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    Ian Murdock responds to comparisons between 'pure' Debian and Progeny
    Posted on Thursday, November 09 @ 07:51:00 GMT

    In the very short history of DebianPlanet (3 weeks), we've managed to quickly establish ourselves as a landmark both for users and the developers of the Debian community. My recent article, "Blurring the Line Between Pure Debian and its Commercial Variants" and the accompanying poll would prove to become our most controversial to date and a major talking point in #debian.

    In light of the release of Progeny Debian Beta 1, questions arose on the standing of commercial variants of Debian among the many purists to Debian's non-commercial principles who would find it hard-pressed to stray from mainstream Debian. The accompanying poll revealed that an resounding 58% of respondents would not use a commercial variant of Debian as opposed to 32% who would.

    Ian Murdock, a founding and former member of the Debian GNU/Linux project who went on to found and become CEO of Progeny Linux Systems has written a reply to my original article and is shown below.

    Since the announcement of Progeny Debian Beta 1 sparked this article and the discussion that inspired it, I am accepting your offer to respond. I would like to make the following points:

    First of all, it is very likely that many of the issues we are addressing in Progeny Debian (easier installation, "out of the box" configuration for desktop users, automatic hardware detection, etc.) are not important to the existing Debian community, as your survey seems to indicate. However, these are the very issues that discourage many users of other distributions and the corporate world from adopting Debian. If they can be successfully addressed, as we are trying to do at Progeny, then the Debian community will have a wider audience for its work, and for free software as a whole.

    Progeny has spent the past several months dealing with these issues, and we will be releasing the results of our work to the community shortly. Some of this work may become a standard part of Debian. Naturally, we hope that it does. However, if other solutions are chosen over what Progeny has done, Progeny will accept the new standard. Progeny Debian is not intended as a separate distribution, in the sense that Mandrake is a separate distribution from Red Hat. As a result, we feel very strongly that we have an obligation to avoid any permanent forks from Debian, and we are prepared to accept our proper role as simply one member of a larger community to ensure this.

    Second, I want to stress that, to the largest extent possible, Progeny Debian will consist entirely of free software. Progeny Debian will also not ship with any third party software that is not free or open source. For practical reasons, an exception is being made for Netscape in the first release - our target users expect a browser to be included with the product, and Mozilla isn't quite ready to serve that function yet. By the second release, we expect that Mozilla will be ready, and that Netscape will no longer be needed.

    Third, we are aware that many members of the Debian community feel disappointed by earlier commercial Debian offerings. We do not intend to make the same mistakes that others have made. We intend to maintain strong, friendly relations with the larger Debian community, and to contribute to the community and make Debian a better system for all users. By design, being the founder of Debian does not give me any special position in the project-Debian long ago grew beyond me. However, I do hope that my past actions are an indication of my sincerity.

    If anyone in the Debian community feels that Progeny should be doing anything differently, or that it is not living up to its role in the community, I encourage you to contact us and help us work toward a solution.


    Ian Murdock

    If you are a member of a commercial Debian-based vendor, I would still gladly appreciate any feedback or comments that you may have. Please contact me through

    Related Links

  • Progeny Linux Systems
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    Most read story about Progeny:
    Ian Murdock responds to comparisons between 'pure' Debian and Progeny

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  • "Ian Murdock responds to comparisons between 'pure' Debian and Progeny" | Login/Create Account | 20 comments

    The comments are owned by the poster. We aren't responsible for their content.

    EEK! my work has been used by others for profit! (Score: 2, Informative)
    by ressu on Thursday, November 09 @ 08:12:39 GMT
    (User Info)

    when i first read the article about progeny i felt like i've been abused, but bit by bit i've started to feel that progeny is the best thing that ever happened to Debian (oh, i still wouldn't use it, it's a matter of principle =)

    ok, how many of you have noticed so much improvements in such a short time (yes, several months is a short time compared to release times of Debian). they have made autodetection fit in to theyre distribution, AND they are offering it to the Community! they have improved Debconf, and they are offering it back..

    for me (dispite my first impression) progeny is something that should be supported and if i get my hands on a CD i'll buy it. It is the least i can do for Debian (and progeny).

    [ Reply ]

    Re: Ian Murdock responds to comparisons between 'pure' Debia (Score: 1)
    by Pflipp on Thursday, November 09 @ 12:15:10 GMT
    (User Info)

    What I don't understand is why the Debian folks are working on a new installer, etc., while Progeny is doing this too. Don't get me wrong, I don't dislike Progeny or any other commercial Debian, and I also don't doubt that Progeny is trying to cooperate. It's just that I see duplicate work here, and that it might need some extra communication?

    Anyway, success,


    [ Reply ]

    Re: Ian Murdock responds to comparisons between 'pure' Debia (Score: 2, Interesting)
    by DeathBunny on Thursday, November 09 @ 15:18:44 GMT
    (User Info)

    I'm excited to see the Progeny distribution. Right now I usually recommend RedHat to Linux-newbies. Debian can be a bit hard to get started with if you don't have any *nix experience. I'm hoping that Progeny can produce a newbie friendly distro that I can recommend to people coming from a Mac/Winblows background.

    Personally, I'll probably continue using true Debian... But I'd love to see a more approachable Debian based distro I can recommend to newbies. I'd also love to get them using a Debian based distro at work...

    [ Reply ]

    Philosophy in action (Score: 3, Insighful)
    by Waterparadox (jared_at_purpleturtle_dot_com) on Thursday, November 09 @ 15:26:10 GMT
    (User Info)

    Rare is it that we find someone who has balanced his philosophy with his actions, even in the open source community, where such attention to detail is more common.

    I am delighted to see that Progeny is committed to serve Debian and not to compete. This philosophy requires submitting the ego (Progeny) to the greater good (Debian), and is not the easiest path, but is definitely the most rewarding. Thanks for the clarification, Ian.

    [ Reply ]

    Re: Ian Murdock responds to comparisons between 'pure' Debia (Score: 0)
    by Anonymous on Monday, May 14 @ 08:55:23 BST

    I think it's a great development!

    At the moment I use SuSE 7.1 and it's very easy to use, so much so that even I can get around :). However, I suspect that ease of use might result in a superficial understanding of an OS/system, unless a person is committed to true understanding.

    I tried GNU/Debian 2.2 when it first came out, but found it heavy going, coupled with limited time to study it (unix). I have learned a little more since then, and have ordered the boxed version of Progeny when it arrives at my software supplier.


    [ Reply ]

    Re: Ian Murdock responds to comparisons between 'pure' Debian and Progeny (Score: 1)
    by sundarpillay on Sunday, January 06 @ 02:35:09 GMT
    (User Info)

    It is sad that Progeny's work got discouraged.

    Ian, I appreicate your work and I wonder why you have decided to drop the good idea. Anyway 58% of votes does not represent your target audience, and 32% does not cover the would be users and new corporate users.

    May be there is a way to compromise by keeping the Progeny CD as a separate CD which uses original Debian CDs for installation, and helps to manage the existing debian installation.

    If there is no competition, then there is no improvement.

    [ Reply ]

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