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Why Debian is different

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As the Debian GNU/Linux project marks 15 years of existence, how much has it diverged from the intentions with which it set sail? As times change and people correspondingly change, motivating factors often tend to change and this is reflected in changes in most software projects. Is this true for Debian?

If one goes back to the original manifesto , issued by founder Ian Murdock in 1993, and last revised in June 1994, one sees these words: "Many distributions have started out as fairly good systems, but as time passes attention to maintaining the distribution becomes a secondary concern." (Those uncomfortable with the word manifesto can use the weasel word vision instead.)

Murdock's reference was to Soft Landing Systems Linux, which was, at that time, the best known commercial distribution. The Slackware Linux project had kicked off too, but according to its founder Patrick Volkerding, "Slackware started in early 1993, but it wasn't until the middle of 1994 that I was contacted by Michael Johnston of Morse Telecommunications and asked if I was interested in having them publish Slackware commercially."

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