The King of Linux Distros

The open source survives and thrives by the sheer number of distros available. Proprietary software is just a small pond compared to the enormous number of distros available for open source. Again, distros are qualitatively superior and robust give developers the powerful tools that inspire their creativity, which they crave. One of the most popular distros ever is the Debian distro.

Debian is one of the original true-blood linux distributions. It is perhaps the wheel of Linux. In human civilization, the invention of the wheel was one of original inventions, which helped civilization grow. It is simply impossible to reinvent the wheel. Debian is that perfect linux distro that almost anything else ever written in linux can replace it. it will simply remain a powerful version of the original Debian.

Debian for stability

Debian remains most popular because of several reasons and perhaps the most popular of them all is the stability factor. Perhaps the original practice of releasing only the tried and tested version, sans the critical bugs and the integration of all tools for smooth functioning make it the most popular of linux distro for web hosting service providers.

Great developer input

Perhaps the number of developers working on Debian is unmatched by almost all other present or past distros. The community is phenomenal, this by itself is a pointer to how effective and well structured, and an excellent solution provider the distro is. However, this also means that there will be more than one answer and choosing the best for your needs itself becomes the most difficult thing to do.

Crisp and clear documentation

An excellent feature on the debain that encourages and sets the creative juices running to get going on the features are the powerful manuals that are crisp with pages and links to the debian Wiki, the Debian Policy Manual etc. The immense alternative sources for well documented and validated information from news sites, blogs ensure that you will always find the right answer for any issue.

Perfect for desktop as well as Web Server

One of the perfect examples for what a linux distro should be capable of is the adaptability feature of Debain. Highly secure and stable it is ideal for a web server. But with close to 20,000 and more GUI applications, it is perfect for desktop environments.

How is Debian the king of Linux distros

As with everything else in software, every distro is much loved by its followers and there is great difference of opinion on which is the best of linux distros. Debian is a point in example of what a good linux distro should be and is the template for almost every other distro to have ever appeared. Hence the discussion was more on how powerful the features of Debian are rather than proving others are no match to this classic distro. Almost every distro has powerful features that set the tone for the entire distro to develop and evolve. Debian is perhaps the only linux distro that is so feature rich that every feature by itself can be spun into an effective application or tweaked to become another distro.

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  • alex

    not totaly agree, there is UBUNTU, they done both a great job for new users linux. and more, then debian, is ubuntu who domestikuate windows users to try distributions linux. i come from windows , 2 years past, testing opensuse, debian, ubuntu,others, and… at the end, i remind in Ubuntu ;)

  • zinovsky

    Ubuntu is popular, user freindly, but less stable than debian.

  • Jay

    Ubuntu is also a derivative of Debian – as are many other distros.

  • Steve

    Interesting non-review.

  • Dave

    What’s with the rampant fanboyism as article? This is at best a waste of space.

  • Juan Valencia

    Debian "the wheel" of Linux?, I wouldn’t argue with the notion that Debian is a very important distribution, it is. But without a doubt the king of Linux right now is Ubuntu, even thought I don’t like it that much I have to admit that.

    As for "the wheel" of Linux, that is not a distribution, that would be something appropriate for the kernel, the distribution is a collection of programs nicely packed together.

  • Dave

    To those folks who have posted in favour of Ubuntu over Debian as the King of Distros.

    Granted Ubuntu has done a great deal to make GNU/Linux more user friendly. Particularly for those users new to Linux,be they just ‘curious’ or shopping for an alternative to Microsoft Windows.

    Bear in mind though, that Ubuntu (all variants) are derived from Debian.

    That is to say Ubuntu would not exist as it does today without Debian.

    I can appreciate that those new to GNU/Linux may not be aware of the complexities of the ecosystem, or perhaps all that interested in looking to much ‘below the surface’.

    Hence Distros like Ubuntu with all the Bells & Whistles, or the Bling if you like will be more attractive to them.

    In doing so they miss out on the full range of benefits that GNU/Linux has to offer.

    To these folks I say, try to avoid taking things at face value, develop your curiosity, explore and learn.

    It would be interesting to see your comments after doing so.

    Once again Debian is the parent of Ubuntu and many other distros, to slight it or belittle it’s contribution to GNU/Linux is at the least misinformed, at worst just plain ignorance.

