Blog - Debian 6 (Squeeze) is out in the wild

Debian 6 (Squeeze) is out in the wild

2011-02-06

After a long period of waiting, Squeeze is finally out. I've documented the most relevant impressions I had during the first weeks. The below lines will also show you the mistakes I've made. In the first weeks, testing has been done "in vitro", using a VirtualBox virtual machine. I usually avoid installing fresh stuff on systems used on a daily basis, especially when it is about production systems. The very first impressions were these:

- virtualbox recognition - better performance while installing

- I used JFS as file system. It is my first try with this. Debian was installed as basic system, without GUI. Later I installed Xorg and KDE4. ReiserFS is no longer on the FS list (documentation states that ReiserFS support can be loaded)

- startup is faster, except KDE (probably due to first login). After reboot, KDE started up much faster

- minimize, maximize and close are still in the upper-right corner, not as in Ubuntu. This is good for me - no resolution setting afte right clicking on desktop. First you have to navigate through: K Menu -> Applications -> Screen Resize & Rotate. When clicking on this, it will create an icon in the tray which will make future settings easier (easier than before) - default view is still desktop, not folder view, which is better for me
- system eats up around 220 MB of RAM in idle mode with only Konsole running. This is quite ok. Later I found out that if using the 64 bit version and running 3 Iceweasel windows with 5-7 tabs each + the rest of usual applications, will demand 1 GB of memory, but if you want to avoid a nervous breakdown caused by waiting for the swap process (due to "precautive measures" taken by the system), you should consider at least 1,5 GB.
Applications:

- this is what happened after closing Akregator from tray

- KAddressBook also gave an error - while opening. MySQL was missing. Dependency issue? - by mistake, I discovered a Search Service implanted in tray. I will not spend time testing it. In the meantime I have been informed that I'm out of disk space (allocated virtual hard drive has 3,3 GB... After executing apt-get clean, I recovered 671 MB of space. Space notification is a good feature of KDE4; it is also configurable

- Konsole has black background. I liked it with the white one

- I restarted the OS to see if KAddressBook gets better, now that I freed up some space and services can do their jobs (including logging). The surprise was that most of icons from K menu were gone and only question marks remained. Another restart and the same results. Also, after login, desktop hangs on for a while before it finishes complete loading. Things begin to stink like beta...
- I tried to install Openoffice. It complained again about lack of space. Rebooted, executed apt-get clean in single user mode. rebooted again. Now I see this instead of the desktop: I killed Debian in the first 100 meters. If it were my ex girlfriend, this OS wouldn't resist 5 minutes...

Conclusions:

- performance seems to be better, at least on virtual machine.

- squeeze is not ready for production machines, yet. It is not robust enough. They did something similar to what I was afraid of: some of the RC bugs were "covered".

- Debian needs more furbishing, stabilizing. Maybe after one or two months I'll upgrade my current version (Lenny) to this, but not sooner than that.

In the next days I will reinstall it again, this time giving it more space. I want to know if weird things can also happen when hard drive space isn't an issue.

Later Edit

I installed Lenny on a VM to double check some affirmations.
Space usage really blew up. Lenny uses only 2,6 GB with OpenOffice installed AND without the apt cache cleared (!!!). After clearing the cache, space usage drops to 1,9 GB (!).

I also reinstalled Squeeze on the VM. This time I allocated 7 gigs for the OS. At installer bootup I chose to also install KDE. After first reboot, grub presents a sexyer face:

The login screen has also changed to something that reminds me of pijamas :) KDE loading desktop and stuff: K3b supports BluRay disc writing. With its planetary splashscreen, GIMP enforces the pijama experience :P GIMP has it's windows arranged in the classic way (I love it like that) not like the Windows variant that has them in Photoshop style: At last try I had problems shutting down the system: it got hung up. I had to send it an ACPI shutdown signal through VirtualBox.

There are important differences between installing KDE from first step (before launching OS install process) and installing KDE after OS has been installed. Some of the notably differences would be: different wallpaper, MySQL missing (it has happened probably because of me choosing to have database while installing, thus kicking MySQL in favor of PostgerSQL), K3b missing in first installation and many others.

Now everything seems stable. Looks like all the chaos was because of me forgetting/ignoring to check sytem requirements (5 GB HDD). Shame on me.

2011-02-19 Edit

Almost two weeks passed since my first experiences with Debian Squeeze with KDE4. Mostly I have been experimenting with graphical applications. I had two unpleasant surprises with the taskbar:

- IT DOES NOT SUPPORT TRANSPARENCY from it's settings!!! I read on a forum that transparency can be achieved by activating desktop effects, but it still isn't the perfect transparency. It's quite a shame considering the fact that KDE4 has been on the market for more than two years, and the version installed on Squeeze is 4.4 (!).

- the other thing is that after a few restarts, part of the taskbar becomes black, and that part remains like that. I don't know if I missed something, but take a look at it and announce me if you found out why.

What I suppose to have noticed that this installation works slower than Lenny. Maybe it is because of the VM but I am not really sure. Disc activity is more intense...(Later on I found out that there is stupid Vista-like file indexing, periodic check for updates and memory was not enough).

2011-02-19 - Dying taskbar

After a little bit more than two weeks of testing, the taskbar looks worse every day:
Notice that the tray decided to move to the left side. Everywhere I click on the taskbar, the calendar appears. AND, even if you don't believe, I have 2 Konsoles and one Iceweasel running somwhere in the land of invisible when minimized. With Alt+TAB I can switch between them.
In the end, it looks like there really are some huge bugs in the GUI. What makes it worse, until now, is that there haven't been any KDE related updates since release.
Sad. I was just about to begin preparations for production-ready PC installs.

2011-02-24 - Dying or not, I fixed it

After experimenting for a while with the panel, I realized that the black thing can be caused by erroneus horizontal sizing of the panel (by extending it too much). The complete messup I had seems to be possible only when configuring the panel.
Then, the fix: I removed the panel completely. Than opened the KDE/Plasma manual and began reading the first pages. Guided by the documentation, I realized what element should I populate the panel with, adding the next widgets: Kickoff (for K menu), Pager (to switch between desktops), Task Manager (for taskbar), System Tray and Digital Clock.

2011-march

Finally, I decided to install Squeeze on real hardware. I cannot say everything went smoothly.
For example, Windows disappeared from GRUB's menu. Solution: boot up Debian, open a terminal and issue the "update-grub" command.
I also had some freezes. These seem to be solved by the many updates that have been released in the next days.
Missing programs...This hurts.

- KPackage is not here anymore. I loved this application.

- the DJing software called Mixxx is missing. It has to be compiled from source.

- QUANTA IS MISSING!!! It took me a few days before I got a solution. At the end I compiled it from some Ubuntu sources. For those who want Quanta Plus back on their system without all the hassle I went through, I suggest following the next two links:

32 bit packages can be found here
64 bit packages can be found here

If anything would go wrong, you can follow the the instructions from here
In case you don't have gdebi on your system, I recommend you to install it. It will ease your work with the deb packages.

All the kudos go to Revenger from the Debian Forums . The complete discussion can be found here