Monday, April 09, 2007

Debian Etch--A Seasonal Itch?

Yesterday Slashdot reported that Debian Linux had big news: Two Major Debian Releases In One Day. According to Slashdot,

If all goes according to plan, Debian should release both an update to Debian Sarge (3.1r6, henceforth to be oldstable)--and a new stable release (Debian 4.0, which was codenamed Etch) and announce the results of the election for Debian Project Leader--all within 12 hours. Sarge was updated late on April 7th UTC, Sam Hocevar was announced as DPL at about 00:30 UTC, and preparations for the release of Debian Etch are ongoing and look good for later on the 8th.

On the Debian News page I found that Debian 3.1 had indeed been updated, and learned that, if I wanted to keep running Sarge, it was henceforth to be known as oldstable. I dutifully replaced every occurrence of the word "stable" in my /etc/apt/sources.list with the word "sarge." It wasn't long before the announcement: "Debian GNU/Linux 4.0 released, April 8th, 2007" appeared.

The Debian Project is pleased to announce the official release of Debian GNU/Linux version 4.0, codenamed "etch", after 21 months of constant development. Debian GNU/Linux is a free operating system which supports a total of eleven processor architectures and includes the KDE, GNOME and Xfce desktop environments. It also features cryptographic software and compatibility with the FHS v2.3 and software developed for version 3.1 of the LSB.

Using a now fully integrated installation process, Debian GNU/Linux 4.0 comes with out-of-the-box support for encrypted partitions. This release introduces a newly developed graphical frontend to the installation system supporting scripts using composed characters and complex languages; the installation system for Debian GNU/Linux has now been translated to 58 languages.

It was exactly one year ago that I spent more than a week having Fun (?) With Debian Etch. I'd like to upgrade, but all my experimenting last year told me that some of my Etch problems may be because I'm using such old hardware. This computer was new in 1998, and my other Intel machine is only a couple of years newer. One serious problem I had with Etch was that I could no longer mount my USB thumb drive or my digital camera. The other was that the new installer just flat didn't work on my hardware. Both of these problems are deal-breakers. Fortunately, I spotted the instructions for pointing my /etc/apt/sources.list toward oldstable, or sarge, before I innocently ran a maintenance apt-get dist-upgrade and put myself out of business.

I've Bittorrented the i386 Debian4.0r0 disk image, and I'm casting about for an expendable computer to try it on. It's fortunate for me that Debian supports its old stable for quite a while.


Larry said...

"Put you out of business", eh? I've done that a time or two running unstable Debian releases. Luckily problems tend to "heal" themselves eventually. "Hey, my printer works again!"

I enjoyed your thoughtful comment on my "Peer Review" post. Thanks!

Bob Babione said...

Would a "white box" PIII do? I think it is around 512 Meg of RAM and 450 Mhz processor. It has a sound card, two USB connections, two CD drives (one is a writer?) two floppy drives (one the current size and one from the generation before). I would have to turn it on or open it up to find out about the hard drive(s).

I bought the case and motherboard several years ago with the idea that the machine would be to play with installing Drupal. But that never happened; now I have an opportunity for a hosted Drupal site. probably I can even dig up a comparably aged monitor. Probably some version of Debian is already on it.

So it is available. I'd be interested in knowing about a new Debian install, maybe even with MEPIS as an opton.

Rebecca Clayton said...

Bob, that sounds a lot like what I have on hand. Thanks for the offer.

Larry, I seem to have a need to tinker in the spring. Maybe I should contain myself and go dig ramps instead.