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Mon, 07 Mar 2011

Debian honoured with LNM award for Outstanding Contribution to Free Software

Those who followed the live stream or read our News already knew it: Debian has been honored with the Linux New Media Award in the Categories "Best Open Source Server Distribution" and Outstanding Contribution to Open Source/Linux/Free Software. Especially the second one, considered to be the "kings class" of the LNM awards, is a great honour.

While it is called the Linux New Media award, the decision of whom to honor with them isn't done by the company themselves, but by a bigger jury, consisting of over 300 representative community members, developers, journalists and companies. Deciding in a secret vote1. To the best of my knowledge, there's nothing similar.

So one can truly say, we weren't awarded by a company, but by the entire Free Software community!

Congratulations to everyone involved!

For our Outstanding Contribution to Open Source/Linux/Free Software award, we also had the special pleasure, to receive our presentation speech from Karsten Gerloff, president of the Free Software Foundation Europe, who found words, I can hardly explain myself. As it might take some time for the video of the award ceremony to be published and several people already asked for it, you'll find the text of the speech below. Still, you might want to watch the video for a special surprise by Karsten:

I'm here to congratulate the Debian project. Debian has recently taken a nearly unprecedented step, one that many people thought would never come to pass: The project has updated its website design.

Today, Debian receives the Linux New Media Award for its outstanding contribution to Free Software. I could hardly think of a more fitting recipient for such an award.

Debian is coming of age, literally. In August, the distribution will turn 18.

Debian offers great technology. It's stable. Really stable. It's highly flexible, and performs well in lots of different roles. IT supports more different architectures than almost anything else out there. It runs on pretty much anything. The package management is great. It makes a highly complex system of almost 30,000 packages extremely simple to configure and use.

Debian started out as a true pioneer. When the project was created in 1993, the whole concept of a distribution wasn't too well established. Ian Murdock announced the project thus:

"Debian Linux is a brand-new kind of Linux distribution. Rather than being developed by one isolated individual or group, as other distributions of Linux have been developed in the past, Debian is being developed openly in the spirit of Linux and GNU. [...] Debian is being carefully and conscientiously put together and will be maintained and supported with similar care."

At a recent conference, the current Debian project lead, Stefano Zacchiroli, gave a talk titled Who the bloody hell cares about Debian?

Turns out that many people do indeed. Debian is the GNU/Linux distribution that has the most derivatives based on it — currently 128, if is to be believed: Ubuntu, Knoppix, gNewSense, and many more. And those distributions again have their own derivatives. None of these could function without Debian.

Lots of people rely on Debian. That makes it all the more important that Debian is so reliable. The Debian project gives us Free Software that is both rock-solid and exciting.

But the greatest thing about Debian is not the fact that it delivers great software. Other distributions do that, too.

The big thing about Debian is the *idea* of Debian: The idea that a massive Free Software project can be totally independent.

Debian shows how it's possible to build a highly reliable operating system without a formal body. The project has created some pretty complex structures to run itself, as a do-ocracy, based on consensus and running code.

This is important. We are currently debating how Free Software projects can best be governed in the long run. How do we make sure that a project's users can always enjoy the freedom they deserve? How can we structure a project in a way that makes it immune to a hostile takeover?

Oracle's acquisition of Sun has shown that these are important question. A Free Software license, preferably one like the GPL that protects freedom in the long run, is an important first step. But a Free Software project consists of much more than code.

While uncounted people and companies are earning good money with Debian, the Debian project itself can't be bought — simply because there is noone you could buy it from. Debian has been doing vendor independence long before it was cool.

What I love most about Debian is that like few other big projects, Debian has the idea of freedom at its core.

Debian's Free Software guidelines are a central manifesto for software freedom. The Debian Social Contract does not mention a single package or program. But it is without a doubt one of Debian's most important pieces of documentation.

In Debian, quality is the focus of everyone's attention. But those who work on the Debian system know that great software is worth nothing without Freedom.

With the release of Squeeze, the latest stable version, in February, Debian has taken the important step of offering a completely free kernel, with no binary blobs. This is a first for a major distribution in recent times. Debian is giving its users Freedom by default.

And this Freedom for users and developers on a massive scale truly is Debian's outstanding contribution, not just to Free Software, but to the information society.

On behalf of the Free Software Foundation Europe, I would like to thank everyone in Debian for their work, and congratulate them on this award. It's well deserved. Keep up the good work!

