We're delighted that you have decided to try Debian. We are sure that you will find that Debian is unique among operating system distributions. Debian brings together quality free software from around the world, integrating it into a coherent whole. The sum is truly more than the parts.
The Debian GNU/Linux distribution is made up of a number of software
packages. Each package consists of executables, scripts,
documentation, and configuration information. Each package has a
maintainer who is responsible for that package. In this
way, Debian grows scalably. Anyone who agrees to abide by
Debian Social Contract may
become a new maintainer. Any maintainer can introduce new software
into Debian -- provided it meets our criteria of being free, and the
package follows our quality standards.
Debian Free Software Guidelines
is a clear and concise statement of Debian's criteria for free
software. It is a very influential document in the Free Software
Movement, and provided the basis of the
Open Source Free Software Guidelines.
Only Debian has an extensive specification of our standards of
This document defines the qualities and standards to which we hold
To protect your system against trojan horses and other malevolent software, Debian verifies that packages have come from their real Debian maintainers. Debian packagers also take great care to configure the packages in a secure manner. If security problems do arise with shipped packages, fixes are generally quickly available. Simply by updating your systems periodically, you will download and install security fixes.
For more general information about Debian, see the
This document is continually changing. Make sure to check
Debian 2.1 pages for last minute
information about the 2.1 release. Updated versions of this
installation manual also available at the
Official Install Manual pages.
This document is meant to serve as a manual for first time Debian users. It tries to make as few assumptions as possible about the level of expertise of the reader. However, general knowledge of how your hardware works is assumed.
Expert users may also find interesting reference information in this document, including minimum installation sizes, details of hardware supported by the Debian installation system, and so on. I encourage expert users to jump around in the document.
In general, the document is arranged in linear fashion, walking the user through the installation process. Here are the steps, and the sections of this document which correlate with the steps.
dbootstrapfor Initial System Configuration, Chapter 7, Sections Introduction to
dbootstrap, Section 7.1 to ``Configure the Network'', Section 7.12.
dselect, in Installing the Rest of Your System, Section 7.23.
Once you've got your system installed, you can read Next Steps and Where to Go From Here, Chapter 8. This chapter explains where to look to find more information about Unix, Debian, and how to replace your kernel. In case you want to build your own install system from sources, take a look at Technical Information on the Boot Floppies, Chapter 9.
Finally, information about this document, and how to contribute to it, may be found in Administrivia, Chapter 10.
I'm sure you've read the licenses that come with most commercial software -- they say you can only use one copy of the software on one computer. The Debian GNU/Linux system isn't like that. We encourage you to put a copy on every computer in your school or place of business. Lend it to your friends, and help them install it on their computers. You can even make thousands of copies and sell them -- with a few restrictions. That's because Debian is based on free software.
Free software doesn't mean that it doesn't have a copyright, and it doesn't mean that the CD you buy containing this software is distributed at no charge. Free software, in part, means that the licenses of individual programs do not require you to pay for the privilege of distributing or using the programs. It also means that anyone may extend, adapt, and modify the software, and distribute the results of their work as well.
Many of the programs in the system are licensed under the GNU
General Public License, or GPL. The GPL requires
that you make the source code of the programs available
whenever you distribute a copy of the program; that ensures that you,
the user, are able to modify the software. Thus, we've included the
source code for all of those programs in the Debian
system. There are several other forms of copyright and
software license used on the programs in Debian. You can find the
copyrights and licenses of every program by looking in the file
/usr/doc/package-name/copyright once you've
installed your system.
For more information on licenses and how Debian decides what is free
enough to be included in the main distribution, see the
Debian Free Software Guidelines.
The most important legal notice is that this software comes with no warranties. The programmers who have created this software have done so for the benefit of the community. No guarantee is made as to the suitability of the software for any given purpose. However, since the software is free, you are empowered to modify software to suit your needs as needed -- and enjoy the benefits of others who have extended the software in this way.