After a hiatus of more than two years, the developers of Debian last month released a major upgrade. That surely came as good news to fans of this granddaddy Linux OS, but the new Debian 7 “Wheezy” may not be worth the wait if you are happily using more popular Linux options.
I feel somewhat like a turncoat for saying that about Debian Linux — I should be revering its 20-year-long lineage. I do respect what Debian Linux represents. Debian is the foundation for many other more modern Linux distros, including Ubuntu, Linux Mint and so many more.
Nevertheless, it is considerably less appealing as an everyday workhorse operating system.Wheezy is just about as unexciting as its name is unattractive. Debian 7 by design is a bulwark of stability. However, it is not a showcase for the latest distro developments. To be kind, this latest Debian Linux release has little or no flash-bang impact under its hood.
Basically Just the Basics
Sure, Debian 7 gives you choices. You can run its GNOME 3 desktop, or you can revel in the flashier KDE or the more traditional menu-driven and lighter-weight desktops such as LXDE or Xfce.
You must download the specific version and burn the installation disc rather than bolting on the desktop shells from the Debian distro storehouse.
You will not be treated to desktop varieties such as Unity or Cinnamon, however. You also will not find support in Debian 7 for the typical downstream add-ons that make using the Linux OS the joy that it has become.
What You Get
Debian comes in three basic flavors. You have your Stable Debian, you have your Testing Debian and you have your Unstable Debian.
Debian 7 is the latest stable version. Its May 4 release was followed on June 15 with the first update, but version 7.1 is mostly a security and bug fix — not a newer version release with more than the basics inside.
Chances are that your initial ISO download will not yet have these fixes. For that you will have to rely on the somewhat limited Software Updater.
The stock GNOME desktop comes with the slightly older GNOME 3.4.2 and the somewhat dated Nautilus file manager. Debian 7 KDE comes with a “plain Jane” flavor of KDE 4.8.4 and Linux kernel 3.2.0-4. Dolphin 2.0 is the file manager.
Potential Failure: High
One reason that Debian 7 is regarded as so rock-solid stable is that its innards are a generation or two behind. So Wheezy has less chance of breaking stuff — as in not working with it.
If my experience is any indication, however, Wheezy also will not recognize some essential hardware components. For example, while I had no problem establishing a hard-wire Internet connection, Wheezy does not see my wireless connections.
On some of my portable gear, Wheezy claimed that no firmware was found. Mostly, though, Wheezy just plain old does not work with the wireless circuitry on new and older computers. There is no provision for doing anything about it.
Under the Hood
Good ol’ Stable Debian 7 has some aging bones in its skeleton. For example, it runs the Linux 3.2 kernel released in January 2012. In case you are wondering, the latest kernel is 3.9.
That partly explains why this latest release had trouble with my newer laptops, but it should have been able to find my wireless hardware on my older rigs. Forget about getting it to work well with really brand-new stuff, I guess.
One major success, though, is that Debian 7 supports UEFI installations on x86-64 hardware. It does not, however, support Secure Boot. So I must also guess that I won’t have much of a chance of getting it to dual-boot should I buy a new computer packing Microsoft Windows 8.
On the Plus Side
Debian 7 packs a few improvements, but they’re more on the technical side than on ease of use. For example, Wheezy has multiarch support, making it possible to install packages from different architectures on the same machine, like 32- and 64-bit versions of software on the same computer.
It also resolves dependencies automatically.
Another good thing is that Debian 7 offers software speech installation. This is very necessary for visually impaired users.
Besides not being able to use wireless connectivity, one of my biggest disappointments with Debian 7 is its stark installed base of software.
It comes with a bevy of game stuff, but getting and installing the suite of software I typically use adds hours of setup time.
Wheezy’s repository is much less complete than those of other distros. That forces a reliance on manually adding software sources and relying on the Synaptic Package Manager; the trial-and-error process of discovering what works or does not work adds to the discomfort.
Among the basics with Debian 7 are LibreOffice, the Firefox-based Web browser Iceweasel, Evolution mail, CD/DVD writing programs, music and video players, image viewers and editors and PDF viewers.
I have not fussed with the Debian distro for many years, and was pleased to find it is now a bit easier to install. Yet it is still the small things that will drive new users away. For example, you must track down and install Adobe’s Flash plug-in.
If you like to test out new distro releases using the live DVD session method, one of the first things you should do is turn off the password-required screen lock. You will find it in System Settings, Personal, Brightness and Lock.
