Despite this server running on the latest version of Debian stable, Debian 11 “bullseye” I really do hate apt based distros, but most especially on the desktop. In this post, I am going to explain why I hate apt based distros on desktops.
Lets start with Debian. Debian is a great distro, and very stable. Unfortunately, I find that it is better suited for servers or embedded systems, where stability matters. On the desktop, it is not so great. For example, lets say you have Debian with a KDE desktop installed on your machine. Now lets say you want to uninstall the KDE calculator because you do not need a calculator on your desktop. When you try to use apt to remove the KDE calculator, apt wants to remove the entirety of the KDE desktop. This is a horrible practice, that could really screw a new user over. And this isn’t even just a Debian issue. This would happen on something like Kubuntu, or KDE Neon as well.
Apt is also known to randomly break things during updates. Sometimes severely enough that the system won’t boot. And while yes, this is usually the fault of using Debian unstable, or a development build of Ubuntu, it still is not a good experience for the end user. There can be annoying package conflicts that will cause breakages if you force it, and sometimes running apt-get clean won’t fix the issue. This is a serious problem, even on a non-development build of Debian stable or Ubuntu LTS.
Contrast this with a package manager like pacman on distros like Arch, Manjaro, and SteamOS. If you run sudo pacman -Rsn kcalc, pacman will just remove the calculator without asking any further questions. This is how a package manager should work and operate. Not try to uninstall the entire KDE desktop because you don’t need the calculator.
My recommendation for new users is almost always Manjaro over something like Ubuntu. Apt plays a big reason in why I recommend a new Linux user try Manjaro, because pacman is a much saner and easier package manager. Another distro I like for beginners is Fedora, as dnf is also quite a sane package manager. The only issue with Fedora is it can be hard to install proprietary codecs, but that can still be figured out with a quick Google search.
Don’t get me wrong though. Debian is still an excellent distribution for servers, mainframes, supercomputers, and embedded devices. Systems where stability matters, and you need a predictable stable system. As I said at the top of this post, this server runs Debian stable (recently update to Bullseye) You can also see this in the little gif on the footer of this website. I just would never ever willingly use an apt based distro like Ubuntu or Debian on a desktop ever again.