Home > Desktop User > The Unthinkable: Moving From Ubuntu to Debian 5 Lenny

The Unthinkable: Moving From Ubuntu to Debian 5 Lenny

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I am thinking the unthinkable…..I am considering changing from Ubuntu 8.10 for my desktop to Debian 5. I have been running the Debian 5 Lenny candidate for awhile and have bee very pleased with the stability and features. It actually functions and acts more like the distribution I need and work on than Ubuntu. Not so say that Ubuntu is bad, just that I typically do not need or use the latest applications. I mainly work on my Linux desktop for about 60 hours a week. So I really need something I can count on. Again, not that Ubuntu has let me down, it has never really crashed on me but I do struggle with bugs from time to time. I use my GUI desktop to work from as I manage Linux servers, either Ubuntu or CentOS.

Buy Debian Linux on DVD or CD

1. Stability
Debian has a philosophy that is more like Red Hat/CentOS in that the focus is more on testing to insure stability of the whole system than to provide the latest and greatest applications. I am weary of checking bug reports for Ubuntu, especially on the server end. In one recent week working on Ubuntu servers I had to work through 3 bugs that cost me a lot of time and energy that could have been spent elsewhere. Every time I talk about bugs in Ubuntu I get riddled with attacks, but what I have discovered is that most of the attacks are emotional responses from people attached to Ubuntu but not those who spend 20-30 hours a week working on configuring and managing Ubuntu servers. Sorry but Ubuntu needs to do a better job on the server end in terms of testing.


2. Security
Basically the security issue is the same as stability. It is even more important now in terms of servers. Security is always related to the testing of applications, that is where many of the security issues develop. This is where Debian 5 has done more testing, at least from what I can see and ascertain than is done with Ubuntu. Debian seems to take security more serious that Ubuntu. I remember writing an article on how it was unthinkable for me to see the first Ubuntu desktop with no firewall option at all. Or even worse, calling the UFW firewall “uncomplicated” in current versions of Ubuntu. I am happy to write an iptables firewall and be done with it.

3. Simplicity
I do not need many features, in fact I can easily be happy with a system that has less features. I am tired of the bloated desktop that takes CPU cycles but that I do not use. I am probably looking at moving to Fluxbox on Debian. I see where some have labeled the icons of Debian as the worst on the planet, well not quite but they are not as nice as Ubuntu but so what?


4. Scope
Debian comes with 18,733 packages. Debian 5 Lenny will have 5 DVDs to download with those packages, that is simply beyond any other distribution. The scope is not just in relationship to the packages that are offered, these packages are maintained by volunteers who cover the globe providing insight and thinking from various cultures and backgrounds. Of course I recognize that all distributions are international in scope but Debian 5 is a group of volunteers which separates them from a group of paid programmers run by a corporation.

5. History and Purpose
This paragraph from the Debian web site sums up the history and purpose of Debian. Now certainly it has not been a golden road of tranquility, as there have been problems, but for the most part this purpose is seen throughout the distro.

“Debian was begun in August 1993 by Ian Murdock, as a new distribution which would be made openly, in the spirit of Linux and GNU. Debian was meant to be carefully and conscientiously put together, and to be maintained and supported with similar care. It started as a small, tightly-knit group of Free Software hackers, and gradually grew to become a large, well-organized community of developers and users”

All in all, some of this may be a result of having used Ubuntu for several years and yearning for a change. But I think now is the time as Debian 5 Lenny is on the way.

  1. Oren
    February 8, 2009 at 7:34 am

    interesting post.

    In relation to point #3 – simplicity,
    I am using command-line install of ubuntu (from the alternate CD).
    that way you get a lean machine of 600 MB.
    (you need to install X, window manager and any other package you need).

  2. February 8, 2009 at 9:40 am

    to be honest, i don’t take it as unthinkable πŸ˜‰
    it is very feasible and a good idea in many ways.
    for desktop everyday use i still think debian stable sometimes get a bit too old, but if you use just some specific applications, its stability pays off.
    i’m using ubuntu for about two months now and i can’t wait to get back to debian (as soon as lenny is released πŸ˜‰
    it is not unthinkable, or at least you’re not alone!


