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What Debian Does is a Very Big Deal

Summary: A little roundup of Debian news and why whatever Debian is doing (e.g. regarding init systems) is important

Debian, which SteamOS is based on, may already be the world's most widely used GNU/Linux distribution (Red Hat leads only in revenue, not necessarily code or deployments), so now that Red Hat's Systemd 197 is released (full announcement here) there is an important crossroad where init systems fight for domination. Systemd is not for everyone and dependence on Red Hat might not be ideal because of security risks in Linux [1, 2, 3, 4] among other factors. It's up to Debian developers now; they can judge it from a technical point of view.



Debian was the distribution promoted in the "Goodbye Microsoft" Web site (which would also be a PRISM break) several years ago and it continues to be somewhat of a major choice there [1-6]. Based on [7-12], the init system for the next Debian continues to be a subject of great controversy. This is going to have an impact on Debian derivatives such as SolidXK [13] and maybe even Ubuntu [14] (although it has its own init system), not to mention the freedom-oriented gNewSense (gNewSense 3.1 has just been released [15-17]), Live CD pioneer Knoppix [18,19], and Kali [20], to name just a few that made the headlines very recently.

Whatever Debian chooses to do is a very big deal because no Linux-related project is as big as Debian (in terms of number of developers and general impact).

Now that Valve extends its offer from Debian developers [21,22] to Ubuntu developers [23,24] it should be noted that whatever Debian does is going to affect Ubuntu as well.

An "unCivil War" [25] is not needed right now. It would be best to merely follow the rivalry of init systems, not create hostilities as some journalists are currently doing.

Related/contextual items from the news:


  1. Debian 7: X.arrrrrgh


  2. Debian 7: Menu Cleanup
  3. Debian 7: Applications
    Having got Debian 7.3.0 installed, I had to install all the application programs that I used on my previous computer. Over the years, I had installed a lot of applications; many of them turned out to be not so useful, or were obsoleted by other applications, or (in the case of anti-virus software) I want to start over with. So I began by making a list of those applications that I really used. Then I started to install them, from scratch, on Debian 7.


  4. Debian 7: rsync
    I have a new computer with a clean Debian 7 installed. I have an old computer with many years' worth of files in several partitions. How do I copy them over? I could restore my backup media to the new PC, but that's a lot of fiddly manual work, and not all my files are backed up that way (anything I can download again from the Internet gets rarely backed up). Besides, the latest version of everything is the version actually on my desktop.


  5. Debian 7: MATE
    In our last episode, I had decided that I was going to do a clean install of Debian 7 on the new computer. What I really want is to install the MATE desktop (pronounced Ma-Tay). I've liked MATE a lot since using it with Linux Mint -- but Debian doesn't (yet) make a MATE install disk. For Debian 7, the choices are Gnome 3, KDE 4, LXDE, or XFCE. I did not want to install all the baggage of Gnome or KDE. And I'm already using LXDE, which is clean and fast. So that's what I installed as my starting point.


  6. Debian 7: In Search of the Lost Driver


    Partway through the install process, I was informed that I needed to install a "non-free" driver, "rtl_nic/rtl8168d-1.fw". "Non-free" software is software that can't be distributed under the GPL; for various reasons, Debian does not include such software on the install disk. Often these are manufacturer-specific hardware drivers. The installer helpfully offered to accept that file from either a CD or a USB memory stick.

    So off to Google, where a search for "rtl_nic/rtl8168d-1.fw" pointed me to...a Debian package, "firmware-realtek". Actually I got links to two packages: one for Debian 6 "Squeeze", and the other for Debian 7 "Wheezy". I chose the latter and downloaded the package (.deb) file.


  7. Voting Proposed For Debian Jessie's Init System


  8. Debian init system vote has become a farce


    The Debian GNU/Linux Project's bid to reach agreement on which init system it would have as default for its next release appears to have gone completely off the rails.


  9. Bid to bring Debian init debate to a head fails


    A move by Debian technical committee head Bdale Garbee to bring the debate on the default init system to a head by calling for a vote appears to have failed.


