Monday, September 27, 2004

Debian in Corporations

I think Debian stable is a great platform to work with servers but I think that corporate workstations will need more current software because of more frequent hardware turnover. An adept server administrator can backport any needed packages or make decisions on stability and choose to use the testing branch.

Debian already has a staging ground for stable, the testing branch. It is easily available for anyone to install and includes a lot of solid software. I think we need to ask what does stable have that testing does not.

One thing missing in testing is security updates. Debian is not committed to publishing security updates for testing. Which is a policy based upon their scarcity of resources. Can we correct this by focusing a group to provide but if this keeps us from using testing all of the time then can we correct it? Is this something that another group of volunteers can help?

Testing is also missing stability which is obvious. However, we have to remember that software will always be untested and unstable until the software is tested, bug reports are documented, and then bugs are fixed.

I'm sure I am missing other reasons why testing looks so tempting but cannot be used in a corporate environment.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Installing Lexmark Z700/P700/P3150 linux printer driver under Debian

Here is a quick note for other Debian users that have a Lexmark printer. Install cups, alien and foomatic through apt (apt-get install cups foomatic alien). Download the rpm packages from the above site and use alien on them. You will definately have to restart cups '/etc/init.d/cup restart' for the changes to work. I ended up rebooting the whole computer for the new printer driver to show up in the cups driver menu.

This works really well under unstable.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Choosing Debian packages

I found this great article from the UserLinux discussion group that discussed how UserLinux wanted to solve one of the basic problems with Debian: there are almost too many packages to choose from. Now this is one of the main reasons why I love Debian but it has also been a problem in the past for me. As the article states when looking for a ftpd solution there are many choices, how do you make the correct choice without too much research.

I suggested that Debian could try to incorporate the statistics from the popularity-contest package and create a type of Google PageRank (tm) of packages. When you use aptitude or 'apt-cache search ftp' you could see that package foo has a popularity of 80% of all packages with ftp in the title. It could also show that this package got 800 votes. This type of information can tell a Debian user that there is probably stong development of the package currently and in the future. Of course the Debian user will still have the option of going for a less popular package but it would assist in the decision making process.

To know what percentage of the Debian market package foo uses, one would have to seperate the Debian packages into the appropriate market. However, you could use the same search term used in 'apt-cache search ftp' to focus on the packages with ftp in the title. You can take the 800 votes for foo divided by the total number of votes for packages with ftp in the title.

Now to figure out a way to tell the Debian Developers for apt-cache.