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DistributionWatch Review: Debian GNU/Linux 2.1

Introducing Debian GNU/Linux

December 22, 1999

The Debian distribution holds a unique place among Linux distributions. Most Linux distributions are based primarily on software packages developed by volunteer organizations open to anyone, although the distributions themselves are usually closed commercial ventures. Debian, on the other hand, is developed entirely by volunteers. It is also formally referred to as Debian GNU/Linux.

The Debian organization does not directly manufacture or sell CDs or other media containing the software that it develops (a shrink-wrap version of Debian GNU/Linux is "sponsored" by O'Reilly, SGI and VA Linux Systems). Instead, it provides the software free of charge to both end-users and any vendor interested in selling and/or supporting the distribution. (For those readers who may be wondering about the name, it's derived from the names of its creator Ian Murdock and his wife Debra.) The Debian project is actually part of the Software in the Public Interest (SPI), a non-profit organization also dedicated to promoting hardware/software interoperability through the Open Hardware Certification Program.

Editor's note: in the interest of full disclosure, we should point out that Ed Petron has done some unpaid volunteer package maintenance on Debian GNU/Linux in the past.