Why I feel that a missing Debian package is a bad sign

January 8, 2008

Because someone quoted me, I might as well explain my earlier quick comment about how I consider the lack of a Debian package for a program to be a fairly serious warning sign, and why I specifically picked Debian for this.

Debian has a huge package selection with a fairly large number of people driving it. If a program is still not packaged for Debian, this means that either that it can't attract even one Debian developer's interest or that the program has serious issues of some sort; immaturity, bugs, license problems, it's very hard to build, and so on. Both cases are bad for a busy sysadmin who doesn't want to be out on the bleeding edge, so unless I absolutely need to use the package I am better off passing.

(The exception is small programs that are trivial to compile myself and don't need to be installed; at that point I might as well just try them out, because it's easy.)

My impression is that this signal is pretty much unique to Debian; smaller distributions, Fedora included, don't seem to have the breadth of packages or the depth of packagers. Also, my impression of the Debian culture is that it encourages packaging everything that moves and some things that don't.

(Even if no Debian packager is personally interested in a package, my impression is that Debian users can usually find a developer who will respond to their interest.)

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From at 2008-01-09 17:53:07:

That has been my experience with Gentoo, as well. Twice in the last year I've wanted to use something that wasn't in Portage; each time I regretted trying it. Recently I switched to Debian because of some other issues, but Gentoo's package selection is second only to Debian's. (Although Gentooers are quick to point out that Gentoo comes out ahead, depending on how you look at it.) :)

Written on 08 January 2008.
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Last modified: Tue Jan 8 23:19:25 2008
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