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#1 2018-06-18 22:37:49

msi
Member
Registered: 2017-02-04
Posts: 115  

Devuan ASCII reviewed on DistroWatch Weekly

Issue 768 of DW Weekly brings a review of Devuan 2.0 ASCII, but one that's kind of odd:
https://distrowatch.com/weekly.php?issu … 618#devuan

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#2 2018-06-19 00:46:00

dxrobertson
Member
Registered: 2017-05-04
Posts: 99  

Re: Devuan ASCII reviewed on DistroWatch Weekly

Yes, I read that review.  My Devuan installs were from the netinstall graphical expert, so maybe its different from the live install? 

I didnt at all feel the install process was "longer installation process I have gone through to date" (although he probably means "longest").  My experience with the install process I used was that the install asked the questions needed to properly perform the install.  I cant think of any questions to remove and still get the install proper, for me and others not in the US.  Does Debian ask the same questions?  I dont get Jesses beef with this. 

I dont recall experiencing any of this:

First, we are asked for the root password, which is available in the release notes file. Then we are shown a screen warning us the installer's windows may not fit on small screens (or display properly in a virtual machine) and, in that case, we should use the text installer. Then I was warned that the grub-pc package was missing and might need to be installed manually, though the reason for this was unclear.

I dont recall having to "toggle" anything on the main install display; my install was what I would describe as serially. 


Jesse doesnt seem to like the "cryptic" international locales, I remember this phase in the install, maybe a human translations would be helpful?  Dont know, do typical users understand this (important)?.

We are asked which language locales should be set up, with options being pulled from a cryptic list with entries like "en_US.UTF-8".



I dont recall any of this on my install:

and then I was asked an unusual question. I was shown a screen with three options, with the first being to copy files to a /target directory and install the GRUB boot loader packages. The second was to open a chroot environment to perform custom actions. The third was to "continue" without installing a boot loader. I took the "copy files" option, half expecting it to fail since I'd been warned the grub-pc package was missing, but the installer accepted my choice and moved on.


My experience with Devuan install was straight forward and not complicated at all.  I think Jesses overall review was positive, but dont understand his comments on the install.

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#3 2018-06-19 01:00:19

golinux
Administrator
Registered: 2016-11-25
Posts: 1,309  

Re: Devuan ASCII reviewed on DistroWatch Weekly

@dxrobertson . . . Maybe you'd want to comment on that directly to DW?

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#4 2018-06-19 01:41:52

dxrobertson
Member
Registered: 2017-05-04
Posts: 99  

Re: Devuan ASCII reviewed on DistroWatch Weekly

golinux wrote:

@dxrobertson . . . Maybe you'd want to comment on that directly to DW?

Done!

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#5 2018-06-19 08:28:19

devuser
Member
Registered: 2018-04-30
Posts: 176  

Re: Devuan ASCII reviewed on DistroWatch Weekly

Have to agree. I also think a lot of the criticism comes down to their choice of using the live installer instead of the conventional one. Besides even if i have no experience with the live installer the complaints seem a bit blown up. Especially the locales thing. Those "cryptic" names have been the default representation in Debian's installer for years and haven't heard any complaints yet.

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#6 2018-06-19 09:00:02

cynwulf
Member
Registered: 2017-10-09
Posts: 181  

Re: Devuan ASCII reviewed on DistroWatch Weekly

He installs on x86 virtualisation.  As a rule all of their reviews should be be based on an installation on bare metal.  He managed to install OpenBSD 6.0 both on a VM and bare metal (a laptop as I recall) and gave it a "fair", but undetailed review, so don't see why he didn't give this the same treatment...

From his review of NetBSD 7.0

When we boot into our fresh copy of NetBSD we are brought to a simple graphical login screen. Or at least I was, given that I had installed all the available packages. I found that I could sign into my user account and, upon doing so, I was presented with a blank screen. Shortly after logging in a mini terminal window would appear in the bottom-right corner and display login/logout and system messages. I was able to click in this terminal window and scroll through the messages, but otherwise the graphical environment was unresponsive to input. I was unable to type or click on anything, other than the message window, and I was unable to logout. In short, graphical software is present, but we do not have any desktop environment in which to work.

