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Corrections and comments

Posted by: Anonymous Coward on November 29, 2004 12:58 PM
Good job, Kivilcim. Some corrections:

- Although I don't remember where, I've read that Sarge is going to be Debian 3.1, not Debian 4.0.
- Programs that are published in the next version are in testing, not unstable.

You touched on this a little, but I'd like to clarify a little. Debian has different values than most distributions. It values stability, hardware compatibility, maintainability, usability, giving control to the user, community, and pure free software. It doesn't value (to the same extent) eye candy, being newbie-friendly, bleeding edge software, and fancy graphical installations. The Debian project is trying to address these, so they will come with time, but not at the expense of the aforementioned values.

So many distributions are like toys. People install them, play with them, and geek out. They look fancy when they're installing, and work pretty well if you don't mess with them or try to install anything more than the defaults, but beyond this, the user gets the distinct feeling that they are put together with bubble gum and string.

I've used many of these distributions, but have settled on Debian because my values have changed. Linux is becoming more mature. People are starting to use it for real work and as their primary desktop OS, instead of just a geek hobby. I think Debian meets these needs much better than most distributions. Other distributions are improving on these values, but Debian is way ahead of them because it focused on them from the beginning at the expense of being fancy.

Here's one thing that wasn't mentioned in this article, but I think is very important. Debian has real staying power. It's been around for a long time, has always stuck to its values and social contract, so it has proven that it is going to be here for a long time. I got really tired of watching Red Hat turn into Fedora, SuSE turn into Novell, and Caldera turn into SCO. Then there's Mandrake which was close to bankruptcy, and Linspire which isn't profitable. Sun is Solaris one day, Linux the next day, and then Solaris again the next day.

This is all dramatic and fun to watch, but I don't want my operating system and software to be at the whim of corporate scandals and the vagaries of the marketplace. I had enough of that with Windows. Debian is a non-profit organization. Its only job in life is to make a rock-solid Linux distribution. That's it. It's done it unwaveringly for ages now, and will continue to.

One of the major criticisms that Debian takes is how out-dated its software is. First of all, this is only for the stable branch. You're welcome to use testing or unstable instead (even these tend to be less buggy than other distributions). Second of all, Ubuntu addresses all of these concerns, and Debian will in the future, according to the leader of Debian.

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