  3. February 8, 2009 at 10:34 am

    I switched back to Debian from Ubuntu after the disaster that was 8.04 was released. Unfortunately, Debian testing came up with a bug in the intel graphics driver which caused random crashes of Xorg and left the GPU in an unusable state until a power-off.

    I switched back to Ubuntu for 8.10, but am still generally unhappy with the Pulseaudio situation and will try Lenny when it’s released next week.

  4. February 8, 2009 at 11:26 am

    Welcome to Debian!
    Just a quick correction, though. You state in your post that Debian has 18k+ packages. Well, although this number seems to be the what most take as real, according to this post current stable (soon to be oldstable) release Etch has 23k+ packages, while Lenny has 28k+ and sid (unstable) already has 30k+ packages!

    Now THAT is something you are yet to see in any other OS or any other project!

    Cheers, mate! Enjoy your stay in the Debian community! I hope it lasts!

  5. February 8, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    I moved from Kubuntu 7.04 to Debian Testing and have been very happy!

  6. Debianero
    February 8, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    It is not to think the unthinkable is just a normal step, because Ubuntu is just a small part of Debian so it’s better to enjoy the full experience.

  7. Trevor
    February 8, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    I have also make the move from Ubuntu to Debian Lenny. Ubuntu is too unstable, things that work in one version are broken in the next.
    I’m more attracted to Debian’s rolling release format. Great system, I’m loving it!

  8. February 8, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    Welcome on board to Debian, It is a great Distro, I also use mainly Debian Lenny as my Desktop Linux.

    You may be interested in reading this posts I have write.

    http://www.go2linux.org/debian-ubuntu-centos-fedora-comparison Comparison and some facts about 4 Distros


    http://www.go2linux.org/installing-a-light-linux-operating-system-debian-fluxbox a Light configuration of Debian, based on Fluxbox

  9. piratetux
    February 8, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    Hey, funny you should make this post, I was just about to make the same one (thanks fer stealin’ my thunder dude!)

    Anyway, I just switched to Debian Lenny after experimenting with a whole bunch of distros for the last few months. I was having a hard time settling one because it seemed hard to find one that met all my requirements neatly, at least until now. Lenny just seems to fit all of my needs and wants. I love it!

    Take it easy


  10. ArtInvent
    February 8, 2009 at 9:37 pm

    If you don’t use or need the latest and greatest, then why are you on 8.10? Why not just stay with 8.04. This is pretty much exactly why they have an LTS version of Ubuntu.

    Of course, Lenny will be more up to date and really ought to be better than 8.04. But then, 8.10 will be an LTS version a few months down the line. Really, it’s more a matter that Debian and Ubuntu LTS are just on different release schedules. At any given point, the latest one is probably the better one IMO.

    I feel the best approach is to keep critical machines and servers on the LTS and save the in-between releases for a machine that I can experiment on and try out the new stuff and test.

  11. Paul
    February 9, 2009 at 1:03 am

    When I started my last sysadmin job I installed Ubuntu like most of the guys on the team (one used CentOS, one Debian, 4 used Ubuntu.) Whilst it was good, my first experience using a Linux desktop full time, some of the bugs could get really frustrating. After hitting up against another one of the bugs and getting cheesed off with it, the Debian guy suggested switching over. I did and discovered “It just works”
    It was a source of frustration for all of us that we couldn’t run Debian on our servers. Hardware support was a challenge, plus the version of the software was often too far behind what was actually needed. We really needed something somewhere between the two. More up to date but with that dedication to QA that we just don’t get from Ubuntu.

