Website does not reference Debian visibly

Bug #154274 reported by Stefano Zacchiroli on 2007-10-19
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
Ubuntu Website - OBSOLETE
Matthew Nuzum
mozilla-firefox-locale-all (Ubuntu)

Bug Description

The website does not mention Debian at all. The word "Debian" only appears marginally in (really old) announcements and in some per-team pages.

Since the Ubuntu universe is based on Debian, or at least for historical reasons, I think the website should mention something about Debian. A lot of collaboration among Debian and Ubuntu teams does exist and somewhere there should be a mention that Ubuntu benefits from Debian "man power".

This report is not intended to be flameable, this is a plain request to keep track of the desire by several people involved in Debian to "give credit where (a lot of people think) credit is due".

Matthew East (mdke) wrote :

Thanks for your report.

Would you identify some pages on the website where you feel that a greater explanation of Debian's role in Ubuntu could be given? Perhaps start by looking at the "Ubuntu Story" section, which is really the appropriate place for this sort of material, and suggesting how it can be improved.

Paul Sladen (sladen) on 2007-10-19
Changed in ubuntu-website:
status: New → Incomplete

Hi Matthew, thanks for your prompt reply.

Hi must admit I'm not that aware about the actual (and supposed) structure of
the website. So I'll start by describing *what* I think should be
mentioned, maybe you can help me out in understanding *where* such stuff should
be put?

Out of my mind 3 aspects of the ubuntu/debian realtionship should be mentioned

1) the role of Debian in the history of Ubuntu (as you suggested). Where Ubuntu
started from and possibly (though maybe too prone to future changes) the impact
of that in Ubuntu technologies (e.g. dpkg-based packages, apt, ...)

2) the role of Debian packages in Ubuntu package workflow. Here I'm mainly
thinking at universe packages which AFAIK are Debian packages + (possibly) MOTU
patches + automatic rebuild. But also the role of Debian packages in the "core"
Ubuntu packages, though on this I don't know the facts so maybe Debian packages
have no role at all there ...

3) the nice collaboration efforts on big sets of packages shared by Debian and
Ubuntu. For example, assuming my memory is not faulty, teams like
maintainers and Python maintainers in Debian and Ubuntu are working quite
closely together. Such nice big initiatives shared by the two distributions are
worth to be mentioned

Note that of course all the above is my personal point of view, if you're
thinking more generally at how to deal with "marketing" relationships between
Debian and Ubuntu maybe it should be better to get in touch with the relevant
teams in Debian ... (let me know if you want me to try finding the needed
contacts). For the however moment the initiative of this bug report has been
mentioned on, so I guess other Debian-involved people will be
following this and can help with comments.

Paul Sladen (sladen) on 2007-10-19
description: updated

Might be good to do this in a similar way to MacOSX's "foundations" summary:

where the component pieces are highlighted. "The power of Unix"; we have "The power of Debian and 'apt-get'". The front page can be cuddly feeling for one audience, but there should always be reading matter for other target audiences aswell.

Ondrej Certik (ondrej-certik) wrote :

I agree with Stefano.


Paul Sladen (sladen) wrote :

Hopefully "Ubuntu != Canonical". The core distro team hired by Mark for what became Canonical were the core Debianites that could be hired away. Most of that team is still involved; and it could be good to highlight how that skill-set was collected so quickly.

Matthew East (mdke) wrote :

Changing status away from "Incomplete". I'd deliberately not marked it as such, given that I hadn't requested information which is required to understand the bug, but rather just invited the original poster to contribute ideas to help fix it.

Changed in ubuntu-website:
status: Incomplete → Confirmed
Lucas Nussbaum (lucas) wrote :


Copy/paste from a comment in my blog ( )
mdke: There are two problems:
(1) the fact that Ubuntu doesn’t credit Debian, despite using 3/4 of Debian verbatim, and only slightly modifying another important number of packages.
(2) the fact that Ubuntu fails to properly credit the rest of the Free Software ecosystem.

My blog post was only about (1), but (2) is also a serious problem.

