Interesting insights into the future of Debian can be seen in interviews with candidates for Debian Project Leader in Debian’s new official blog.
The candidates are distinguishing themselves with new ideas to expose the glory of Debian GNU/Linux to the world or to improve operations or to involve a wider community in the production, testing, distribution and promotion of Free Software. It seems to me that no matter who wins the most support, Debian is ready to take a bigger role at the centre of the FLOSS world.
One issue raised by a candidate was how Debian GNU/Linux fits in the new world of embedded software in small cheap computers. It’s not as if the software is installed in silicon but it does take some special effort to shoe-horn Debian GNU/Linux into a smartphone running Android/Linux with some lock-down… I think Debian still has a role to play in smartphones but I think Debian will have much more influence in tablets which serve the same sort of function as desktop/notebook PCs of a few years ago. Debian has supported ARM for a long time and now that Google, Android/Linux, ARMed chip-makers, OEMs and the Linux kernel are all pretty well on the same page, Debian should be able to run very well especially on the newer and more powerful tablets which would be competitive against the typical PC of a decade ago. PCs have been idling ever since those days and an ARMed chip working hard can be quite useful running Linux whether Android or GNU is on the upper layers.
With very few changes, Debian GNU/Linux could coast for a decade before becoming irrelevant but that isn’t going to happen. These folks relish Free Software and pour a lot of energy into it. Thanks to all of the Debian developers and especially those offering to lead the troops forward, Debian GNU/Linux is a going concern.