Debian’s Quality Problems

June 13, 2011

For the last 8-10 years I have been using Debian. And when Debian Squeeze came out I happily upgraded. The upgrade went fine, but using Squeeze has been very annoying. The quality has been abysmal, and not at all what I have come to expect of Debian.

My main complaint is the Gnome experience. Epiphany, which I used to be quite happy with, crashed a lot and Gnome recommended Iceweasel anyway. Iceweasel do not have the nice bookmark system of Epiphany, but it works well. But I was annoyed of having to deal with the buggy Epiphany.

My earlier chat client, Pidgin, did not work very well in Squeeze either, so I decided to try Empathy. After some tweaking, looking though bug reports, I got Empathy working all right. The sound is still not working, which is annoying, but you can live without sound in a chat client. Also, Empathy sometimes do not login to MSN and Google Talk when starting the computer. Restarting Empathy fixes the login problem, but it is quite annoying. Something so common as a chat client needs to work out of the box. No tweaking.

Today, I needed to use my Evolution calendar for the first time. Every time I try to save an appointment, Evolution says “The name :1.164 was not provided by any .service files”, and “The Evolution calendar has quit unexpectedly … Your calendars will not be available until Evolution is restarted”. Again, something common, like the standard Gnome calendar, needs to work without any fuzz. I tried googling, but that did not help much. Anyway, I am tied of tweaking.

What's more, I have seen a couple of kernel panics in a couple of month. This is quite unusual for a Debian system. I suspect that it might be related to running a Xen kernel, but I do not really know.

I guess I am just fed up, and I have started to consider something besides Debian. Linux still got a lot going for it, but the Debian version of Gnome do not seem to be part of it. I still feel “at home” when using Gnome. I think the at-home feeling stems from Gnome’s nice and simply design, but that is not enough when core applications is so much hassle.

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6 Responses to “Debian’s Quality Problems”

  1. gwern Says:

    Seems like most of your problems are with the app developers, not the packagers…

    And where are you going to go? Ubuntu? I just switched away from Ubuntu to Debian because it’s even worse in this respect.

    • Mads Lindstrøm Says:

      It could very well be the app developers and have nothing to do with Debian. I don’t really know. Maybe KDE is better, but my impression is that KDE is not aiming for a simple user interface, which is completely fine, but not for me. Then again, I could live with some complexity if the most common apps worked out of the box. Maybe somebody has experience with KDE?
      I have not decided where to go. And I will properly postpone it until I need to upgrade for some other reason.

  2. Apple Says:

    how about an Apple?

    • gwern Says:

      You’re kidding, right? For a Haskell developer?

      Judging by the emails to -cafe and various bug trackers, the life of a Haskell developer on Apple systems is one drawn out agony of despair as they cut themselves on all the rounded corners of the faux Unixy-ness of Macs. I set up some Mac filters in Gmail just to give myself respite from the endless cacophony and unanswered shrieks of despair, and I *still* am treated to futile Mac threads on a regular basis.

      • Mads Lindstrøm Says:

        Yes Haskell development is properly not so much fun on Apple. But one could install some kind of virtual machine running Linux. Not a perfect solution, but it could be a reasonable compromise.

    • Mads Lindstrøm Says:

      Have not really thought about Apple. It does sound like Apple would fit my desire for a simple GUI and the just-working quality. Or at least that is my prejudges about Apple. I will give it some thought…


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