Integrated software environment for all medical purposes included in Debian GNU/Linux
Med@Tel, Luxembourg, 7. April 2011
The Debian Med project started in 2002 with the objective to bring free medical software into the focus of users. Those may be IT service providers for smaller clinics, the doctors themselves, researchers in pre-clinical environments or just skilled enthusiasts with an ambition to apply their talents to the biomedical domain. At that time, the communities in computational biology, medical imaging and medical informatics already had a number of high-quality Free Software solutions. Debian as a Linux distribution provided a solid foundation for bringing those products together. To assure complete coverage and harmonic integration, the Debian Med project was initiated to provide a software management infrastructure to improve communication among Debian package maintainers, e.g. to identify missing glue packages to translate data formats or to point out conflicts in the naming of binaries.
Over the past decade, the integrative Debian Med project has proven to have positive effects beyond the scope of Debian users. Many ties have been established between original software developers and Debian package maintainers. Large development teams started to upload their Debian packages directly. That communicated the experience of the developers back into the distribution and made medical software a constituent member of the Debian distribution.
The ideas behind the Debian Med generalised into the concept of Debian Pure Blends. Blends, such as Debian Edu, Debian Science, DebiChem (chemistry), Debian GIS, DeMuDi etc., were created to provide a targeted appearance of the Debian distribution for different domains of applications. Today, Blend task pages complement canonical Debian package listings with additional information (e.g. scientific references) and also cover software products that are relevant for a given domain, but not yet integrated into Debian. A growing community with continuously improving maintenance procedures eases direct contributions to Debian, thus preventing unnecessary fractioning of the open-source community, and allow for supporting customised versions of Debian, such as Debian Med, within the Debian ecosystem.