Fredrik Sundqvist

June 11, 2024

Debian needs a WinGet

I’m currently using Windows 11 but will soon switch to a Linux distribution. This blog post will not be about why I want to switch, but let’s just say I’m a big believer of open source software.

So, what should I switch to? Windows 11 for me is stable and secure. “Windows is secure!?”, you might say? But yes, secure in that sense it’s easy to setup up with full disk encryption (backed with a TPM) and to elevate to admin with a Windows Hello fingerprint reader. The rest is up to me to not put my finger on the fingerprint reader and do something stupid.

So, stable, what does that mean in the Windows world? For me, that means a stable operating system with up-to-date drivers and no substantial changes related to the user interface as long as I don’t upgrade to a new major Windows version. It also means that I want all my installed programs to be up-to-date with the latest stable version of each program.

Sorry Debian, you might know where I’m going with this

Soooo… If I want a stable and secure independent Linux distro, I should switch to Debian, right? That’s the definition of Debian: Debian is stable and secure it says on the Debian website. And I think it’s fair to say it’s a pretty accurate statement.

But this leads me to the point of this blog post and why I want to compare it with Windows. For example, let's take the program syncthing as an example. Syncthing is a great program for file synchronization. To install it on Windows I just type:
winget install syncthing
and I can do something similar on Debian:
sudo apt install syncthing

All the same, nothing to discuss here, right? But what happens if I run:
syncthing --version
On Windows I get:
syncthing v1.27.8 "Gold Grasshopper" (go1.22.3 windows-amd64) 2024-05-30 08:49:22 UTC
And on Debian:
syncthing v1.19.2-ds1 "Fermium Flea" (go1.19.8 linux-amd64) debian@debian 2023-04-09 10:47:16 UTC

That’s… not the same version… In fact, the Debian version is over a year older than the Windows version, which according the official Syncthing website, is the latest stable version of Syncthing. As they write:
“Syncthing is available out-of-the-box as part of many Linux distributions, though often not with the most up-to-date version. We also maintain packages and installation instructions for Debian & Ubuntu at”

If I go to that subdomain, I will find instructions how to get the official stable version of syncthing, not the outdated version I got when using APT out-of-the-box on Debian.

Syncthing is not Debian!

When I install syncthing, I want the latest official stable version. This is what Windows gets right with WinGet. With WinGet, I’m installing syncthing from the official source. With APT, I’m installing a syncthing version maintained by a group of people that calls themself the Debian Go Packaging Team. And this version is a year older than the official stable version!

Syncthing is not Debian, and Debian should focus on creating a stable and secure operating system and not on maintaining a lot of different outdated third-party programs. It should be up to the user to decide if to pin a program to an older version, not the Debian maintainers. If Debian can solve this, I’m confident it could become the de facto Linux distribution and make it easier for Windows users like me to switch to Debian. Now I will probably switch to something like openSUSE Tumbleweed or Arc Linux to get the latest stable packages.

And this is something I believe Linus Torvalds would want too: