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DistroWatch: Debian GNU/Linux - Not Just Another Pretty Face (Part I)

Sep 04, 2003, 02:30 (2 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Robert Storey)

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Debian--there has never been any other Linux distro quite like it. Long a favorite of the geek elite, there is no doubt that Debian is popular. Sign up for the Debian-user mailing list, and you can expect to receive about 300 messages a day. Perhaps (just perhaps) there are more people using Redhat, Mandrake or SuSE. However, if bigger means better, then Debian is the undisputed champion--Debian's 'stable' branch boasts 8710 'packages' (packages = precompiled software bundled up in a nice format for easy installation). In Debian's 'unstable' branch there are about 13,000 packages (more than six gigabytes worth). If software was sold by the kilogram, then Debian would fetch top dollar. However, this massive collection of excellent software is free, the work of hundreds (or thousands) of unpaid volunteers. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

"Now, dear reader, if you think this is going to be Yet Another Gushing Review (YAGR) by a Debian cult follower, you are mistaken. Yes, I use Debian (though not exclusively). But if the truth be told, my zealotry for Debian is tempered by certain shortcomings in the distro. Yes, if an election for 'best distro' was held today, Debian would almost certainly get my vote. But much like any candidate for political office, Debian has some skeletons in the closet. However, before I get into all that, first a little background for the benefit of those who are new to this whole 'distro' thing..."

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