Debian is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to developing free
software and promoting the ideals of the Free Software Foundation.
The Debian Project began in 1993, when Ian Murdock issued an open
invitation to software developers to contribute to a complete and
coherent software distribution based on the relatively new Linux
kernel. That relatively small band of dedicated enthusiasts,
originally funded by the
Free Software Foundation
and influenced by the
philosophy, has grown over the years into an organization of around
900 Debian Developers.
Debian Developers are involved in a variety of activities, including
site administration, graphic design, legal analysis of
software licenses, writing documentation, and, of course, maintaining
In the interest of communicating our philosophy and attracting
developers who believe in the principles that Debian stands for, the
Debian Project has published a number of documents that outline our
values and serve as guides to what it means to be a Debian Developer:
Debian Social Contract is
a statement of Debian's commitments to the Free Software Community.
Anyone who agrees to abide to the Social Contract may become a
Any maintainer can introduce new software into Debian — provided
that the software meets our criteria for being free, and the package
follows our quality standards.
Debian Free Software Guidelines are a
clear and concise statement of Debian's criteria for free software.
The DFSG is a very influential document in the Free Software Movement,
and was the foundation of the
The Open Source Definition.
Debian Policy Manual is an
extensive specification of the Debian Project's standards of quality.
Debian developers are also involved in a number of other projects;
some specific to Debian, others involving some or all of the Linux
community. Some examples include:
Linux Standard Base
(LSB) is a project aimed at standardizing the basic GNU/Linux system,
which will enable third-party software and hardware developers to
easily design programs and device drivers for Linux-in-general, rather
than for a specific GNU/Linux distribution.
Filesystem Hierarchy Standard
(FHS) is an effort to standardize the layout of the Linux
file system. The FHS will allow software developers to concentrate
their efforts on designing programs, without having to worry about how
the package will be installed in different GNU/Linux distributions.
is an internal project, aimed at making sure Debian has something to
offer to our youngest users.
For more general information about Debian, see the