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DistributionWatch Review: Debian GNU/Linux 2.2 - page 2

Slow Development, Instant Upgrade

  • August 17, 2000
  • By Michael Hall

One of the strengths of the distribution is the wide variety of platforms it supports:

  • ARM
  • PowerPC
  • SPARC
  • Intel x86
  • Alpha
  • Motorola 680x0

The ARM and PowerPC are the newest additions to the list, and they allow the distribution to run on iMacs and Netwinders. According to the release announcement, Debian is now able to run on more architectures than any other distribution.

Newer x86 chips are also well supported in this release: the Duron we used for this review ran without a hitch when we performed a fresh installation, which wasn't something we could claim with some of the last wave of 2.2-based distributions during some recent tests.

The release notes cover the differences in each of the architectures. Some ship with slightly different features, though all are compiled from the same source.

Getting Debian
Debian is available through several methods. CD images can be downloaded, FTP is available, several of the popular sites providing low-cost copies on CD have been accepting pre-orders for some time, and a collection of installation floppy images can be downloaded which, in concert with a working network connection, allow for a net-based installation.

Because the Debian organization itself is non-commercial, there are no differences in the content of the different distribution methods. Given the cash for the extra CDs aside from the one required for an installation, or the bandwidth to download whatever you want, the entire distribution is freely available.

The basic CD provides a fully functional distribution on its own, with most of the packages a working desktop machine or common server installation will require.

Because of Debian's stance on licensing issues, an archive is maintained to provide non-free software such as Netscape, which will install as a binary Debian package the same as any free software package. Software that runs athwart of US cryptography restrictions is available via the "non-US" archives as well. Though not technically part of Debian, the non-free packages are still part of the distribution's bug-tracking database, and receive support via the mailing lists, which form the bulk of support for Debian users.

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