  10. Debian technical committee votes for systemd over Upstart
    Debian technical committee was discussing the default init system for Debian and it bioled down to basically systemd, which is developed by the larger free software community (lead by Lennart Poettering), and Upstart which was developed by Canonical employees.
  11. Debian Init System Discussion Is Still Unsettled
    The Debian init system debate by Debian technical committee members that is largely a fight between systemd and Upstart remains unresolved.

    A few days ago there was a call for voting on the init system by the Debian technical committee members but that vote has now ended and it basically comes down to more discussion and clarifying the voting process is also needed.


  12. Call for votes on default Linux init system for jessie
    I propose we take the simplest possible "next step". Let's vote just on the question of what the default init system for Linux architectures should be in jessie. Once we have an answer to this question, it seems to me that we would be "over the hump" and more likely to be able to re-focus our attention on all the secondary questions, like what our transition plan should be, whether we should try to dictate a default for non-Linux architectures, how and to what extent alternate init systems should be supported, and so forth. Most importantly, we could start *collaborating* again... which is something I fervently wish for!


  13. Upstart SolidXK Distro Seeks First Business Customers
    SolydXK started last March as the unofficial Linux Mint Debian Edition with KDE. Though there had been speculation that an official KDE version of the popular desktop distribution would surface, ZDNet wrote recently, SolydXK co-founders Arjen Balfoort and Amadeu Ferreira took it upon themselves, with the support of other Mint community members, to actually build it.


  14. Ubuntu 14.04 vs. Debian 7.3 vs. Debian Jessie Preview
    For those curious about performance differences between the current Debian 7.3 "Wheezy" stable release and the upcoming but currently unstable Debian 8.0 "Jessie", here are some performance benchmarks comparing Debian's stable and testing releases on the same hardware. Making things more interesting, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS in its current development form was also tossed into the mix.


  15. gNewSense 3.1 released
    Current users of gNewSense 3.0 don't have to reinstall. They get all updates automatically.


  16. gNewSense GNU/Linux - News: gNewSense 3.1 released


  17. gNewSense 3.1 Available For Free Software Purists


  18. Knoppix Review, Shotwell's Future, and 5 Insults
    A perusal through today's newsfeeds netted several interesting topics. Jamie Watson published a Knoppix 7.2.0 review. Bryan Lunduke reported that the Elementary OS team has taken over maintenance of Shotwell. And a ZDNet blogger has listed his five reasons for using Windows 8 instead of Linux, but they are all really just jabs at Linux. All this and more in tonight's How the Linux Turns.


  19. Hands-on with Knoppix Linux 7.2.0: A well-established and very stable Linux distribution
    If my memory is correct, the first generally available release of Knoppix (on a Live CD) was made sometime in late 2000. I don't think it is exaggerating to say that Knoppix set the standard for Live Linux distributions when it was released, or that the Linux world as a whole learned a lot about how Live distributions should be done, and how powerful, versatile and useful they could be.


  20. Kali Linux 1.0.6, hands-on
    Exploring this Debian GNU/Linux derivative that is tightly focused on security analysis and penetration testing - and it comes with a mind-boggling array of utilities for that purpose.


  21. Valve showers Debian Linux devs with FREE Steam games


  22. Linux Top 3: Valve Gives Back, FreeBSD Updates and openSUSE 12.2 EOL
    For a variety of reasons, Valve Software decided to base its SteamOS gaming console operating system on Debian GNU/Linux. While it's likely that Valve's SteamOS will result in code contributions and enhancement that can benefit the upstream Debian project, Valve also want to give back in other ways.


  23. Expansion of Valve free games offer to Ubuntu developers
    As I'm sure most will be aware, for the last couple of weeks, Valve have offered access to all Valve produced games free of charge to Debian Developers [0].

    As of today, they have kindly extended this to all registered Ubuntu Developers [1].


  24. Valve offers free games to Ubuntu developers
    Valve Software recently announced that they would offer free Valve games to all Debian developers, which was considered a way of saying thank you to the base that is used to create Steam OS.


  25. Systemd Init System In Debian Jessie – Democratic Decision or unCivil War?


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