  12. roland
    February 9, 2009 at 4:02 am

    I just made this exact move on my laptop a couple of days ago and let me tell you– night and day difference. What Ubuntu has really lacked lately is an over-arching consistency, IMHO. Things work in this version, but not the next, only to work again +2. Nothing against Ubuntu, that’s just the nature of the beast. Despite everything that has surrounded Debian as of late nothing can take away from it being absolutely rock-solid.

    be good to each other,


  13. Fredy
    February 9, 2009 at 7:29 am

    I’ve been experimenting a lot with different distros in the last time, since for one I wanted to avoid some bugs which where present only in ubuntu, not in other distros, and also to get a different perspective on linux desktop computing. I’m using fedora core 10 at the moment and I am very pleased with it. Pretty stable and solid, even though it is as up-to-date as Ubuntu 8.10. It also has very nice security features like an integrated firewall and selinux tools.
    I also tried Lenny for a while, but it was a little to outdated for my laptop. It’s a rock-solid, stable OS, but if you need newer package versions or kernels you are basically on your own. I discarded it, because I could not use all my hardware with it and Fedora has everything I love about debian: a great package management system, frequent security updates and an active community. While Ubuntu is a great OS for desktop computer, I would always recommend Fedora for workstations.

  14. Robert Devi
    February 9, 2009 at 11:29 am

    Not unthinkable, just different needs. Not everyone needs cutting edge features or tailored usability. Debian is a good, reliable workhorse and does the job it was meant to do with little fuss or glitz. WRT security, however, you’re missing the mark. All Linux distros come with a firewall, it’s just that not all come with a firewall GUI. Ubuntu deliberately made the decision that the firefall should be optional, because all ports would be closed by default. If the user wished to do something, like share a folder, the user would be given the option of opening the port without having to go to a firewall GUI. This approach is both safe (since everything is initially locked down) and usable (since services requiring a port change help you diagnose and fix any issues).

  15. miksuh
    February 9, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    “I discarded it, because I could not use all my hardware with it and Fedora has everything”

    Did you check if the drivers you need are in the repository as a separate package? Debian Lenny has Linux kernel version 2.6.26 so hardware support is well up-to-date. AFAIK Fedora 10 has Linux kernel 2.6.27 which is only one version newer than what is in Lenny.

    “if you need newer package versions or kernels you are basically on your own”

    As usual, newer kernels etc for the Lenny will be made available in the backports.org after the release of Lenny. Also do remember that Debian project is planning to make LennyAndAHalf release someday in between of Lenny release and Squeeze release. LennyAndAHalf will bring new updated hardware support to Lenny.

    Same was done with Debian Etch. Etch was originally released with Linux kernel 2.6.18. EtchAndAHalf was released with kernel 2.6.24. There is alse kernel 2.6.25 and 2.6.26 available for the Etch in the backports.org.

  16. Paul
    February 9, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    Not sure why the move would be considered “unthinkable”. I have been using Testing for several years and have tried to use Ubuntu but find myself incredibly frustrated when using it. Ubuntu is fine if you can close your eyes and use the computer, but if you need to even peer under the hood, forget it. That’s OK because that’s what it was designed for: simple to use and you don’t have to think about it. Give me the flexibility and power of Testing anytime over having someone hold my hand.

  17. rebel
    February 9, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    I’m currently using MEPIS which is based on Debian stable. The project head Warren Woodford tried to use Ubuntu as a base for a release but decided etch was more stable and easier to upgrade between Debian releases.

  18. Scott
    February 9, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    Unthinkable? Ubuntu and Debian are so alike the two can be considered parts of a bigger whole. Debian makes a great desktop, it’s actually pretty easy to use and it’s been that way for at least 5 years. Linspire, Xandros, Mepis, Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu… all easy because Debian is easy.

    “I also tried Lenny for a while, but it was a little to outdated for my laptop. It’s a rock-solid, stable OS, but if you need newer package versions or kernels you are basically on your own.”

    That’s just plain BS. Disregard such nonsense. If you need newer versions of packages, you can run a “mixed system” (see the apt-howto) and pull the packages you need from testing or unstable (sid). There’s also the backports repository. Really, if you’re advanced enough to know that you need the latest and greatest, you know what you’re doing and can compile a few packages from source.