    When making your first move to Open Source you would do well to Open your minds.

  • Zinovsky

    This is the Perfect answer Dave.

  • Simon

    "What was Linux like in the early 1990s Dad?"

    "Install Debian-stable, Son. See for yourself."

  • GG

    Debian Perfect for the desktop? That’s absurd! Not only is its installer ancient, it is a pain to install (I’m a competent user and have only been able once, by netinst only), it has no braded firefox (out some ridiculous objetion to a logo ¿?)… Almost everything is a pain under Debian. I don’t think anyone besides Stallman uses that thing.

  • GG

    Ah, the ancient software… Last time I tried it I had FF3.7b on Arch and Debian had 3.0! WTF??!?!

  • BahHumbug

    I don’t get all this extreme fan boy nonsense about Debian. Yeah it’s an alright distro, it’s not the perfect distro, nor the best. It’s just a distro.

    IT IS NOT an original Linux distro. Those honors would go to distros like SLS and Yggdrasil. It’s not even the oldest still around, that honor is Slackware’s.

    Anyone who has ever spent any actual time using Linux as it become what it is will say yeah, Debian is alright for stability. But if you want a truly solid distro, you go with Slackware. It holds the reputation for being the stable rock solid distro.

    And if you want to talk about developers, Redhat and Novell have put tons of effort into fixing the problems with Linux. They have poured lots of money into bringing it into a competitive state. They stake their companies on their work, on making sure that if Linux lacks the software their customers need, they’ll put their own money and people into providing it.

    I will admit Debian does a lot for documenting things. So much paper work everywhere.

    Having 20,000 or more gui applications doesn’t make a system perfect for the desktop. It makes it cluttered. A desktop system shouldn’t be just a collection of all the pretty icons and buttons, it should be something actually usable for real work. On that note, if it was perfect for the desktop, Ubuntu would never have needed to be made.

    Debian is NOT the King of Linux distros. There is no king of distros. The whole open source bit means that people can tailor the system to their needs, there is no winner. As far as I’ve seen since the turn of the century is that Debian has become an internet meme, with each group breaking off to tweak their own little version to show off to their friends. Spawning dozens of distros that have very little difference between them, and do little to actually put any real effort into pushing Linux into a true mainstream desktop system. The closest I’ve seen spawn from Debian is Ubuntu. However, memes change, it’ll get lost in the trash floating in the sea of distros soon enough. No distro stays popular forever, look at Fedora, it used to be the flavor of the month distro itself. Before that was Redhat, and Mandrake, and Slackware. It’s a cycle that will continue as long as people use Linux.

    Bah humbug, having grown up with Linux, I’ve been running it since Slackware 3, I’ve seen all this time and time again. Go play with your rose tinted glasses and dreams of awsomeness. In a year or so you’ll be drooling over whatever is the next flavor of the month distro.

  • Reverend Hugh Jarse

    [color=purple][size=large]yes open source and open minds do infact have the best relationships ;)

    Just a shame hypocrisy and the media BS has crippled society into thinking they need stuff like windows and mac..

    Its your own responsibility, much like that crap with McDonald’s – Ronald doesn’t ram it down your throat, its your own choice to get ill and fat.[/size][/color]

  • reader


    I don’t think there is a perfect distro out there, or that there is a definitive King. On the other hand SLS and Yggdrasil are dead since 1814. Debian is still the base that numerous distros built upon, icluding ubuntu and its derivatives. Slackware is a fine distro and stable, but due to the lack of automatic dependency resolution, many people, even sys admins (not all) find it difficult to maintain it. Redhat and Novell contribute a lot to Linux, but so does Debian, we’re talking about 1000 volunteer developers here (writing patches, packaging, writing code, submitting code and bug reports upstream), it’s not just "documentation and paperwork", come on…
    And it’s 20000 software packages, not gui applications. I can’t see how this is "clutter", unless you install them all on your system.

    I like most distributions out there (major and some minor ones) each for its own qualities and I see no reason either to say "this is the King" or bash any of them.

    ps. Please excuse my poor English :)

  • Dave

    Want cutting edge try Aptosid pure Debian sid (unstable) with a number of custom packages, custom artwork and bleeding edge kernel.

    The installer is a no frills but excellent and easy to use a snap for any "competent" user.

