Sunday, 30 August 2009

7 Reasons to Use Debian

1. Stable
Any application needs time to be used and tested enough time in order to make it stable. One of the greatest goals of Debian is stability. It's released when it's ready and applications included in the repositories have enough time to be tested through.

2. Debian offers stable, old stable, testing, *and* sid
Why should this be an advantage? First, because there is a stable release, which will fit both desktops and servers. Since Debian stable releases happen rarely, software can get a little old. So any can get to choose 'testing', which is tagged that way because applications are tested more but they are still usable. Sid is bleeding edge, which means applications get in usually as soon as they are released, so you get the newest software only by installing a testing weekly snapshot and upgrading. Considering the stable and old stable offer software which has been tested and stripped for critical bugs, testing usually proves to be the perfect alternative for a user who wants to use up-to-date tools and applications, which include the latest features.

3. The DFSG
Maybe this doesn't say much just when you see it, but Debian has been around since 1993 and it still is as it was. Although the social contract changed a little over the years, it still retained it's originality. It's open, it's free, it follows the GPL entirely, it respects the community needs.

4. Debian is one of the oldest distributions
Although this doesn't necessarily make you wise, take a look at Debian: it's been up for over 15 years and there are a lot of distributions out there who take and eventually expand Debian's work, take Ubuntu or DSL for example.

5. Very rich documentation
Except for the official documentation, there are hundreds of respectable websites which provide Debian tutorials and general documentation. There is usually no problem which can't be solved in Debian or at least which hasn't somewhere an answer.

6. Many distributions are based on Debian
Debian offers a solid base and a powerful system of managing software. Distributions like Ubuntu and DSL use the APT packaging system, which was invented by Debian for easier management of installed software. In turn, everything user-friendly or useful from Ubuntu will get eventually into Debian.

7. Great community
Being one of the oldest distributions out there, Debian has a strong community. Take the IRC channels, both on Freenode and OFTC, take all the Debian-dedicated forums or the mailing lists, consider that there are gurus out there who worked with Debian for years and they will usually offer support and share knowledge.


ah said...

In #5, I think you might mean "as well as" rather than "except".

pseudonymous said...

It's open, it's free, it follows the GPL entirely, it respects the community needs.

This is misleading, the Debian Free Software Guidelines do not respect the community's needs as they do not allow room for non-free software which other than a few people in academia and a few vocal nut jobs we all use.

The Social Contract does, however, respect the community's needs, when it is followed. Unfortunately, there are vocal opponents that conveniently forget to respect others needs. said...

The switch from Ubuntu to debian has given me a lot of speed preformance. Where Ubuntu and Mint were a little slow, Debian is like way fast :D

Anonymous said...

You are somewhat wrong about Debian unstable - truth is, it's very very stable. I've been using it for 4-5 years and never had any major trouble (and every distro has minor troubles). It's perfect rolling release, most bleeding edge, largest repositories, and backuped up by dpkg/apt. I'm on ubuntu now, but there's not a day when i'm not considering to go back to sid. I'm just kind of lazy now, that's all, waiting for a tiny push.

tiny said...

@ Anonymous:

Anonymous said...

It's thanks to "vocal nut jobs" like RMS that free software exists. The idea that distributions that don't package non-free software "forget to respect others needs" is ridiculous: if people are so stupid they can't install the non-free software they "need" if it isn't packaged for them by their distribution, that's not their distribution's fault. If you need to use it, fine, use it: no free software advocate is stopping you. How is it not respecting your needs to provide you with an entire operating system and thousands of software packages completely free of charge, while refusing to host software that takes a dump on your rights to share knowledge with other people? It's not only disrespectful but also just plain ignorant to enjoy all the benefits of software freedom while running down its authors as "nut jobs".

Anonymous said...

This is completely wrong. Debian Stable is the absolute most UN-Stable system in existence. It crashes 5 times an hour when it isnt even being used! I've been using Fedora 11 since it was Rawhide and It has not crashed or caused a single problem ever. Debian barely loads the desktop before it crashes.

Stable .. yea right .. total Lie.

Sid is more stable than Lenny and thats a fact.

Jacob Hulanweberson said...

Reason Number 8

It's not Ubumtu!!!

