Debian is eating its own dog food more than ever

In its “Fast distributions and slow servers” article, Joe ‘Zonker’ Brockmeier explains the difficulties that Fedora has to use its own distribution on their infrastructure and echoes some questions they faced:

Why wouldn’t a Linux distribution project wish to showcase the distribution by hosting its infrastructure using its own system?

I completely share the underlying assumption. Eating its own dog food is very important if you want to build a Linux distribution and claim with some confidence that it’s of quality and usable.

Debian does quite well nowadays in that respect.

There were times where the mailing list server was using Qmail (non-free at that time, and thus not part of Debian) but that’s long gone. We have also seen our build infrastructure relying on software that was not public and not packaged in Debian, but that also is history.

The Debian System Administration team (DSA) maintains more than 140 servers running Debian. They mostly run the stable version of Debian but a few test machines are already running Squeeze since a few months (qa.debian.org for example). The Debian admins want to ensure that the next stable release of Debian still has everything they need and that the software they use still work as expected.

Big kudos to the DSA team for this choice! I hope we’ll be able to continue to live up to those standards for a long time to come.

PS: If you want to learn more about the setup that the DSA team uses, head to dsa.debian.org. You’ll find all their repositories and some of their internal documentation.

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Comments

  1. It is really funny the article about Fedora, I had a FC4 server once, but whe Fedora was in 7, I changed it to CentOS 4.
    It is still running, but I will change it again, it will be Debian or Slackware, but I’m sure I will never install a Fedora Server again.

  2. well spotted!

  3. Well, the answer to your question is easy: Fedora isn’t really targeted to be a stable server OS. This doesn’t mean that the admins doesn’t trust it, or that it is an inferior product. It’s just not the right product for that purpouse.

    BTW: I’ll never run Ubuntu on any server either, never! Even if they pretend to have a “server edition”. The only distros I’ll put on a server are Debian Stable, RHEL (or CentOS) or SLED.

    • Almost my picks.

      To me:
      Slackware
      Debian
      CentOS

      The order means nothing in this case.

    • Timuçin Kızılay says:

      Can you please explain why you do not use ubuntu on servers?

      • Basically I’ve been really disappointed by the stability of the system and by the fact that the “support” they provide is not by far near to the one provided by RHEL/SLED: missing stable ABI, missing new hardware support over time, missing fast fix of bug or even bug fixing (that often doesn’t happend on LTS Ubuntu).

        Beside that, to be honest, I really don’t like the way Ubuntu/Canonical are doing their business, but that’s not a technical factor I expect someone to agree on.

    • Totally agree Federico.
      I dont like everything around Ubuntu. Linux for dummies.
      I think another good choice for a server machine is Slackware.
      Really solid distro.
      We’re currently running CentOS in my work (Nagios tasks) and quite happy with it. A good alternative to RHEL.
      Cheers!

  4. Eating dog food can be great when it is the best tool for the job (as in this case), but I’d rather that people not lose sight of alternatives. There is danger in monoculture. And aren’t we all (Fedora, Debian, other free distributions) on the same side, anyway?

    • True, but Debian in particular positions itself as the “universal” operating system, which is why they support so many architectures from x64 right down to tiny embedded things, and so many desktop environments, HTTP servers, etc.

      So it would be especially important for Debian to be able to show that their OS can do everything they require for their own needs.

      • Well, Debian doesnt really scale down to embedded World. The lack of an fully sysroot-aware (no, dont even dream of talking about building in qemu, thats insane) and lack of proper buildtime configuration (feature selection, etc) should tell evereything ;-o

    • Jonathan, you’re right and the point of my article was not to blame Fedora but rather to cheer ourselves a bit because we have made great progress in that regard.

      We can still do better but it’s good to recognize when we’re making progress and doing well.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Why wouldn’t a Linux distribution project wish to showcase the distribution by hosting its infrastructure using its own system? I completely share the underlying assumption. Eating its own dog food is very important if you want to build a Linux distribution and claim with some confidence that it’s of quality and usable. Debian does quite well nowadays in that respect. More here [...]

  2. [...] The DSA team has a policy of eating its own dog food, i.e. you’re trying to rely only on what’s available in Debian. How does that work out [...]