It is a common belief that Ubuntu provides newer software than Debian. This is of course true when Ubuntu is compared to Debian stable. This is also true for specific software packages, like Gnome. But how does it compare in general ?
At the time of the Dapper release, here is how Ubuntu Dapper and Debian Unstable compared wrt source package versions :
In Ubuntu, but not in Debian: 1795
In Debian, but not in Ubuntu: 588
Exact same version: 4361
Same upstream version: 2963
… and same Debian version, but Ubuntu has local changes: 731
… “Debian version” newer in Debian: 2197
… “Debian version” newer in Ubuntu: 35
Different upstream version: 2166
… newer in Debian: 1955
… newer in Ubuntu: 211
So Debian easily wins. But this comparison is unfair, because Debian unstable is a moving target : of course, it’s newer than Ubuntu ! What about Debian testing ?
In Ubuntu, but not in Debian: 2137
In Debian, but not in Ubuntu: 514
Exact same version: 4529
Same upstream version: 2652
… and same Debian version, but Ubuntu has local changes: 775
… newer in Debian: 1816
… newer in Ubuntu: 61
Different upstream version: 1967
… newer in Debian: 1666
… newer in Ubuntu: 301
Yes, Debian still wins. Okay, but Ubuntu Dapper had a particularly long release cycle. What about Ubuntu Breezy, and Debian Testing at the time of the Breezy release ?
In Ubuntu, but not in Debian: 2462
In Debian, but not in Ubuntu: 384
Exact same version: 4586
Same upstream version: 2253
… and same Debian version, but Ubuntu has local changes: 981
… newer in Debian: 1172
… newer in Ubuntu: 100
Different upstream version: 1375
… newer in Debian: 1020
… newer in Ubuntu: 355
Debian testing wins again.
- Statistics might be biased because of source package name changes.
- Ubuntu doesn’t automatically remove packages which were removed from Debian, which partially explains the high number of packages in Ubuntu but not in Debian.
- OK, there’s no Debian unstable/Ubuntu edgy comparison. I believe that not many people use Ubuntu development versions (except a few weeks before release), and that Ubuntu dev versions are usually not considered usable. OTOH, many people use Debian testing or Debian unstable.
- The quick and dirty script used to generate the stats is available.
Yes, Scott, I am comparing stable releases on one side, with development versions on the other side. However, I think that it is widely known that Debian testing is usable outside of the Debian development community. I know many people using Debian testing who aren’t Debian developers. And many Ubuntu users, if they weren’t using Ubuntu, but Debian, would probably use Debian testing, not stable.
Regarding Ubuntu Edgy, its use is currently strictly limited to the Ubuntu development community, and I don’t know anybody not interested in Ubuntu development running Ubuntu Edgy (that’s also because Ubuntu is released every 6 months, not 18 months, of course). That’s why it’s irrelevant to compare with it.
Also, after a quick poll on IRC, I discovered that many Ubuntu users thought that Ubuntu stable releases had newer software than Debian Testing (that was my exact question). The only point of this blog entry is to prove them wrong.
Update 2 : I’ll be on holidays for the next few days, so comments are put in the moderation queue until I come back.