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Debian Ubuntu Linux

Debian Is the Most Important Linux 354

inkscapee writes "Without Debian we are nothing. Debian is the most influential and important Linux, and is unique for being the largest, oldest, 100% non-commercial community-driven distro. '...just under 63% of all distributions now being developed come ultimately from Debian. By comparison, 50 (15%) are based on Fedora or Red Hat, 28 (9%) on Slackware, and 12 (4%) on Gentoo.'"
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Debian Is the Most Important Linux

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  • Re:Do we need this? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by airfoobar ( 1853132 ) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @03:07AM (#35387268)


    These numbers mean one of two things. Either devs should:
    1) Allocate more resources into developing Debian because it's the most important distro, or
    2) Allocate more resources into the rest because Linux may be losing its diversity.

    It helps to know where you're going...

  • by mhotchin ( 791085 ) <`slashdot' `at' `'> on Saturday March 05, 2011 @03:11AM (#35387298)

    Isn't 'Number of descendent distributions' a crappy metric for 'Importance'? Wouldn't something like 'Installed base' be humongously better?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 05, 2011 @04:43AM (#35387576)

    “I’ve tried it a couple of times over the years, mainly because the thing Ubuntu did so well was make Debian usable. I always felt that Debian was a pointless exercise because to me, the point of a distribution is to make everything easy. Easy to install, to be pretty and to be friendly and Ubuntu did that to Debian.”

    That must hurt.

  • Re:Do we need this? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Fallingcow ( 213461 ) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @07:04AM (#35387984) Homepage

    By far my favorite. I finally went back to it after a few years on Ubuntu (god has it gone from being sensible and complete yet sleek to a bloated mess in the last few releases) though I'm going the Sabayon route this time because I frankly don't care about compiling every single package, but I want access to Portage and Gentoo's config tools if I need them. The way init scripts are handled in Gentoo and Gentoo-derived systems is especially great--if I had to pick one part of Gentoo for every other distro to copy, it'd be that.

  • Re:Android second? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by WaywardGeek ( 1480513 ) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @08:51AM (#35388300) Journal

    Comparing Debian to Android is actually very interesting. Debian has something like 32,000 packages that can be installed, but it's taken something like 15 years to get there. Android blasted to over 100,000 in something like 2 to 3 years. Debian is all about community contribution, while Android is all about selling closed-source apps, with no sharing of code between. In theory, it should be easier to publish an app in Debian than Android, but this is not the case at all. In Debian, you have to find a sponsor, do a complicated job of packaging, pray your package gets uploaded to Unstable, and then wait a few years while it migrates to Stable before other programmers will generally have access to your work. I call this the Debian Red Tape. It's suffocating innovation in the open-source community, and it's the reason Android is kicking Debian butt.

    I believe there is a solution, but it requires a completely new packaging system. Let's compare Android and Debian packaging:

    - Android ships every dependent binary in the .apk app file. This eliminates the nightmare of having your app crash because some library you use gets updated.
    - Debian is all about resusing .so files across applications. This made sense in the '90s when disk space was scarce, but now days, it's just dumb. The reason it takes years to get a packaged library into Debian Stable is that it takes years before we believe you library wont cause other apps to crash.

    A new packaging system could share identical binaries between apps to save both disk and memory space, but it should not ever change a binary used by an app. Also, publishing new packages should be as easy as creating a repo on You simply declare that it's available, and everyone can use it. Whether a developer decides to depend on your code should be a matter of trust, which could be scored based on developer reputation, code stability and what other packages use it.

    Without a major upgrade to our packaging system, Debian will continue to fall further and further behind. Why do so many people feel they have to build a custom Debian based distro? Because Debian incapable of addressing the needs of modern users. Frankly, even with the total lack of libraries available for Android, and with Google having their heads up there arse with respect to accepting contributions from the community, I am able to contribute more to Android than I can to Debian. Check out my library that I've made available to both at []. I'm basically done for Android, while I'm still waiting for a Debian sponsor over in Debian land.

  • Re:Do we need this? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Haeleth ( 414428 ) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @11:34AM (#35388966) Journal

    No, the reason Linux does not have a large desktop market share is because it matured 10 years too late, after Microsoft had already established a stranglehold on the desktop market. The barrier to entry is massive. Fragmentation is a minor issue in comparison to the difficulty of challenging an established monopoly.

    The only way Linux will ever succeed on the consumer desktop is if it (a) runs all Windows applications and games perfectly, and (b) never presents users with any uncertainty or minor difficulties. Because the truth is this: when a user has have a problem with Linux, they blame Linux. When they have the same problem with Windows, they blame themselves or their computer. That is the real reason why Linux has only made major inroads in markets such as smartphones, where there was no existing monopoly.

  • Re:Totally off base (Score:5, Interesting)

    by micheas ( 231635 ) on Saturday March 05, 2011 @11:37AM (#35388978) Homepage Journal

    I suspect that debian is going to make FreeBSD a lot better for FreeBSD users.

    Debian does a lot of work making sure that all of software works on all the architectures that it supports

    Mozilla claims that Firefox runs on Linux, but debian had to jump through hoops to get Firefox to compile, much less run on the MIPS platform.

    By making Kfreebsd a first class platform, a lot of fixes for FreeBSD should make it upstream, which should improve the quality of the software in the ports tree.

    The big contribution debian makes is debian policy and the QA on all the architectures that it supports.

    Some of the billion respins are probably interesting, but the copyright fights, and the code improvements to support cross compiling are things that leak into other distributions. Debian was one of the reasons that AMD64 support is as good as it is under Linux. The Redhat, gentoo, and slackware users that use the 64bit versions are benefiting from Debian getting their distribution to run on 64 bit platforms for years.

    Personally, I think the title of the article is true, but that the article provided no evidence about all the contributions that Debian brings to Linux users and just argued "it's the parent" Which if that is the case, BSD386 is the most important OS, as it is in many ways the ancestor of Solaris, OSX, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, The GNU project and all the GNU systems. In other words, everything other than Windows. And Windows has some FTP and telnet code from BSD386 in it, and at one time the windows TCP/IP stack was based on the BSD386 network stack.

    Gentoo, Redhat, SuSE, Slackware, Canonical and others contribute in ways that help build the Linux ecosystem, but it is hard to overstate Debian's importance to the ecosystem by being an large, neutral, cross platform distribution, that is very transparent. Unfortunately it is possible to completely miss this and ramble on and on about the number of respins that exist.

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