Turkish government distributes Debian by just altering the logo and the brand.
Probably most of you haven't heard of it yet. I'll try to tell the story as short as I can do.
There was a GNU/Linux distro ("GNU/Linux" is my qualification; the distro never called itself so, officially) named Pardus
. Pardus had been developed by a Turkish governmental body, TUBİTAK
(The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey) beginning from 2003 till 2011 and it gained popularity among Turkish GNU/Linux users and developers alike. There were -sometimes very harsh- criticisms on it, but, you know, in the last resolution it is a GNU/Linux distro and it was appealing to Turkish society for this reason or that.
Pardus was an independent distro. In sense of not being "based" on something else and it had a set of its own tools, proudly developed for the project, including its own package management system parallel with its own package type, namely PiSi
. There were a number of other such tools as well.
Pardus was a distro with KDE being its sole (for a long time) or main (in its last days; the other being Xfce) desktop environment.
Pardus had two versions: Individual and institutional. (Not to be confused with desktop vs. server; it didn't have a server version, but some Turkish state institutions were using it on desktops in offices and that was called as the "institutional" version.)
After the 3rd election victory of the pro-Islamic, fundamentalist, pro-USA governing party in Turkey
and during their 3rd term; along with tailoring the police forces, the army, universities, judiciary -synchronized with mass arrests and trials of opponents- and with the attempts to write a new constitution, the government tailored TUBİTAK for its own benefits as well. Both juridically and in terms of firing an amount of its staff and/or shutting down some of its sub divisions.
Some say that as a direct extension of this policy, some say that because of the undeniable mistakes of the Pardus project leadership, the government's new TUBİTAK administration fired or forced to resign both the leader of the project, Mr. Erkan Tekman, and all the employees, gradually; roughly speaking, by the end of 2011.
As a result, Pardus project was de facto dead. It was no more developed. To the extent that, its last edition 2011.2 was announced to get no more updates with no new edition present or announced.
On the other hand, the government front, that's to say TUBİTAK administration, never confessed that they are killing the distro. Instead, they always declared -and are still declaring- that they will continue and evolve the project and they are asking contribution from the circles such as Linux related NGOs, academicians, for-profits and so on.
To assure what they claim, they organized a workshop on “the future of Pardus” by the end of March 2012. At the end of the so-called workshop, nothing was clear but TUBİTAK administration gave their word that they will do all to be done in coordination with an advisory board and what's more they said that the board would be in charge of making decisions as well apart from being just an advisory one.
In those days, government and TUBİTAK did not prevent Microsoft from taking part in the big state project of 600 thousand smart boards as a software provider. Up to that point, Pardus was more than ready to run on those boards and it was qualified for it. If government preferred to do so, it was very easy for them to make Pardus the only OS running on smart boards. Instead, they preferred to have "both Windows and Pardus" on them, which practically means that all and every of them will be booted from Windows partition.
Months passed by, and by the end of July 2012 they called the board for its first (and as a matter of fact, the last) meeting. Some reputable figures of the Free Software, GNU/Linux movement of Turkey were among participants.
As made public by some participants, there during the meeting, TUBİTAK administration tried to approve their already made decisions to the participants. Majority of them said that they are not there to approve already made decisions and insisted on either being a real, decision making board or not to take part in this game.
Up to now, they are not called for a second meeting and there are reports that they can't get any answer for their questions from TUBİTAK.
And during what's going on, some GNU/Linuxers realized that, what running on those smart boards are not Pardus in any sense, instead, they are Debian GNU/Linux with just the Pardus logo on it. We can not even call it a fork: Plain Debian!
TUBİTAK administration tried to explain that Pardus was not running on those boards but Debian was. They couldn't explain a) How comes that Pardus was running on some samples of similar boards, and b) How comes that they will make a distro "based on Debian", provided that they can not adopt the software of Debian which makes it to run on those boards to another GNU/Linux distro, Pardus. There was no answer to the question, such as, "Will you make Pardus Red Hat based distro if one day some component of Debian will not work for some particular task out of the box."
As a result some people, including me, began to think as such: Government/TUBİTAK is killing the Pardus project we already have. They try to claim some technical bullshit but these are not valid. They are killing the project now, they claim that they will go on with a Debian-based distro under the very same Pardus brand, but it will not even be a "Debian based" distro, not even a "fork of Debian", instead it will be the very same of Debian with just "Pardus" name and logo on it.
And at a particular point, they'll say that they just stopped the project. “Debian based Pardus” is just a mockery.
A week ago what people suppose became real: Existing TUBİTAK administration uploaded some number of "Pardus ISOs" on their ftp server. Their names, "Pardus 2011.3 rc1" (that's what should be after Pardus' very last version 2011.2) imply that they are some kind of Pardus (even if its very childish to release 2011.3, by the end of 2012) but they are pure Debian, yes you guessed it, with the exception of logo and brand and some artwork.
Many of us downloaded them and installed to see what they contain. There are tons of reviews out there with screenshots and even with videos.
Those Pardus 2011.3 rc1 ISOs seems to be no longer there on the ftp but there still exist repositories which are basically the same with Debian's. (Disappeared one was ftp://depo.pardus.org.tr/pardus_iso/2011.3rc1/tr/
. Still you may check under ftp://depo.pardus.org.tr/kurumsal
) (They might put non-free elements in main and so on, because of having no notion of GNU/Linux and having no respect for free software philosophy; and there might be even more evil components among software; anyway, we'll see and discuss such, later.) Apparently, in a near future we'll see the "real fake thing".
For sure, free software can be made modifying some other free software. Distros can be made based on some other distro. Forking is something we like and even encourage. Ubuntu-Debian and Mint-Ubuntu and Mint-Debian relations are such examples.
This is totally something else!
Turkish government takes Debian GNU/Linux OS and all of its repositories and publishes it with its logo and name on and with minor cosmetic changes such as a couple of background images with some “Pardus related thing” on them.
Nowadays jokes on "pseudo Pardus/genuine Debian" and "the theft case" are very popular among Turkish GNU/Linux society.
I just wanted you non-Turkish speaker Debian community & leadership hear about what's going on, because you deserve it.
K. Deniz Ogut