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In Defense and Praise of Debian

Filed under
Linux

Every now and then, someone suggests that Debian GNU/Linux should be more commercial. To further this goal, some create derivative distros like Linspire, Ubuntu, or Xandros, or organizations like the stillborn DCC Alliance. Others act as pundits, whispering advice from off-stage, like Debian founder Ian Murdock, or, more recently, columnist Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols.

However, as a long-time Debian user, I have to wonder what the discontent is about. According to the Linux Foundation's 2007 Desktop/Client Survey, Debian accounts for a healthy 26.5% of corporate clients and 21% of personal desktops. Take Ubuntu and other Debian-derivatives into account, and 90% of those participating in the survey were deploying Debian technology (although they were often using other distributions as well).

Or look at any random collection of SourceForge projects; if they bother to provide native packages at all, chances are they provide .DEBs. By any standard, Debian is the ultimate success story among distributions.

Sure, the Debian release cycle is unwieldy. Sometimes, too, the community can be so ill-mannered and punctilious than any sane person would chew off a leg to escape the pointless bickering.

But there are reasons for these traits.

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