Debian GNU/Linux - What is it?


Debian GNU/Linux is a complete and powerful Unix-compatible operating system. The original and still most popular platforms for Debian GNU/Linux are IBM PC and compatible machines with an 80386 or better processor and ISA, EISA, VLB, PCI and PC-Card architecture. Support for the MCA architecture is only available through third parties. *Ports are underway to various other architectures based on other processor chips. The m68k port to the Atari and Amiga systems is approaching official release status.

Debian GNU/Linux uses the Linux kernel, and includes hundreds of software packages, including most GNU software, *TeX, and the *X Window System (*XFree86 version). Each package is an independent and modular unit, in that it is not associated with any particular release of the complete system or distribution scheme. Anyone can create their own packages and even upload them to be made available with the distribution or as a part of the distribution.

Debian GNU/Linux is best known for its upgradability. It is upgradable incrementally and "in place". This means that users can upgrade individual packages or entire systems when they become available without having to reformat and reinstall. A user can choose to upgrade certain new or updated components as they are released, or she can choose to install an entire new release at once. The package maintenance system, called dpkg, makes sure that package conflicts and dependencies are resolved, and it intelligently updates configuration files to preserve any changes the user made before the upgrade process.

In the past there have been public discussions about the relationship between Debian and the Free Software Foundation. Our position is stated clearly: We *cooperate.

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Last Modified: 25 Mar 1997. Copyright ©1997 SPI; See *license terms.