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Debian GNU/Linux


Image debianopenlogo

The reference distribution for this book, and my personal preference, is Debian GNU/Linux, the Linux for the GNU Generation.

I originally started with Slackware in 1993 but migrated through Red Hat and then quickly on to Debian in 1995. Red Hat (now Fedora Core) is a good distribution and is quite popular. However, Debian fundamentally conforms to the open and distributed development model making it a very open distribution where even you can make a change to it, if you so desired. Debian is the basis of a number of LiveCD and commercial distributions and it also powers quite a few web sites including Linux.com. Gentoo is an interesting, newer distribution, primarily for development workstations at the bleeding edge, using a model of compiling source for the installation rather than being a binary distribution. However, the same functionality is available in Debian through the wajig build command and appropriate tuning of /etc/apt/apt-build.conf.

Distributions based on Debian GNU/Linux are listed at http://www.debian.org/misc/children-distros and include:

GNUstep
GNUstep is a LiveCD that contains a lot of software for GNUstep, a free implementation of the OPENSTEP framework (which was also the base of Cocoa in Mac OS X). Display Postscript is one of its powerful features. It includes an excellent application called Gorm for RAD (Apple Software Design Guidelines). It is available from http://www.linuks.mine.nu/gnustep/
Hardened
Debian Hardened is a project that brings to Debian GNU/Linux high security and hardening features, hardened kernels nad packages (Stack Smashing Protector + PIE compiled), the DHKP and linux entropy pool enhancements (and the LTRNG) for strong cryptography. It is available from http://sourceforge.net/projects/debianhardened.
Knoppix
The Knoppix LiveCD distribution is based on Debian and allows one to run Debian without installing it! Just boot from the CD-ROM and Debian will run from there. If you decide to then install Debian, you can do so from the Knoppix CD-ROM. Knoppix works on most but not all hardware, trying its best to automatically identify hardware and set things up appropriately. See http://www.knopper.net/knoppix/index-en.html.
Libranet
Linux by Libranet packages commonly used applications onto an easy to install CD and includes, for example, Gnome. See http://www.libranet.com.
Linex
A Debian-based distribution being developed by the regional government of Extremadura (Spain) with the goal of migrating all the computer systems, from government offices, to businesses to schools into Linux.
Mepis
A Debian-based CDLive distribution with KDE.
Morphix
Morphix is a modular LiveCD derived from Knoppix, with install images for Games, Gnome, KDE, and LightGUI. It is available from http://www.morphix.org.
TuxTops
This distributor of laptops pre-installs Debian GNU/Linux on their laptops. See http://www.tuxtops.com/.
Ubuntu
Ubuntu is a distribution based on Debian and features GNOME 2.8 and is available for the x86, AMD64, and PowerPC architectures. It is a complete desktop Linux operating system, freely available with both community and professional support. The Ubuntu community is built on the ideas enshrined in the Ubuntu Manifesto: that software should be available free of charge, that software tools should be usable by people in their local language and despite any disabilities, and that people should have the freedom to customize and alter their software in whatever way they see fit. See http://www.ubuntulinux.org/.
UserLinux
Based on Debian GNU/Linux, UserLinux provides businesses with freely available, high quality GNU/Linux operating systems accompanied by certifications, service, and support options intended to encourage productivity and security while reducing overall costs. Their i386 install CD is only 4.5 MB large, with the remainder downloaded directly from Debian mirrors. The project is led by long-time open source advocate Bruce Perens. See http://www.userlinux.com/cgi-bin/wiki.pl.

You may also be interested in other distributions including TimeSys for embedded real time GNU/Linux (http://timesys.com/). See Section 4.1.1 for an example using a LiveCD.

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