The Debian Linux distribution celebrates its 16th anniversary this week (official birthday is: August 16, 1993). It sure has been an interesting ride.
When Debian turned 15 last year, I asked if they were still relevant. It’s a question that still can be asked now. Debian in some ways is arguably more relevant today, thanks to Ubuntu.
Ubuntu grabs the lion’s share of media hype thanks to its charismatic founder, tight release schedule, easy installation for noobs and snappy release names. Yet time and again, Ubuntu developers and spokespersons from founder Mark Shuttleworth on down sing Debian’s praises as the shoulder on which Ubuntu continues to be built.
What of Debian’s founder?
His future is less clear, in my opinion. After founding Debian in 1993 and being a champion of Linux for over a decade, Ian Murdock’s last few years have been spent building Sun’s openSolaris.
With Sun now entering its sunset period as Oracle rises, will Murdock remain at Oracle? Will he remain a champion of openSolaris or will he return to the Linux fold?
I don’t know the answer. I suspect that he has many choices and opportunities, including staying the course with Oracle to see what happens.
Debian itself is getting (arguably) better at putting out releases on a more regular basis. It’s something that the Debian project has been trying to do since the Sarge release. The future for Debian, in my view, is one where the current path of wide architecture support and massive repositories will continue and expand. There will continue to be debate about the Debian Social Contract that guides the inclusion of various software, but that’s part of the Debian tradition at this point too.
So Happy 16th Debian. It’s no small feat to continue a free operating system used by millions for so long.