It has been quite some time, actually years, since I started using Debian. Earlier I have used various flavors of Linux like SuSE, Red Hat, RHEL, Fedora, Ubuntoo but my experience with Debian has been so far the best. I just thought to write the reasons for which I really like Debian compared to other systems.
1. Excellent package management tools
I find that the package management tools that Debian offers is really fantastic. There are host of tools like Synaptic, Aptitude, Apt, dpkg, dselect etc. which one can choose based on how much one is comfortable with command line, TUI or GUI. One can easily choose and configure from where to install the package i.e. CD, standard Debian repositories hosted around the world, or some special Debian package repositories. Given I have my Debian CDs downloaded in ISO format, I can choose to loop mount them and install packages from them without the need to put the CDs for installation every time into the CDROM and without the need to download the package from internet every time. Above all the package dependencies are automatically resolved and installed / removed making the installation process a real breeze.
Apart from this there are host of packages like checkinstall (although available on other systems as well), localepurge, module assistant, debootstrap, pbuilder etc., which work so well in conjugation with other Debian package management tools that it is hard to describe in just one line or paragraph. Each of these tools really deserve a separate blog entry 🙂
In the past I have had real troubles specially with RPMS and local self installed packages cluttering the system, unresolved package dependencies that I felt a lot many times that I am spending too much time maintaining my Linux system than actually doing some work and had a strong desire to switch back to Windows.
2. Flexibility with the choice of installation of debian itself
Debian offers various ways to install Debian. One can choose either installing directly from internet with a minimal net install CD or one can install using the CD or DVD downloaded from internet or even from CD / DVD images downloaded using Jigdo. I think so is the case with other distributions, but I found installation of Debian offers much more flexibility. There are distributions like Gentoo which even build complete packages from sources but I believe that it is a waste of time and bandwidth unless you really want every bit of your computer resource to be utilized to its maximum possible extent.
3. Very active community of Users and Developers
The Debian users / developers community is so huge and active that most problems that you are going to face while installation, would have already been resolved or someone from the community will be able to help you out.
4. Larger support base
A lot of companies which provide support for their H/W on Linux, usually provide support for Debian apart from other major Linux distributions. That is at least they provide Debian specific packages or installers which specifically support Debian.
5. More suitable for programming and development
In the past having used SuSE, which offered a host of gizmo stuff for managing, installation and other utilities by default, it made me feel that I was no longer in control of my Linux System. Everything was so opaque and hidden from the user. Debian is simple in comparison and which is why it is so powerful. I really feel I am in control of my system.
6. Ports available for a large number of architectures and target device
Debian is available for a variety of architectures and platforms, which further increases the user base as well as the support base. Ports of debian exist for most common architectures like ARM, MIPS, PPC, x86, x86_64 etc. There are variety of GNU/Linux distribution which are Debian based, most notable of them is Ubuntoo, which further increases the support and user base.
The net result of having so many ports of debian is that one can run Debian on systems ranging from Servers to Desktops to Embedded Devices.