    Debian stable has Linux kernel 2.6.18, which is fine for mere mortals like me, but backports has 2.6.26, just an apt-get away, is that recent enough for you?

    Debian: the last operating system you’ll ever have to install. Not hyperbole. =)

  19. em4r1z
    February 10, 2009 at 3:21 am

    I moved to Debian Testing after Ubuntu latest kernel update caused a fatal kernel panic that made my system useless (it affected old kernels too), and I’m quite happy I moved to Debian.
    Like I used to do in Ubuntu, I did a custom install, the difference is that everything in Debian just works. The resulting system is smaller in size and footprint and package dependencies are handled way better (there aren’t useless localizations listed as dependencies and while orphaned packages are the rule after a removal in Ubuntu, I have yet to see an orphaned package in Debian.)

    There’s no point in comparing Debian Stable and Ubuntu LTS for the latter was created from a snapshot of Debian Unstable and will/might only be stable after some time (the fact that you support a package for various years doesn’t make it stable at release.) The last Ubuntu LTS (8.04) was buggier than 8.10. In contrast, Debian Stable is, well, stable when it comes out. Packages had been tested before release and will be even more mature during the years the new version is in development.

    For those who want newer versions of applications, try Debian Testing and/or Unstable. Despite their name, they’re more stable than any popular distribution.

  20. Fredy
    February 10, 2009 at 7:28 am

    Don’t get me wrong, I really like Debian, I’ve been running it on my desktop for a long time and it worked just as it was supposed to. Still, I don’t like installing packages from unstable repositories, because they are capable of messing up your system and are not well maintained. Furthermore even the unstable packages are not really up to date. For example it’s been a couple of months since gnome 2.24 is out and it is still not available completely in debian.

    The current Kernel version is 2.6.28 and there are even daily packages of 2.6.29rc for Fedora Core 10 which work just fine. There have been many improvements to ACPI for example which make my laptop’s battery run 1.5 hours longer than with older version.

    But sure, if you have all your programs running in the versions you like running in Debian, I do recommend it. My point was just that Fedora (Desktop) shares many greate aspects of Debian (Desktop) and because of this you might want to consider it. (The downside of Fedora is of course, that they don’t have LTS for older versions)

  21. Bob C.
    February 10, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    I mean it’s not like they’re apples and oranges. More like a Red Delicious vs a Baldwin. I use Ubuntu 8.04 on one box and a Net install of Lenny with Xfce on another, more resource challenged, machine. I like them both. I don’t really look at it like one is better than the other. They just taste differently.

  22. Rod
    February 11, 2009 at 12:11 am

    I’m not here to tip my had or say “well done”. I have been a Debian user for eight years and I have no intention of changing.

    I’ve heard that Henry Ford used to say (about the model T) that you could have any color you wanted as long as it was black. That is the M$ mindset.

    Pick a distro that suits you. This is Linux and it can be whatever you want it to be.

  23. Andrey
    February 11, 2009 at 12:12 am

    i feel that the people don’t really appreciates ubuntu using for a long time i can says it is one of best distro is first stable, it has some bugs but it is not as buggy as debian, easy install, very easy to use

    Last time i tried to install kde 4 in debian , it didn’t work it crashed and did not get the gui, i had to revert back to kde 3

  24. February 11, 2009 at 12:53 am

    You should give Mepis a try, it’s currently is using Debian Lenny. Mepis also switched from Ubuntu to Debian a while back for similar reasons I believe. v8 final will come out w/n next couple of weeks (when Lenny is out).

  25. saintsteele
    February 11, 2009 at 1:51 am

    I just switched from Ubuntu to Sid. I really liked Ubuntu, but I like Debian more. Bugs don’t bother me much (which would explain why I’m running Unstable) – I switched because I wanted a distro that wasn’t changing so fast. I think the user-friendly Ubuntu approach has been good for linux users, but I don’t really need the user friendliness, and prefer a system that’s not changing all of the time.

