I’ve mentioned two or three times now that I have been spending a lot of time in Arch and Debian these days. I hold both distros in equally high regard for being fast, light and good starting points for outdated machines.
Debian gets points for reaching all the way back to the 486 generation, which means I can use it on my very very old systems. At the same time though, I find myself floating back to Arch more often than not.
On a machine that postdates the Pentium, Arch’s flat configuration is just more to my liking. I appreciate Debian 6 for picking up things like Grub2, but I strongly dislike the need to edit /etc/default/grub, then run an updater, if the configuration files are in a different place completely.
I don’t know the rationale for that, so it might be something inherited from the developers of Grub2. All the same, it’s a little inconvenient, particularly if you only want to change one digit.
If I can continue being honest, I also dislike the update-alternatives system for determining things like a default window manager, or a default terminal emulator in X.
Again, I don’t know how or why that’s in Debian, but it seems like a huge obfuscation. I have tried to learn the system over the years and sometimes it will actually work in my favor, but more often … not.
I think my underlying dislike for it is similar to my complaint about Grub2 — why is there another whole layer of configuration, just to trigger which emulator springs into view when I press Super-L-plus-Enter?
That, to me, is something that should be configured in the window manager’s files, edited directly and not relying on links, names, paths and priorities. And so I usually do just that — configure the window manager and ignore the alternatives system.
But I’m probably not being fair, since Debian has more uses and applications that I can even dream of. No doubt that system works well for someone else who needs Debian for more than just resurrecting an old Pentium I.
If I have to be honest though — and I might as well, since I’ve been dangerously honest up to know — those two things and a few others like them are what keep me from using Debian on my newer, faster machines.
For those, it’s just quicker and easier for me to set up Arch, and tinker directly with the software. To each his own, I guess.