Otherwise, you will turn away from the keyboard for a few minutes and not be able to resume. If you delay keeping the keyboard busy, the screen will lock. You will have to reboot.
Debian 7 is an OK distro that — despite its goal of maintaining stability first and foremost — has considerable baggage attached. I do not adore the GNOME 3 desktop, so I would opt for the KDE or Xfce desktop alternatives if I used it regularly.
Despite the Debian distro’s significance to all things Linux, it is not worth the blandness it offers. For me, it falls far short of usefulness as a primary Linux OS workhorse.
I’m not sure why you’re reviewing Debian as if it’s meant to be run as a desktop computer/workstation. For people like me who are sysadmins, Wheezy has been a solid distro for our servers with no issues whats so ever. If you have half a brain the ncurses install is simple and you’ll have a server up in 15 minutes. The great thing about linux is, no matter the distro you pick it matters little what desktop environment comes with it… and it really doesn’t matter how it looks. It’s more flexible than any other OS and you have a myriad of options to chose from when it comes desktop environments and window managers. As far as your wireless driver… did you ad the non-free repository?
A side note… I’d like to see this guy try to install and review a distro like Arch. Its hands down one of the best distros around and I bet he would complain that it had command line installation… honestly it would be comical. Also it ends up turning into some of the nicest looking desktops I’ve seen… http://www.reddit.com/r/unixporn
As with the other readers I would like to thank you for taking the time putting together the review.
I don’t have your experience or background but I feel you have tried to put this product into a particular use case, desktop to which I agree is probably not the best linux option out there. But your article generalises and for other requirements such as using Debian 7 for a server it excels. For example I run Debian on a Linode VPS where it’s hosts a number of Drupal & WordPress sites running on Nginx with php-fpm. I just did a disto-upgrade to Wheezy and was nervous as hell even though I had backed up the data and relevant code. But not a problem, the upgrade went through fine with no additional configuration changes. And that’s what I like about using Debian as a server, it makes upgrades fast and painless and is reliable.
Now if you really wanted to try Debian for a desktop experience you should have looked at either Testing or Unstable (my preference), it will still be more reliable than most distros due to Debian’s test culture.
If I had read this article three years ago I would have probably not chosen Debian as my server solution which would have been most regrettable and I hope linux newbies are not wrongly influenced into their decision making by this article.
First off, I’d like to thank you for spending your time in writing this review. I’ve just installed Wheezy on this laptop and thought I’ll drop in my 2 cents.
To begin with, I appreciate stability in an OS. I’m sure a lot would feel the same way, which is why people hate the BSOD. You’d be working on something serious and boom, all down the drain. No one wants that. That being said, from my experience, Gentoo, Slackware and Debian were the most stable. Among the three, Debian is the fastest to install.
I agree that Debian isn’t the most polished, they only include things that have been thoroughly tested and found to be stable. This laptop is about 8 months old, and I wasn’t able to get most distros to work properly with it but with Wheezy, all my hardware have been installed perfectly (I needed proprietary drivers for my Radeon HD and the Broadcom wifi). So, I also agree that it may not work well with a spankin new computer BUT so does most the other distros, the difference is that with something like Ubuntu you’d get a half working system, with this you’ll get something that works well and without crashing every now and then.
So, I disagree with you on the hardware part. Sure you’d have to spend a few extra minutes to install the right firmware but what you’ll end up is a much more smoothly running system. Besides, if you install Windows on a laptop, you’d have to spend quite a while to figure out the right drivers to download and install. So I think what you’ve stated isn’t a completely valid point.
Coming to the Kernel, if you go to kernel.org, you’d realize that the 3.2 series of kernel is gonna be supported the longest (~2016) plus it’s latest update is released last August. So, the idea that it’s old isn’t completely valid either. Sure, the newer kernel would have some low level features, which would hardly be noticeable by the end-user, but since you’re so focussed on them I don’t see why you should worry so much about having the very latest possibly slightly buggy kernel.
The rest of your points, esp the bit about installing flash-player is inaccurate as well in my opinion because it has a lot to do with how familiar the user is. I hardly took 2 minutes to install the flash plugin and it was hassle free.
You also ended by stating how it’s not useful as your primary OS when in reality you’re mostly focussing on the looks and didn’t put in effort to setup the hardware.
The way I see it, this review is targeted specifically at the distro-hopper who would want the latest bling, doesn’t have the patience to set one up nor settle down with one and actually USE it. To conclude, I wish it had been a little bit more objective.
