Debian Opens "Front Desk" for Derivatives

Many Linux projects use Debian Linux as their code base for developing their distributions. Perhaps as many as 120 distributions are based on Debian and some include SimplyMepis, sidux, KNOPPIX, Elive, and Parsix. Perhaps the most widely known and used is Ubuntu. Ubuntu receives negative comments because many feel its developers don't contribute back upstream.

One of the reasons derivative projects don't give back is how difficult and time consuming the process can be. Many just don't know what to do. So Debian has created a contact point to facilitate the practice.

The Front Desk will be manned by volunteers to act as mentors and advisors for derivative developers asking how to contribute work back to Debian. Developers can find out who to contact for any given package or what is the exact procedure for giving back.

A wiki page has been set up and a mailing list has been activated to make contact easier. Debian is currently looking for Debian volunteers to monitor the mailing list and answer inquiries. Derivative developers can get more information at, subscribe to the mailing list at debian-derivatives AT, or browse the archives at

Contributing upstream helps all distributions grow in stability and features and Debian hopes their new Front Desk will do just that.


Susan Linton is a Linux writer and the owner of


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Ubuntu is not a fork

mario___'s picture

OMG. It's really miserable to read the same misconception again and again. Ubunut is not a fork of Debian. Unlike the smaller derivatives, it is a sister distribution. The failure to recognize this has let to lots of development stalling.

Instead of Debian steming this alone, they should officially invite Ubuntu to contribute to the effort. The linked Wiki page has too spurious notes about that. But at least on the mailing list, there seems to be some awareness on the real world situation.

Where does the article say that Ubuntu is a fork?

ciotog's picture

It clearly mentions that Ubuntu is a derivative - not the same as a fork.

But why not read it straight from the horses mouth:
Ubuntu and Debian

Great news! :]

Camelek's picture

I use Debian by myself, and I think that there should be some bridge between different distributions based on Debian like that one, to make easier working on the same packages :]

This is really good idea, and maybe first step to merge different packagers and developers to give users better packages to us :D