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Re: Why choose Debian?

To quote Bill Wohler <wohler@newt.com>,
#   1) The package manager.

Speaking of packages, I think this should be raised.

In general, I find that the quality of Debian packages is better than
most others. Why?

With most distributions, managers are forced to make a compromise -
spend more time packaging very popular software, and less time packaging
less popular software, or spread out the available resources for all
packages. For the former, you'll end up with some very good packages,
but you'll also end up with lots more that are mediocre, at best. In the
latter case, you'll end up with a bunch of mediocre packages. When you
pay your packagers and rely on those packagers for your distribution,
you have finite resources to work with.

Debian is really a community - in essence, a community of packagers.
While there are only a few dozen dedicated packagers(who will package
anything and everything, and things that everyone uses, like libc and
such), there are hundreds of packagers who only package the program(s)
they want to. The ones they use, day to day.

What you end up with is a nice, even quality to the packages. The
less-popular packages are still packaged by someone who uses it -
they'll give just as much attention to detail with their "pet package"
as someone who's packaging 'util-linux' or 'file-utils' would. The best
of both worlds - you have a good, solid, base system of well-packaged
popular software, and you have hundreds(thousands!) of other
less-popular software packaged to the same standards and quality.

There is also the issue of updating. A distribution maker must expend
enourmous resources into making the next version of their distribution.
They also must expend resources to keep their most current distribution
up-to-date with the rest of the world. Let's look at Red Hat for an
example. Aside from security fixes, when was the last time you were able
to update to the latest GNOME desktop, using packages specifically
designed for your distribution's version, from you distribuion vendor?
Not very often, I can tell you. And they can't be blamed for that,
either. For some things, it can be a near-full-time job for twenty or
thrity packages. Considering a modern Linux distribution comes with
thousands of packages, this is obviously a time-consuming prospect.

Now, the single-package Debian Maintainer probably wants to have the
latest usable version of his pet program. Since they will most likely
want it in packaged format, they'll make a package of it. Since they've
made a package of it, they'll likely upload it to a Debian
repository(destined for the unstable branch of Debian, of course). Tada!
Everyone now has access to that new, updated program, straight from the
maintainer who originally packaged it(or, a new maintainer if the old
maintainer decided to give up the reins[sp?]).

I'm rambling a bit. Sorry, I'm tired. Maybe I'll write an essay :)

David Barclay Harris, Clan Barclay
    Aut agere, aut mori. (Either action, or death.)

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