Yes, I agree with you. He’s reviewing the fact that HE couldn’t do it. I haven’t given him a hard time for it but it’s kinda like a double-standard the way people expect to install an OS with the ease of clicking one button.
I mean, they claim that Windows is a lot easier to use but that’s mostly cause of the fact that their computer came installed with it. They expect linux distros to work right after the first install when in Windows you’d have to hunt down the drivers and install them one by one (esp for laptops).
From my personal experience, Ubuntu -just- works, but when you have to go against the grain and install firmware specific to your device it gets hard (I’d say harder than Gentoo or Debian) because the documentation is shallow, the forums are filled with unhelpful people.
I don’t see it as hacking, we’re not doing anything great… just setting things up. It’s not as hard as they make it seem and I feel that they think that way cause someone did the working installation for them before.
Hmmm, I say give the geezer a break. He graduated from William Paterson University with a BA in English in 1970, before most universities even had computers, let alone taught Computer Science or Information Systems. Back then, CS was limited to such exotic places as the University of Utah, UCLA, UC Santa Barbara, UC Berkely, Stanford, CalTech, and MIT.
He’s largely self-taught on MS-DOS and Apple II Applesoft BASIC. In other words, in his 30’s-40’s, he taught himself to barely use the very machines on which I was programming games as a kid. To put it another way, Jack Germain is an old grandfatherly figure that is barely knowledgeable enough to actually install the operating system, but not knowledgeable enough to actually use it the way it was designed to be used. He stepped in over his head the instant he installed Debian. He, like most users, are not accustomed to policies that exclude non-free, binary blob firmware by default. Nevermind that it is a simple, single command away from installing the binary blob firmware for nearly all commonly used devices, and thus activating your wireless device. He’s reviewing the fact that HE couldn’t do it. He’s being accurate about how most non-hacking computer users would see Debian. From that perspective, his review is fairly accurate. While his inexperience with advanced computer usage shows, it is the type of inexperience that most regular computer users would also show. For this one reason I AM personally thankful for his shallow-ended review; it keeps the Ubuntu and Windows users away from Debian and filing superfluous bug reports.
In the meantime, my father, who is older than Jack and has much less experience on computers, is very happy with his Debian-based computer that runs an XFCE desktop. Of course, not all inexperienced users have their own sysadmin to install and maintain the software.
I dual-boot Debian Jessie (Testing) and Windows Home Premium 7. Both are highly customized. Debian is customized because OSS encourages hacking, I can hack, and it’s fun. Windows is customized because Microsoft tells me that I can’t, but that makes it even more fun to do it anyway.
I offer a toast to my former university classmate that reverse engineered Microsoft’s card game DLL files to make his own card game executable binaries by using those same DLL files. He is now a professor of Computer Science.
I think the problem with the review, which I suspect is what people are reacting to, is the way it starts with such a highly negative tone and then procedes paragraph by paragraph to hammer it home.
I would say some of your criticism could be better balanced to allow new users to begin to understand why particular choices have been mode (stability vs bling for example).
I’ve never heard apt criticised for being limited before. Perhaps difficult for a migrating Windows user unused to the command line. I’ve always used Aptitude myself which took a bit of getting used to but is quite easy once a few keystrokes are learnt.
Anyway I gave up using Debian because I wanted a more up to date system, so now use Arch.
I forgot to mention that Debian’s 3.2 kernel is not a vanilla 3.2 but contains backports from later kernels. This means it may not be all that outdated, if at all.
The first CD or DVD has several variants: Gnome (the default), KDE, XFCE+LXDE. There are other desktops like IceWM which I use.
As I showed you, you can get any available desktop using apt-get or aptitude or synaptic. Search for drivers you need in synaptic.
I understand that if you use network-manager your wireless devices should run properly (I can’t confirm this).
Some of your statements are wrong. That is partly Debian’s fault. They try to avoid mentioning their non-free and contrib repositories although some essential packages are non-free. There is an "unofficial" CD that includes non-free firmware. You can easily find it if you wish (Google).
In any case you can get all these packages as follows. In the file /etc/apt/sources.list there is a line like
deb http://ftp.us.debian.org/debian stable main
to which you should add the string
at the end (with a space after "main"). If you don’t have such a line, write it in full.
Then, while connected to the Internet, run
and then run a command like
apt-get install firmware-linux network-manager flashplugin-nonfree cinnamon xfce4 lxde kde-standard
which will get you most of the firmware you need as well as other software. I would recommend a display manager like kdm which lets you choose your desktop when you log in. The wifi driver and firmware you need are probably available and you can search for them on synaptic.
