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Debian je vrlo uspješan operativni sustav, koji je uvelike prisutan u našim digitalnim životima, čak i više nego je to poznato. Nekoliko mjerljivih podataka će to potvrditi. Za vrijeme pisanja ove knjige Debian je najpopularnija varijanta GNU/Linux sustava korištenog na web serverima: prema W3Techs više od 10% web-a koristi Debian servere. Razmislimo na trenutak: koliko web stranica bi bilo nedostupno danas da ne postoji Debian? Krenemo li prema specifičnijim instalacijama, Debian je operativni sustav Međunarodne svemirske stanice ( ISS ). Da li ste pratili rad ISS astronauta, bilo pomoću socijalnih mreža NASA-e ili drugih organizacija? Objavljivanje rezultata radova kao i poruka o ISS-u bilo je moguće zbog Debian sustava. Bezbroj tvrtki, fakulteta te javnih administracija se oslanja na Debian za svoje dnevne poslovne potrebe, pružajući usluge milijunima korisnika u svijetu...i njegovoj orbiti!
But Debian is much more than an operating system, no matter how complex, featureful, and reliable such a system could be. Debian is a vision of the freedoms that people should enjoy in a world where more and more of our daily activities depend on software. Debian is born from the cardinal Free Software idea that people should be in control of their computers, and not the other way around. People with enough software knowledge should be able to dismantle, modify, reassemble and share with others all the software that matters to them. It doesn't matter if the software is used for frivolous activities like posting pictures of kittens on the Web, or for potentially life-threatening tasks such as driving our cars and powering the medical devices which cure us — and Debian is used in all of the above scenarios; you should control it. People without in-depth software knowledge should enjoy those freedoms too: they should be able to delegate to people of their choice, people they trust, the audit or modification of software-based devices on their behalf.
U potrazi za kontrolom osoba nad mašinama, slobodni operativni sustavi imaju temeljnu ulogu: ne možete imati potpunu kontrolu nad računalom ako ne kontrolirate njen operativni sustav. Od tuda dolaze glavne ambicije Debian sustava: stvaranje najboljeg te kompletno slodobnog operativnog sustava. Više od 20 godina Debian je istovremeno razvijao slobodni operativni sustav te promovirao viziju slodobnih programskih rješenja. Debian je postavio vrlo visoke kriterije kada pričamo o slobodnim programskim rješenjima. Odluke Debian projekta o licenciranju programskih rješenja su rutinski ispitivane od strane međunarodnih organizacija, vlada te ostalih projekata slobodnih programskih rješenja ( Free Software projects ) prilikom odluke da li je neka aplikacija slobodno programsko rješenje ili to nije.
Ali ova politička vizija još uvijek nije dovoljno da se objasni Debianova jedinstvenost. Debian je također vrlo osebujan društveni eksperiment, čvrsto vezan za svoju neovisnost. Razmislite na trenutak o drugim glavnim distribucijama Besplatnog softvera, ili čak o popularnimvlasničkim operativnim sustavima. Vjerojatno je da možete povezati svaki od njih s velikom tvrtkom koja je bila glavna razvojna sila koja stoji iza projekta, ili u najmanju ruku upravitelj svih njezinih ne-razvojnih djelatnosti. Debian je drugačiji. Unutar Debian Projekta volonteri nameću na sebe odgovornost za sve aktivnosti koje su potrebne kako bi se Debian održavao živim i zdravim. Raznolikost tih aktivnosti je zapanjujuća: od prijevoda do administracije sustava, od marketinga do upravljanja, od organizacije konferencija do grafičkog dizajna, od knjigovodstva do pravnih pitanja ... da ne spominjemo pakiranje i razvoj programske podrške! Debian suradnici se pobrinu za sve navedeno.
