Awhile back I wrote of my struggles installing Debian. It has been my belief for awhile now that Debian is without a doubt the best, most reliable, fastest and lightest Linux distribution. The only real issue I had with it was getting it installed on a computer.
Recently I downloaded an iso image of Debian Wheezy Xfce disk 1, then used Unetbootin to put it on a usb stick, and booted it up on my computer. Everything looked right, so I began the install process which took about an hour. There were no hiccups, everything went well, and with high speed Internet it took about an hour to install it to the hard drive.
Maybe the stars were aligned, perhaps I just got lucky this time installing Debian, but it is my wish that anyone new to Linux could experience the easy install that I did, rather than my earlier experience where nothing seemed to go right. But I also realized that no newcomer to Linux would understand they needed to add flash to view web pages, add an assortment of codecs to play their music, and a few tweaks to polish their new Debian install for use. As unhappy as I am with Ubuntu, their idea of a single restricted-extras package to bring into use all these necessary things would be of much help to Debian newcomers.
I took my new install, and after adding everything I felt I needed, I also added another desktop, my favorite, KDE. I like to have two desktops on an install in case one gets borked, the two I usually choose are Xfce and KDE. Now I have a light, fast, solid, and reliable Debian installation. Since Debian Wheezy is in freeze, and not too many bugs remain, it is a very sound operating system, and getting quite close to becoming the new Debian Stable.
After installing Wheezy, I couldn't help but think to myself that now having everything I could want in an operating system, why would anyone want to add more crap to it, making it less stable, more likely to break, bloated and slow? Why couldn't an Ubuntu merely take a solid, reliable Debian Stable, perhaps add some newer applications, definitely add their excellent installer, and their easy method of adding drivers, and release a slightly more polished and updated Debian without crapping it up, making it bloated and buggy? It's a mystery to me.
I began my Linux journey with SimplyMepis, a Debian Stable Linux distribution with a fairly easy installer and the excellent KDE desktop. Since then I have tried nearly every Linux distribution under the sun, some I was initially impressed with, only to be let down when an update broke something or a newer release came out and turned out to be much worse than an earlier release. I became slightly enamored with Gnome 2 desktop, only to see it trashed and replaced with what can only kindly be called "crap" Gnome 3. I saw Ubuntu get better on my computers with the 11.10 release only to be unusable on all but one of my computers with the 12.04 release. I saw Mint 12 flounder around trying to find its way after Gnome left it in the lurch, and Ubuntu go through the same withdrawal as it tried to sell its Unity desktop to unwilling buyers. I got excited by Mint Debian only to end up scratching my head trying to figure out which way to run the sources without breaking it. I sang praises to the heavens when SolusOS 1 was released, a Debian Stable that was so freaking good I almost cried, but then the upgrade to 1.2 messed up my netbooks, and then the developer decided to leave Debian in the future to pursue an independent distribution, I hope it works, but we will have to wait and see. Meanwhile I am a Debian guy, I know it works, doesn't break easily, has a bazillion packages, and plenty of developers.
So I'm back to the Mothership, good old reliable, lightweight, tough, doesn't change with the weather, Debian. I have given much consideration and time to other distributions. Some of them are pretty good, but I almost always have concerns or problems with them at some point. Only Debian, my first Linux love, has remained faithful. Not fracked up by goofy ideas, not derailed by dreamy developers void of common sense, not breaking because some money-driven distribution is racing forward on an unrealistic time-table and delivering broken, buggy, unfinished software to the masses.
Thinking back, when looking for a new operating system for my broken desktop computer, if I had chosen just about any other Linux distribution besides Mepis Debian Stable, I would probably not be using Linux today. I would have just bought a new desktop with Windows on it because all the other distributions would have let me down at some point. The fact is, if I had only used Mepis, and had left it on my computer instead of chasing other distros, it still would be running today, because in between my flirtation with other distributions I kept going back to Mepis, kept returning to Debian like a life preserver on a stormy sea. I can't help but think today, except for a massive learning experience, I would have saved myself a hell of a lot of frustrations and disappointments if I had just stayed with Debian to begin with and skipped the other Linux distributions. But we live and we learn.
Maybe some miracle Linux distribution will arrive tomorrow. Perhaps it will tie my shoes and make my coffee each morning, maybe it will be a polished dream that sings me softly to sleep each night, but I suspect the distribution that will still be working after all the others are long gone, the one that will still be running servers and firing up desktop computers during the apocalypse when the zombies are over-running the world, that Linux distribution will be Debian. It may not sing you to sleep, but it won't screw you over with updates that break your computer, it won't leave you high and dry because some nitwit developer wants to add some new shiny, and it won't hound you for money because Debian is free and always will be. Yes, I'm back to the Debian Mothership, and the air up here is clear and fine.