  26. February 11, 2009 at 12:39 pm


    I recently did the unthinkable, also, and switched from Debian (Etch) to CentOS. But IMHO they’re both quite good. The only difference is that CentOS’ Long Term Support lasts 7 years.

  27. Debianero
    February 11, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    @Andrey, wake up! How can you write ‘(Ubuntu) it is not as buggy as debian’?

    If there’s a word to define Debian that’s precisely stability.

    Besides, Ubuntu is just a snapshot of SID plus some make-up.

  28. February 12, 2009 at 7:08 am

    ArtInvent said “But then, 8.10 will be an LTS version a few months down the line”.

    Sorry, but you obviously have no idea about how Ubuntu versions work. 8.10 will never be an LTS version. Releases do not change to or from LTS status. (8.04 is and will remain LTS.)

  29. davemc
    February 18, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    Been using Ubuntu (server and desktops) and Fedora on my gaming rig for a few years now, and before that I was on Gentoo and Sabayon. I have toyed around with Etch a few times but it has no wow factor at all. I will probably put Debian on the server eventually but honestly, Ubuntu 8.04 has never ever given me any problems on it. I suppose there is something to be said of Debian’s stability and security focus over Ubuntu but the same could be said of Fedora and CentOS. I definitely agree with some posters above about F10 as it has been absolutely fantastic and a real joy to use. No troubles with it at all and Packagekit works actually even better than Synaptic. If Fedora had a rolling release or some type of LTS release then I would switch to that in a heart beat. That said, Lenny gets a shot on my gaming rig next (replacing F10), and we shall see how he compares. Maybe I will write a review of Lenny vs. F10 vs. Ubuntu after that because no review is worth the time it takes to write it unless you have used that distro for more than 6 months of continuous use on a production machine!

  30. February 26, 2009 at 8:42 am

    I have also made the move from Ubuntu 8.10 to Debian Lenny. As mentioned they are very similar but with stability a greater goal of Lenny over 8.10. And when it is used for all your working day this stability is important. I had previously used Ubuntu 8.04 and made a mistake moving to 8.10. It was not a bad release, just not quite as reliable.

    Happy now on Lenny, and not planning to change.

  31. Daniel
    March 26, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    Hi, regarding your point about debian icons. The icons shown are default for open office, if you prefer the ubuntu look then you can install openoffice.org-tango-style pkg. Also installing openoffice.org-gtk might be a good idea.

    Nice article.

  32. greg.es
    April 2, 2009 at 5:44 am

    I used Ubuntu 8.04 on my laptop, then upgraded to 8.10 and wasn’t too happy with it. A lot of crashes and more memory usage than Hardy soo… Now I’m using Lenny 64 bit. I was unable to install Lenny i386 (tried CD, DVD, small CD with net install but no luck) so I tried 64 bit version and I’m very happy with it.

  33. Ian
    April 6, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    For an example of what happens when you have 30k packages to test, do

    apt-get install bastille

    on Debian Lenny. You will discover that the version of Bastille in Lenny does not even install in Lenny!? This is a known bug (see bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=510884) and was even marked as ‘fixed’ several days before I downloaded the older version from the main repository.

    It left me in a position where dpkg would not uninstall the useless version or install the fixed version over the top of it, even when using the –force options. I ended up having to edit installation files by hand before it would uninstall.

    Having said that, this is only the second time in a decade of using Debian on a sever that my packages have ended up in a twist, and the first time was my fault.

    But what sort of testing did this package get before it was included in ‘stable’ Lenny? And how many other packages are similarly bugg*ed?

  34. john
    April 13, 2009 at 2:36 am

    lenny seems to be working fine. i saw a weird glitch though yesterday the x server puked and refused to start again which required a reboot.

  35. April 13, 2009 at 8:58 pm

    Yep I am in agreement….all it takes is the one time and your faith is shaken.

