[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: Why Debian?

Johan van der Walt wrote:


At present I have an older version of RedHat running on my pc.


> Basically I feel that I have to pick one from the following
four: Debian, SuSe, RedHat and Slackware.


My question then is: what makes Debian GNU/Linux different so that I
should use it rather than any of the other distributions? Is Linux not
just Linux?


Someone told me the other day that Debian is the most stable
distribution. Is that so and why?

I would venture to say that is true. The main reason is that Debian releases are not "Official" until it's ready to be released. This is in contrast with certain other distros that are released because the marketing guys promised it this quarter. Debian is also the easiest to maintain, which in a sense, translates to stability. On a related note, it has been the observation of several posters to this list over the past 4 or so years that Debian's "unstable" branch is just as stable as the "other" distro's full release version. The question of "Why Debian" comes up on this list every few months. I would recommend you search the Debian Mailing List archives (see the link on the left-hand side of http://www.debian.org) over the past couple of years and you'll probably get a lot of answers.

For me, the two biggest answers are:

1) Philisophically pure. Debian has strict standards as to what is and isn't included in its base distribution. For example, for a while it didn't include KDE because KDE was based on a library that had somewhat restrictive licensing. That licensing has since changed, so that KDE is now included. In other words, if it's not truly free software, it doesn't make it in the base distro. This way, you never have to worry if you've installed software that if you run it at home there's no problem, but if you put it in at a business, you have to pay a license fee. This fact alone makes Debian the safest choice. I'm sure your boss would hate to get sued because you installed a distro at work that included trial software that expired a month after you installed it, which you didn't remove after that trial period.

2) apt. Well, really, there are other tools in other distros that approximate apt/dselect/dpkg, but the big difference is that Debian again has strict standards as to what is and isn't included in its distribution. What this translates to is that when you want to install a package on some other distro, you find that that package depends on X, and X depends on Y, and Y depends on Z, and Z conflicts with X so that you can't install Z without removing X which breaks your install. On Debian, the strict packaging policies means that all these dependencies are worked out beforehand by the package maintainers, so that you don't have to. As a result, when you want to install evolution, you just type "apt-get install evolution" and then go to the coke machine to buy a drink, come back, and then start using evolution. Very sweet.

Hope this helps.


Reply to: