Debian turns 10

It’s hard to believe it’s been ten years, but it has: Ten years ago tomorrow, I founded the Debian project.

To mark the occasion, I’ve written a retrospective, published today at LinuxPlanet:

Ten years ago, I posted a message announcing a new Linux project:

From: Ian A Murdock (

Date: August 16, 1993 6:09:59 PST
Newsgroups: comp.os.linux.development

Subject: New release under development; suggestions requested

Fellow Linuxers,

This is just to announce the imminent completion of a brand-new Linux release, which I’m calling the Debian Linux Release. This is a release that I have put together basically from scratch; in other words, I didn’t simply make some changes to SLS and call it a new release. I was inspired to put together this release after running SLS and generally being dissatisfied with much of it, and after much altering of SLS I decided that it would be easier to start from scratch. The base system is now virtually complete (though I’m still looking around to make sure that I grabbed the most recent sources for everything), and I’d like to get some feedback before I add the “fancy” stuff.

(Full post available here.)

When I posted this message a decade ago, Linux was in use by maybe a few tens of thousands of people around the world, and most of those people were either running their own homebrew Linux system or Peter MacDonald’s SLS, the Softlanding Linux System. Red Hat Software was but a twinkle in Marc Ewing’s eye.

I had been using Linux for several months, since January of 1993. Not long after, I was hooked. Like most other early Linux enthusiasts, what hooked me was not Linux itself, but rather the community that had formed around it.

It’s difficult to remember, because open source and open development projects are commonplace now, but in 1993, what I saw happening seemed completely illogical. How could people without any master plan, from different parts of the world, speaking different languages and not getting paid, come together to build something as complex as an operating system? The fascinating thing was that

it worked.


Ten years later, the occasion is being marked with parties in no fewer than 32 countries: Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, El Salvador, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Indonesia, Japan, Lithuania, Mexico, Netherlands, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Venezuela. I’ll be at the one on the campus of Purdue University, where it all began.

I’ve had 10 years to get used to this, but when I step back and look at all that’s happened, I still can’t believe it sometimes.

One comment on “Debian turns 10

  1. Pingback: El demonio negro » Entusiastas del proyecto Debian.

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