Chapter 1. Definitions and overview
list and descriptions of the packages currently available in Debian at any of the Debian
mirror sites (
free to use and redistribute: There is no consortium membership or payment required
to participate in its distribution and development. All packages that are formally part of
Debian GNU/Linux are free to redistribute, usually under terms specified by the GNU
General Public License.
The Debian FTP archives also carry approximately 450 software packages (in the
sections), which are distributable under specific terms included
with each package.
dynamic: With about 1649 volunteers constantly contributing new and improved code,
Debian is evolving rapidly. New releases are planned to be made every several months,
and the FTP archives are updated daily.
Although Debian GNU/Linux itself is free software, it is a base upon which value added Linux
distributions can be built. By providing a reliable, full featured base system, Debian provides
Linux users with increased compatibility, and allows Linux distribution creators to eliminate
duplication of effort and focus on the things that make their distribution special. See `I am
making a special Linux distribution for a vertical market . Can I use Debian GNU/Linux for
the guts of a Linux system and add my own applications on top of it?' on page
1.2 OK, now I know what Debian is. . . what is Linux?!
In short, Linux is the kernel of a Unix like operating system. It was originally designed for 386
(and better) PCs; now, ports to other systems, including multi processor systems, are under
development. Linux is written by Linus Torvalds and many computer scientists around the
Besides its kernel, a Linux system usually has:
a file system that follows the Linux Filesystem Hierarchy Standard
a wide range of Unix utilities, many of which have been developed by the GNU project
and the Free Software Foundation.
The combination of the Linux kernel, the file system, the GNU and FSF utilities, and the other
utilities are designed to achieve compliance with the POSIX (IEEE 1003.1) standard; see `How
source code compatible is Debian with other Unix systems?' on page
For more information about Linux, see Michael K. Johnson's Linux Information Sheet
) and Meta FAQ (