Saturday, December 11, 2004

Debian Sarge - A Review

What is Debian

Debian GNU/Linux is a bit different from the other Linux Distros that are out there in the market.Debian does not have any point releases unlike Redhat 7.0,7.1,7.2,8.0,9.0.Debian has three versions with different content:Stable,testing,and unstable and the three versions called Woody,Sarge and Sid.Woody is officially known as Debian 3.0.Any program that will be published in the next version will be Compiled,Documented, packaged and added in the Unstable version.

Installation of Debian Sarge

Debian installation could be divided into three phases or stages. First is when you boot the machine with a Debian Bootable DVD/CD and do the Base install. The Second part consistes of installing packages such as the X Window System,Mail Server/client and common software packages that would make Debian Sarge a complete Operating System.After that you get a fully working Debian machine with Gnome or KDE or both (depends on the installation) .

So This is what i did to set up Debian Sarge in my system . Here we go...............
I ve got Debian Sarge DVD.With this i installed Debian Sarge in my system.I got this DVD when i bought this month's(Dec 2004) PC Quest Magazine.In fact i got PC Quest only for the sake of this DVD :-) .

I ve got a Samsung DVD ROM in which i inserted the Debian Sarge DVD.The System booted and i got the Debian Sarge Startup screen . I didnt have second thoughts at all i wanted 2.6 Kernel and i just typed linux26 in the boot prompt and the installer Started. The best part of Debian Sarge is that it has got the latest software packages and it has got a beautiful Installer. Debian has got a reputation of being the toughest Distribution to install on any PC because if a person needs to install Debian in his system the person needs to know a lot about the Hardware thats being used in the system but the Sarge installer is very easy to use and at the end of the installation you get a fully functional Debian Box with a shiny GUI (KDE or Gnome).

I was just keeping my fingers crossed till the installation started. The initial screens just asked me to select the language,country and keyboard layout respectively.The Installer detects all the hardware thats plugged into ths system.The Installer detected my Network Interface Card(NIC) and it tried to configure it with DHCP but i ve got a static IP so i had to enter the IP of my machine and the other necessary details and i was able to configure it easily . Next the installer asked for the hostname and domain name of the machine .I have just got one machine a stand alone so i just had to type local and then comes the important aspect . Guess what ................ Its about Paritioning . Wow....... I didnt have any problems because i already had knoppix running in my system so i already had an EXT3 partition and swap so all i had to do for this installation was to point the installer to format the current EXT3 Partition and use it for Sarge.It was a breeze doing that and i really enjoyed it.Then the installer started installing the Base System which hardly took about 10 mts and then the system rebooted and then i got GRUB on the screen with 2 options (one was normal mode and the other was the recovery mode ) and it also detected my other Operating System Guess what windows XP????????? No its Windows 98 .Hip Hip Hurrah !!!!!! I just selected the first option and booted into my new Operating System then the second phase of insallation started.In this phase the installer asked me to create enter the name for an User and the corresponding password and then it asked me to enter the administrator password and then it asked me about apt-setup . I just inserted my DVD and it just indexed all the packages in my DVD .Then it showed me a screen which showed me some options and asked me for the packages to install. So all i did was i needed apache so selected WebServer and Of course i need X Windows so i just selected Desktop Environment and i really didnt want to manually select the packages so i just clicked on Finish and i went for sleep and when i got up i saw the login Screen in the GUI mode with X windows System running and GDM running perfectly i selected KDE as the Desktop Environment and entered my user name and password and i logged into KDE and i was amazed with the number of software packages that were installed . I didnt break my head in selecting packages as this used to be the process in Debian Woody . I had everything including OpenOffice of course No doubt of GCC Compilers .

All in all i would say that Debian Sarge is a very good Distribution targeted towards Servers and Desktops too . I highly recommend it for newbies too but the only Disadvantage that users might face is with the internet . If the user has a normal Dial up i dont think so the user might like seeing his pocket burning when he issues apt-get update or apt-get install but if the user has got a cable connection and does not worry about the downloads and the time he spends online then Debian would be or infact should be the way to go.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Debugging Demystified - Part I

Debugging (in the context of software engineering) is a process of identifying the cause for defective behavior of a system .In raw terms it can be defined as fixing a bug in the software. Debugging plays a very important role in Software Engineering process because this is the phase where the bugs are really fixed.Now the question to be asked is How could Debugging be done. The answer is very simple.There are Debuggers which are specifically used for Debugging purposes alone. So what is a Debugger and why at all should a Debugger be used. ??? Before we get into that. Let me define what is a Debugger and the purpose of it. The purpose of a debugger is to allow you to see what is going on "inside" another program while it executes--or what another program was doing at the moment it crashed.
Lot of Debugging tools are available which can be used very easily.Almost all IDEs have debugging functionality inbuilt in them .One of the them is Microsoft Visual Studio which has very good debugging functionalities embedded into it which makes it really easy for the developer to fix bugs in the Code.As far as Linux Platform is concerned there are handful of Debuggers available. GDB is a very good Debugger but the main disadvantage of this IDE from my point of view is that its a Command Line tool which makes it quite difficult to use because to use GDB you have to make sure that you read the GDB documentation first , memorize the commands and then start using it.There has to be a GUI for Debuggers which would make Debugging really easy .Infact i was in need of a real good Debugger with a decent User Interface which would allow me to set breakpoints with a click of my mouse button and i found out DDD. DDD stands for Data Display Debugger and it has got a very good User Interface which makes it really easy to use and morever people who have got used to Visual Studio wont really find it difficult to migrate to DDD. Ultimately less spent time is spent in learning about the tool and more time is spent in improving the Debugging skills which counts more. I ll just give a small Introduction to DDD.

Technically Speaking DDD is a front end to the command line Debugger GDB which can also be called as inferior Debugger because it lies at the layer beneath DDD. To debug an executable binaries DDD can be used with GDB,DBX,Ladebug,or XDB.

GDB, the GNU Debugger, is the recommended inferior debugger for DDD. GDB supports native executables binaries originally written in C, C++, Java, Pascal, Chill, Ada, and FORTRAN.

To debug Java byte code programs, you can use DDD with JDB, the Java debugger.

To debug Python programs, you can use DDD with PYDB, a Python debugger.

To debug Perl programs, you can use DDD with the Perl debugger.

....To be Continued :-)