25 years and counting

Thu 16 August 2018 by Ana Guerrero Lopez with tags debian birthday

Translations: es fr pt-BR ro ru se vi

Debian is 25 years old by Angelo Rosa

When the late Ian Murdock announced 25 years ago in comp.os.linux.development, "the imminent completion of a brand-new Linux release, [...] the Debian Linux Release", nobody would have expected the "Debian Linux Release" to become what's nowadays known as the Debian Project, one of the largest and most influential free software projects. Its primary product is Debian, a free operating system (OS) for your computer, as well as for plenty of other systems which enhance your life. From the inner workings of your nearby airport to your car entertainment system, and from cloud servers hosting your favorite websites to the IoT devices that communicate with them, Debian can power it all.

Today, the Debian project is a large and thriving organization with countless self-organized teams comprised of volunteers. While it often looks chaotic from the outside, the project is sustained by its two main organizational documents: the Debian Social Contract, which provides a vision of improving society, and the Debian Free Software Guidelines, which provide an indication of what software is considered usable. They are supplemented by the project's Constitution which lays down the project structure, and the Code of Conduct, which sets the tone for interactions within the project.

Every day over the last 25 years, people have sent bug reports and patches, uploaded packages, updated translations, created artwork, organized events about Debian, updated the website, taught others how to use Debian, and created hundreds of derivatives.

Here's to another 25 years - and hopefully many, many more!

Each release of Debian has a shiny new theme, which is visible on the boot screen, the login screen and, most prominently, on the desktop wallpaper.

Debian plans to release Stretch next year. As ever, we need your help in creating its theme! You have the opportunity to design a theme that will inspire thousands of people while working in their Debian systems.

They might be people working in exciting NASA missions:

Debian Squeeze Space Fun Spotted during the Juno Orbital Insertion live stream

Or DYI users who decided to make a matching keyboard:

Keyboard matching Debian Lenny Theme

If you're interested, please take a look at https://wiki.debian.org/DebianDesktop/Artwork/Stretch

The following contributors got their Debian Developer accounts in the last two months:

  • Josué Ortega (josue)
  • Mathias Behrle (mbehrle)
  • Sascha Steinbiss (satta)
  • Lucas Kanashiro (kanashiro)
  • Vasudev Sathish Kamath (vasudev)
  • Dima Kogan (dkogan)
  • Rafael Laboissière (rafael)
  • David Kalnischkies (donkult)
  • Marcin Kulisz (kula)
  • David Steele (steele
  • Herbert Parentes Fortes Neto (hpfn)
  • Ondřej Nový (onovy)
  • Donald Norwood (donald)
  • Neutron Soutmun (neutrons)
  • Steve Kemp (skx)

The following contributors were added as Debian Maintainers in the last two months:

  • Sean Whitton
  • Tiago Ilieve
  • Jean Baptiste Favre
  • Adrian Vondendriesch
  • Alkis Georgopoulos
  • Michael Hudson-Doyle
  • Roger Shimizu
  • SZ Lin
  • Leo Singer
  • Peter Colberg


The following contributors got their Debian Developer accounts in the last two months:

  • Sven Bartscher (kritzefitz)
  • Harlan Lieberman-Berg (hlieberman)


Petter Reinholdtsen recently blogged about ZFS availability in Debian. Many people have worked hard on getting ZFS support available in Debian and we would like to thank everyone involved in getting to this point and explain what ZFS in Debian means.

The landing of ZFS in the Debian archive was blocked for years due to licensing problems. Finally, the inclusion of ZFS was announced slightly more than a year ago, on April 2015 by the DPL at the time, Lucas Nussbaum who wrote "We received legal advice from Software Freedom Law Center about the inclusion of libdvdcss and ZFS in Debian, which should unblock the situation in both cases and enable us to ship them in Debian soon.". In January this year, the following DPL, Neil McGovern blogged with a lot of more details about the legal situation behind this and summarized it as "TLDR: It’s going in contrib, as a source only dkms module."

ZFS is not available exactly in Debian, since Debian is only what's included in the "main" section archive. What people really meant here is that ZFS code is now in included in "contrib" and it's available for users using DKMS.

Many people also mixed this with Ubuntu now including ZFS. However, Debian and Ubuntu are not doing the same, Ubuntu is shipping directly pre-built kernel modules, something that is considered to be a GPL violation. As the Software Freedom Conservancy wrote "while licensed under an acceptable license for Debian's Free Software Guidelines, also has a default use that can cause licensing problems for downstream Debian users".

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