Debian: Yesterday’s Distribution?

The latest Debian Project News recently announced a code freeze in preparation for a new release by the end of 2010. It’s a sign of the times that the news went mostly unreported. Which makes me wonder: What is Debian’s role today?

There’s no doubt that, in most people’s minds, Debian no longer occupies the place it once had in free and open source software (FOSS). Five or six years ago, upcoming Debian releases, or elections for Debian Project Leader were major news in the community (I know, because I covered them). Now, few of the news sites gives much attention to either event.

Partly, this change is due to shifting priorities. The emphasis in FOSS today is on usability, and Debian remains burdened with a reputation of being hard to install and use. Under these circumstances, Debian seems to be yesterday’s distribution — good for its day, but superseded by others, especially the desktop-focused Ubuntu, its own child.

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