One of the Haiku fanboys at OSNews gave me a challenge:
Talk to me about the ‘ease’ of configuring certain parts of any GNU/Linux distribution you care to mention. Talk to me about stability, reliability issues, re-installing Windows, failed Linux installs etc.
About a month ago, I had two Linux distros (MepisLite and DamnSmallLinux) and NetBSD installed on the computer I’m using right now. This machine is the same one on which I used to run BeOS exclusively — 400 mhz Celeron, 128 MB RAM, not very flashy at all.
A month ago, I repartitioned my drive so I could enlarge my swap partition because I’m developing something that requires a lot more memory than I’m ever going to put in this little old computer (I need to update that page for a progress report). I reinstalled DSL 2.1b with a normal Debian-type install without apt-get support. This computer has ZERO downtime since the reinstall.
So there’s your stability. No crashes and nearly a full month of uptime. Try that with Haiku.
How long did it take me to back up data, repartition my drive, clear out MBR, reinstall DSL, and get everything set up the way I want? Maybe half an hour tops, but I know what I’m doing. DSL is only 50 MB so installation goes quickly. It uses hardware detection scripts from Knoppix. It was a freakin’ breeze (as usual) — install, go. I also don’t have any goofy hardware because my rule of thumb is to buy hardware that doesn’t require any proprietary driver or that will give me headaches working in the operating systems I use (primarily Linux, BSD, and — very rarely — Windows XP). So there’s your ease of configuration.
I noted two things in my reply at OS News. First, that I’ve never had a “failed install” of Linux. That includes Slackware, Debian, Red Hat, Mandrake (never tried it since it changed its name to Mandriva), or any derivatives of those (DSL, Mepis, Kubuntu, Knoppix, etc.). Second, there are plenty of distros that are easy enough to set up that even a BeOS user can set them up: Ubuntu and its offspring, PCLinuxOS, and Mepis have excellent hardware detection and will set up very quickly and easily for most Linux novices. There may be some quirky hardware that will give anyone fits, but that’s the kind of dross that shouldn’t be bought in the first place because it was only intended to work (locked in) with Windows or Mac.