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Lord Yupa

February 2010

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Hard drive woes.

Ugh, this is frustrating. I've got 4 different hard drives in my primary server. It started out with just a single one, and now the file system flows all over the place, covering something like 11 partitions on the 4 drives.

I'd really like to reorganize and consolidate everything in a more logical and less ad hoc manner, but that is really gonna be a pain in the butt. I'd also love to change over / to use ReiserFS, like most of the rest of the partitions are using, but that also is a good bit of work (especially with the messy way things are set up).

On the other hand, maybe it is time I backed things up, wiped the drives, and reinstalled everything. I'm running on the same debian installation that started out as a Debian 1.3 (Bo) release, in late '97. It's been updated (thank God for apt-get update && apt-get upgrade, making life so much easier;-) numerous times since then, but I've never had to reinstall. It is prolly getting a little crufty. ;-)



Yeah, I've got support for ext3 in my kernel right now. . . I've been thinking about giving that a try on root, since it'd be so much easier to convert it.

The others weren't that hard, since I could convert one partition at a time to ReiserFS, and it went smoothly enough.

As for cruft. . . after all this time, I don't even wanna think about how much is there. ;-)
Wipe it and rebuild with Redhat 7.2. :) extf3s support built-in, plus a lot of other nice stuff.

Ugh, no way. ;-)

Ugh, no way.

If I wipe it and reinstall, it'll be Debian all the way. ;-)

I'd like to see someone update Red Hat over 5 releases without ever rebooting it to do the upgrade. ;-)

That, and I'd never choose to admin a box without apt-get, if I could help it ;-)

Re: Ugh, no way. ;-)

Pfft, apt-get sux0rz! :)

Quite honestly, Redhat 7.2 is like a dream, it just blows away every old version of Redhat and just fixes so many problems that I love it. I'd never use anything else on a desktop, and I don't have enough long-term experience with it on the server-end to make a judgement there yet, but so far it's been solid.

Anyways, with Ximian installed and Red Carpet, it's got better package management than Debian's silly apt-get anyways.

The funny thing is you mentioning updating over 5 releases... I never update any releases, if a box is so old and crufty that it needs that level of upgrade (as opposed to tiny incremental upgrades, which is what I typically do) I just rebuild it from scratch. Much cleaner that way.

Re: Ugh, no way. ;-)

I helped a friend of mine install and setup a RedHat 7.2 box a couple of weeks ago. It wasn't as bad as it used to be, but I still much prefer Debian.

Anyways, with Ximian installed and Red Carpet, it's got better package management than Debian's silly apt-get anyways.

And with or without Ximian and Red Carpet, RedHat can't touch Debian for package management. It's not just the tools, although apt-get/dpkg are still way ahead of Red Carpet/rpm, but it's the whole system. Debian has a strict and uniform packaging policy and set of standards, and includes almost 10,000 packages. They are tested and developed together. Additionally, it handles dependancies so much better than Red Hat does.

At one point, I updated a Debian box from 2.0 to 2.1, and I did the entire thing with apt-get update && apt-get dist-upgrad. That upgraded every package on the box, without a single problem or incident.

Well, I started by installing Debian 1.2. Then I upgraded to release 1.3. Then to 2.0. Then I updated to 2.1. After that, I went to 2.2. I'm currently tracking what will soon be Debian 2.3.

My point is that Debian is so well set up, and the package management is so good, that I have a box that was initially installed over 4 years ago, and is still running great, and I never had to even burn a CD and reboot it to upgrade from one release to another. The only thing that's ever required a reboot is kernel upgrades.

And really, the only reason my box is really crufty right now is because it's also my primary development box, so I constantly install stuff on it just to play with, and don't remove it. If it were a production machine, I have no doubt it'd still be lean, mean, and relatively cruft free. ;-)

Re: Ugh, no way. ;-)

Ah, but see, Red Carpet adds in a lot of the extra dependencies and such that plain-old RPM's are missing... and adds in automatic dependency installing and things like that. It makes up for a lot of the weaknesses in RPM's, although I will say the RPM format isn't actually nearly as bad as people say, it's just that so many people set up bad RPM's. Properly configured RPM's are pretty good, they just need better front-end tools... which Red Carpet provides.

