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Why use Debian?

Posted by Steve on Tue 28 Sep 2004 at 17:02

Once upon a time Debian was unique for many reasons, but now there are a growing number of popular Linux distributions, so why choose Debian?

First lets look at what used to set Debian apart. There are several things that used to be very unique about the project, to start with the core aims and goals of the project were described by a Social Contract.

The Debian Social Contract is a promise to the users of Debian as to how they will be treated by the members, and what the project promises for them. Amongst other things it promises to not attempt to hide problems, to remain free, and to have the aims of the users as a priority.

Secondly Debian used to be known for the tool it uses to manage its packages, apt. Apt is a system which sits upon the packaging system the project uses called dpkg. Apt allows a user to automatically download a program and any dependencies it requires with a single command.

Ultimately Debian was always known as the open, free, and technical distribution.

Nowadays things are a little murkier, as other groups have duplicated these things for themselves. For example there is a wrapper on Mandrake which allows it to download packages and handle dependencies much like the Debian apt system, and Gentoo Linux also has a social contract.

What makes Debian special anymore?

Well the availability of a large collection of packages was always a strength, something that the other Distributions still haven't managed to match. Put simply Debian has more packages ready than any other distribution, and they integrate very well together.

Secondly, although others may have duplicated the social contract the sheer openness of the distribution is a major plus, aided in no small part by the technical approach it has to problem solving.

More to come ..

Actually I think this would be an interesting article to write 'for real'. Anybody who wants to run with it feel free ..

 

 


Re: Why use Debian?
Posted by Anonymous (213.164.xx.xx) on Thu 3 Mar 2005 at 08:42
Why not Debian?

I use Debian, but one seemingly core value worried me: trust everyone.

Debian Sarge by default, and without asking (I checked, twice), allows o+rx to /root/ and /home/*.

Why is this a problem? Can't I just fix the permissions and update the config for adduser? Yes I could, and do - but the problem with changes like this is that people assume defaults, and a default permission of "everyone can read everything" isn't good.

[ Parent ]

Re: Why use Debian?
Posted by Steve (82.41.xx.xx) on Thu 3 Mar 2005 at 08:48
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I remember this as being a debconf question on upgrade - is it really the default if you install Sarge from scratch?

Steve
-- Steve.org.uk

[ Parent ]

Re: Why use Debian?
Posted by Anonymous (213.164.xx.xx) on Fri 4 Mar 2005 at 09:22
The question was never asked (I checked, twice).

I tested it on two iso images of Sarge, one from around November, one from 28-FEB-2005.

Not good.

[ Parent ]

Re: Why use Debian?
Posted by Steve (82.41.xx.xx) on Fri 4 Mar 2005 at 09:26
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Strange, but a simple thing to fix.

Adding new users will get the permissions you specify in /etc/adduser.conf - which includes a setting for the permissions of the home directory.

I can't really regard this as a big deal, but I guess that is a personal preference.

Steve
-- Steve.org.uk

[ Parent ]

Re: Why use Debian?
Posted by Anonymous (213.164.xx.xx) on Fri 4 Mar 2005 at 12:09
Yep - it's a simple fix, but it's not secure by default.
If people don't consider that the standard Debian permissions might be customised, then we end up with more insecure stuff *sigh*

[ Parent ]

Re: Why use Debian?
Posted by Anonymous (213.164.xx.xx) on Mon 7 Mar 2005 at 08:38
It seems to be fixed in Sarge now :)

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