  36. hadi
    December 18, 2009 at 11:22 am

    debian lenny uses kernel 2.6.26 as the default kernel . with that kernel my laptop battery doesnt last for even
    1 hour , powertop shows me about 10000 wakeups from idle per second , however now im using the latest kernel on
    lenny (2.6.32) and its experience is great . laptop battery lasts for 3 hours (the same as vista)

  37. February 21, 2010 at 1:38 am

    I just don’t know anymore! I’ve spent the last 20 hours installing and re-installing opensuse 11.2, everytime I install it I try to install the drivers for my ati HD 4200 and I lose the system and have to start fresh. Why is it so impossible for me to have those fancy compiz effects on gnome?? Ubuntu 9.10 was the same, couldn’t get compiz to work.. couldn’t even get gnome installed becuase of missing dependencies and the only advice was to install ubuntu-desktop! I don’t want that, I want gnome and compiz effects!! is it really that difficult?

    A year ago all of this worked perfectly fine.. Why is Ubuntu so messed up now? Half the time I end up with 1 xfce4 panel on 1 screen and a gnome panel on the other! it’s crazy.

    I’m going to try debian now.. wish me luck πŸ™‚

  38. the Hulk
    February 21, 2010 at 10:30 pm

    I came to Debian from Ubuntu. I didn’t like the bugs.
    Debian is more stable.

  39. GabrielXL
    February 28, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    I’ve made the switch and haven’t looked back since. Lenny has been rock solid stable and gives me everything I need.

  40. Reuben Thomas
    April 12, 2010 at 8:35 am

    I switched to Debian when RedHat became Fedora, as Fedora was explicitly (at least, in those days) not intended to be a stable system for end-users, but a bleeding edge distro. Debian promised stability, and it delivered, but it turned out to be rather too stable: even releases often contained old software, and they happened far too infrequently.

    So, I switched to testing. This worked well: things were usually fairly up-to-date, bugs were fixed quickly, and though things broke fairly regularly in small ways, the pain was spread out, which I found preferable to having to deal with lots of breakage each time I got a new version of a distro. I was, after all, still primarily an end user.

    At about the same time, I started running Debian on some servers, and again appreciated its stability. I ran sarge on an ancient Mac G3 as a server, and it worked fine: so, I had fewer packages available on PPC, but thanks to Debian’s multiple architecture releases, PPC was an option at least, and the missing packages were not things I needed for a server. I also ran woody and then sarge on an old Cyrix 166 system from which I had removed all the fans, to run as a stripped down no-moving-parts server (it booted from a floppy and then ran off a USB key). Debian came with the package I needed to run the CPU in low-power mode so that it didn’t melt even without a fan, and it was reasonably easy to get running in this odd configuration.

    So far, Debian winning hands down.

    Then Ubuntu came along, and I noticed a couple of things. First, they focussed on hardware support for the end user. Since I was primarily an end user, this was attractive: I had rarely managed to get Debian stable to support all the hardware on whatever laptop I used as my main machine. Secondly, and contrary to some of the posts above, Ubuntu did concentrate on delivering a good end-user experience. In fact, in my experience, Debian and RedHat also suffered from the “working in release n, broken in n+1, fixed again in n+2” syndrome, not just Ubuntu, and this was often because of successive generations of driver (X being the primary example), or re-architecting (OSS->ALSA->PulseAudio). My experience has been that these things have improved over time in all distros, rather than being particularly a feature of one or another. I have increasingly found upgrades of both Debian and Ubuntu to go painlessly (though I have friends who insist always on reinstalling, reasoning that things tend to work better from fresh installs, and not without reason, as I often find myself struggling to get new features and fixes to work; I compromise and only install freshly on new machines, as at least I don’t have to deal with changes in default settings every time I upgrade a distro).

    Recently, I have also started using and recommending Ubuntu for two other classes of use: servers and inexperienced end users. For servers, because I find Ubuntu just as stable as Debian, and for end users because of Ubuntu’s better focus on the naive end-user. For both, because the LTS release schedule makes my life more predictable. For a server, the 5-year release cycle goes roughly hand-in-hand with hardware replacement: I expect typically to have to upgrade a server at most once during its life time. For inexperienced users, the 3-year cycle is similarly good: that’s about the lifetime of a laptop, so I only have to upgrade their system once on average, and similarly, they only have to experience the disruption of a new version once per machine. (When one gets a new machine, one expects a bit of disruption.)