If you want newer software, you can add the testing repository (and, if you wish, unstable and even experimental) and then run
(not with experimental!). If you do this, be sure to first install "apt-listbugs".
Upon thinking about the negative responses this article has generated, and the reading of Llewen’s comment (below), it has occurred to me that most people look upon any Linux distro the same as they do all others which they try when they go "distro-hopping"; basically comparing subjective, highly-visible, and easily ‘measurable’ ("…this one booted in only 59 seconds….") qualities.
Just to give you a feel for how serious Debian takes its mission, I would like to show you the list of supported processors with associated release notes (pasted from Debian’s general Release Notes page for ver. 7.0):
"Release Notes for 64-bit PC (amd64)
Release Notes for 32-bit PC (i386)
Release Notes for EABI ARM
Release Notes for PowerPC
Release Notes for Hard Float ABI ARM
Release Notes for SPARC
Release Notes for kFreeBSD 64-bit PC (amd64)
Release Notes for Intel Itanium IA-64
Release Notes for MIPS (little endian)
Release Notes for kFreeBSD 32-bit PC (i386)
Release Notes for IBM S/390
Release Notes for MIPS (big endian)
Release Notes for IBM System z
The Release Notes also contain instructions for users who are upgrading from prior releases."
All these release notes are available in HTML, PDF, and plaintext; and in the following languages:
Danish, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Portuguese (Brazilian), Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Spanish, and Swedish.
This is a very seriously developed, maintained, and thoroughly robust Linux distribution, light-years beyond the league of all the other distros you use when you go "disk dancing", as we used to say.
Just for fun, email Canonical and tell them you want their version which has been developed AND OPTIMIZED for the IBM S/390.
I seriously hope this puts Debian in a little better perspective for all of us.
Thanks for your comments here. I did say in my review that I credit the Debian distro for its long history and goal of stability. But the review is not a personal popularity contest but a frank assessment of where it stands for all users, not just the inner circle.
I grant you that as you describe your user experience, Debian Linux is an admirable server side OS. I AM not faulting the Debian distro lineage. But my review focuses on the typical Linux user perhaps rather than hard-core server user. When the latest release fails to handle wireless connections on both old and new hardware, I can not praise it as the Holy grail of Linux OSes. My mkore than 10 years as a Linux user far from removes me from a newbie status.
Adobe’s Flash plugin is indeed not a free component, true. My point was simply that a majority of the Linux distros I try, use, test, etc. do not have the inability to easily access work-arounds for basic user needs — like wireless connectivity. By design when I review an open source software title, I must approach it with a wider view than might be appreciated by more technically capable users. I know the credibility of the Debian OS line. But like it or not, out of the box, so to say, Debian 7.1.x flat out did not measure up to some of the basic factors that I cover in all of my distro reviews. And since I could not get it to even access wireless connections on any of my seven or so computers, it plan just is not that impressive. I must focus on a wide array of potential users, not just the engineer types. If Debian 7 works for you, I AM ecstatic. When I write a software review — and I have been doing this with Linux stuff for a decade or more — I apply a standard checklist of functionality, usability, and ease-of-use factors for both new and experienced users.
Frankly, I use numerous Linux distros and test/review major and minor ones every few weeks. KDE, Kontact and Konqueror instead of Evolution and Iceweasel are not the issues. Perhaps that why you missed the points in my review.
My oh my, you have such (ahem) wonderful insight. If you can detect all of that from my bio, then it is no wonder that you missed the point of the review. I gave credit to the significance of the Debian OS. But my reviews do not solely cater to the whims of the elite enterprise users. Hey, some stuff just plan didn’t work well. Debian 7 perhaps it too much of a specialty distro release to meet the needs of many users who want to try the Linux OS or are looking for a distro that offers them a bit more flexibility and productivity than what they currently use rather than less. And no, I’m not a silly kid in the basement running Ubuntu and such. If you regularly read my distro and other software reviews, perhaps you would know that. Truth be told, I do not much like Ubuntu. I’m glad the enterprise user in you can take advantage of what Debian 7 offers. But it is not a distro for everyone, the same as RHEL and Sles are not. I respect that you do not agree with my view on what makes Debian 7.x tick — or not. But let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water. That may be too much of a splash, however!
