Debian: the luxurious boring lifestyle

Since late 2018, I had been a full-time Arch Linux user. At that time, it was worth it for me to spend the extra time dealing with Arch’s quirks, meticulously updating my AUR software, fiddling with all-manual configuration, and manually migrating any software between major versions whenever Pacman updated them. It was both a great learning experience, and… well… A bit of a waste of time ;)

Needless to say, things have changed in my life since then, and I now place a much larger emphasis on ‘boring’ stuff. That is, software and systems that largely take care of themselves and require sparing maintenance. In botanical terms, it was time to switch from orchids to cacti.

Thus, it was time to change my main laptop to Debian Stable.

Overall, it has been very pleasant. The thing just works. Updates are easy and fast, bugs are few and far between, and performance is very acceptable. There have been some drawbacks as you would expect, but other than not having the very latest versions of Node and $trendy_software, it’s been a surprisingly easy adjustment.

There have been some very needed adjustments, though. In no particular order:

  • Switching from wpa_supplicant to iwd for faster wake-ups and lower overall power usage.
  • Installing and configuring Plymouth to make the boot sequence less noisy - a cosmetic change to get fewer leers when booting up in public ;)
  • Installing a backport kernel for my new-ish laptop to fix some driver bugs
  • Removing some of the baggage that tasksel brings with it - Things that don’t spark joy like games, utilities, libreoffice, etc. Useful for most people, but not stuff I usually like cluttering things up.
  • Switching pulseaudio for pipewire to bring down power draw (Pulse seem to get stuck and use about 8% CPU time on idle)

Indeed, these are all nitpicks of somebody that knows too much. Bullseye has been fantastic to use, and I would absolutely recommend to any user, experienced or not.

And most of all, I enjoy how boring it is. Truly. There are no controversial features like Snap on Ubuntu, no interpersonal drama on core dev teams, no politics and grandstanding, just good software. It reminds me of something like the Wikipedia project in its drive for correctness and consistency. That is truly something to strive for.