A Debian/Lenny User Experience — A Glass Half Full

As far as I could recall, I did not use Linux/Debian for about two years. Last week, I  had an open time slot and I decided to installed my favorite Distro Debian/Lenny on my aging desktop to play around a little.

My experience so far is mixed. I would say the general user experience has enhanced so much that I actually spent less time fixing the system for a better environment. On the other hand, numerous details of the Desktop environment have much to be desired, and if fixed properly, could contribute so much to the user experience, to the degree that one can term Linux Desktop as “just works”.

It all depends on the perspective a Linux user choose to view:

One can run out of his patience and feel it is a waste of time to fix many things after the initial installation. Why can’t it just work out of the box? Why does the OS often stands in the way when I try to do some work?
On the flip side, I know many Linuxers just enjoy the tweaking, tinkering, patching and fixing of their Linux. For them, the real joy of using Linux is the users’ being able to improving it the way they want it. It is a glass half full, and Linux users can end up on the extreme sides of pessimism and optimism.

For me, I’m gleefully surprised by the following user experience enhancement:

  • Once again, I get the same cool feeling running Debian box on my machine.
  • The font display is now much better than it was a couple of years ago. Now it is viewable and basically pleasant. But I don’t think I was the only one who had endured and cursed the fuzzy, eye-straining font display under Linux.
  • Xorg is configured automatically after installation, and the Nvidia 3D driver is also installed without much hassle. I could still recall the nightmare when I had to calculate modelines for my 17″ CRT monitor to get the comfortable display quality. Now that pain is only memory, and partly thanks to LCD screens.
  • The effects of Compiz 3D desktop are fantastic, and the overall experience beats the pants off Windows XP. Don’t even mention Vista to me.
  • Chinese language environment is better. With free fonts like uming and wqy, the Chinese display under Gnome is comparable to that of Windows. Not as great, but not very bad either.
  • USB disks can now be automatically loaded with its icon displayed on the desktop.
  • Splashy is such a pain remover for those who had tried grub splash. At least you don’t have to compile your kernel in order to splash, for god’s sake.
  • I can now officially suspend and hibernate my Debian box, although my machine isn’t be able to be restored to normal after the break.

But wait, Lenny is absolutely not in a position to be complacent. In fact, it invites the attack of many “haters and ranters” such as this one. In my next related post, I will bash my user experience under Lenny relentlessly.

One Reply to “A Debian/Lenny User Experience — A Glass Half Full”

  1. ali,

    I have tried Ubuntu and Knoppix before, but I didn’t like them much. Both of them are two automatic and overreaching. Personally I don’t think I need much tweaking and configuring on Debian, because there are minor changes I have to go through anyway (/etc/fstab for example).

    But I do benefit from the Ubuntu documentation and other variants of Debian such as Sidux.

    I assume you are using Ubuntu? I do like its broad user community and documentation which pale those of Debian’s a little bit.

    Thank you for your kind insights.

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