1: I forgot to mention one small, but important detail: The voting period for the jury ended on December 23, 2010, so long before Squeeze was released. So we can be quite sure, that the Jury didn't followed the Squeeze-Hype with their decision, but really thinks, we did something great :)

postet at 12:20 into [Debian] permanent link

Fri, 04 Mar 2011

Picture could be titled: Me and my new best friend

Karsten Gerloff and Alexander Reichle-Schmehl

I guess it's time to renew my Fellowship now :)

Picture taken by Andre McMillan licensed CC by 2.0.

postet at 22:14 into [Debian/events/cebit-2011] permanent link

Wed, 09 Feb 2011

WOW! We are on the front page of the taz!

The taz (short for die tageszeitung) is one of the major German daily newspapers. And they currently feature the Squeeze release on their frontpage!

The article is very good (and well investigated), managing to explain some technical details quite well, and...
It's currently the most read article!


Update: The online version of the austrian newspaper der Standard has also an article about the Squeeze release!

postet at 16:13 into [Debian] permanent link

Mon, 07 Feb 2011

What a night! What a day!

Wow, that was a night. I'm still quite tired from the weekend. Someone told me, that ~ 1 000 people subscribed to our live denting via, and about 12 000 via twitter. And that does not even include those, who followed us via the respective web interfaces!

While it was quite exhausting (we tried to watch about 7 irc channels for the important stuff, I partly had ~80 windows in my irssi (which is especially bad, since I only have keyboard shortcuts for the first 40) and there was also a constant need to watch for mails and due to translations also our spamfilters), it was also very nice to think that somewhere there are release parties going on with people looking at our dents, maybe even having them running on a big monitor or projector ;)

One thing that remains to be done, are the left-over dents we prepared as time killers: Since the release process went quite smoothly (and we didn't have the time to check all our dents for the limit of 140 chars ;) we still have some of them left. Since some of them where requested (and I poked other people to get me the numbers) here are the remaining dents:

  • While IRC and Mailing-Lists are the primary forms of communication with and within the Debian Project, there's also a web based forum at
  • There are also many localized forums, e.g. the German
  • Debian's wiki has currently 8670 pages and 7760 users. It is viewed ~38000 times and has about 58 edits per day.
  • The version control system of of the website counts 92377 commits since 1998-07-01, when it was initially checked in.
    Note: That number was from the 31st of January. It is quite outdated now for obvious reasons.
  • 230 commiters worked on Debian's website since 1998-07-01, when it was initially checked in.
  • 5000 web pages are maintained by the webteam and translated into 35 languages.
  • When Debian 5.0 Lenny got released on the 14th of February 2009, the first website was translated into Vietnamese.
  •, the SourceForge-like collaboration platform for Debian, currently knows 909 different projects.
  • 10'748 people have an account on
  • also hosts 1080 public mailing list for said teams.
  • Not surprising: Debian's mailing list with most subscribers is debian-security-announce with 31408 subscribers, followed by debian-announce with 29483 and debian-news with 22857 subscribers.
  • debian-curiosa, the mailing list for All the funny stuff regarding Debian is only read by 946 persons. It is very low traffic.
  • Most active mailing list: debian-user with ~2000 Mails each month.
  • Debian's Sysadmin team takes care of 140 servers (including 24 virtual ones).
  • The naming scheme for Debian's servers are names of classical composers.
  • So the mailing list server was named
  • Debian's servers memory capacities range from 32MB to 48GB. All combined would amount to 892GB.
  • Hard disk capacity range from 2GB up to 12TB.
  • The first two DebConfs didn't have any budgets. The third had a budget of 5'000 USD.
  • DebConf7 in Edinburgh had the highest budget so far: 180'000 USD. It had also the most attendees: 394 people attended it.
  • During DebConf5 over 600 USD were raised by collecting the refund of empty bottles and cans.

I especially like the one about debian-curiosa ;)

Update 1: The 600 USD where collected during DebConf5, not DebConf3.

Update 2: Small clarification about the number of subscriptions on and twitter: They didn't followed a live-stream channel, but they do follow our general channel. We are not sure, how many people where subribed before we announced the live denting; some saw 700 subscribers on, which would mean ~200 seem to have subscribed for the release dents (still not including the ones just following us the old fashioned way via a browser).

postet at 18:45 into [Debian] permanent link

Sun, 06 Feb 2011

Squeeze has been released...

... and look, what has just been brought to us, by some friends and Debian users:
Squeeze release cake

A surprise Debian Squeeze release cake! Many thanks, it was delicious!

postet at 17:19 into [Debian] permanent link

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Alexander Tolimar Reichle-Schmehl lives in Tuttlingen / Germany. He works as IT manager (specialized on Unix and SAN/Storage) for an international automotive supplier.