Anonymous said...

doesnt run on the latest servers, thats why i wont use debian. Horrible at getting drivers out for the latest array cards.

Anthony said...

The whole non-free software idea is a joke, if a distribution wants to be mainstream they NEED non-free software/drivers to work. Companies make drivers for THEIR hard ware so if your using their hardware, you should use their drivers/software. It's almost like if I said here get in my car and drive but I gave you no key and said here build a key your self, thats impractical if you can't build keys. Now if I said get in my car and I hand you the keys, the car would work. Whats the point in making an operating system if you can't "drive" your computer?

m said...

I have had nothing but trouble with Debian fouling up my drivers. USB, mouse, graphics card and monitor.

I have been using Linux (Redhat, Fedora, Debian and Ubuntu) on a variety of boxen since before 2000, and though I can usually solve the Debian problems (sometimes the USB and graphics card issues are tough), it is still a real pain to get dumped into the command line every time you do some minor upgrade. Then go looking for a fix, or to find out what the problem was and fix it myself.

The problem solving was exciting in the beginning, but it is getting kind of old. I bought a new custom built PC and a new monitor a month ago. I selected all the components with an eye towards stability, compatibility as well as speed. I thought I would try Debian again, but it couldn't deal with the new monitor (admittedly a 24" pushing the envelope) or graphics card properly. After a couple of hours of research, it looked like the fixes would be ugly. And with Debian's history of repeatedly having do fixes on the same hardware whenever I did a security upgrade, I decided to go back to Ubuntu - no problem at all.

I like Debian better, but the maintenance requirements are more than I can handle. A new CPU or overclocking a bit is a far cheaper and easier solution for the speed issue.

Grigor Gatchev said...

I have, however, one very sad reason to not use Debian.

I love Debian. I have used it for years, and still do. However, from the viewpoint of a business user, using it is already as dangerous as using a pirated Windows. All this because of a single wrong decision - to include Mono in its default install.

(Not because Mono is a Microsoft technology, and Microsoft is evil - I don't think it is. And sorry for advertising my own blog.)

LinuxCanuck said...

Debian is a great distro. Too bad people have to use it as a forum to grind their axe against other distros, chiefly Ubuntu.
If it was as good as you say then there would not be this need in the Debian communit which is found everywhere, not just here in the comments.
It seems that it isn't enough to have a great distro. You need to put down other distros which suggests that perhaps Debian isn't so great after all. This is the small distro syndrome.
I take exception with the community which is intolerant in the extreme. It is their way or the highway.
I took the highway. :(
Debian is great. Its the users that aren't. They give Debian a bad name.

tek said...


his is misleading, the Debian Free Software Guidelines do not respect the community's needs as they do not allow room for non-free software which other than a few people in academia and a few vocal nut jobs we all use.

Nothing stopping you adding non-free software to Debian at all. Just add whatever repositories you want. Or if you still want the stability of a Debian base but with non-free drivers then just use uBuntu, after all it is just Debian with it's own default GNOME skin & some proprietary drivers ;-P

phil said...

I tried debian, it was stable(the only real advantage given by the author of the article) but it was slow and driver simply didn't worked. Then I tried arch linux, it's clearly faster, simple (much more than debian is) and drivers just work without any problem.

Now i'm really wondering why people who are not system admin use this distro !

Sorry for my poor english, i'm learning.

Jim said...

Reasons numbers 4 and 5 were part of why I chose Debian. When I was ready to make a clean break from the Windows world I knew this notebook was going to be my work machine. I needed to know that I'd be able to replace most (if not all) my non-proprietary work-related apps with FOSS alternatives, and Debian's enormous software repository gave me a good shot at being able to do that.

Debian's ubiquity also appealed to me; I didn't want to mess around with some niche distro for which there were few places I could turn to for help when needed. There are so many Debian and Debian-derivative users out there that, in most cases, the answer to any question I would have was only a simple Google or forum search away. I learned a lot that way, too.

One other thing: I also needed to know that the distro on which I would eventually settle was going to be around for the long haul. Sites like are littered with tales of distros which, after being received with some acclaim, eventually faded into obscurity. I didn't want to be stuck with a dead/dying distro, and Debian's longevity really appealed to me in that sense.