Debian, a free distribution of the Linux operating system, is better suited to mission-critical applications than rival commercial distributions, one of the distribution's developers — who you can see pictured in our CeBIT 2005 Gallery — claimed on Friday.
Debian developer Michael Meskes told the Linux Forum in CeBIT that because Debian is run independently as a volunteer organisation it has a number of benefits over alternative Linux distributions that are managed by companies.
"A free project can't go insolvent and can't be taken over," said Meskes. He also claimed the software is of higher quality as developers can take their time getting it right.
"It has a higher quality [than some commercial distributions] as there's not this need to bring features out quickly," said Meskes. "There is no product manager that says we need a release now. There is no need to add new features because other distributions have."
Despite being developed by volunteers, Debian does offer features such as security updates and support.
"You can do automatic software updates in Debian," said Meskes. "We don't have nice graphic interface, but all you need is there. You can update hundreds or thousands of machines at the same time."
There are various companies that offer support for Debian, including Credativ, an open source services company run by Meskes. Noèl Köthe, a Debian developer who is a consultant at Credativ, said it is able to provide 24-hour support, with a response time of one hour during the day and within three hours at night.
Meskes claimed that Credativ provides support for a number of companies that are running mission critical applications on Debian.
Commercial Linux vendors, such as Red Hat and SuSE Linux, offer free support to their customers. For example, many of Red Hat's Linux products come with service level guarantees, which vary by product.