I almost let this day get away from me, but I've taken a moment out of my day to celebrate and reflect on the impact on my professional career that these two systems, Debian and CPAN, have had.
The Debian project first release was announced by Ian Murdock on August 16th, 1993, nearly seven months before the Linux kernel hit version 1.0. Two years later on August 16th, 1995 the Comprehensive Perl Archive Network (CPAN) had it's first upload, Symdump 1.20 by Andreas König.
A couple years after that I was on one of those book club deals where they ship you a book and hope you forget to return it so they can charge you. One such book was about learning Linux and it included a Red Hat installer. At the time I had access to an old x86 computer and a room (a big storage closet kind of room, but it had a window) where I could try installing it. This lead me down the path of PHP (for dynamic web pages I didn't stay long), MySQL (same, but it introduced me to SQL) and GNU/Linux systems in general. I really enjoyed it, enough to pick up an optional UNIX Shell class on campus and checkout books on database design to learn on my own.
These experiences helped me fly through my job interview and have set me sailing on my current course. It wasn't until a couple of years later that I discovered Debian though. Work had a couple of VA Linux systems with Red Hat on them but after maintaining them for a couple of years, some upgrades that insisted on format/install, and manual RPM dependency management (thank-you rpmfind.net for giving me some help) and after trying the Red Hat Network out for a little while before they decided to only deal with the big fish I learned about Debian.
When I read the magic that was apt-get install, I was hooked. When I read testimonials about seamless upgrades and only needing to reboot when the kernel updated I was sold. The switch to Debian 2.0 (Potato, as in Mr. Potato Head from Toy Story) was the last wipe & install I've had to do and I think if I knew enough then, I could have used some slick debootstrap magic. The hardware needed to be replaced by then anyway.
Working with Debian has steeped me in the Perl culture and and CPAN quickly became my magical toolbox of getting things done. Need to talk to a database? DBI has you covered. Want to act like a web browser? Check out LWP. Need to play CGI? Well use CGI (in the beginning.) It wasn't long before we built out our own customer management system in Perl because we could and all the code others shared on CPAN made it possible.
If you contributed in any way to Debian, Perl or CPAN, thank you so much!
Happy Birthday Debian and CPAN!