The Free Software ecosystem is not simple, and I don’t think that it’s a good idea to make it look simple, or you end up with people thinking Linux==Ubuntu. Ubuntu is only a small brick. Ubuntu doesn’t develop much software: Probably at least 99.9% of the LOC in Ubuntu were never touched by an Ubuntu developer. Ubuntu integrates software developed by various upstream projects, and that’s basically the only value added by Ubuntu.

Given the fact that Ubuntu is the first distribution for a lot of users, I think that it’s its responsibility to “teach” how the Free Software world works. And hiding “details” in release announcements is probably not the right way to do that.
I second Paul's idea of a "technology" page, where relationships with other Free Software projects could be detailed.

Philipp Kern (pkern) wrote :

Yeah, please give credit where credit is due. There are quite a few people popping up in #ubuntu-motu who don't know about the Debian heritage which saddens me.


Fred (fredrooks) wrote :

Debian, as well as GNU, certainly ought to be mentioned in the `What is Ubuntu' section (, at least. For without GNU and Debian, Ubuntu is nothing.

Luca Bedogni (me-lucabedogni) wrote :

I totally agree with Stefano. I think that the fact that Ubuntu is based on Debian is not a shame, beside a nice example of how the free software community works together.
Also, googling "debian ubuntu" gives 90 results, and "debian ubuntu" gives 248, and that's strange :)

Maybe putting something on the homepage too could be a good idea, other Debian-base distros do that (e.g.

Hoping that will be a constructive discussion instead of a flaming one.

Yes, this is definitely not fair.
This is just a fact and I think they is nothing much to discuss.
Recently Ubuntu may have became popular, but taking unfairly like that all the credits while not cooperating fully with the community, it won't last long.
Morever, this kind of critics were reported a while ago, and I am surprised that it is still globally ignored. Intentionally or not ?

Jean-Christophe, please, here we are trying to be propositive. Insinuating that it was intentional won't help.

Besides, if you have a look at my blog post on this topic ( you will notice that the "reports" of this issue in the past *might* (of course I'm not sure about that) have been delivered via the wrong channel. This bug report received feedback quite fastly, let's see if this will be the right chance to get this solved, at least from the point of view of the ubuntu website.

So, trying to be positive, what else do you think deserve to be mentioned on the ubuntu website that hasn't yet been discussed in this bug log?

Kartik Mistry (kartik.mistry) wrote :

I agree with Lucas and Stefano.

ineya (ineya) wrote :

I'm both Debian&Ubuntu user and supporter. Please give Debian proper credit. IMO Debian is the best Linux OS, and deserves few words on every *BUNTU homepage.

Changed in mozilla-firefox-locale-all:
status: New → Invalid
IM.tehk (im-tehk) wrote :

I agree with most of the above. Also is there any reason does not include a link to what ubuntu is technically? As in 'a operating system with a solid foundation based on the GNU system using the Linux Kernel. [xorg].[how upstream and downstream work]. [APT/deb relationship and how it really makes the universe so solid].' The link would remain optional but I think these things are nice to know.

As a long term user of Ubuntu, I have found Ubuntu's lack of attribution distressing. Ubuntu only packages up stuff and writes very little, and users should appreciate this.

verb3k (verb3k) wrote :

I Couldn't agree more with what Matthew East said on Lucas's blog :

 "The front page doesn’t mention Linux, Gnome, Firefox or GNU either… it’s perfectly normal - Ubuntu is currently being heavily marketed and confusing Ubuntu’s target audience with multiple brand names is a really bad idea.

Even if you don’t agree, I hope you’ll understand that branding questions are more complicated than you make out.

Whenever technical analyses are done of Ubuntu, Debian is always placed at the forefront of Ubuntu’s technical strength. For a recent one see how Shuttleworth talks of Ubuntu here -

Personally I think the balance is right. "

Also, it's very sad that when Debian releases we see congratulations everywhere on the ubuntu planet and forums, but when ubuntu is released , all we see on the Debian planet is bashing, jealousy and childish thinking.....very sad to know that such people exist in the Debian community.

verb3k (verb3k) wrote :

Also, since the first day I knew about ubuntu I knew it was based on debian...why??? because ubuntu always included a link in the Firefox bookmarks to with ("ubuntu is based on Debian") ....see the following link:

People will get the wrong idea and think that all the software is written by Ubuntu (whoever they are). More4 news made this mistake, and they should know better, but given the data on the Ubuntu site (or lack of it), it's no surprise.

