One of the oldest distributions of Linux, Debian GNU/Linux has an awesome reputation. At the heart of this distribution is a faithful community of programmers, all dedicated to advancing free software.
This is the purest in the sense of noncommercial and most stable flavor of Linux because all base components are community created, community supported, and no-strings-attached free. There are over 500 developers working together from around the world to put out the latest version.
Debian is the oldest distribution that does not have corporate strings attached. However, because this distribution is volunteer driven, the releases tend to be slow. This slowness could be considered a drawback, but in my opinion, it’s worth the wait.
How did Debian get its start?
In 1993, Ian Murdock attempted to create a distribution that combined the Linux kernel with GNU. In the process, the concept of packages developed. A package is a collection of all the compiled components needed to make a program work.
Each package includes information about install location, configuration and any other packages it need to use. These packages were organized to allow others to contribute to the distribution.
In 1996, Ian stepped down as the Debian leader and started up Progeny Linux Systems, an Open Source company that to offer a product called Linux NOW to organizations with large numbers of computers. This company’s goal is to take a network of computers and make it function as if it were one computer.
Progeny chooses to use the Debian GNU/Linux distribution instead of creating its own highly customized flavor. It also plans on adding to Debian the same easy-to-use features that the commercial distributions enjoy.
Progeny Linux Systems is completely behind the Debian distribution and wants to see it become as competitive as the commercial versions. With over 4,000 packages available and six complete ports to different platforms, Debian is by far the largest distribution.
Debian GNU/Linux is not only the largest distribution, but it is also the most tightly guarded in terms of being freely distributed. No software that contains licensing variants other than the terms found in the Debian Free Software Guidelines—which plainly states the core values of its development model—are allowed.
The Debian developers work hard to achieve zero down time from installations, configurations, and upgrades and Debian is the only distribution that comes close. Debian’s package-management system seamlessly performs complete, in-place upgrades without the need for system restarts.
Even though this post mentions some important names associated with Debian, the real heart and soul behind Debian is the community. These men and women spend their free time working on the code with an understanding that the software is shared freely around the world.
The future of Debian rests on the shoulders of these people. Are you ready to become one?
Debian GNU/Linux is one of the best-kept secrets, found mostly among developer communities, hobbyists, and academia. Though Debian isn’t destined for the fasttrack commercial distribution, there is a strong movement just the same to make Debian a viable alternative to compete with those other distributions.
The future of Debian is bright. Expect it to include distributions for more platforms as time passes. Debian doesn’t have a corporation marketing it, but that doesn’t mean that there is nothing worthwhile about it. Actually, because a corporation is not pushing it along, it is one of the strongest, most stable Linux distributions available.