The Debian GNU/Linux project will turn 25 on Thursday, with the Linux distribution having made its debut on 16 August in 1993 under the leadership of the late Ian Murdock.
In its original manifesto, Murdock stated: “Many distributions have started out as fairly good systems, but as time passes attention to maintaining the distribution becomes a secondary concern.”
Maintaining a Debian system was made simple after some developers created a package management system known as apt.
Apt — and its derivatives like aptitude and synaptic — have served to make the task of updating a Debian system simple. With apt, the secondary concern that Murdock referred to was effectively taken care of. Incidentally, there are now about 29,000 packages available in Debian. Debian has served as the base for two distributions — there are more than 300 in all — that are well-known for different reasons. One, Ubuntu, is the most widely used distribution. The other, Knoppix, is the best known live system.
The primary reason for Debian project’s success has been its devotion to free software and the efforts put in by the more than 1000 developers worldwide to create a quality distribution. With three streams of development — stable, unstable and testing — Debian arguably has much more work to do to keep up with things.
One more aspect that Murdock touched on in his initial manifesto was that the Debian development process would be open. This was in order “to ensure that the system is of the highest quality and that it reflects the needs of the user community”. The quality comes from the fact that members of the Debian community are there because they want to be, not because they have to.
Submitted by: Arnfried Walbrecht