Rating Sarge.

Well, after months if not years of hard work on behalf of the Debian developers, Sarge went stable a couple of weeks ago. Having had all sorts of problems installing Woody on some SCSI servers at work over the last couple of years, I was eager to see how Sarge and it’s famous new installer would fare on a new SCSI system – an HP DL380. Branded as Linux compatible, support for the hardware shouldn’t be an issue for a modern distribution.

I was impressed with the installer, which I ran in “expert26” mode. The RAID arrays and Broadcom gigabit cards were all detected without problems. It was great being able to set up an LVM system on top of one of the RAID arrays all from within the installer and without having to drop down to a shell.

It would have been nice to get offered a wider range of kernels during the installation than simply a 2.4 series or 2.6 series kernel. The 2.6 series kernel on offer was compiled for a 386 processor. I had to install a 686-SMP kernel manually after finishing the rest of the installation.

For some baffling reason, the extended attributes flag for Reiser is not enabled in the Debian kernel – it is necessary to use POSIX ACLs with Reiser. Given that this box is a file server, it is a bit of a pain, as I had planned to use Reiser for the data partition. Most of the other filesystems (ext2, ext3, XFS, JFS etc. etc.) all have ACL support enabled where possible, so it was odd that Reiser didn’t. I did have a stab at a kernel compile, but I didn’t have time to ensure I’d got all the options correct, and ended up converting the partition back to ext3.

But apart from that, it was a great introduction to a fresh Sarge installation, and I’m impressed with it.

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