1.3. What is Debian GNU/Linux?
The combination of Debian's philosophy and methodology and the GNU
tools, the Linux kernel, and other important free software, form a
unique software distribution called Debian GNU/Linux. This
distribution is made up of a large number of software
packages. Each package in the distribution
contains executables, scripts, documentation, and configuration
information, and has a maintainer who is
primarily responsible for keeping the package up-to-date, tracking bug
reports, and communicating with the upstream author(s) of the packaged
software. Our extremely large user base, combined with our bug
tracking system ensures that problems are found and fixed quickly.
Debian's attention to detail allows us to produce a high-quality,
stable, and scalable distribution. Installations can be easily
configured to serve many roles, from stripped-down firewalls to
desktop scientific workstations to high-end network servers.
Debian is especially popular among advanced users because of its
technical excellence and its deep commitment to the needs and
expectations of the Linux community. Debian also introduced many
features to Linux that are now commonplace.
For example, Debian was the first Linux distribution to include a
package management system for easy installation and removal of
software. It was also the first Linux distribution that could be
upgraded without requiring reinstallation.
Debian continues to be a leader in Linux development. Its development
process is an example of just how well the Open Source development
model can work — even for very complex tasks such as building and
maintaining a complete operating system.
The feature that most distinguishes Debian from other Linux
distributions is its package management system. These tools give the
administrator of a Debian system complete control over the packages
installed on that system, including the ability to install a single
package or automatically update the entire operating system.
Individual packages can also be protected from being updated. You can
even tell the package management system about software you have
compiled yourself and what dependencies it fulfills.
To protect your system against “Trojan horses” and other malevolent
software, Debian's servers verify that uploaded packages come from
their registered Debian maintainers. Debian packagers also take great
care to configure their packages in a secure manner. When security
problems in shipped packages do appear, fixes are usually available
very quickly. With Debian's simple update options, security fixes can
be downloaded and installed automatically across the Internet.
The primary, and best, method of getting support for your Debian GNU/Linux
system and communicating with Debian Developers is through
the many mailing lists maintained by the Debian Project (there are
more than 160 at this writing). The easiest
way to subscribe to one or more of these lists is visit
Debian's mailing list subscription page and fill out the form
you'll find there.