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DistributionWatch Review: Debian GNU/Linux 2.1 - page 3

Introducing Debian GNU/Linux

  • December 22, 1999
  • By Ed Petron

Like other distributions, Debian provides the kernel and a required set of basic software packages, along with many optional apps and modules that can be installed or not depending on the user's needs. There are actually two archives available to users at any time: stable and unstable. As the designations suggest, the stable archive contains what are considered to be production quality packages, while the unstable archive is considered to be under development and contains packages which are more likely to contain serious bugs. This might be considered the distribution-level parallel to the kind of development structure employed by most free software projects. Each archive contains four distributions:

  • Main�These are packages that are published under the GPL or any other license free of redistribution restrictions. The Debian Social Contract determines which packages may be included in the main distribution.
  • Contrib�Packages that would be included in"main" except for the fact that they depend on software that isn't free.
  • Non-Free�Packages published under copyrights which restrict redistribution.
  • Non-US�Packages which cannot be exported from the USA. These are mostly packages that contain encryption software.
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