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Why Debian GNU/Linux?

Debian GNU/Linux is one of the main and earlier GNU/Linux distribution. You may wonder why it is our preferred distribution. Here is why [1].

  • it is entirely Free Software
  • it is entirely done by volunteers, and, as such, is not dependent upon any single company anywhere (it also means no-one could ever claim you anything for using it)
  • it is secure by default (no network services is running by default), and a great care is put on sensible files permissions
  • it is very reliable (each single piece of software has been thoroughly tested before getting into the « Stable » release)
  • it has a complete security update system (http://www.debian.org/security/). As they say themselves: « Debian takes security very seriously. Most security problems brought to our attention are corrected within 48 hours »
  • it is quite up-to-date (even for Free Software, which can be really difficult to follow!)
  • it is possible to deactivate every unnecessary service
  • all important configuration files are text-files (easy to parse, modify, and check differences between versions)
  • source is available for every and each package, and you can even rebuild it from the ground up yourself
  • it is possible to install only absolutely required programs (and you don’t need any extra software just for configuration)
  • it is easy to add programs or update already installed ones (more than 8710 software packages available in Woody!)
  • it is possible to upgrade from one version of the distribution to the next one (in most cases online, and even without having to reboot!)
  • it is fully FHS 2.2 compliant, which means every single file can be easily located on the filesystem (easy to find important files or notice unneeded ones)
  • it supports a wide range of hardware devices (changing hardware is not a big deal either) and architectures (see http://www.debian.org/ports)
  • a lot of documentation is available, and a lot of helpful people uses it around the world
  • shell commands history is activated by default
  • UNIX-alike (remotely manageable, scalable, network-aware (lots of network tools available), hierarchical filesystem (mount points easily splitable/spreadable), powerful scripting capabilities, …)
  • it uses security tweaks when possible (ex: chroot jail for some potentially weak services, no such service is installed or running on the machines we install)
  • it is widely available (everyone with an Internet connection can get it)
  • it is “clean”
  • it is easily replicable to different machines (see: Replicate Debian GNU/Linux installations with Replicator)
  • a lot of mirrors exist all around the world
  • it exists in different flavours and many more are coming soon (ex.: Debian GNU/Hurd, Debian *BSD, Debian Win32, …) and various distributions (commercial or not) use it as base nowadays (see Custom Debian Distributions)
  • it has a very advanced QA, including a Bug Tracking System
  • we master it, really ;-)

[1] you could find this useful too: http://www.debian.org/intro/why_debian.fr.html

This article was first written in October 2003 for
the BeezNest technical website (http://glasnost.beeznest.org/articles/73)
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