I'm just surprised that someone who has been around for so long and reviewed so many Linux distributions does not recognise, twm, xdm and a fairly typical xconsole setup when they see it.  The first thing on my mind would have been "mouse and/or keyboard not working".

My point here is, that I think his reviews get far more airtime than they deserve.

Last edited by cynwulf (2018-06-19 09:01:48)

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#7 2018-06-19 09:47:41

Panopticon
Member
Registered: 2018-01-27
Posts: 137  

Re: Devuan ASCII reviewed on DistroWatch Weekly

Im not going to bag the reviewer but in all honesty the below quote pretty much sums up Linux. The length of installing is just the same as pure debian, so i can only surmise the reviewer has not really done many installations with debian only its offshoots like ubuntu and the like.

What I found was that Devuan provided an experience where I had to stop and think about where items were or how I was going to use them rather than having the pieces seamlessly fit together. However, once I got the system set up in a way that was more to my liking, I appreciated the experience provided.

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#8 2018-06-19 12:29:11

Richard
Member
From: Venezuela
Registered: 2017-04-23
Posts: 4  

Re: Devuan ASCII reviewed on DistroWatch Weekly

Just recently installed Ascii v2 onto an Asus 1000HA netbook with N270 i386.
I think the reviewer noted some of the same things I noticed. The installer asked more questions, but I felt they were generally helpful and intended to avoid future problems.

There are simpler installers that provide a simpler experience. Devuan provides options to set it up as you wish while installing, which I liked. Perhaps in the future offer a guided, newbie install and an advanced version that offers more variation and control, if you want better reviews.

Reviews offer a chance for the developers to see how others see the system they've built through user eyes. Even advanced users have learned the quirks and no longer see them as lacking, only just something to remember. Newcomers do not have that advantage.

This review is generally positive. Address some of these issues in future releases in order to grow a larger user base. When you do, you will find an even larger set of differing opinions. Success is a mixed bag. The choice is to decide whether to create a base system for distro developers, a sys admins system or a system that might please everyone. Or something in between whatever that might be. smile

Devuan is not Ubuntu. Expecting the Ubuntu experience from Devuan is unrealistic but is a common metric for reviewers. While most users can use Linux after installation, installing still requires a bit of experience to navigate, or at least a willingness to explore and learn.

Devuan, like Debian is usable. Neither provides all the ease of use of many distros out of the box, although the tools may be there. "Batteries included but not installed."

Thanks for the experience. You are doing good work.

Last edited by Richard (2018-06-19 12:30:22)

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#9 2018-06-19 16:39:04

msi
Member
Registered: 2017-02-04
Posts: 115  

Re: Devuan ASCII reviewed on DistroWatch Weekly

A few comments on this:

On the desktop are icons for opening the file manager, reading the distribution's release notes, launching the installer and changing the desktop font sizes. [...] Unfortunately, the text labels under the desktop icons do not handle being resized well. When we first start using Devuan, the text under the icons reads "Small", "Large" and "_Release Notes". Increasing the size one notch makes the text read "SM", "LA" and "_RE".

Can this be confirmed by anyone?

Devuan has its own system installer.

That's not exactly right. Devuan installation images use a modified version of the Debian Installer. But this will probably change in the future as there are plans to create a new installer for Devuan.

Installing from a Devuan live system, you will, however, be using Refracta Installer[1]. So, all the installer-related issues mentioned in that review apply to Refracta Installer only, not to Devuan's version of the Debian installer.

Devuan supports working with just the ext2/3/4 file systems.

Untrue. The installer used by the installation images also offers Btrfs, JFS and XFS. You can even format drives and partitions with FAT16 and FAT32. Refracta Installer might, however, have some limitations here.

We are asked which language locales should be set up, with options being pulled from a cryptic list with entries like "en_US.UTF-8". We then select our keyboard layout from a similar set of lists.

