Introducing Debian GNU/Linux 6.0", comes in as a qualified success for Debian.
The author, Jesse Smith, seems to have had trouble with Debian in the past, even while the various tributary distributions like Ubuntu and KNOPPIX would run on his hardware just fine. Hardware wouldn't be recognized, the installer would crash, and so on. But in the words of Michael Palin, "This one stayed up!"
A note on installation disks. Debian provides 4 different install disk styles in addition to the Debian Live image. These ISO images are Bootable Business Card (under 46MB), Net Install (189MB), CD#1 (642MB) and DVD#1 (4.4GB). Every image except the Bootable Business Card will install a base Debian system without a network link.
Right away, Mr. Smith calls the Debian DVD#1 "heavy" for being a completely full DVD. This is not an error on Debian's part, but a direct result of the very real functionality that defines Debian. The Popularity Contest package that Mr. Smith later tells the installer to "not install" sends statistics back to the Debian project as to what packages people install, and even more importantly what packages people actually use. These statistics are utilized to decide in what order packages will be included on the distribution's disks.
So on DVD#1 is not only the basic install with the default GNOME desktop, it includes the KDE, Xfce, LXDE, WindowMaker and other "desktops", it also includes many if not most of each of those desktop environment's branded applications and games, in addition to the desktop agnostic packages like OpenOffice, IceWeasel(FireFox), and a slew of others. I called this Desktop Linux's Killer Feature!
And keep in mind it also includes all those package groups that Mr. Smith mentions, "most of which are for servers."
Why? Because Popularity Contest has reported to Debian that that's what people use most.
CD#1 is a slightly different story. Due to the limited space, there are three different images, one each for GNOME, KDE, and a combo image for Xfce and LXDE reflecting their relative frugality. There just isn't enough space on CD#1 to fit them all, as there is on DVD#1.
And don't forget, that's Squeeze CD#1 of 52, or DVD#1 of 8! The vast majority of people have no need of any CD or DVD past #1, since that's what the software repositories are for. When I started using Debian, it came on 16 1.4MB floppies.
The reason that Mr. Smith notes "GNOME (version 2.30) was the only desktop environment installed" is because he chose the default. That is hardly a fault of Debian, since many other desktop environments are just a package manger away on DVD#1 and many more on the Debian repository mirrors.
And the reason that APT didn't work to a network mirror right away is because, as Mr. Smith notes in his install, he told it not to access any network mirror. This may seem a minor touch, but it does go directly to Mr. Smith's inexperience due to not having been able to do a "generic" Debian install previously.
Under "Hardware", Mr. Smith notes that the installed generic Debian takes up about 3GB of disk space. He seems surprised that the install would be smaller than the DVD#1 image, but this again is due to his not understanding just how much of the software on DVD#1 he chose not to install.
I'm quite pleased that Mr. Smith took the time to give Debian 6.0 a real workout before writing his review. And I even understand his reservations about "by being so general, so universal, I felt Squeeze didn't excel at anything."
Maybe, Squeeze excels at being general and universal?
That is, after all, Debian's motto: The Universal Operating System.