Personal Computing Rules

Over the weekend, I somehow convinced myself that upgrading to Debian Lenny (the current testing) was a good idea. I've encountered countless problems because of this. So, I am going to attempt to lay down some ground rules for my personal computer maintenance. This is written in the 2nd person, speaking to myself.

  1. You only need a root and swap partition. I know that you like to have a separate /boot or /home partition, but inevitably, you will run into issues with disk space. For example, currently I have my /home partition with 65G and the root partition with 6.5G. I ran out of space on the root partition and now I have to carefully prune my Debian packages. Lame.
  2. Don't install custom built packages to /usr/local. Install them instead to a sub-directory of your home directory. Use stow to manage them! Trusting code from arbitrary authors to do what you expect when you type "make install" as the root user is insanity. They can put any commands they want in there. Only trust Debian packages to install as root.
  3. Don't use Debian testing! It may seem like a good idea. Stable may get really out-of-date. But the truth of the matter is that you want really basic things to never break. I just experienced this awesome issue where all TTF fonts at 10pt are huge. Why? Dunno. But I've wasted a couple hours trying to fix it. If there is something new you really need, you can build it manually and install it per item #2.
  4. Don't install any piece of software that you depend on for your personal development projects via Debian packages (except at the lowest level like the Python interpreter, C compiler, MySQL database, etc). These things should be installed per item #2 and maintained manually. This means Perl packages, Python libraries, etc.. Have CPAN install to a sub-directory of your home directory and maintain a virtual Python environment.

In the meantime, I'll be slowing fixing my issues with Lenny and counting the days until it becomes stable.