Article introducing Slink
I'm currently writting an article for an online magazine based
on free software proyects called OpenResources (www.openresources.com)
who where interested in having a preview of what Slink will offer.
However, I'm at a loss to grasp all the differences between
Hamm and Slink, and would not like to give false impressions or leave
This is the reason for the crosspost to debian-press. As of
currently Debian has not made any announcements of what Debian 2.1 ('slink') will
bring other than more software... ;) I'm aware that we had some project
goals for slink (which are not publicly known), and maybe we should made
a public statement of
1.- Why Debian slink is going to release later than expected
2.- What Debian slink will bring (i.e. what proyect goals have
AFAIK Nils or Joey were going to write such a thing, but had not had
time yet, so...
I'm sending attached my article on Debian slink as it is, since the
online magazine has a "free source" license for all articles feel free
to make use of anything that feels useful.
I would also appreciate any comments and suggestions (flames to
Debian 2.1 'slink'
Javier Fernández-Sanguino Peña
28 enero 1999
Debian 2.1 (codename _s_l_i_n_k) will be release beginning 1999, becoming
one of the distributions with more programs in the world of
Table of Contents:
1. Introduction to Slink
2. The size of Debian
3. Goals of Debian 2.1
4. Things to point out in Debian 2.1
5. How to get Debian
11.. IInnttrroodduuccttiioonn ttoo SSlliinnkk
Debian, the proyect founded by the Free Software Foundation
<http://www.fsf.org>, and which currently has its own entity, is a
distribution (which has already been introduced in OperResources) that
currently stands amongst the three more important GNU/Linux
Although the previous stable release of Debian saw the light in June
last year, the developers that maintain the distribution set
themselves as a goal the release of the next version of Debian by the
end of the year. However, this has not happened due to some problems
with bug fixes of packages that make up the distribution, and to the
fact that, in the same months, Debian maintainers have voted their
first Consitution <http://www.debian.org/devel/constitution>, and
elect a new Project Leader <http://vote.debian.org>, that will
continue forward after Ian Murdock leaves that position.
The _f_r_e_e_z_e stage the distribution suffers, before releasing a new
stable version, has continued up until February 1999. Currently
(January 1999) some problems with the installation disks are being
worked upon, as well as some bugs with some of the packages.
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Debian is a _h_u_g_e proyect, few (amongst them the developing of the
Linux kernel) can say that they count with equal or more volunteer
developers (over 400), and, of course, the number of programs the
distribution offers is enourmous.
That is one of the fundamental advantages that Debian 2.1 will offer
with respect to its previous release, 2.0, the number of supported
packages has grown to over 1500. Of course, the bugs found in the
packages that made part of the distributin have been solved, also
including changes in the upstreams sources of programs.
The priority of Debian is not, as it would seem, to make programs, but
rather to offer programs available in the GNU/Linux world making their
installation and configuring as easiest as possible to the Debian
user. The work of a Debian maintainer is to make these packages and
support them, fixing bugs that might be found, either notifying the
upstream maintainer or fixing them himself.
Thus slink includes a great number of programs in many areas: word
processing applications, graphic packages, system administration,
device handling, games...
To give an example of Debian's growth one might take the review made
by Lars Wirzenius. Taking all packages of the _m_a_i_n section in Debian,
counting the size and number of lines in files with 'c' or 'h'
extension (that belong to source code and headers of C programs), you
might get the following results:
lynes bytes packages
hamm 37.41M 865.713M 1116
slink 70.6M 1144.6M 1602
Other similar reviews can be found at:
It is not strange, then, that the main body of Debian 'hamm' (2.0)
could be included in one CD-ROM, and that Debian 'slink' (2.1) uses up
Obiously, not all packages are of equal importance, nor they are used
by all users; there are some tools in Debian that will only be used by
a low number of users, but their availability is what matters. To
study the frequency of installation of Debian packages, a Debian
maintainer put together a popularity contest
<http://www.worldvisions.ca/~apenwarr/popcon/>, which users can
contribute to by installing a package that will send information on
their system installation forward to him.
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Yoy can read Debian 2.1 goals in
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Some things can be pointed out to be or not in Debian 2.1. One has to
take into account that the development of a distribution that includes
so many programas, and the time taken to assuer that all programs
interoperate correctly, makes it impossible for the stable release to
include all the lastest programs in the GNU/Linux world.
However, the work in a stable release does not stop the work in an
unstable release based on the previous and where many new packages can
be found. This unstable release can be used by all those that want to
be using the latest versions of programs, the future Debian 2.2 is,
currently, codenamed _p_o_t_a_t_o.
Debian 2.1 _d_o_e_s _n_o_t include Linux kernel 2.2. This does not have to be
understood as a negative side, since this kernel was released after
the stable release was frozen, and modifying the kernel over which the
distribution is based is risky business since it is not yet tested
with all the applications that make up the distribution, and its hasty
inclusion would bring new bugs. However, since the release of this
kernel some Debian developers have been working hard to try all
possible incompatibilities and problems with other software, but the
release of Debian 2.1 will probably not be hindered. Linux kernel 2.2
will, of course, be included in Debian 2.2
The package selection interface will be, for the moment, the same that
in the previous release of Debian, but apt has been added, a program
that handles dependencies resolution and package retrieval in an easy
and fast way. Work is being done in a new user interface, both in text
and graphic version, with apt, and will become, in the future, the
substitute for dselect; it works now, but is not tested to assure it
As window managers Debian 2.1 will include, amongst others, Afterstep
and GNOME <http://www.gnome.org>. KDE <http://www.kde.org>, alas, will
not be included since during the development of Debian 2.1 it had not
yet resolved the problems encountered with the QT library's license,
used by this window manager.
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Debian can be gotten out of the net, through the main server of the
proyect <ftp://ftp.debian.org> or from any of its mirrors
There are also commercial vendors
<http://www.debian.org/distrib/vendors> from which you can buy a
Debian CD set.