Open is not enough: benefits from Debian as an integrated, community-driven computing platform

Date and Time: 
2013 Tuesday, April 2
CG1 Auditoriums
Yaroslav O. Halchenko

Authors: Yaroslav O. Halchenko and Michael Hanke

A need for open research tools has been identified and various advisories on how to organize open-source development of research software projects have been issued. Unfortunately inefficient and opaque procedures combined with a scarce developer workforce result in tools of insufficient quality and robustness. Difficulties with deployment of open scientific software further hinder dissemination of scientific methodologies and complicate reproducibility of existing findings.

In this talk I will present Debian -- a unique community-driven project delivering an operating system with thousands of FOSS products available as its integral part. Open organization of the Debian project and clear standards foster formation of specialized teams. For example, multiple science-oriented teams (e.g. Debian Science, Debian Med, NeuroDebian) formed within Debian and work with each other effectively reducing duplication of efforts while benefiting from
- easy installation and maintenance of arbitrarily complex computing stacks virtually on any (real or virtualized) hardware,
- improved longevity and reduced cost of support by virtue of improved modularity,
- standardization of binary and source distributions through a world-wide network of mirrors,
- flow of expertise and contributions back from Debian community (legal conflicts detection, standardization, internationalization, QA, etc) which benefit upstream projects outside the scope of Debian.

As a result Debian helps to mitigate problems with research software and delivers a powerful integrated environment offering a practical solution that is compliant with all proposed requirements for transparency of research software. Take advantage of it by using and/or contributing back!

Speaker Description: 

Yaroslav O. Halchenko is a post-doctoral researcher at Dartmouth College. He got a Ph.D. degree in Computer Science and currently working on in neuroimaging domain: from data analysis methods (see to the development of a software platform for neuroscience research (see He got an official status of a Debian developer in 2006 and has been actively involved in the project since then concentrating on the problems of the scientific software deployments, while not forgetting day-to-day needs (maintaining project at the moment). He got 3 kids, 2 cats, and 1 wife.

Video recorded: 

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