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Re: [vox] Ponder, ponder... perhaps a silly notion
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Re: [vox] Ponder, ponder... perhaps a silly notion



Quoting Richard S. Crawford (rscrawford@mossroot.com):

> I've heard many good things about Debian, but I've also heard that 
> installing it is not for the faint of heart -- and when it comes to 
> installing OS's, I am among the faintest (I get queasy at the thought of 
> upgrading from Win98 to Win98SE).

I honestly recommend _against_ (vanilla) Debian for most folks, on
account of some oddities of its operation and the funky default
installer.  But please see my remarks to Pete about Knoppix, Libranet,
the PGI image, etc.  All of those can be regarded as ways to install
Debian, because, in the end, Debian isn't a particular installer, but
rather a characteristic system architecture and a system-maintenance
regime.  

For that matter, Xandros Desktop OS (which used to be Corel Linux OS), a
retail boxed set, is getting very favourable remarks, and it too is
Debian (in the above sense) with a number of proprietary "sweetener"
packages added and a nice, _very_ easy graphical installer.[0]

> I'd also like to keep Ximian Evolution on my system, and Evolution
> does not appear to be available for that platform.

Evolution's packaged for Debian.  I have v. 1.2 on the laptop in front
of me.  Looks damned fine, I must say.[1]

> The main thing is, I'd like to keep as much of my current
> configuration as possible... my home directory, and so on.  Is it even
> possible to do this?

Yes.  But.

Certainly if /home is already on a partition that you can leave alone
while blowing away other things, then you win.  If not, you might need
to do some fancy shuffling.  (If you want me to elaborate, just ask.)

Also, it's almost but not quite a smooth deal to carry forward all the
files in your home directories when you switch distributions.  The one
possible trouble spot I can think of is dotfiles (files beginning with a
dot, in one's home directories).  Some distributions do weird things to 
default dotfiles populated into one's home directory when the latter is
created (copying prototype files from /etc/skel), that give mild
indigestion of various sorts to _other_ distributions when those other
distributions are dropped in, in place of the original one.  These tend
to be subtle and overall very mild bits of badness, but you should be
aware of the possibility.

It's a minor enough thing that, although I'm sure I've encountered it
over the years, I can't for the life of me think of a specific example.

> Hm, perhaps everything will look better tomorrow morning after I've
> had a chance to sleep and call Red Hat's customer service line and
> curse them out for a bit.

I'm sorry to hear about that.  You might consider blowing away
everything but your home directories[2], reinstall from your CDs after
doing the CD-media check at the beginning of the installer, and give it
another chance.  But if you're feeling a bit adventuresome, cool!  You 
can always reinstall 8.0 later, if you prefer.


[0] The old joke about Corel Linux OS's installer is that it's the
"Passover installer", because in its default mode it asks only four
questions.  Is that too obscure a joke?  (And no, I am indeed tres
goyish, thanks.  ;->  )

[1] But, to paraphrase Sen. Benson, I know mutt.  mutt is a friend of
mine.  And Ximian Evolution is no mutt.  ;->   By the way:
http://linuxmafia.com/~rick/linux-info/applications-muas.html .  
110 entries?  My ghod.

[2] Preferably, /home, /root, /opt, /usr/local, and /etc.  Also, make
sure you don't miss anything in /var that's of ongoing interest, e.g.
/var/www.

-- 
Cheers,                                      "My file system's got no nodes!"
Rick Moen                                    "How does it shell?"
rick@linuxmafia.com  
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