My primary box is around 2 or 3 years old and hasn't needed any funkiness; the only times it's been rebooted in those years were when I lost power and/or moved. And... it's running Redhat. It works well, it's doing work constantly, and it's performing well. In fact, I've never had to rebuild one of my personal boxes after I've built it, and have never had to reboot any of them except when I was upgrading a kernel or moving or lost power, and except for one FreeBSD box they're all Redhat boxen.

I'm sure apt-get is great, but I think the test of a box is in its admin - any package management system is good enough if you've got a clue. If you can keep a Debian system running for 4 years, you could do the same with a Redhat system. YOU are the important variable in that equation, not your system's package management tool. :)

Re: Ugh, no way. ;-)

Without a doubt, I completely agree with you. Much more important than the specifics of whether you're using Linux, or NetBSD, or FreeBSD, or whether you're using Debian, RedHat, or Mandrake, is the competency of the admin.

This is an argument I frequently make with regards to security, too, when people claim that OpenBSD is the panacea that can't ever have any kind of security problem affect it. The thing is, most security problems come from applicatoins that are installed, not the base OS. And in order to ensure that you have proper security, you need to have an intelligent and competent admin running the box. An idiot can make a secure OpenBSD insecure, just like a knowledgable admin can make an insecure RedHat installation (just grabbing a random name, not implying that RedHat is insecure) secure.

I do find that Debian allows me to more easily keep a machine running, stable, and secure than most other options, but that's me. If RedHat works for you, more power to you (and once you really get "under the hood", It's all the same kernel.). ;-)

Re: Ugh, no way. ;-)

Hrm. . . you must have come in at a bad time. Around that time, there was still a fairly small number of developers, and only a few hundred packages. There's now almost 1,000 Debian developers, almost 10,000 Debian packages, and they have much stricter and better organizaed policies and regulations for packages. I don't know that I've found anything anywhere (on PC hardware) that I would rank above Debian's Stable releases for rock solid stability and reliability.

I've used all three of the BSD's, and I do have an appreciation for them (particularly NetBSD, which is my prefered of the three), but I've still not found anything anywhere that is as slick as apt-get. ;-)

Additionally, even more important than just the apt-get tool, is Debian's system policies. I find it better organized than just about any other free *nix, because all packages follow the same rules for file placement (config/binary/data/etc), and use standard facilities for installation, upgrade, starting/stopping services, etc.

As for a truly minimal install, Debian has an unofficial "netinst" CD, with a 35MB ISO which includes an ultra-minimal installation, and grabs everything else desired from the net. ;-)

Of course, what could be really interesting soon, is the Debian GNU/NetBSD (with the other BSD's starting to get worked on, too), which is in progress. ;-)

Re: Ugh, no way. ;-)

Ah, yeah. . . the libc4 -> libc5 transition was a little messy. Although, I actually found the libc5 -> glibc2/libc6 transition to be surprisingly smooth. I didn't have any major problems with it.

As for the GNU/BSD license thing, there's actually no conflict at all. Debian has it's Debian Free Software Guidelines (which is what the Open Source Initiative took nearly verbatim for their original "Open Source" Guidelines). The BSD license (sans-the obnoxious advertising clause, which has been removed from most of the BSD's since Berkeley stated it could be) is a perfectly acceptable license for Debian, and has been as long as I can remember (even if it has the advert clause, it can still be included with Debian. . . it just has to be placed in the 'contrib' or 'non-free' section, and can't go in 'main').

Basically, the goal is to take a BSD kernel (initially NetBSD) and the required low-level utilities, and port the entire Debian userland (all (nearly) 10k packages) to it. I won't disagree that BSD ports are nice, but it just doesn't compare to the quantity (and sometimes, quality) of Debian packages. Debian has a standardized set of installations scripts, configuration scripts, policies, etc, that offer it easier upgrades that work more often than just about any system I've ever seen.