    GNU/Linux unlike Microsoft isn’t a monoculture, as such you’re not locked in. The only thing that’s holding [b]you[/b] back is a closed mindset.

    As for a non branded Firefox, what’s in a name, really?

    Firefox is open source, thus anybody can access the source code and compile it, should they have the inclination to do so.

    Debian do so with the Firefox source code, but choose not compile the source with options that are "incompatible" with the Debian Free Software Guidelines.

    To cut a long story short, Mozilla insisted that Debian either "tow the line" or relinquish the right to release their compilation as "Firefox".

    Other than that Iceweasel, (as the Debian build) is known is ‘firefox’ thus you can use all the addons and other customisation features.

    Interesting, what you can find out by means of a little research, rather than just bagging something based on your preconceived notions of how something ‘should be’.

  • YetAnotherBob

    There seems to be a lot of misinformation here.

    Debian is not a single distribution. It is actually several. The main Debian distribution is "Stable". This is the old code version. It is old because to get into Stable, it has to pass several tests. Stable Debian code works. There is also Testing and Unstable. Experimental is another possibility. Debian Testing is similar to Fedora. Most of the software works, but there may be some bugs. Debian Unstable is the source for most of Ubuntu’s distributions. It is about as unstable as a Windows system. Experimental is where new things go first. It will crash more often than win 95. Experimental is only for developers.

    There are also repositories for programs. Main is Free Software. Unfree is software that can be distributed without cost, but which has a software or content liscense that doesn’t meed the Debian Free Software guidelines. Mozilla’s Firefox and Thunderbird are there. Contrib has software that is under a free license, but that depends on software that isn’t Free (ala FSF). The installation CD’s for Debian come only from the Main repository.

    The current Debian Stable is what you want to install if you want your computer to run 24/7 for years without going down. A Stable distribution is not changed, except for security updates. If you are running a corporate website, or an industrial control system, then you are Debian Stable material. If you are just someone who wants a system that just works, and don’t care about having the latest software, then you should consider Debian Stable.

    Debian Testing is the distributions location for the next Stable, and where the debugging mostly takes place. Testing is what most experienced Debian users use for the desktop. It is near Ubuntu in features.

    Debian Sid is the unstable branch. The software can be run, but still has a lot of bugs.

    Experimental is the branch for software that is just being added. It may not run. As soon as it can run, even with a lot of bugs, it is moved to Unstable.

    All of this choice is why so many Linux Distributions use Debian. Now, Debian is expanding yet again, and including BSD Debian. There are already more processor families supported in Debian than in any other distro that I am aware of. There are also close to 30,000 packages in the repository. The Article is correct. There is no other Linux (or non-Linux) system that can match it.

    However, it is also true that power always has a price. Debian does very little hand holding. If you don’t know what you want, you are better off using something else.

    Ubuntu, SimplyMepis, and Linux Mint are good choices right now. They each put together a nice distribution from the Debian repositories. Each will offer some way to smooth the transition. If you can’t handle pure Debian for any reason, you should consider one of these.

  • GG

    I just don’t see the point at all. Adding aditional repositories all the time, finding out where are codecs, firefox, thunderbird, (is guess chrome too) hidden… Then dealing with the fixing the ugly interface…
    I mean… Debian doesn’t seem to have any purpose besides professional machines (and, while I don’t know much about the subject, you might prefer Redhat or something for the support).
    If you want a ready to go more-or-less up-to-date pc, you get Ubuntu or Mint.
    If you want a flexible system, you actually get Arch (which has a bunch of advantages over Debian Sid, or whatever your choice of instability is).
    Why stand in the middle ground like Debian does? But well… to each his own, I guess.

    PD: Documentation for Debian is horrible, if you wanna see good documentation, head over to the Arch Wiki…

  • V. T. Eric Layton

    Not taking anything away from Debian, one of my all time fav distributions; I only have one word to say…


  • Chris Carpenter

    Umm… I installed Debian on my PC as one of my first Linux Distros. In my not-so humble opinion, anybody who can’t successfully install with the debian installer (barring a hardware issue) is not a competent user of Linux. Maybe you are talking about debian from 7 or 8 years ago?

  • Salih

    Stability is not an argument as it is very unclear term. What is stability ??? No crashes ?? No bugs ?? No problems ?? Long term up-time ?? All of them ??

    Stability is something that always can be misinterpreted… people usually don’t know what does it mean..

