Subject: Re: Debian redefines itself
To: Jared D. McNeill <>
From: Martin Husemann <>
List: netbsd-users
Date: 04/18/2007 23:20:55
On Wed, Apr 18, 2007 at 04:39:43PM -0400, Jared D. McNeill wrote:
> Debian was the subject of your post. You seem to have nothing but  
> praise for it -- I can't seem to figure out what NetBSD has to offer  
> you that Debian doesn't. Please enlighten us with your wisdom.

I think the original question was valid. The answer is hard, at this
abstract level.

For example: how do you explain a novice user the benefits of rc.d vs. Linux
init.d or even windows services startup model? We NetBSD people, of course,
know that rc.d is much more logical, structured, a lot more simple, at least
as versatile and overall the best solution. The Suse people say "hey, I just
use yast2 to create a few symlinks and everything else works automatically" -
so why is that solution inferior? The "typical" user does not see the stupid
symlinks created by yast2 at all, but of course would never be able to create
them (correctly) manually. It is even harder to explain with the windows
services model, which is quite sane, consistent, and well hidden behind
usable GUIs.

So, why not use Debian, why use NetBSD instead? I don't know. A lot NetBSD
developers use MacOS X on their desktop. Apparently it fits their needs.
Others completely hate that gui and want something simpler (in a
complete non-apple way of "simple") - NetBSD offers them various choices. One
of my sparc64 systems runs a simple qvwm X setup - it mostly looks like
Windows 95, only with the "wrong" flag for many window icons. My other
desktop machine at work runs WinXP. Some things I need to do are easier to
do on Windows, some are easier on NetBSD. For some I simply do not have
a choice - too bad, such is life. For those where I have a choice, comparing
abstract goals will not help - it mostly is a matter of taste.

Now back to the original question: if we compare NetBSD and pkgsrc to Linux
and Debian - what is the difference? If we ignore the installation, maybe
compilation, and setup phase: there is not a lot. They both run open source
X apps. Who cares that /etc/init.d sucks and rc.d is much more logical while
editing some image in gimp?

Now, why would I use NetBSD and not Debian or vice versa? Because I like
it better. You may like Debian better, and that is a perfectly reasonable
choice. For many users the differences will never make it to the surface.

Actually, given this reasoning, Debian should just give in and tell all their
users to convert to NetBSD ;-}