Again, this is not true if you don't install from within a live system. Just like the original, Devuan's version of the Debian Installer will let you choose your language and locale in a straightforward and totally non-cryptic manner.

Devuan ships with an unusual combination of popular open source applications and some less common programs. Popular items include Firefox, LibreOffice, the GNU Image Manipulation Program and the VLC media player. But then we are also given the lesser known Quod Libet music player, the Ex Falso media tag editor and the mutt terminal e-mail client. The Orage Calendar application, a PDF document viewer and printer manager are present too. The Thunar file manager is included along with a tool to rename groups of files and there is a process monitor. Devuan ships with the Wicd network manager to help us get on-line.

Devuan ships whatever Debian ships, except that packages dependent on systemd are either rebuilt to work without it or simply banned.

Devuan ships Firefox, but then its counterpart is the mutt console e-mail program which feels entirely out of place with the rest of the desktop software.

Well, that's apparently because task-xfce-desktop will not install an e-mail client and mutt being in the default install. Not a big deal, IMO.

Having a fairly large repository of software available along with Flatpak support provided a solid collection of applications on a conservative operating system foundation.

I think it's kind of wrong to name Devuan a "conservative" distribution. It's not about just keeping everything as it is. If it was, why would it offer OpenRC as an alternative to SysVinit, for example?

Richard wrote:

The choice is to decide whether to create a base system for distro developers, a sys admins system or a system that might please everyone. Or something in between whatever that might be.

I'd say there is no decision to be made here, since, just like Debian, Devuan aims to provide a "universal operating system".


----
1 https://files.devuan.org/devuan_ascii/d … README.txt

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#10 2018-06-19 17:32:40

Arc
Member
Registered: 2018-06-11
Posts: 3  

Re: Devuan ASCII reviewed on DistroWatch Weekly

Very odd overview of the distro. Personally, my process through the netinstall was pretty much indistinguishable from Debian's. So maybe he should use that like a normal person. But, if the installer from the live environment specifically is a bit janky like that, maybe it does have to be changed to be a little more foolproof. Still, he shouldn't be doing these reviews through a VM and seems to be oblivious to a few things that typical GNU/Linux users would be familiar with.

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#11 2018-06-19 18:00:28

devuser
Member
Registered: 2018-04-30
Posts: 176  

Re: Devuan ASCII reviewed on DistroWatch Weekly

While i agree with pretty much all the flaws posted here the most horrible thing imo are the comments below the review... One completely ignorant tool after the other (with exceptions obviously but still...).

Last edited by devuser (2018-06-19 18:01:14)

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#12 2018-06-19 19:22:12

golinux
Administrator
Registered: 2016-11-25
Posts: 1,309  

Re: Devuan ASCII reviewed on DistroWatch Weekly

The reviews here are much more thoughtful:
https://distrowatch.com/dwres.php?resou … tro=devuan

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#13 2018-06-19 19:49:37

devuser
Member
Registered: 2018-04-30
Posts: 176  

Re: Devuan ASCII reviewed on DistroWatch Weekly

msi wrote:

But this will probably change in the future as there are plans to create a new installer for Devuan.

A new installer for Devuan would be nice as i've always found Debian's installer quite hard to modify. Actually i have been playing around with this a bit. What i have right now is an ISO that boots a tiny busybox based system (boots fine down to 64MB RAM) with a statically linked dialog binary (and a handful of tools for stuff that busybox is lacking like formating filesystems). My plan is to do the whole setup in as little as possible shell script so it's easily modifiable. Main install consisting of extracting and adjusting a debbootstrapped minbase tarball. Everything further being just a question of chrooting to the target or copying files. Building a usable partition setup from nothing but dialog is proving to be a bit time consuming though so not sure if i will find the patience to finish it.

golinux wrote:

The reviews here are much more thoughtful:
https://distrowatch.com/dwres.php?resou … tro=devuan

Yeah, i prefer those too.