You are entitled to your opinion, right or wrong. I AM just sorry that you failed to understand the point of a software review. I do not doubt that for some users, the new Debian distro release will hit a mark. But when essential things such as not being able to connect to wireless on both old and new hardware occur, well it makes one question what other user issues exist. I do not use Ubuntu. My reviews must cover a check list of factors. Software reviews are not paid endorsements of particular products. Reviews temper hands-on impressions of a product’s test with information on the product to help readers decide on the usefulness themselves. If that constitutes a worst article status for you, then perhaps your missed the point.
Thank you for your guidance on my editorial mission. You wrote:
<<In the future when you examine a product do so on the basis of what the product claims to do, if you wish you can then place a section for what I would like to see.>>
The point of a review is to tell readers what the distro release has and does not have. How it works or does not work. My purpose is not to impose my own views or dislikes/likes. Sure, a reviewer’s personal posture is what separates a review from a paid corporate-employee-written advertorial.
I praised Debian 7 for its significant influence.
But clearly, its need to be ultra reliable and stable — that is, after all, what the developers claim about it — carries some limitations that readers not familiar with the distro need to know. Linux is a great OS — all umpteen hundred of the distros. Somje are better than others based on user needs and individual choices. Clearly, Debian 7 is not a carbon copy of all the others. That may be good or bad depending on your posture.
Well, now you can add about 7 older and newer laptops and desktops that gave Debian 7.x connectivity issues out of the box. Of course, it’s the fault of my hardware, all of it.
A mute point in almost any Linux distro review is the ability to add programs and customize the desktop environment. But all distros are not created equally. Some are rather balky at how they let you handle such issues. My point was to describe what was provided and what may cause less capable users some angst. Thus, the purpose of a review is to poke and prod and provide some hands-on reactions to how a new distro release performs "out of the box" and what the user may have to invest in tinkering to get it to work for him or her.
True, Windows XP is a real legacy. Are you suggesting that the current Debian distro is to Linux OSes what Windows XP is to Microsoft? If so, that’s an interesting comparison.
Clearly, Debian 7.x is not a distro for all Linux users. That is why the Linux world offers so many choices. Each one has its strengths and weaknesses. If you find Debian 7 a good fit, that is fantastic. I try many different distro varieties just as I AM sure you do.
I, too, do real work with my computers. From my view, what I found with Debian 7 was just not to my liking. Thanks for sharing your comments. We may not agree on what my reviews should contain. But we share a passion for Linux.
Apart from some professionals no one is passionate about Linux — a kernel. If you want to be regarded as an insider you should learn the terminology.
Since Linux is free software it can’t contain proprietary code. Well, it does, but Debian has separated the binary blobs from the real Linux. The GNU GPL demands this. The GNU Project doesn’t endorse Debian GNU/Linux just because Debian makes it too easy for the user to install proprietary software (like the binary blobs of Linux). If you want proprietary device drivers you should use the according installation image: http://cdimage.debian.org/cdimage/unofficial/non-free/cd-including-firmware/current/
And yes: You are guilty of this unpleasant situation because you bought hardware from manufacturers who don’t support Linux. The same applies to the so-called "Secure Boot". It wouldn’t happen if no one bought it.
And last but not least: Even so I use Debian GNU/Linux I don’t consider me as "hard-core". I’m just a regular guy who likes to install an operating system by plugging in an USB stick and putting a stone on the Enter key.
Just to add my two bits. As was noted by others, this really is an enterprise class distro. I used it on a server box that I ran game servers and a website on, and Debian is the reason I fell in love with GNU Linux.
I have no monitor attached, and for years I didn’t even have any video hardware installed on the box. I certainly don’t have a gui installed. I’ve paired down the kernel to exactly what I need, and I use SSH and the command line, as well as sftp to manage the server (from within a secure lan).
It’s beautiful. It’s stable, secure, and runs like a Ferrari on hardware that is at least five years old. No, I wouldn’t recommend Debian to a Linux newbie who wants to FaceBook, Twitter, YouTube, game, file share and download movies and music, but for what I want it for, it’s absolutely perfect.
At first I thought this article was meant as a joke. Well, it is a joke.
The latest release of Debian GNU/Linux is version 7.1. This is a newer version than 7.0.
Linux is not an operating system. It’s only a kernel.
Debian was — to my knowledge — the first OS which could be installed from an USB device and the first which could be installed on encrypted partitions (except /boot). This is user friendly and modern to me.
Of course you can buy a copy of Debian GNU/Linux in a store and of course you can buy support for Debian. I don’t know what "typical downstream add-ons" are. If Mr. Germain is relating to proprietary software, I will say: Thanks for the "bonus". That’s why I chose free software.