    As for me, I find that things are slowing down: I don’t want new software and bugs all the time, but I do want it regularly. Debian testing, in other words, releases too often for me, and Debian stable releases too frequently. With 6-monthly Ubuntu releases I keep getting the up-to-date software and reasonably regular fixes I want for my systems, whereas with the 3- and 5-yearly LTS releases, I get the nicely spaced versions I want for users I’m supporting.

    (I should also add that compared to Mac OS or Windows, I find remote administration much easier with Ubuntu and Debian: for some users I can completely lock down their machine so that they can’t, for example, accidentally reconfigure the system; for others I can make life easier by for example completely automating and hiding security updates. The Mac philosophy seems to be that they try to make this easy enough for all users to do for themselves, a laudable goal which so far they have not achieved, whereas Microsoft’s view seems to be that remote management is only for enterprise, and the versions of Windows shipped on consumer machines don’t seem to support it. (Of course, I would also have to learn from scratch the Microsoft way of doing things, which would be a major investment. In a world where pretty much everyone else, including Apple, works the same way, Microsoft are increasingly isolated, a strategy which on the one hand leaves them free to innovate and do things better if they think they can, but on the other risks losing customers who can’t get their heads around their different way of working. As someone who already had this problem with Symbian (interesting system, does things differently, sufficiently complex that I never bothered learning it), I see the seeds of a similar demise once their massive market share wears off…

    But I digress.

    Debian and Ubuntu are getting more similar. Debian has now committed to a regular 2-year cycle. This is still too long for me as a user and too short for me as a server admin. Personally, I’d be quite happy if Debian abandoned stable releases to concentrate on doing what they do so well: being an upstream provider. I still report bugs to Debian rather than Ubuntu wherever I can, to save both the Ubuntu and Debian maintainers work, as I’m taking the bug straight upstream. It would be nice to see tighter integration between the bug trackers so that this could be done essentially automatically. At the moment I only use virtual machines to run the few bits of Windows software I need, but Debian and Ubuntu could make it easy to run a sid and Ubuntu+1 machine in order to let willing users like me pre-triage bug reports, perhaps even syncing such VMs with one’s own machine so they had the “same” configuration.

    As someone who spends much of their free time working on free and open source software, I’m mostly concerned with wasted effort. Both Debian and Ubuntu, of course, concentrate on reducing wasted effort in a much wider sense: by making excellent computing environments available to everyone. I think this is a good fundamental orientation for thinking about computers, as about any tool: they are a means to an end, and the primary aim should always be to make them as efficient as possible, and, in the end, like any good tool, render them invisible. With computers, we still have a long way to go.

  41. February 3, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    I like debian but not always is stable.

  42. March 9, 2011 at 3:00 am

    I’m using Ubuntu and strongly considering switching to Debian. One of the things that is also important when comparing the two is that Ubuntu is hierarchically run by a for-profit corporation, whereas Debian is run democratically, with support from a non-profit foundation.

  43. pauix
    April 9, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    That’s not unthinkable at all. In fact, I’m now thinking of moving from Ubuntu to Debian too! πŸ˜›

  44. Alain Knaff
    November 11, 2011 at 7:19 am

    I’m thinking of moving from Ubuntu to Debian too. So I googled around in order to find a howto, hoping to find some method to do this “in place” (rather than re-install from scratch). After all, both distros use .deb packages, so with the right /etc/apt/sources.list / apt-get upgrade magic it should work, right?

    So I found your article… which gives good reasons *why* to do the move, but unfortunately doesn’t explain *how* to do it. Or did some part of the article come missing?


  1. February 9, 2009 at 7:53 am
  2. February 5, 2011 at 9:16 pm

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