Recently there's been a lot of websites containing news about Debian and derivatives – here's an analysis of what they are and what they try to do.
After reading Steve Kemp's blog about name overload, I got interested in examining what it is that's happening about the Debian news-sites and community sites.
It is a story about who has the right team, the right forums and have the stamina to keep it going and going and going.
Who are they
Steve's own page Debian Administration is in a league of it's own, as it only contains original content – and it isn't carrying news items about Debian as such, 'only' guides, tutorials, how-to's and support.
The same goes for Debian Weekly News, the most official site/newsletter where Martin 'Joey' Schulze week after week collects news, announcements and discussions from the Debian mailing lists.
But when it comes to sites dedicated to news announcements or sites collecting news and providing it to whoever reads it, there seems to be an awfull lot going on.
The two old and grand players are DebianHelp.org where there's an active forum and a not quite so active flow of news items and DebianPlanet.org where there's a rather slow flow of news items too. Both DebianHelp.org and DebianPlanet.org doesn't carry many news topics, but DebianHelp.org still seems to be posting different news items, they have recently also started their own wiki-pages.
DebianPlanet seems to have stalled entirely with only about 7 news items in ½ year – there's much more going on around Debian than that. This announcement at DebianPlanet.org indicates that something should happend as they were recruiting in October, but not much has happened.
Oh, and then there's a new DebianHelp.co.uk to confuse with DebianHelp.org – but debianhelp.co.uk seems only to concentrate on being a tutorial-page, where DebianHelp.org also brings news and carries a forum.
But the slow newsflow at DebianPlanet has caused that no less than three separate websites have jumped in where it seems to fail – Debian-News.net (yes, that's where you are now!) in May 2005, Debcentral in September 2005 and PlanetDebian.com in October 2005.
They may mix up things, as Debian-News.net may be confused with Debian Weekly News and PlanetDebian.com can easily be confused with PlanetDebian.org, the place where lots of Debian developers blog about Debian, Life and everything else!
What's happening on those sites?
From the announced scopes of Debian-News.net and DebCentral and what have been posted on PlanetDebian.com, the sites seem very similar. But there are differences: Debian-News.net have a very narrow focus on a few distributions (Debian, Knoppix, Ubuntu, MEPIS and Damn Small Linux), PlanetDebian.com hasn't announced any specific purpose but DebCentral is working towards a steady newsflow about everything Debian, an active forum and recently a wiki
Debian-News.net and PlanetDebian.com seems to be one-man shows, where PlanetDebian.com after a massive effort in October has come to a grinding halt in November. Have they run out of energy? Or something has happened to the maintainer of the site? I hope not, but we'll have to see that. Debian-News.net has posted about 3-5 news items daily since it's start where DebCentral despite it's broader target has been somewhat unstable – in particular when the driving force was hospitalized.
DebCentral has a core team in place to support the site and provide news items and thus seems to have a better team in place, and they are also aggressively asking for more support.
So where Debian-News.net and PlanetDebian.com seems to be rather content with having a narrow scope, DebCentral is going more for the position as replacement for DebianPlanet.org and perhaps even DebianHelp.org
Who will win?
You will. You get all the news you want and where you want it.
Of course, it would be preferred if we all could have ONE big, good news site with relevant news about Debian and the key things around it – and it may be that some of the sites mentioned will collaborate to make it a bit easier for you.
But there's subtle (and not so subtle) differences in their scope and their ambitions – and those differences have given you 3-4 new news-sites related to Debian the last half year.
Some of them will stall and die (or merge with other ones) – it all depends on who can have the right team, and the stamina to keep it going and going and going as so much else in life.