What is Debian OS?

Debian GNU/Linux or simply Debian is one of the oldest and in the meantime one of the most widely used operating systems in the world. This popularity is largely due to the fact that Debian is distributed as free open-source software under the GNU license. There are, however, other key advantages that have made it a top OS choice for millions of users worldwide. Debian is Unix-based and can be equally well used as a desktop and a server operating system, which makes it a multi-purpose solution for your machine, no matter whether you are a server administrator or just a regular user. Moreover, it can be very easily installed on your computer or server, despite the fact that its latest release, for example, includes more than twenty-six thousand software packages.

Debian is capable of serving more than 10 different computer architectures, ranging from Intel/AMD 32-bit/64-bit for personal computers to the ARM architecture typical for embedded systems and the IBM eServer zSeries mainframes. It uses the Linux kernel (free software started by Linus Torvalds and supported by thousands of developers online) and is the basis of a number of OS distributions such as: Ubuntu, MEPIS, Xandros, Knoppix, Linspire, Kanotix, Dreamlinux, LinEx and many others.

As mentioned above, Debian comes with more than twenty-six thousand packages, bundled up in a user-friendly format for users's utmost convenience. Among the most noteworthy features of Debian is the APT package management system, which allows for an easy automated installation and packages removal, if necessary.

The default Debian installation 'bundle' consists of over 20 CDs and several DVDs, including well-known programs such as OpenOffice.org, Iceweasel, Evolution mail, CD/DVD writing programs, music and video players, image viewers and editors, PDF viewers. To kickstart the default Debian installation, you only need the first CD/DVD item; the others include all extra programs and packages supported by the corresponding Debian version.

Debian is developed by programmers-volunteers from all parts of the world on an open development basis, which makes its constant testing and the addition of new functionalities and features possible. Its development is supported by donations through SPI - a non-profit umbrella organization for miscellaneous free open-source (FOSS) projects.

Debian Distribution Release Modes:

The Debian distribution is available in at least three modes:

Stable - the latest officially released Debian distribution. The present stable distribution of Debian GNU/Linux is version 4.0r4 (otherwise known as etch). It was released on July 26th, 2008.

Testing - contains packages that are in the queue for stable release. Its advantage over the stable mode is that it has more recent versions of software

Unstable also called sid. This distribution is under active development by programmers-volunteers.

Debian versions:

Debian 2.0 (also known as 'hamm')

The first official Debian version is no longer available, but is considered as an important part of the Debian development's history.

Debian 2.1 (also known as 'slink')

The distribution of this Debian version has been discontinued, making way for newer releases. This version supports the following architectures: Alpha, Motorola 680x0, SPARC, Intel x86.

Debian GNU/Linux 2.2 (also known as 'potato')

This version of Debian was released on August 14th, 2000 and can be obtained from the Internet or from CD vendors. It supports the following architectures: Alpha, ARM, Intel x86, Motorola 680x0, PowerPC, SPARC. Please mind that no security updates are supported for this distribution anymore.

Debian GNU/Linux 3.0 (also known as 'woody')

The fourth official Debian release in a row was introduced to the public on July 19th, 2002. It boasts many major changes such as the integration of cryptographic software (OpenSSH and GNU Privacy Guard) and the addition of the K Desktop Environment 2.2 (KDE) and several full-featured free graphical web browsers in the form of Mozilla, Galeon, and Konqueror. This version is characterized by a much simplified installation process, which is translated into numerous languages. Efforts have also been focused on increasing the task system's flexibility. This is the first Debian release compatible with version 2.2 of the Filesystem Hierarchy Standard (FHS).

Debian GNU/Linux 3.0 supports the following architectures: Alpha, ARM, HP PA-RISC, Intel x86, Intel IA-64, Motorola 680x0, MIPS (big endian), MIPS, (little endian), PowerPC, IBM S/390, SPARC. It can be obtained from the Internet and from CD vendors. However, bear in mind that security updates are no longer released for this Debian version.

Debian GNU/Linux 3.1 (also known as 'sarge')

This Debian release, introduced on June 6th, 2005, has a new, modular installation with integrated hardware detection, and is available in about 30 languages. It also comes with configuration of the X server for graphic card purposes. This version supports eleven architectures, including Alpha (alpha), ARM (arm), HP PA-RISC (hppa), Intel IA-64 (ia64), Intel IA-32 (i386), Motorola 68k (m68k), Sun SPARC (sparc), HP Motorola/IBM PowerPC (powerpc), MIPS (mips, mipsel), and IBM S/390 (s390). Debian GNU/Linux 3.1 runs on all types of computer machines, ranging from palmtops to supercomputers. It can be installed from various installation media such as DVDs, CDs, USB sticks, or from the network. Keep in mind, however, that no security updates are released for this Debian version anymore.

Debian GNU/Linux 4.0r4 (also known as 'etch')

What distinguishes this version from the previous releases the most is the added option for installation of newer hardware by users. It was released on July 26th, 2008 and also includes many corrections to security problems located in the previous stable distribution of Debian. The following computer architectures are supported: Alpha, AMD64, ARM, HP PA-RISC, Intel x86, Intel IA-64, MIPS (big endian), MIPS (little endian), PowerPC, IBM S/390, SPARC.

Debian GNU/Linux latest version (also known as 'lenny')

The latest Debian release is currently available in testing mode, meaning that its packages are included in this distribution only after they have been cleaned of defects within a certain period of time. As of now, no security updates for this testing distribution are supported