Re: Does Debian = Ubuntu?



On Tue, Jul 07, 2009 at 06:59:36PM -0500, Chris wrote:
On Tue, 7 Jul 2009 16:55:01 -0700
Daniel Spisak <dspisak@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:


This is not a flippant question, but one I'm curious to hear an
answer to.

Is Ubuntu just Debian but with a prettier look to it?

Thanks!

Ubuntu is a Debian-based distro.


Lots of differences: some big, some small but all may be significant. I
am _NOT_speaking in an official capacity for the Debian project or,
indeed, for Ubuntu to whom I'm also a contributor.

When Ubuntu first started, one of their developers said to me "If we
could have called it Debian for desktops, we would have done". That was
their focus then: it has widened significantly now. But the core focus
for Ubuntu remains the user experience and a small core of applications.

Largely subjectively, from as far to the outside as I can get :)

Rationale/design goals
======================

Packages in Ubuntu main are very highly polished, very well maintained
and Canonical/Ubuntu go the extra mile to make the experience easy for
the user. That comes at one or more of several costs:

Choice
======

Lack of choice - you get one mail client rather than a choice of
several "out of the box", for example. Choices are made for you - its an
issue of supportability. Debian offers you more flexibility at the price
of complexity or being willing to support your choices.

Architectures
=============

Lack of architectures: if you're not on Intel/AMD64 or, possibly,
ARM/Sparc/PPC (depending on release) - you can't run Ubuntu. Debian
running on 11 or so architectures does mean that a) the process is
sometimes slow b) the code gets debugged c) is made portable/fixes are
contributed upstream.

Developer/user ratio
====================

Canonical has relatively few paid developers, a highly motivated
volunteeer developer community, a much larger community advocacy and
marketing budget and a vast number of new users. This does
mean that their developers are massively outnumbered by their users and
priorities have to be set. Packages in universe/multiverse may therefore
receive less attention than those in main in Ubuntu.

At least in theory, every package in Debian is equal and has a known named
maintainer who takes an interest :) It does mean that Debian does much of
the heavy lifting of packaging and initial support for out of the way
packages - it also means that, if I want support for R and CRAN, for example,
I'd go straight to Debian because the maintainer has a personal and
professional interest for seeing it work well as an integrated system.

Release cycles
==============

"We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty" - Canonical
has those because it releases once every six months. This consistency
comes at a price: users expect new whizzy features with each release and
the development cycle is very short indeed. Long term support releases
happen every 18 months and are supported for three years on the
desktop/five years on the server. That's hard. It's _very_ hard to
support new hardware with long term releases. "Normal" releases may mix
packages from Debian stable with testing, unstable or even experimental
(whizzy features) but get only a short testing time.

Debian "releases when ready" but then supports that release until about
a year after the _next_ release. 22 months to release Etch, 22 months to
release Lenny + 12 months = 56 months. Slow moving progress through
testing to release, regular point updates with security fixes.

Freeness vs. pragmatism
=======================

Ubuntu may sometimes take a pragmatic attitude for "software that works"
for users. They also have the ability, which Debian does not, to enter
into commercial agreements for third party apps e.g. Oracle/VMWare.
[DFSG - not "licence just for Debian"]. Canonical benefits from Debian
idealism but it can't flow the other way :(

Upgrades between releases
=========================

You'll hear lots of views on this. SUBJECTIVE OPINION FOLLOWS:GUT
FEELING AND EXPERIENCE IN EQUAL PARTS. Ubuntu is harder to upgrade
cleanly between releases and it may actually be quicker to reinstall.
You certainly can't skip a release so you'd need to do 8.04, 8.10,
9.04, 9.10 (for example). This is partly a consequence of short release
cycles above. Debian is _far_ more polished here /SUBJECTIVE

Summary
=======

All of this is very well explained by The Official Ubuntu Book and Mark
Shuttleworth's latest interview for ?? Linux Format ?? magazine.
Its also worth reading newsgroups/fora and planet.debian.org /
planet.ubuntu.com to get a better appreciation of the similarities and
differences in approach. Debian and Ubuntu each have strengths: its a
(sometimes uneasy) symbiosis - both distributions share many of the same
developers, for example, but not necessarily end goals - but Debian
gains as much as Ubuntu if they'll just fix their bloody bug #1 :)

Hope this helps,

AndyC

--
Best regards,

Chris

() ascii ribbon campaign - against html e-mail
/\ www.asciiribbon.org - against proprietary attachments

"There's no place like 127.0.0.1"


--
To UNSUBSCRIBE, email to debian-user-REQUEST@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
with a subject of "unsubscribe". Trouble? Contact listmaster@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx


--
To UNSUBSCRIBE, email to debian-user-REQUEST@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
with a subject of "unsubscribe". Trouble? Contact listmaster@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx



Relevant Pages

  • Re: Very slow network - Ubuntu
    ... that I can still get support from Debian users. ... he is trying to get support for an older version of Ubuntu. ... install Edgy, until then don't come back" pretty soone if he waits long ...
    (Debian-User)
  • Re: Very slow network - Ubuntu
    ... that I can still get support from Debian users. ... done only after seeking support from uses of the spinoff distro, as the OP in this thread did. ... I have searched ubuntu forums to no avail. ... install Edgy, until then don't come back" pretty soone if he waits long ...
    (Debian-User)
  • Re: Why Debian
    ... I left Ubuntu clear back in 2008 when I saw very clearly that their developers were starting to care less and less and less about what their community actually wanted. ... For a very long time I used Arch, then Gentoo, and am still a big fan of both, since as far as choices and flexibility go they are leagues ahead of anything Debian could pull off without overhauling APT. ... This keeps Debian from switching to better stuff like systemd that could make better use of the Linux kernel. ...
    (Debian-User)
  • Re: debian and ubuntu - answer from user not pretending to be guru
    ... are there situations where debian is preferable? ... are there situations where ubuntu is preferable (eg picking up newer ... Before people start criticising that preference, it it my preference, and, it is up to each individual, to choose the person's preference, for whatever reasons that person makes the choice. ... When we initially installed Debian 3.1 on that laptop, which was purchased with Windows XP installed, we had to use Mandriva to repartion it partitioning utility), then install Ubuntu on it, then unistall Ubuntu and install Debian, as the wireless network card had an interrupt conflict with the wired network card, and it was a problem that was automatically resolved with Ubuntu, whereas Debian simply would not work with it. ...
    (Debian-User)
  • Re: Announcement from www.kubuntu.de
    ... of what makes Ubuntu attractive is that it makes some choices of what packages it wants to support and then it supports those well. ... there should be room for the community to expand upon what the core Ubuntu provides. ... But it seems unfair to then say that Canonical should provide the same support for those packages. ... On the one hand, Debian has a gazillion supported packages, and it supports 12 architectures. ...
    (Ubuntu)