Last edited by devuser (2018-06-19 19:50:38)

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#14 2018-06-19 20:52:37

ivanovnegro
Member
Registered: 2018-05-15
Posts: 57  

Re: Devuan ASCII reviewed on DistroWatch Weekly

Obviously Jesse was not installing Debian very often as the default Xfce desktop looks and acts just like when you install Debian, in a sense already mentioned here calling it "universal".

I always install from a netinstall, so the procedure was not different from Debian. Maybe the Refracta installer is not the best choice if you have to use the live ISO. The thing is that many people of course will go with the live version because it is available and shows already how your hardware works with it.
Other derivatives use still the Debian installer from a live environment and I think it is almost bullet proof. Though you can always make things better and there are others based on Debian with their own installers.

So he basically complained about the initial setup but then it was a relatively positive review. But in all honesty I never took Distrowatch very seriously.

What he probably means with "conservative" is that the pace is slower, with older, reliable, tested and stable software. Yep, that sounds like old-school Debian to me, quite positive. It is also true that you can use flatpaks to spice up your system. I know not everybody is a fan of it but hey, there is another choice to add some newer components to your stable system and it does not depend on systemd, if you want and really need to.

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#15 2018-06-20 11:17:39

fsmithred
Administrator
Registered: 2016-11-25
Posts: 912  

Re: Devuan ASCII reviewed on DistroWatch Weekly

msi wrote:

A few comments on this:

On the desktop are icons for opening the file manager, reading the distribution's release notes, launching the installer and changing the desktop font sizes. [...] Unfortunately, the text labels under the desktop icons do not handle being resized well. When we first start using Devuan, the text under the icons reads "Small", "Large" and "_Release Notes". Increasing the size one notch makes the text read "SM", "LA" and "_RE".

Can this be confirmed by anyone?

Yes, if you click on the desktop icon to increase the font size, the font size is increased and no longer fits in the allotted space for the unhighlighted desktop icons. Same as if the icons name is too long to fit in that space. When you click on the icon to hightlight it, that one icon is given more space so that the full name shows. This is true with large font the same as with a long file name.


Devuan supports working with just the ext2/3/4 file systems.

Refractainstaller will automatically format the selected partitions to your choice of ext2/3/4 unless you tell it not to. Other filesystem formats are possible by pre-formatting your partitions and telling the installer not to format. This information is in the Help available from within the installer.


We are asked which language locales should be set up, with options being pulled from a cryptic list with entries like "en_US.UTF-8". We then select our keyboard layout from a similar set of lists.

The live installer provides the exact same debconf dialogues for locales, time zone and keyboard as the debian-installer. (same as if you run dpkg-reconfigure locales|tzdata|keyboard-configuration)

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#16 2018-11-07 17:15:54

Duke Nukem
Member
Registered: 2018-11-07
Posts: 6  

Re: Devuan ASCII reviewed on DistroWatch Weekly

I have just installed ASCII and I don't recognise some of the reviewer's complaints. 

I chose the expert non-graphical install from DVD, and it went smoothly except it said I had an EFI motherboard and I should put GRUB on a USB stick. However I don't have an EFI motherboard so I ignored it, with no repercussions.

I used Debian before I used Devuan, and it seemed to me that the installation procedures were practically identical : has this guy never installed Debian?  I once did a net install of Debian and it did take hours (literally, waiting for packages to be downloaded) and would never try that again, Debian or Devuan.

He was installing on a VM, so he had graphics problems.  I have rarely managed to install anything on a VM without graphics problems and I usually just give up and have to accept a shrunken a 800x600 (or whatever) subscreen.

I was not asked to set up partitions manually; the option was only offered (and I took it). It also offered to make partition decisions itself, even in this "custom" installation - I don't know what it would do with that option.

He seemed to find the account set-up stage confusing.  I was simply asked to set up a root account and then a user account. I never like the sudo method of doing admin (AFAIR Ubuntu insists on it). I find when I need to do admin tasks that I am doing them for a little while, so I don't want to have to keep adding "sudo" in front of every command.

Last edited by Duke Nukem (2018-11-09 10:26:20)

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