    Ubuntu is stable as Debian is stable in terms of "Stability".
    Ubuntu is not as stable as Dabian in terms of "Bugs"
    Ubuntu is way more stable than Debian is in terms of "Usability".
    Ubuntu is for your Desktop/Laptop, Debian is for your server or workstation.

  • Janis K.

    Debian should give KDE as an alternative GUI on installation. Gnome does not suit everyone.

    Given that, I would be using Debian today, as I am sure would a lot of users.

    KDE as an alternative would broaden its appeal and acceptance.

    I know that I can install it later but let’s make it easy.

    After all, it gives several choices of tailored uses on install, surely adding KDE is not beyond the developers.

  • macias

    Debian is not a king:

    a) missing rolling-release approach
    b) installer is so-so, for example lacks booting from external device, also all steps are mixed up (configuration and installation)

    For those 2 reasons I ruled out Debian and chose openSUSE 11.4.

    ad.a) there is RR version
    ad.b) installer (not perfect) but it is superior to Debian — without a problem you can point out from which device you would like to boot, which partition should be bootable; installation is also a last step in process

  • broncop

    The default DE of a distro means nothing. I posit that only the uninformed install a DE on first setup. All others just apt-get (or yum) the De of their choice later on.

    This reduces cruft and bandwidth utilization.

  • bronco

    Good luck installing OpenSUSE 11.4 on any non-x86/AMD64 platform ;)
    That being said, if you are looking for bling in your installer, both OpenSUSE and Red Hat beat the crap out of Debian. But let me ask you one question, how often do you install your GNU/Linux distribution?

    And if you need rolling-releases Debian-stable is not for you, try Debian-SID.

  • Pisa Ardo Senga da Silva

    I think is not Debian
    but Slackware ….

    It’s Just Work …

  • Curt Howland

    My first Debian install was 1995. The installer of that time is recognizable as the root of the text installer today. There are more options now, and at the same time many more defaults. If you do the "expert" install, that will show what Debian was like 7 or 8 years ago, as you put it.

    While something that asks a minimum of questions is good for a new user, once someone is familiar with Linux the Debian installer becomes far more flexible, far more useful, than any "one size fits all" system.

    I’m not sure that "King of Distros" is quite right.

    Maybe more like "[b]Mother Of[/b]".

  • Curt Howland

    KDE is available. Use the NetInstall or BootableBusinessCard .iso images, choose "Select Alternative Desktop".

    You get KDE, LXDE, XFCE as options as the initial install, and dozens of others once the base system is running.

    If you install from DVD, they’re all right there already. See:


    Yes, CD#1 only comes with GNOME. But there are two other CD#1s, one KDE and one LXDE and XFCE. I guess you didn’t notice them.

  • Tom

    Ubuntu wouldn’t exist without Debian.

  • Realist

    Debian is great as far as apt is concerned. Apt is the reason for the success of Debian and it’s derivatives, like Ubuntu.

    Why go with Debian though? Unless you like idealistic nonsense leading to the creation of idiocy like "Iceweasle" and endless debates about "tainted" kernels (while your distro falls far, far behind everyone else) you really have no need for Debian at all. Go with one of the other apt-based distros instead.

  • bshosey

    I have tried several distros. All the ones I liked where Debian based. I used ubuntu for several years. I was constantly uninstalling default apps and adding others. Then I decided to switch to Debian Squeeze when it was still in testing before the beta freeze. Now it is my main OS. I agree with the author of this article. Does that make it right? Well no. But I agree with. Don’t get me wrong. I very thankful for ubuntu. Ubuntu has helped linux grow just like all the other distros that every one has mentions here. I am thankful for them all. But to me DEBIAN IS KING.

  • jozen

    The Debian Installer is both as simple and as complex as you wish it to be. I have used netinstall, and i have also created encrypted partitions on other debian machines with ease.

    I’m a slightly-more "competent" user, I guess.

    RMS doesn’t rock Debian, GNU Step is closer to his thing, OFF TOPIC.

  • jozen

    [b]Debian is KING.[/b]

    and here’s why:

    Works with [b]both BSD and Linux[/b] – Debian.

    More architectures than any other.

    Tons of ready to install software!

  • justareader

    my main distro :-)

  • Stephen Sevenyoln

    So true.