Over the last week, one of the most respected and well thought Debian based distributions “imploded” (See Tuxmachines Article). What makes this even more sad is the fantastic impact Kanotix has on new Linux desktop users. Through use of its scripts for easy setup and installation/configuration on the desktop, Kanotix won the hearts and minds of many Linux users…and the fact that it is Debian based and can install from Debian repositories without worry made Kanotix a popular desktop distro.
I’m not extremely concerned with Kanotix dying…I think the community loves it too much to drop it on its head. That’s the beauty of Open Source…one person moves on and another slides in to take his/her place. What really concerns me is the fact that Kanotix is considering switching to Ubuntu for a base. Why would this concern me? Do I have it out for Ubuntu? Allow me to explain…
The most desirable function of Kanotix is that it is Debian based…and therefore can take advantage of all the power of the Debian repository. The head developer commented:
“Since financing Kanotix through donations has proved a failure and I am planning restructuring to a more stable base (be it Ubuntu or Debian will have to show in tests) and I myself regard Debian/Sid as unfortunately not compliant with a more commercial orientation, he (co-developer Stefan Lippers-Hollmann) [aka slh] has left the project.”
One odd part about the first part of this statement is that Kano just donated 100 bucks to ndiswrapper so the donation program must be kind of a success…yet he calls it a failure…I know I’ve never dropped a hundred dollars on a project (can’t afford to do so) and I at most donate 20-50 dollars when I can. Of course, this is me just pointing out something interesting.
The real interesting point is that Kanotix is looking at the Ubuntu base and thinking it might be a viable direction for them. Many of you are saying, “heck yes…Ubuntu’s a fantastic distro” and you’d be right. Ubuntu is doing many good things for Linux in general. However, Kanotix would be moving away from that Debian compatibility that many Linux users enjoy and love…it would also stagnate while moving across that base…and with stagnation of release being one of the reasons that slh left the project, this may be the straw that breaks the camels back for many users.
Given this possible change, one can guess that ideas such as this might be the reason that Stefan Lippers-Hollmann left the project to pursue a new one called sidux. Sidux will strive to remain inside Debian sid and stabilize it. So where does that leave Kanotix? As Kano (developer of Kanotix) points out in his announcement, it looks like Kanotix will be leaving its current base behind…and users inside the Kanotix forums are already voicing opposition to this potential move.
Something to note is that Kano has been pushing since April to move to a different base for Kanotix, posting this sentiment on Tech Patterns forum during that time. Take note of the date on this forum post here. (verified not to be made by Kano, lead developer of Kanotix) So this isn’t a sudden consideration…it’s been mulled over behind the scenes for quite some time now. (previous paragraph was verified to be a forum post that is updated frequently…negates the date on the post and the point of the paragraph so I’ve left it in place with strikethrough and removed the link)
Like I said, it’s really a sad day for a Linux distro I considered phenomenal. If they move to an Ubuntu base, I feel they’ll alienate many of their users and finally be absorbed by Ubuntu…I wouldn’t even be surprised if they brought Kano on as a developer for the project. Of course, this is mere speculation.
I’ll signoff with hope that Kanotix will stay true to its goals and aspirations and that it will not suffer for the current void created by their leaving developer. Hopefully, they’ll stay Debian AND stay in business. Let’s hope that this doesn’t set a pattern for bandwagon jumping of Debian based distros to Ubuntu.