Saturday, September 17, 2005

Re: Yay! The Once a Year Repave

Steve wrote: Yay! The Once a Year Repave. In his blog entry, he wonders why he has to "repave" his box at least once a year. I smiled when I read it, since I have not had to do that for years.

One of the most important reasons that I switched from Windows to Linux years ago was NOT the ideology of Free Software, or the availability of tools that fit my needs better. The most important reason was that a Unix system "feels" more stable.

After starting out on VAX/VMS, I went to DEC Ultrix, Sun Solaris, HP/UX and finally I ended up in Linux land. Via Slackware and RedHat, I settled down on Debian GNU/Linux. Why? Because of its extremely well-developed packaging system.

All files on my system can be traced back to a package which owns it. Having that knowledge at my disposal makes removing software, adding new programs, and upgrading existing software a breeze. Using the dependencies system, it also means that my system does not have library version conflicts and such.

It is exactly that kind of packaging that Windows currently lacks. I know that programs can often be installed and uninstalled, but I still regularly manage to hose Windows systems if I do so. I feel that this is mostly due to the fact that dependencies are NOT addressed adequately in Windows packages.

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