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operating system /deb'ee`n/, *not* /deeb'ee`n/ The
non-profit volunteer organisation responsible for Debian
GNU/Linux and Debian GNU/Hurd. Debian's Linux
distribution is dedicated to free and open source software;
the main goal of the distribution is to ensure that one can
download and install a fully-functional operating system
that is completely adherent to the Debian Free Software
Guidelines (DFSG).
Debian was begun in August 1993 by Ian Murdock, and was
sponsored by the Free Software Foundation from November 1994
to November 1995. The name Debian is a contraction of DEB(ra)
and IAN Murdock.
Debian's packaging system (dpkg) is similar to other popular
packaging systems like RPM. There are over 2200 packages of
precompiled software available in the main (free) section of
the Debian 2.1 distribution alone -- this is what sets Debian
apart from many other Linux distributions. The high quality
and huge number of official packages (most Debian systems'
/usr/local/ remains empty -- almost everything most Linux
users want is officially packaged) are what draw many people
to use Debian.
Another unique aspect to the Debian project is the open
development; pre-releases are made available from Day 1 and if
anyone wishes to become a Debian developer, all that is needed
is proof of identification and a signed PGP or GPG key.
There are over 400 Debian developers all around the world --
many developers have never met face-to-face, and most
development talks take place on the many mailing lists and
the IRC network.