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Does Debian still matter?

Debian was one of the first Linux distributions, and it pioneered much of what we take for granted in Linux systems today. But has Debian had its day? More here

The release last month of Debian 5.0, codenamed “lenny”, has certainly been a success, but Debian has always been seen as a distribution made by geeks, for geeks, and has had trouble attracting new users.

In a world where Ubuntu combines Debian’s package management technology, up-to-date software and a fixed six-month release cycle, is Debian still relevant as a distribution?

7 Responses to “Does Debian still matter?” »

  1. Comment by R S Chakravarti — April 22, 2009 @ 6:34 pm

    Do you think Lenny is only for geeks? Is it harder to install than Ubuntu?
    When Debian Testing is available and being frequently upgraded
    (like now) are you justified in saying that Debian is outdated?

    Your post ought to have addressed these questions.

    I couldn’t figure out how to submit a comment on the PC Authority site.
    (I registered and logged in.) I would appreciate it if you could let me know.

  2. Comment by yungchin — April 23, 2009 @ 2:19 am

    Yeah, I couldn’t be bothered to register for commenting at that site either – seriously, a full-page form?!

    Anyway, the guy really only points out that “Ubuntu’s runaway success has been a great validation of the technology behind Debian, but at the same time, it’s all-but-destroyed the market for Debian on the desktop.”

    Debian is not a business. They don’t need “marketshare” on the desktop. They need enough mindshare to keep fresh blood coming to the community, that’s all. If anything, Ubuntu will contribute to that: new FOSS-converts start on Ubuntu, but will explore Debian as they are learning. Those who feel more at home in the Debian community will find it, and those who like Ubuntu’s culture better can stay there. It’s all good.

  3. Comment by Andy Goss — April 23, 2009 @ 9:13 am

    This article puzzles me, it seems to counter its own premise. I moved from Kubuntu Dapper to Debian Etch (KDE) rather than upgrade, as I prefer a solid desktop distro that I can rely on, and not have to replace too often. I now have Lenny with KDE 3.5.10 and see no reason to change until KDE 4 is fit for use.

    I admire what Ubuntu are doing, but not everyone wants that, the great thing about Linux is that “In the house of the Lord there are many mansions”, and long may it so remain.

  4. Comment by Mathias — April 23, 2009 @ 1:31 pm

    I’m an Ubuntu user and Debian does matter! It has the best concepts and is a stable, reliable distro. I see Ubuntu’s success as a result of this.

  5. Comment by otto — April 23, 2009 @ 8:36 pm

    I think Debian can and should do better offering a system for desktop usage.

    I think testing should be “allways release ready” and have no freeze periods. We could have monthly images for installation disks. This rolling release Desktop OS should ofcourse not be named “testing”.

    Debian should ofcourse also still offer a really stable distro for server usage and such.

  6. Comment by Elliott — April 24, 2009 @ 2:29 am

    I moved from Windows to Ubuntu. To Debian. Currently running Lenny with Gnome.

    It matters. Ubuntu was a great warm-up for me, but too much dross. Debian gives me the option to NOT install more stuff, keeping my system optimized. I’m a windows sys-admin, and a Linux newbie. Debian fits the bill for me.

  7. Comment by lachlan — April 28, 2009 @ 7:18 am


    they release weekly images of the testing repos when not in freeze you can download them from you could consider that a ‘release’.

    the purpose of a freeze to testing is to migrate to a new stable, it doesn’t stop packages moving into experimental or unstable. which are pretty easy to find and install. (for instance you could install gnome 2.24 packages from experimental while lenny was frozen at 2.22)

    sid/unstable is pretty much a base ubuntu system before they tweak it to their liking. version gaps only occur before and after release. it doesn’t take long for debian to catch up again.

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