16 Years of Debian

Aug 17, 2009

It was about 16 years ago that Ian Murdock came upon the idea to design a new Linux distro. He named it Debian after Debra and Ian.

Only Murdock himself knows about the moment of conception and naming of the distro, but its birth is recorded in a mailing to the comp.os.linux.development newsgroup on August 16, 1993, almost exactly 16 years ago:

"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."

The SLS he's referring to is Softlanding Linux System, a distro put together by Peter McDonald in 1992 that was the first to go beyond just the Linux kernel and some basic utilities. SLS introduced the graphical X Window System, but it was buggy and led to some frustration in the Linux commmunity. Among those frustrated was Ian Murdock.

Debian is one of the oldest Linux distros, although Slackware predates it by just a bit. Just a month before Murdock announced Debian, Patrick Volkerding released Slackware 1.00. Unlike Debian's total rewrite, Slackware was a modified version of SLS.

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