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Debian, universal operating system?

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Universal operating system #?@!

First of all, let's make it clear, Debian is not THE universal operating
system. I mean it is definitely not the one and only OS.

Is Debian an universal operating system?

Before answering this question, we need to define what would it means to
be an universal OS?

Does it mean that in runs many architecture?
 yes, Debian support a dozen of them, of all kinds.

Does it means that it can run on different type of platforms? 
 yes, Debian can run on mainframes, on clusters, servers, desktop,
 laptop, palmtop, embedded system, telephones and probably on
 some "nailtop" some days.

Does it means that it provides a wide range of applications for a
wide range of customers?
 yes, Debian probably provides applications for any purpose you 
 can think of. Well, may be not all of them yet.

Does it means that it ships many software for the same purpose, to fit
various needs?
 yes, Debian provides dozens of webservers, database, CMS,
 wordprocessing... some tiny and simple, some large with rich set of
 features, etc (But don't worry, Debian can choose a default one for

Does it means Debian runs run various kernels?
 yes, Debian provides support for Linux and we may soon provide 
 support for GNU/kFreeBSD. There are other derivative works to support
 Darwin and OpenSolaris kernel.

Does it means that we support multiple user environment?
 yes, Debian provides 4 main Desktop environment (KDE, XFCE, LXDE and
 the default one Gnome). It also has some user interface for other 
 type of device, like Hildon for embedded devices.

But it certainly doesn't means that all the packages and all the
features must be available on all the above variants. It doesn't make
sense to run a DVD player on a mobile phone or on a mainframe. It
doesn't make sense to do massive parallel computation on a tiny embedded

Does it means that Debian is a commodity thing?
 no, Debian is a very specialized OS, which specific positioning IS to
 be universal. (Not to mention that it's free as in [free beer|freedom],
 open-source, community-driven, etc)

Why many Debian users and Developers are really happy with this Univeral
OS concept?

Well I suppose it has do with our social contract and the DFSG.

That's what I like in Debian(1),


Side note about derivative distributions.
Yes, any one is allowed to fork Debian and make a derivative
distribution, and that's fine, I like that.

All of these forks have one thing in common: they have a different
specialization than Debian. Some are specialized for a specific
language, for end-user, for embedded, for palmtops, for a given kernel,
for a special field of endeavor, etc. Of course, those distributions put
lots of effort in their specialized domain and they are well ahead of
us. Some of those distribution are very successful and it is great,
because it is also our success.
Because we live in open-source world, most of them are merging their
patch, so we progress as quickly as them (even if we are "lagging")

In the end, it's the whole open-source ecosystem that grows quickly, and
that's great.

(1) I like that I am free to use Debian on my Laptop, on my PS3, on my
    Nokia N810, on my wireless access point or NAS device. My
    organisation could use the same OS on it a mainframe, on clusters,
    on computers, on desktops, on smart phones. One single OS that can
    be adapted for each use.

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