Kao prva posljedica ovog radikalnog oblika slobode, Debian treba te se oslanja na vrlo raznoliku zajednicu volontera. Bilo kakva vještina iz gore navedenih područja, ili bilo kojih drugih područja, može biti investirana u Debian te korištena za poboljšanje projekta. Druga posljedica neovisnosti Debian sustava je u tome da se izbori Debian-a ne temelje na komercijalnim interesima pojedinih tvrtki — interesima koji ne garantiraju da će se uvijek podudarati sa ciljem promoviranja kontrole korisnika nad računalima, vidljivo iz nedavnih primjera tehnološke industrije.
One last aspect contributes to Debian's uniqueness: the way in which the social experiment is run. Despite the folklore of being bureaucratic, decision making in Debian is in fact highly distributed. There exist clearly defined areas of responsibility within the project. People in charge of those areas are free to drive their own boat. As long as they keep up with the quality requirements agreed upon by the community, no one can tell them what to do or how to do their job. If you want to have a say on how something is done in Debian, you need to put yourself on the line and be ready to take the job on your shoulders. This peculiar form of meritocracy — which we sometimes call do-ocracy — is very empowering for contributors. Anyone with enough skills, time, and motivation can have a real impact on the direction the project is taking. This is testified by a population of about 1 000 official members of the Debian Project, and several thousands of contributors world-wide. It is no wonder that Debian is often credited as the largest community-driven Free Software project in existence.
So Debian is quite unique. Are we the only ones noticing this? Definitely not. According to DistroWatch there are about 300 active Free Software distributions around. Half of that (about 140) are Debian derivatives. That means that they start from Debian, adapt it to fit the needs of their users — usually by adding, modifying, and rebuilding packages — and release the resulting product. In essence, derivatives apply the Free Software granted freedoms of modifying and redistributing copies not only to individual pieces of software, but to a distribution as a whole. The potential of reaching out to new Free Software users and contributors by the means of derivative distributions is huge. We believe that it is mainly thanks to that thriving ecosystem that Free Software is nowadays finally rivaling with proprietary software in fields which were historically considered hard to conquer, such as large desktop deployments. Debian sits at the root of the largest ecosystem of Free Software distributions in existence: even if you are not using Debian directly, and even if your distributor has not told you, chances are that you are benefiting right now from the work of the Debian community.
But Debian's uniqueness sometimes comes with unexpected consequences. A consequence of Debian's vision on digital freedoms has been the need of redefining what we mean by software. The Debian Project has since long realized that, as part of an operating system, you need to distribute a lot of non-software material: music, images, documentation, raw data, firmware, etc. But how do you apply software freedoms to that material? Should we have different requirements or should all material be held up to the same high standard of freedom? The Debian Project has decided for the latter: all material shipped as part of Debian should offer the same freedoms to its users. Such a radical philosophical position has far reaching effects. It means we cannot distribute non-free firmware, or artwork not meant to be used in commercial settings, or books that cannot be modified in order to avoid tarnishing (as book publishers folklore goes) the author's/publisher's reputation.
The book you have in your hands is different. It's a free as in freedom book, a book which is up to Debian freedom standards for every aspect of your digital life. For a very long time, the scarce availability of books like this one has been a significant shortcoming of Debian. It meant that there was little reading material that helped to spread Debian and its values, while at the same time embodying those values and showing off their advantages. But it also meant, ironically, that we had little such material that we could distribute as part of Debian itself. This is the first reputable book to address this shortcoming. You can apt install this book, you can redistribute it, you can fork this book or, better, submit bug reports and patches for it, so that others in the future can benefit from your contributions. The “maintainers” of this book — who are also its authors — are longstanding members of the Debian Project, who grok the freedom ethos that permeates every aspect of Debian and know first-hand what it means to take on the responsibility for important parts of Debian. By releasing this Free book they are doing, once more, such a wonderful service to the Debian community.
Nadamo se da ćete uživati u ovom kutku Debian slobode onoliko koliko smo mi uživali.
October 2015
Stefano Zacchiroli (Debian Project Leader 2010-2013), Lucas Nussbaum (Debian Project Leader 2013-2015) and Neil McGovern (Debian Project Leader 2015-incumbent)