5 reasons why I still contribute to Debian after 12 years

Debian is packaging the free sofware world.If you’re using Debian, you know that this distribution is built entirely by volunteers that form a very diverse community. And you could be part of it. But why should you do that? I can’t tell for you but I can share my own experience. It’s been 12 years since I joined Debian and I’m going to tell you what keeps me on board.

1. Technical excellence

When facing a new challenge, Debian will strive to do the right thing. This pays off in the long term. In many cases, it means that we will take more time to implement our solution compared to other distributions out there, but this is also the reason why our packaging infrastructure allows us to offer painless upgrades and consistency across all packages.

Debian is committed to quality and builds up on his experience thanks to the Debian Policy. My time is precious, I like to spend it on something useful in the long term.

2. Inspiring goals

In its social contract, Debian has set out to create a 100% free — as in freedom — operating system. The criteria defining what constitutes a free work are listed in the Debian Free Software Guidelines (DFSG).

While the above is relatively ambitious in itself, it doesn’t inspire me much. What makes the difference to me is the emphasis given by the social contract on our users and free software. We don’t build a free operating system in the void, we build it for people.

Debian’s motto — the universal operating system — can also be interpreted in multiple ways: universal as in “for everybody on the world”, “on all kinds of computers”, or “for every possible usage”.

3. High impact work

Knowing that my work is useful to people is important, but it’s even better when I know that it will benefit to lots of people. With Ubuntu and the hundreds of other derivatives, there are nowadays literally millions of users impacted by my work. Even an insignificant one second improvement experienced by 10 millions of people represent 115 days of time saved for something else, you get the idea…

4. Working with great people

Debian has the chance to have lots of smart people on board. There’s always someone sharing valuable advice when you read Debian’s mailing lists. When I joined in 1998, I was a real newbie and I learned a lot of things by reading and interacting with people more knowledgeable than me. You can still experience the same thing nowadays but there’s one caveat: you must cope with various kinds of mailing list contributors including the “smart but uncivilized” (don’t be offended too quickly!) and the occasional troll (best ignore it, don’t feed it!).

5. Recognition of work

When you contribute to Debian, people get to know you through your contributions. It’s very rewarding to be thanked by your peers and by Debian’s users. Check out thanks.debian.net to convince you that many people are grateful for the work we put into Debian.

So that’s it for me. But what about you? What motivates you to contribute year after year, or to start contributing if you’re a prospective contributor?

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  1. As a Debian User since Etch times: Thank you very much! 😉

  2. Adrian Mastronardi says:

    As Debian user since potato times, Thank You very much!!! :-)

  3. Debianero says:

    As a Debian user since Woody times, Thank you very much!!!

  4. Thanks everybody :-) bo (Debian 1.3) was the release I used first and hamm (Debian 2.0, 12 years ago) was the current release when I first contributed.

  5. User since Etch. You are awesome. Thank you and the community for making my life easier.

  6. dutchfish says:

    As a Debian user since woody. Thank you and everybody that has been contributing to the best distribution on the planet.

  7. I too want to thank you, and to thank all of the other contributors of all kinds. Debian is amazing and always improving.

  8. Thank you and all your fellow contributors for all their work. Debian is just great, and I’m glad to be using a distribution based on it.

  9. Thanks from an avid Ubuntu user! Ubuntu would not exist without the hard work of Debian developers.

  10. As a Debian user since Potato (and Ubuntu since 4.10, not sure if that counts), thanks a lot!

    Point #2 is what lures me to Debian the most, I originally got involved with Ubuntu because I wanted to get the ropes of packaging, etc so that I can get involved with Debian. I really need to make a better effort of that!

  11. Its rare that we get to thank developers individually so its nice to see everyone had the same idea.

    My father has been using Linux for some time now (He even wont return my laptop with Squeeze-KDE 4.4!!) and I told him that I can make the daily update automatically and he said no because every time he clicks to apply the updates it reminds him of all the people that work on all the projects that make the GNU-Linux desktops. He might not know a kernel from a windowing manager but I once explained to him the basics and he finds the collaborative spirit and the GPL fascinating.
    He says that as weird as it sounds that a free software desktop gives him hope for humanity when so many people from so many different countries can work and contribute to such a large project.
    We all know this but after a while we gets a bit blase about it and forget it about it.

    Thats why its nice to get a chance to at least tell one developer that we appreciate all the time and effort put in.

  12. I would just like to say thankyou too because you have undoubtedly helped me at some point in time through the changes that you have made. Just a thankyou from everyone that has benefited from Debian and one of its derivatives.

  13. > Debian has the chance to have lots of smart people on board.

    IMO, sadly many wannabes hide behind them and are sometimes a real pain to bear with. Debian is something you get addicted to indeed, and if not there are other great projects after all.

    PS: CUT sounds interesting, I hope it will have success.

  14. Thank you from a now-mostly-Fedora user who got into Linux with Debian Sarge (when it was still in early testing), and still uses Debian Squeeze as a secondary distro!

  15. as a debian user since woody times…… thanks… DEBIAN RULES!!!!!!!

  16. Thankful since Etch!!! Keep up the good work!!!

  17. Carlos Carranza says:

    Thank a lot ( as a Debian user ) !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. Dedian ..LXDE … coooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooollllllllllllll

  19. Debian is amazing. I was user of etch later moved to testing repo rather than moving to Ubuntu :) In india debian is not that popular but it is slowly picking up.
    However as a freelancer I have installed debian stable (etch, lenny) in so many companies, as a firewall, as svn server, as a cvs server, as a DNS server, as a NFS server and as a LDAP server!
    Debian rocks!!! Thanks you for your contribution for so many years.

  20. Darren Koh says:

    Can one more person join in the chorus of thanks?

    I was a Windows user, and got introduced to Linux when I bought an EEEPC 701 all those eons ago. From there, I came across Xandros, and then Debian Etch, and now use Debian and Ubuntu. But if I had to choose, Debian it will be! Thank you for your contribution!

  21. As Debian user since potato times, Thank You very much!

  22. I’m a really big fan of #1, Debian’s technical excellence. I’m a sysadmin for many systems, and thanks to the beautifully architected packaging system and release cycle, (and the brilliant gnu-linux base), maintaining many Debian systems is nearly an order of magnitude easier than maintaining many Windows or OS X systems. Microsoft and Apple could learn a lot from Debian.

    I have really only contributed via bug reports. I would like to contribute more but even though I have made around 10 debian packages (only for internal consumption), and I have re-read the Debian Policy and New Maintainer’s Guide, I still find the Debian packaging process complex. I hope for more blog posts here with practical packaging examples.

  23. edwinspire says:

    As Debian user since ETCH times, Thank You very much!!!
    From Ecuador

  24. Been using Debian since Etch ! … and im in love with it since ! Thank you very much and to all that make Debian getting better and better !

  25. I have just installed Debian. I wish to thank everyone that made this possible.
    כל הכבוד לכם ותודה רבה לך.


  1. […] If you’re using Debian, you know that this distribution is built entirely by volunteers that form a very diverse community. And you could be part of it. But why should you do that? I can’t tell for you but I can share my own experience. It’s been 12 years since I joined Debian and I’m going to tell you what keeps me on board. More here […]

  2. […] Raphaël Hertzog píše, jakých pět důvodů má k tomu, aby stále přispíval do Debianu. Těmi jsou technická vyspělost, inspirativní cíle, velký dopad jeho práce, práce s úžasnými lidmi a všeobecné uznání. Originál v angličtině naleznete na jeho blogu. […]