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Proposal for a new CDD project: Debian4Linux

I would like to start a new CDD project called Debian4Business.

I already started this discussion elsewhere, but Andreas Tille pointed me at the fact that I'm discussing it at the wrong mailing list :P So here I am on the right mailing list :)

I have a small company, that provides legal services. About 6 months ago (I use linux for more than 8 years already) all desktops are running Linux now. The people using those desktops have no prior linux experience. I have tried several distributions, but with every distribution I see problems appear with the people that use it. These problem appear because no distribution is really focused on business use within small and mid-sized companies. I'm not talking here about bugs, I'm talking about the way people use the installed system. These are people with no prior linux experience. Especially for them things should just work or at least easy to configure. Of course some distro's are more stable than others, but that's not the point of discussion here. At least since all desktops have Debian I don't hear any complaints anymore about things that crash. That's a very positive thing.

Most small- and midsized companies don't have a permanent system manager. Hence it's very important that things work out of the box, both on the desktops and servers. And that all server tasks are easy to configure. Microsoft didn't win the competition race with windows NT from Novell's Netware because of the quality and stability of their product, but because it was more easy to configure.

Of course there are some distro's with exactly this goal, however they are usually commercial products/forks. Probably all very good distro's but also awfully expensive, and that makes them not very interesting for small- and mid-sized companies. I'm talking here about distro's like SLED, RedHat Enterprise Linux and Xandros. I strongly believe that a CDD like Debian4Business can give an open source answer to that. Open Source works for individuals, and I believe it also works for businesses? And I think a CDD (because it's still Debian and not some fork) is the right way to step in this.

There is also CentOS and Gentoo, of which is said that they are made for this purpose, however I'm not very impressed by them when it's about stability, plus that they don't offer such a wide range of CPU's where those distro's can run on. And, as I said before, Debian has proven to be stable. It's not for nothing that so many forks have chosen for Debian as their base. And that is exactly why I think that a CDD like this has a potential for sure.

I believe there is definetely a 'market' for a business oriented linux based on open source/GPL/Debian social-contract, maintained for and by it's users instead of a commercial base. The open source/GPL/DSC concept works for individuals, so
why it wouldn't/couldn't work for businesses?

My goal with this project is to create a CDD that provides it's users with the tools they need to easily install and use the things a small and mid-sized business needs in their working environment. This goes for both server and desktop tasks. I'm talking here about things like authentication through LDAP/SMB, centralised distribution of packages (who wants to update ever desktop manually?), backup solutions, asterisk or openpbx for voip, etc etc. Of course it should also include the common office tools, like an office package (openoffice), email, groupware, etc etc. I can't say yet what the CDD should contain exactly, because I'm still doing my research on that and I need a lot of input for that. I can talk myself only about the experience that I have within my own company.

I would very much like to hear the opinions of the developer community.The first -and very important- step to be taken is to form a group of people that support this goal and are willing to work on it. It's always hard to bring under words what you have in mind, but I hope I've been able to make the goal clear.

If there are no major objections I will start to get things going.

I already started to do 'market' research and make a first 'whishlist' of what potential users want to use and what is their idea about such system. I very much believe in this project and the potential of it.


Arjan van Eersel

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