Luca Bedogni (me-lucabedogni) wrote :

Nobody here said that Ubuntu refuses to say that is based on Debian, but the point is that there's a big difference between something visible on the homepage, or where technical data of Ubuntu are explained, and a link in the firefox bookmarks.

Matthew Nuzum (newz) wrote :

I've changed the title of this bug. I can' t say for sure that the website *should* mention it (that's not my call) but I can confirm that the website does not do so at the moment.

Matthew East (mdke) wrote :

Guys, the comments on this report are getting a bit out of control. Everyone has valid opinions about this issue, but they should be expressed in another medium. Let's keep this bug report focused on the ways in which the problem can be fixed on the website. The editors have enough information to have confirmed the bug.

IM.tehk (im-tehk) wrote :

There is no reason for it to be directly on the whatis page, as that page does not even mention linux or gnu, but a link( optional) to what ubuntu is technically on that page would provide a good starting point to explaining the relationship. It also is a good place to describe where all the software comes from.

I really don't think that this is a bug... If you go to the "About us" (, there they talk about Debian and I think there's the right place in the Website for doing this.
I kind of agree with Ali AbdulAziz opinion: "Ubuntu is currently being heavily marketed and confusing Ubuntu’s target audience with multiple brand names is a really bad idea."

This is definitely not enough.
Telling that Ubuntu includes leaders from Debian and telling that Ubuntu is based on Debian sounds VERY different, doesn't it ?

verb3k (verb3k) wrote :

Then I guess we should rename ubuntu to be "ubuntu-is-based-on-Debian"

You know well that this is exaggerating. You are not giving any argument like that.
As some people wrote before, let's shut up and leave the place here for some constructive suggestions.

verb3k (verb3k) wrote :

ok. I am sorry about, but seriously, ubuntu gave Debian credit where it was due to it. Debian is also composed of many upstream not everything in Debian is their baby.

let's just wait and see whether sabdfl can give a word in this matter.

Corey Burger (corey.burger) wrote :

Ok, enough talk. Lets create a technology page as Paul suggests.

Matthew East (mdke) wrote :

Corey - I think that creating a new page dedicated to something like this is going to require further and more detailed discussion, which I'd suggest takes place on the marketing mailing list. The problem for me is that the current structure of the website, splitting content between Ubuntu "the product" and Ubuntu "the story" is counterproductive because a lot of the pages in the story section are vital parts of what makes Ubuntu a product, such as its philosophy, its components and so on. It's not clear which section a new page would fit, and I feel it would add to that problem.

I think we need to solve that problem at its roots and address that aspect of the structure of the website, again which requires some quite detailed planning.

My preferred fix for this bug would be to simply to find places where discussing the free software ecosystem will fit and to add material to such pages. I think there are plenty of obvious candidates...

* (linked from the front page)

Raphaël Hertzog (hertzog) wrote :

FWIW, during Debconf 2006 (in Mexico) we (me and some DD) suggested to Mark Shuttleworth and Matt Zimmerman to put a Debian logo on the Ubuntu CD distributed through shipit. Mark seemed very enthusiastic to do this but he feared some trademark problems and consulted the Debian Project Leader (who was Anthony Towns at that time) and he has been explained that our "Swirl" has a very liberal trademark policy precisely for this kind of use.

Unfortunately they never followed through. It was almost too late for Dapper already at that time and I guess they forgot afterwards.

That would be another way for Ubuntu to acknowledge its Debian roots and to make more member of the Debian community very happy.

I'm sorry that I diverged somewhat from the website, but I wanted to share this story because when discussing with Mark, he's always happy to give credit to Debian's work but when it comes to Canonical's official communication, we feel somewhat left out. So I wholeheartly agree that such a page is needed. And I'm glad to see that most Ubuntu users feel that this is the right thing to do too.

