Bad experiences with distros (was Re: [H-GEN] CRUX (A programmers linux distro))

Greg Black gjb at
Fri Aug 6 23:23:46 EDT 2004

On 2004-08-07, Matthew Sellers wrote:
> Greg Black <gjb at> wrote:
>> On 2004-08-06, Matthew Sellers wrote:
>>> Greg Black <gjb at> wrote:
>>>>     I have played with Debian installs, but abandoned it once I
>>>>     had determined that Debian did not have support for the
>>>>     hardware I wanted it to run on.  Since then, I've stuck with
>>>>     BSD variants.
>>> Could you please clarify this; what hardware advantages do you get from
>>> BSDs? I would be interested to know.
>> I don't understand the question.  What part of "Debian did not
>> have support for the hardware I wanted it to run on" requires
>> clarification?
> I was wondering whether it was the base architecture[1] or certain types of
> peripherals that were not supported. Or maybe just because Debian stable is
> almost always older than most other stable distributions.

I don't recall saying anything about Debian stable; in fact, I
tried the bleeding edge at the time of my experiments.  Debian
stable definitely didn't work, in several ways.

> Essentially it was the "hardware" part that I wanted to know about. I had 
> thought that most deployments would have been chosen on OS features rather than
> hardware support issues.

I don't understand what you're saying here.  I read that as a
claim that I should have first chosen the OS and then fitted it
to the hardware.  The circumstances were that the hardware was
already in hand and was not going to be replaced under any
circumstances.  What I needed was an OS and applications that
supported all the hardware components that mattered to me.  I
already had that software combination in FreeBSD-4.3; the reason
for considering alternatives was that, in all releases since 4.3
(i.e., 4.{4,5,6,7,8,9,10} and 5.{0,1,2}), FreeBSD no longer
supports one of the important hardware components.  So my choice
boils down to (a) continue with FreeBSD-4.3 or (b) find another
OS that works with this particular problematic hardware or (c)
use a late model FreeBSD and abandon use of one of the hardware

Although (c) would in fact work, it's less convenient than I'd
like and so I won't go down that path unless there's an exploit
against FreeBSD-4.3 that's just too hard to defend against
without upgrading.

Ideally, (b) would be the solution, but it has not been a very
productive avenue despite a lot of attempts.  I tried other BSD
variants first, since I'm familiar with them.  Then I tried
Debian as my Linux experiment.  So far, I have not found an
alternative that supports the specific hardware as well as
FreeBSD-4.3 (although Debian testing, or whatever its name is,
was the closest contender).

Which leaves (a).  I've pretty much decided to just stick with
FreeBSD-4.3 until the hardware dies.  When I buy new hardware,
I'll make sure it either comes with an OS I can live with, or is
known to work with an OS that I use on my other systems.

I was being careful not to be critical of Debian; and I'm not
critical of the various BSDs either.  The only reason that I
even mentioned my Debian experience was to say that I had once
installed Debian but that my experience with it was insufficient
for me to know the answers to lots of questions about its basic
workings; and, therefore, that my suggestions -- in the context
of this particular thread -- had to be read in that light when
it came to Debian.

If the question here was really: "what is this weird hardware
that doesn't work?", then I'm not going to answer it, because
it's completely irrelevant to this thread and of absolutely no
interest to anybody who might be reading this.

Cheers, Greg

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