity was never my favorite desktop, but I could work with it, just as I had no problem working with GNOME 2. I did feel from early on that GNOME 3/GNOME Shell was a nice step forward from the old GNOME (which is why I have never bothered to use MATE; also, I have never quite warmed up to Cinnamon, although I think that one's okay, too).

I would agree with everything you said here.  I'd only add, from my perspective, that Gnome2 was the desktop that pulled me into Linux.  I'd heard of Linux, but didn't know much about it, and certainly didn't know ANYONE who I could tap into their grey matter, so it was slow-mo progress back then.  But that Gnome2 desktop on Ubuntu 9.10 (or possibly 9.04?) just clicked with clarity....it made sense to me, and fixed everything that was wrong with Windows' paradigm.

Later on....and this is the important part....I learned how malleable and customizable Gnome2 REALLY was!  Changing panel pixels to suit preferences, swapping colors, moving to differing edges, and the applets.....OMG, the applets!  Gnome2 wasn't a "destination", it was a starting place!  Unity, on the other hand, was "take it or leave it".

- the launcher was locked to the left hand side; after 5 years, you could finally move it to the bottom, thanks to a hack from Ubuntu Kylin, implemented by Tweak
- want to change the launcher "tint"?  change your wallpaper...the tint was calculated from an "average" of wallpaper colors.
- you could change the launcher icons, whoopeee....
- the global menu was kind of jarring; seemed like a great idea at first, but it just continued to mess with my brain; when Local Menus were re-introduced (2 years later?), I immediately invoked that option
- no desktop icons allowed (other than system-provided, i.e.  Home, Trash, /Media, etc...); not a big deal to me, as I hate a desktop full of icons, but there are a LOT of folks who prefer it and are lost without it

The problem with Unity, IMO, is that it was a desktop environment that removed all the user-freedoms/choices on an OS that is based almost entirely on user-freedom/choices.  It's like Henry Ford announcing you could purchase his newly mass-produced Model T in ANY color you want, as long as that color is black!  If you like black, you're ecstatic; if you're indifferent, it doesn't matter; but if you require anything BUT black, you aren't buying his Model T!

And the few user-selected choices that Ubuntu did put back into Unity was just too little, too late....those users moved on to other desktops that scratched their itches appropriately, and they're likely not coming back (certainly not in droves!) without another cosmic disruption in the Linux Desktop Environment ecosystem.  In a nutshell, I think the Unity desktop is a great environment, but it was poorly implemented and even more poorly "marketed".  In retrospect, Ubuntu probably should've offered the Ubuntu Net Remix (UNR) interface as the first version of Unity (offered on 10.04 I believe), which was the impetus for Unity.  UNR wasn't widely used, but it got RAVE reviews from nearly everyone who came across it or used it.  And that desktop should've been offered as an option to boot into.  With the rave reviews, people would've sought it out and the uptake would've happened naturally.  With critical mass/uptake, user feedback could've been integrated into Unity design and it could've been a desktop environment that people migrated TO instead of away from.

Instead, Ubuntu provided a new desktop with very few or no options to a bunch of Linux users who habitually tweak their desktops to their own liking, and effectively told them "take it or leave it".  What happened afterwards shouldn't have been a shock to anyone.  If Ubuntu learned ANYTHING from that whole fiasco, I hope it was that linux-users are freedom/choice seekers and if they want to retain their remaining user base of folks who were happy using Unity, they need to provide an option that allows those folks to stay with Ubuntu.

On the other hand, it may not matter much longer.  I'm reading speculations that Canonical is preparing to go public with an IPO and these are just steps toward that end.  I'm not sure that investor/corporate shareholders will make decisions that align with user/stakeholders.  I'm just glad I have a huge head start on a distro search.  Still don't know where I'll end up, but my instincts to start looking elsewhere many months ago certainly seem to have been confirmed.

And in summary conclusion, still glad to be a linux user and happy to have the choices available to me!  Confirmation that fleeing the grasp of MS back in '09 was absolutely the right thing to do!

#20 OFFLINE   V.T. Eric Layton

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 12:04 PM

View Postsaturnian, on 11 May 2017 - 04:34 AM, said:

More than any other distro, MEPIS was what really got me going with Debian. MEPIS was the first distro I was able to do easy, solid Linux installations with.



I really liked Mepis; an outstanding Deb-based distribution.

View PostHedon James, on 11 May 2017 - 10:23 AM, said:

And in summary conclusion, still glad to be a linux user and happy to have the choices available to me!  Confirmation that fleeing the grasp of MS back in '09 was absolutely the right thing to do!

AMEN! I broke my MS habit back in '06 and I've NEVER, not even one little eency-weeency bit, regretted it.

#21 ONLINE   raymac46

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 02:03 PM

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Ubuntu Netbook Remix would have been Nirvana compared to this intellectually challenged customized Ubuntu 8.04 Dell put on the Mini 12 netbook. An example of what happens when a major Wintel company does Linux.
Bad interface, no possible upgrade path, Linux unfriendly hardware - and Dell claims to be a Linux supporter. I think they have gotten their act together lately with the XPS Developer notebooks.
@HJ all I have to say is the word Poulsbo and you know how great a Linux machine this Dell Mini 12 is/was. The only thing worse than this Mini 12 was another Mini 12 that tried to run Vista on an Atom CPU.

Edited by raymac46, 11 May 2017 - 02:04 PM.

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#22 OFFLINE   Hedon James

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Posted 11 May 2017 - 07:50 PM

Referencing the movie Beetle Juice...having invoked the name of the unspoken one, three times...Poulsboro, Poulsboro, Poulsboro...we should all run for the door!  :devil:

#23 OFFLINE   Peachy

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Posted 12 May 2017 - 12:01 AM

View Postraymac46, on 11 May 2017 - 02:03 PM, said:

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Ubuntu Netbook Remix would have been Nirvana compared to this intellectually challenged customized Ubuntu 8.04 Dell put on the Mini 12 netbook. An example of what happens when a major Wintel company does Linux...

I turned my Dell Mini 10 into a Hackintosh running Snow Leopard. :pirate:

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#24 ONLINE   raymac46

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Posted 12 May 2017 - 07:23 AM

I still have the Mini 12 but it's so low on memory resources and now hobbled by a 32 bit processor that it's getting harder to keep it in service. Currently it runs Lubuntu. but I've got at least 3 other laptops / netbooks that work better.
Mostly it's just a curiosity I keep around to see if there is still a Linux distro that runs on old crap.
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#25 OFFLINE   Hedon James

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Posted 12 May 2017 - 07:57 AM

View Postraymac46, on 12 May 2017 - 07:23 AM, said:

I still have the Mini 12 but it's so low on memory resources and now hobbled by a 32 bit processor that it's getting harder to keep it in service. Currently it runs Lubuntu. but I've got at least 3 other laptops / netbooks that work better.
Mostly it's just a curiosity I keep around to see if there is still a Linux distro that runs on old crap.

Antix is awesome on machines like that!  And Puppy, I hear, although to this day I still have not checked out Puppy....ever.  I must get around to that!

I have tinkered with TinyCore, DamnSmallLinux and a third mini-distro which escapes me right now.  I imagine all 3 would be good on such a low-specced machine, FWIW.




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