Interesting facts about Debian Linux

Last updated on August 15, 2020 by Dan Nanni

August, 15th 2020 was Debian's 27th anniversary. The Debian Project is a massive community-driven open-source project devoted to a single goal: build a free Linux operating system. Debian is well-known for maintaining strictly guarded policies and principles to remain the most stable and secure Linux distribution.

While many folks regularly use Debian operating system as end-users, system admins or developers, you may not know the interesting history and facts behind Debian itself.

Below are a list of things that you may not know about Debian GNU/Linux. The statistics presented here are up-to-date as of April 30, 2013 (thanks to

1. Debian is the largest non-commercial Linux distribution, leading to a number of offshoot projects such as Ubuntu, Xandros, Knoppix, etc.

2. The name "Debian" comes from the names of the founder of the Debian project, Ian Murdock, and his then girlfriend, Debra.

3. The total number of source lines of the Debian project is approximately 100 million, of which 68.5% are actual code, discounting blank lines and comment lines.

4. The Debian project is written in 70 different languages. The most popular language is C (32.1%). The complete breakdown of language distribution (in terms of total lines) is shown below.

5. The Debian project has had a total of 470,142 commits made by 4,752 contributors since 1996. During this time, 1.4 million files were modified.

6. Debian contributors are distributed over 587 distinct geographic locations worldwide. As shown below in geography breakdown, the country where the most contributors are located is USA (21.3%).

7. The all-time most prolific contributor of the Debian project is Jonas Smedegaard, who has been an official Debian developer since 2001. Jonas has committed 9,349 times over more than a decade.

8. The code names of Debian releases are the names of characters from the animation film Toy Story. The unstable, development distribution is called sid, named after the emotionally unstable next-door neighbor kid who regularly destroyed toys.

9. According to the industry standard COnstructive COst MOdel (COCOMO), the cost estimate for developing the entire code base of the Debian project is 1.2 billion US dollars, or 22,984 person-years' efforts.

10. The five most popular pages of Debian Wiki (besides the front page) are NetworkConfiguration, DebianWheezy, NvidiaGraphicsDrivers, WiFi/HowToUse, and Skype.

11. Debian 1.0 was never released due to the mistake of a CD vendor accidentally shipping an (unbootable!) early development release of Debian as Debian 1.0. This premature Debian release was deprecated afterward. The very first (properly packaged) Debian release was Debian 1.1 Buzz.

If you know any other interesting facts about Debian, feel free to share it in the comment section.

Happy 27th Birthday, Debian!


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