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16 August 2012, 10:57

Debian celebrates its 19th birthday

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Zoom Users traditionally bake Debian-themed cakes to celebrate Debian Day

Debian, one of the oldest actively maintained GNU/Linux distributions, turns 19 today. Project founder Ian Murdock originally announced the project on 16 August 1993 when he released the first version of the distribution. Looking back at that email, a surprising number of Murdock's initial goals for the project are still reflected in Debian today, despite the fact that the distribution has gone through regular leadership changes since Murdock left the project in 1996.

Debian users and developers will be celebrating the distribution's birthday with parties taking place all over the world. As has become a tradition for "Debian Day", many community members will also bake Debian cakes to bring to the celebrations.

From the humble beginnings of the first "Debian Linux Release", the distribution has grown to become one of the staples of the GNU/Linux ecosystem, and the base of a countless number of derivatives. The distribution has moved beyond being a GNU/Linux-only affair as well. With Debian GNU/kFreeBSD, users have the option of running a version of the distribution with a FreeBSD kernel.

The current Debian Project Leader, Stefano Zacchiroli has focused mainly on improving Debian's relations with its downstream projects (like Ubuntu) and is pushing to get Debian included in the FSF's list of recommended free software distributions. To these ends, he has both set up the Derivatives Front Desk and created a task force that is working with the FSF to make sure that Debian complies with their guidelines. Debian itself has long had a social contract that governs the distribution's ideals and which committers have to agree to if they want to collaborate on the project.

Debian is currently on its sixth major version, with Debian 7.0 "Wheezy" expected to be released in spring 2013. Debian 6.0 includes approximately 29,000 different packages, a number that has continuously risen throughout the lifetime of the project.


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