Delayed Debian distribution released

Fourth version of the popular Linux distro is now available for download--four months after its target release date.

The fourth version of Debian, the Linux distribution, has been released--four months later than planned.

Debian 4.0 was originally scheduled for release by December 4, but continuing delays have meant that release has been pushed further and further back.

Debian has a long history of being delayed, ever since its first release in 1997. The project employed two paid developers, for US$6,000 each, to work full-time to speed the release of the latest version. But the fact that the two so-called Release Managers were paid angered many developers, the rest of whom are all volunteers. Many developers slowed down or stopped their work, leading to further extensions to the project, which ran in the end to 21 months.

Debian runs on a range of systems, from handheld devices to supercomputers. Many other open-source distributions--one of the most popular being Ubuntu--are based on it. Debian 4.0 supports Gnome as the default desktop environment, but KDE and Xfce can also be installed through alternative CD images. The fourth version, which is code-named Etch, includes over 18,000 software packages, including OpenOffice, Gimp, PostgreSQL, MySQL, Samba and Asterisk.

Upgrades from the previous release, v3.1, called Sarge, should be automatic, although the Debian project urged business to read the release notes.