Chapter 1. Definitions and overview
3
1.3 What is this new  Hurd  thing?
The Hurd is a set of servers running on top of the GNU Mach microkernel. Together they build
the base for the GNU operating system.
Currently, Debian is only available for Linux, but with Debian GNU/Hurd we have started
to offer the Hurd as a development, server and desktop platform, too. However, Debian
GNU/Hurd is not officially released yet, and won't be for some time.
Please see
http://www.gnu.org/software/hurd/
for more information about the
GNU/Hurd in general, and
http://www.debian.org/ports/hurd/
for more informa 
tion about Debian GNU/Hurd.
1.4 What is the difference between Debian GNU/Linux and other
Linux distributions? Why should I choose Debian over some
other distribution?
These key features distinguish Debian from other Linux distributions:
The Debian package maintenance system: The entire system, or any individual component
of it, can be upgraded in place without reformatting, without losing custom configura 
tion files, and (in most cases) without rebooting the system. Most Linux distributions
available today have some kind of package maintenance system; the Debian package
maintenance system is unique and particularly robust (see `Basics of the Debian package
management system' on page
25
).
Open development: Whereas other Linux distributions are developed by individuals, small,
closed groups, or commercial vendors, Debian is the only Linux distribution that is being
developed cooperatively by many individuals through the Internet, in the same spirit as
Linux and other free software.
More than 1649 volunteer package maintainers are working on over 15400 packages and
improving Debian GNU/Linux. The Debian developers contribute to the project not by
writing new applications (in most cases), but by packaging existing software according
to the standards of the project, by communicating bug reports to upstream developers,
and by providing user support. See also additional information on how to become a
contributor in `How can I become a Debian software developer?' on page
65
.
The Bug Tracking System: The geographical dispersion of the Debian developers required so 
phisticated tools and quick communication of bugs and bug fixes to accelerate the devel 
opment of the system. Users are encouraged to send bugs in a formal style, which are
quickly accessible by WWW archives or via e mail. See additional information in this
FAQ on the management of the bug log in `Are there logs of known bugs?' on page
62
.
The Debian Policy: Debian has an extensive specification of our standards of quality, the De 
bian Policy. This document defines the qualities and standards to which we hold Debian
packages.
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