The advent of Debian Med was stimulated by the rise of several Free Software projects that were addressing a series of diverse tasks in medical care. Several of these projects - albeit initially appearing most promising - are now dormant. A few random examples for interesting projects with no visible release for longer than five years are: FreePM , OIO , OdontoLinux! which was even included in Debian formerly. Those failed to follow two basic principles of Free Software: care for a solid user base and recruit qualified developers from it. This is a difficult task that becomes even more difficult with increasing specialisation of software.
With a smaller number of potential contributors, one needs to help the community as much as possible to develop itself and to develop a tight relationship with its users. Debian as a Linux distribution already helps distributing software in a readily usable form. Moreover, modularisation aspects of Debian packaging do not only reduce the complexity of packaging individual software: by allowing to depend on other packages, it also eases maintenance of the complete system. For example, due to modularisation, updates and fixes in core libraries make end-user software upgrades unnecessary most of the time. Performing binary builds for more supported hardware platforms than any other operating system and extensive quality assurance guarantee robust performance of deployed Debian systems. Debian Med complements the Debian infrastructure with a communication platform for all involved parties: original software developers, Debian maintainers and Debian users.
Web search engines pick up the software tools and their descriptions on the Debian Med task pages. Beyond mere lists or announcement sites, e.g. Freshmeat.net, any Debian user can almost instantly start evaluating the software on the local computer.
Andreas Tille 2010-12-10