I always expected that the Ubuntu community would end up filling the gaps left open by the Canonical management... and this is one crucial part, if the Ubuntu users are somehow proud that Ubuntu is based on Debian and if they show this (through thei website, through blog posts, through user groups, through developers who are working on both sides, ...), then the Debianers will stop seeing Ubuntu as a gigantic marketing machine that leave them in the shadow. (I know that Ubuntu pushes many innovations and that's it much more than a marketing machine, but its tremendous success and some lack of knowledge on the Debian side make it appear that way in many cases)

Thanks for reading through this long comment and I hope you'll get enough constructive comments to write up that technology page. I'll be happy to proofread it and share more concrete remarks later on.

Martin Albisetti (beuno) wrote :

I have exchanged emails with Matt Zimmerman and Daniel Holbach back in September (there where close to a dozen CCs, so I'm assume it was public), I'll just extract a quick quote from them:

On Tue, Sep 11, 2007 at 10:50:18PM -0300, Martin Albisetti wrote:
> Secondly, all references to Debian have been removed from the Ubuntu
> page and even on the "About Ubuntu" in the system itself.
> Incidentally I watched a video of Mark talking in a past DebConf
> highlighting Ubuntu was proud to be based on Debian, and that it
> strongly acknowledged it (he mentions specifically that the "About
> Ubuntu" mentions it).
> Is this still the case?
> Are we less proud?
> The slow but incremental removal of the mentions to Debian from every
> official part of Ubuntu seems like a pretty clear message to me.
> This might be accidental, but I'm not sure where to bring it up, so
> this seems like the moment/place to do so.

On 9/12/07, Matt Zimmerman <email address hidden> wrote:
> Of course this has not changed, and I don't think it's fair to characterize
> the website redesign (in which some other important information has been
> moved and needs to be brought to the forefront again) as a message about
> Debian.
> The copy on the front page inadvertently omitted a reference to the
> philosophy and licensing pages as well, and surely you agree those are
> important to the project.
> Gerry/Webmaster: could we get a Debian sentence and link added to
> WhatIsUbuntu?

I thought that had closed the subject, and it seemed we all agreed that Debian should be more publicly acknowledged, but it seems it slipped past by again...

Corey Burger (corey.burger) wrote :

I think we should create a "technology page", as sladen suggested, crediting not Debian, but also the Linux kernel,, GNOME, etc.

Paul Sladen (sladen) wrote :

Not *just* Debian ... :)

Vit (comp-art) wrote :

Ha ha ;)
"universe" component

The universe component is a snapshot of the free, open source, and Linux world. In universe you can find almost every piece of open source software, and software available under a variety of less open licences, all built automatically from a variety of public sources. All of this software is compiled against the libraries and using the tools that form part of main, so it should install and work well with the software in main, but it comes with no guarantee of security fixes and support. The universe component includes thousands of pieces of software. Through universe, users are able to have the diversity and flexibility offered by the vast open source world on top of a stable Ubuntu core.
very nice !!
Debian ??? :(

Lucas Nussbaum (lucas) wrote :

Just to show how much this page is needed, here are some comments that were made by users on my blog post:
Usual ubuntu bashing by debian people. When debian Etch there were tons of congratulatory messages on planet ubuntu and ubuntu forums. On planet debian you just see venom against ubuntu. Do I sense jealousy?
If the ubuntu web site should make debian more visible, then perhaps the debian web site should also make more visible that debian depends on the work that ubuntu has done? Just a suggestion.
Maybe because Debian is obsolete and irrelevant? Come on, maybe the original Ubuntu was derived from Debian, but do you really think Debian matters anymore? Ubuntu and Ubuntu community devs have made it what it is. If Ubuntu really relied on Debian, the next release available would be 20.10.

Matthew East (mdke) wrote :

Lucas - while I appreciate your enthusiasm, I don't think we need more comments to show that the page is needed: the bug has been marked as confirmed for some time... From my end all I see as necessary is to decide how to fix it.