Debian GNU/Linux 7.1 ships Linux 3.2.46 (31 May 2013). Debian GNU/Linux 7.0 shipped Linux 3.2.41 (20 March 2013), not Linux 3.2.0 (5 January 2012). How old this Debian stuff is!
How can "technical improvements" not further the ease of use?
"Wheezy’s repository is much less complete than those of other distros." — The best Debian joke.
Adobe’s Flash plug-in is proprietary. So it can’t be a part of a free operating system.
If you prefer KDE, install it. Then you can use Kontact and Konqueror instead of Evolution and Iceweasel.
"You are entitled to your own opinion; you are not entitled to your own facts."–unknown.
Folks, Mr Germain is stating FACTS, facts which have been expressed elsewhere by other reputable and Linux-knowledgeable writers.
The VALUE of Debian is that it ia rock-solid, conservative STANDARD on which most all other Linuxes can and are built DUE TO ITS BEING A ROCK-SOLID STANDARD.
There’s no way to have it both ways. Debian can not sacrifice its reputation and usefulness to the Linux world, for "bling".
One more IMPORTANT point: there is a world of difference between a factual, in-depth article with which you don’t agree, and a bad article.
Time to learn the difference, folks.
Unfortunately, it’s an unfair, if not naive, review. Debian is not meant to be on the "bleeding edge"! It is supposed to be reliable, solid, bug free and stable, as it is. Neophiles, lovers of gee-whiz gizmos, and sybarites are free to use other distros.
I have to agree with the last 2 comments :-D. The author of the piece is clearly not as acclimated to the computing world as his bio indicates.
On the mentioned Aging kernel issue—
The only other 2 enterprise Linux operating systems, Sles (SUSE) and RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) are still using the 2.6 kernel – These and Debian are AM ong the only supported Linux distros for enterprise use – you do know the difference between enterprise and home use, right?
The key point here is, as mentioned, ENTERPRISE… Not silly kid-in-the-basements home computer system that usually runs Ubuntu :-D.
Perhaps you should brush up on your open source computing knowledge before you embarrass your self in public like you just did…
/me blushes for you
worst article ive read on this site, author must be a GNUbe, or he has been using ubuntu for too long, this post really beggars belief. sack the author admin,
I can’t believe I find myself agreeing with Pogson but, yep! this was a horrible review. Clearly the author does not know what Debian is about to complain about flash plugin. Debian is 100% free, if you want non-free go get it yourself, they haven’t locked you out like Microsoft might have, in fact as with any Linux distro you can add sources at your leisure. All OSes will crash but Debian has proven to be rock solid that is what they sell. The person who wants the bling should work with Fedora, everybody knows that. Download netinstall and you can have any version of a DE that you want.
The good thing about Linux is there is at least one version out there that comes close to what someone is looking for or exactly what someone is looking for. Debian has proven to be the perfect start for a "personal" distro if you find your self in that very minute position of not finding whta you want. If Debian is not your cup of tea that’s cool, don’t drink.
In the future when you examine a product do so on the basis of what the product claims to do, if you wish you can then place a section for what I would like to see.
This is a disappointing review from an "Insider". Wheezy is a fine desktop. Apt allows you to customize it any way you want. Linux 3.2 is supported until 2016. There are ~37K packages (10 DVD) in a repository many times the size of Mint’s (1 DVD) yet the authour complains about choice. Binary blob firmware is excluded by default from a Free Software distribution. If you want/need that for wireless or whatever, use http://cdimage.debian.org/cdimage/unofficial/non-free/cd-including-firmware/ instead. Linux-3.10-rc5 is currently found in Debian experimental flavour.
One should not criticize the centre of the football team for not being a wide receiver. Debian GNU/Linux is a universal operating system customizable from the largets HPC clusters to tiny gadgets that fit in your pocket and it does well on all of them. I have used Debian GNU/Linux for many years in schools and found it reliable, flexible and easy to use. I have never seen any of the problems listed in TFA in the real world. For instance, in one school with ~100 PCs of random ages and manufacture a single disk image of Debian GNU/Linux worked for all of them. We needed 4 or 5 images for M$’s OS. In all the years of use on hundreds of computers I have only seen a few gadgets (1 printer and a couple of Winmodems) that would not work with it. Most distros use a kernel from kernel.org. What magic makes any distro better than Debian GNU/Linux at device recognition? None. Hundreds of millions still use XP so not being this month’s distro is not a serious problem in the real world. I would rather use a distro that was well-tested than cranked out with haste. I do actual work with my computers. I want it done right.