[Lazarus-other] [Lazarus] Off-topic: Debian vs Ubuntu

Henry Vermaak henry.vermaak at gmail.com
Tue Mar 29 11:40:25 CEST 2011

On 29/03/11 08:47, Graeme Geldenhuys wrote:
> Hi,
> While following some of the discussion about "FPC and Lazarus on ARM" it
> made me think of a question I wanted to ask any Linux users, and I know
> here are quite a few.
> Is it only Ubuntu that cannibalized the Linux run-levels beyond
> recognition, or is the same thing done in Debian too? I have zero
> experience with Debian.
> eg:
> * Ubuntu doesn't have the standard run-levels defined like normal
> Linux distros (eg: Slackware, Fedora etc) have.
> - There is no "Multiuser without NFS" - run-level 2
> - No "Full Multiuser mode" console login - run-level 3
> - X11 - run-level 5
> In Ubuntu run-levels 2-5 are all the same thing. F**ken stupid!
> * Ubuntu use something called upstart which seems to have no editor
> or any logic behind controlling what should start when. Run-Levels
> have worked fine for decades, so why did Ubuntu have to break it!

Yes, Ubuntu has been using upstart since 2006.  Fedora was, too, but 
they're moving to systemd.  Both of these have nice compatibility with 
sysvinit.  There are reasons for change, of course, but you can read up 
on that for yourself on wikipedia.  The upstart docs are plentiful, too.

> * They can't standardize on a technology. Lets take audio. First
> something else, then OSS, then ALSA, then PulseAudio... what next,

You're a bit confused, here, it seems.  OSS and ALSA refers to the sound 
api in the kernel.  If you're interested in linux, you can forget about 
OSS, it's been deprecated since kernel 2.5, or something like that.  So 
you're left with ALSA.

Userland is a different thing.  PulseAudio is the sound server du jour. 
  Except for some serious people (recording, etc.), who use JACK.  There 
are lots and lots of apis and libraries and frameworks, some historical, 
some more integrated in certain desktop environments (phonon for kde). 
I think this is the mess you're talking about?

> and in how many months? A technology can never mature under Linux.

It's almost impossible to get people to agree about what the best 
implementation is.  Without some agreement, there can be no 
standardisation and maturation.  Sound is a peculiar one, too, because 
different people want different things from it.  But it's like that even 
with upstart vs systemd.

In my opinion, this churn and restlessness is what pushes technology and 
evolves into better and better solutions to the problems we face.  There 
are unfortunately other factors that are inevitable in open source 
communities (personality, politics, style, licensing) that cause 
conflict and cause more churn than needed.

It's easy to compare to Windows or Mac, but it's not really fair, as you 
probably realise.  Those operating systems have bosses that give out 
orders, and programmers follow.  Money makes sure there are resources, 
etc.  This gets the job done on time and sets a standard, since it gets 
integrated into the OS and there are often no alternatives.  People 
don't chop and change sound servers on Windows or Mac (as far as I know, 
at least).  The level of customisation that linux based oses offer is a 
feature, in my opinion, and will encourage the evolution we need for 
good software.

But with all this comes a lot of discomfort for the end user.  I'm 
struggling like hell to run a (very) custom debian testing install on my 
old laptop.  It takes an hour to build a kernel while my quad core at 
work takes 5 minutes.

An alarming thing, however, is the dumbing down process that I've 
perceived with Ubuntu (and Gnome).  They try to cater for the lowest 
common denominator, so configurability goes out the window.  I've heard 
that you can't even specify application font sizes in Gnome 3 (just 
large, normal, small, smaller, etc).  This is why I stick with Debian. 
I might have to jump from Gnome to Xfce again if it gets ridiculous.


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