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Why Debian Matters More Than Ever 345

Posted by timothy
from the secretly-replaced-these-folgers-crystals-with-debian dept.
Julie188 writes "If you look at the feature list for Debian 6, released on February 6, it's easy to be underwhelmed. This is especially true when measuring Debian against its offspring, like Ubuntu. Debian doesn't get much credit, and its become trendy for industry pundits to claim it's become irrelevant. But it's more relevant than ever. If you're using Ubuntu (or Linux Mint, or Mepis...), you're really using Debian with some enhancements. According to a presentation given recently by Debian Project Leader (DPL) Stefano Zacchiroli, only 7% of Ubuntu is directly derived from upstream projects, Canonical's projects, or other non-Debian sources. Of the rest, 74% of Ubuntu is rebuilt Debian packages, and 18% are patched and rebuilt Debian packages."
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Why Debian Matters More Than Ever

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  • Since when? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tubal-Cain (1289912) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @09:35PM (#35169592) Journal

    Debian doesn't get much credit, and its become trendy for industry pundits to claim it's become irrelevant.

    News to me. Who's calling it irrelevant?

  • by drunkennewfiemidget (712572) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @09:38PM (#35169618) Homepage

    I've sampled the others, and it just keeps working for me.

    When other distros let me down -- even the debian based ones (like Ubuntu failing miserably over and over on my wife's netbook) -- debian, with the desktop set of packages installed, works beautifully.

  • by inflex (123318) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @10:04PM (#35169782) Homepage Journal

    A lot of people are upset that Ubuntu doesn't give back a lot to Debian in terms of packages/software/whatever, however what Ubuntu gives Debian (and indeed Linux) is a more approachable OS package as a whole, something more suitable to the non-geek, this is something that Linux/Debian have never really bothered with a lot while in the realm of genuine geeks but it's something that Ubuntu adds and which is greatly appreciated by people outside of the geek circle. So while you cannot measure Ubuntu's 'give back' in quantitative terms it is still giving a huge amount in other areas where advancements were sorely needed.

    I don't see the problem with Ubuntu being a Debian based distro - isn't this what Debian or any other distro would want - a larger adoption rate? It's all GPL, it's not like licences are being broken.. or is the crying from a minority more to do with a bad case of sour-grapes?

  • Re:analogy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by grumbel (592662) <grumbel@gmx.de> on Thursday February 10, 2011 @10:08PM (#35169812) Homepage

    That is how it should be, but that is not how it is. Debian is not some generic distribution-construction-kit, but instead Debian is a complete normal independent Linux distribution and that is exactly where I see the problems. Ubuntu, just as the other distributions based on Debian, isn't a real Debian with a few extra packages installed, but a completely different thing, having its own complete package dependency tree that is incompatible to that of Debian. You might have luck installing Ubuntu packages on Debian or visa versa, but you might as well have not. There is no Debian base system to which developers can develop their packages that will then automatically be compatible with all Debian based distribution, you still have to build every package for every distribution.And thats really the crux, instead of having a unified base with which you can reach a large part of Linux users, you have heavy fragmentation. See for example the whole Launchpad auto builder infrastructure, great for building stuff for Ubuntu, but wanna build something for another Debian based distro or even Debian itself? Tough luck, that stuff is Ubuntu only.

    At this point I would really welcome it when Debian would work towards becoming a proper base system for other distributions to build on in a proper way, not the kind of hacky one that is practiced today.

  • Re:I love Debian (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eldepeche (854916) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @10:27PM (#35169914)

    Debian cares, and it's their job to care. You should probably read the release notes before you upgrade between major versions.

    I think the best way to draw attention to hardware that doesn't function without non-free drivers and firmware is to have a distribution that will take a principled stand against including such software. That way, you can try to install Debian on a computer and know exactly what is supported by free software.

  • Re:Since when? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 10, 2011 @10:28PM (#35169922)

    agreed. debian is probably the most successful linux distribution ever, and i'd probably turn to freebsd before another linux distro.

    sadly, one often hears a sense on the debian mailing lists, etc, that users (and even debian developers) would like to make debian slicker and more appealing to desktop users (more like ubuntu, or mint, for example). i consider this (especially the infighting) to be a huge mistake. ubuntu is just "the externalization of all the tweaks suitable for desktop users", and I consider this to be "The Right (tm)" solution to the "how best to please everyone all the time" problem (aka the "world domination syndrom") that most distros suffer from.

    i really appreciate debian as a solid foundation. fwiw, i usually install a base system and then add on from there.

    debian, and all the derivative distros should work together while supporting these types of forks... ubuntu should just be a repository of exactly/only the packages that are tweaked or added above and beyond the debian packages. it should be reasonable to just add an ubuntu repo to my sources file and do an upgrade to get to a typical ubuntu.

  • Quiet! You Fools! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by havardi (122062) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @10:35PM (#35169968)

    Let Debian do it's collectivist work in the shadows, and Canonical can provide the capitalist facade that keeps Them at bay. . . This arrangement might be its only hope for survival. Voluntary virtual-subjugation? Since data, unlike food, can be copied endlessly-- this might be a pretty good arrangement. Until it isn't, anyway.

  • by icebraining (1313345) on Thursday February 10, 2011 @10:39PM (#35169992) Homepage

    How the hell do the other 0.24% report them?

  • Re:Since when? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sg_oneill (159032) on Friday February 11, 2011 @02:18AM (#35171066)

    Oh absolutely. I recently came to realise just how much I took Debian for granted when I had to set up a Django site with Post-GIS on a CentOS (5.5) box.

    Out of the box Centos only supported Python 2.4(!) and if you update it, you break everything. So trying to install a parallell version, I tried to use the EPEL repository to install Python 2.6. All good and fine until I realised I had to recompile my own pysocopg2 driver.

    Then I realised Postgres and PostGIS where way too old for django. Could I update? Nope! the 8.4 version in epel didnt have any obvious version of PostGIS.

    Giving up at wasting 2 days of my clients time recompiling things, trying to patch broken scripts, fighting busted versions of upgraded non supported software and pulling hair out, I badgered the host to install Debian squeeze for me (thanks Rackforce!) and they did.

    Heres how I then did all this without pain on Squeeze:

    root@debian:~# apt-get install postgresql-8.4-postgis
    root@debian:~# apt-get install libapache2-mod-passenger
    root@debian:~# apt-get install python-django python-django-south

    And thats that. Server set up in 4 easy commands. No compiling, no complicated patch files, everything automatically and intelligently downloaded, installed, and checked for conflicts by the OS.

    You'll note it looks like I have missed some things. Not true, apt-get knows installing an apache mod without apache is silly and did it for me, likewise installing postgis without the server itself is also silly. Everything done, checked for sanity, and so on.

    Now of course I know YUM can do all that too, but thats no good to me, when the repository is that old its got 7 year old language distros as its cutting edge.

    Its amazing to think that once upon a time Debian was considered behind the times.

    See why I love this operating system?

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