Corey, where (bearing in mind my comments above) would you see such a page fitting in to the structure of the site?

racoon97 (racoon97) on 2007-10-21
Changed in ubuntu-website:
status: Confirmed → Invalid
Matthew East (mdke) on 2007-10-21
Changed in ubuntu-website:
status: Invalid → Confirmed

I think it's concerning that Debian are demanding that Ubuntu carry reference to Debian, whilst simultaneously removing Ubuntu developers from their community resources such as Planet Debian.

On 22/10/07 at 13:14 -0000, Scott James Remnant wrote:
> I think it's concerning that Debian are demanding that Ubuntu carry
> reference to Debian, whilst simultaneously removing Ubuntu developers
> from their community resources such as Planet Debian.

I can see feeds for the following Ubuntu developers on planet debian:
Colin Watson
Fabio M. Di Nitto
Matthew Garrett
Philipp Kern
Simon Law
Steve Langasek
Tollef Fog Heen

So I'm a bit surprised by your comment?
| Lucas Nussbaum
| <email address hidden> |
| jabber: <email address hidden> GPG: 1024D/023B3F4F |

Matthew East (mdke) wrote :

On 22/10/2007, Scott James Remnant <email address hidden> wrote:
> I think it's concerning that Debian are demanding that Ubuntu carry
> reference to Debian, whilst simultaneously removing Ubuntu developers
> from their community resources such as Planet Debian.

If that's true, then it's worth addressing with Debian and whoever
maintains that resource but I don't think it affects the validity of
this bug.

Matthew East
gnupg pub 1024D/0E6B06FF

Raphaël Hertzog (hertzog) wrote :

On Mon, 22 Oct 2007, Scott James Remnant wrote:
> I think it's concerning that Debian are demanding that Ubuntu carry
> reference to Debian, whilst simultaneously removing Ubuntu developers
> from their community resources such as Planet Debian.

I know you're a bit bitter with how some Debian member behaved (and the
reasons are likely good and justified) but you shouldn't consider the
actions of some as always representative of the whole project.

We do have members who actively dislike Ubuntu but they are a minority.
I believe the majority is rather satified to see Debian's technologies
spread to millions of users thanks to Ubuntu. And I think it's sane to
acknowledge publicly the fact that Ubuntu is based on Debian.

Raphaël Hertzog

Premier livre français sur Debian GNU/Linux :

verb3k (verb3k) wrote :

Thanks Raphaël Hertzog
I am pleased to see a Debian member encouraging debian-ubuntu cooperation

Ondrej Certik (ondrej-certik) wrote :

I also agree with Raphael that the majority of Debian users/members are rather satisfied that Ubuntu is the most spread distribution.

Matthew Nuzum (newz) wrote :

OK, we've resurrected the debian page and put it here:

The old redirect, www.u.c/ubuntu/debian which has been pointing to the faq page has been updated to point to this new resource. However, it was a 301 so caches may not see it for quite some time.

Changed in ubuntu-website:
assignee: nobody → newz
status: Confirmed → Fix Released
Raphaël Hertzog (hertzog) wrote :

Thanks for the fix!

FYI, I just submitted #156754 as the new page points to the "components" page to refer for more information about the sources used to create universe and that page doesn't give that information.

Many thanks for the fix guys!

Lucas Nussbaum (lucas) wrote :


Just two questions:
- what about the idea of a technology page?
- where is this page linked from?

Matthew East (mdke) wrote :

On 24/10/2007, Lucas Nussbaum <email address hidden> wrote:
> - where is this page linked from?

It's in the sidebar of the "The Ubuntu Story" section

I've already written my opinion on your other question on the bug so
won't comment again on that.

Matthew East
gnupg pub 1024D/0E6B06FF

Pete Boyd (petes-accounts) wrote : has the following things I consider errors:

* 'Debian' is written 'debian' in the following:

- They continue to stay active in contributing to Debian both in the course of their work on Ubuntu and directly in debian.

- Debian and record the patch URL in the debian bug system.

- Ubuntu team members are immediately also included in debian packages where the debian maintainer likes the work.

- do not include any active debian contributors.

* 'linux' should be 'Linux' in the following: time of writing unique in the linux distribution world.

* 'for other key pieces' would read better than 'for key other pieces' in: and we might do the same for key other pieces of infrastructure such as X or GCC

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