Debian – Linux Distribution

There are a number of OSs out there to choose from. The three main OSs are Mac OS, Windows, and Linux. With these OSs come different versions, and for some, there are different distributions. We will be covering a particular distribution of the Linux OS called Debian in this article. So, let’s start.

What Is Debian?

Debian was one of the first Linux distributions and has been available since ’93. The most current version is Debian 10. You may be thinking that after been around more than twenty years why does it have only ten releases, well, that’s largely because it is supported by a volunteer-based community that strictly adheres to an open-source ethos. It follows three different releases namely – stable, testing and unstable (more on this later). At the start of 2019, Debian had a 31.9% market share amongst the Linux distros running web servers for the web’s top 10 million sites.

Before we move further, let’s first go through a quick history of Fedora.

Debian’s History

As mentioned above, it was created in the ’93, and its creator was Ian Murdock. Its development was sponsored by GNU between ’94 and ’95. At its inception, Debian was the only Linux distro that allowed any user to contribute ideas. According to its official site, it remains the only large, non-commercial project that includes policy documents, a constitution, and a social contract, serving as interactive guidelines for ongoing development.

What Is It Good For?

When it comes to desktop use, I don’t think you’ll encounter many issues with Debian, especially if you choose your hardware carefully. If you’re building your own computer this will be extremely easy. If you’re dealing with a pre-built computer, maybe not as much but it’ll still be easy. Have an older computer? There’s a decent chance your hardware is supported.

Don’t expect the same for your laptop, as much of the hardware on newer laptops lacks open source drivers, meaning you’ll have to turn to non-free binaries (which is something Debian is strictly opposed to, more on this later). But that doesn’t mean you can’t run it on your laptop, you can certainly do so, its just you’ll have to put in a little work.  

Debian doesn’t have a bespoke server download. Instead, it offers a minimal base installer. The main choice is to pick the image for your CPU architecture. Once you’ve installed the base system you install the software you need. From here you can choose server software or a more desktop-oriented installation. Debian is frequently used in server environments for a couple of reasons. One of the primary one is its reputation for stability. Its explain more in detial in the next section. 

Debian’s Release schedules

As said before, Debian has three different releases; stable, testing, and unstable. Before we get into that, here is something you should know, Debian is a community distribution (as mentioned above). It’s governed by a board of elected developers. It has it’s own internal structure and laws. Just about everyone working on Debian is a volunteer.

Stable releases are unscheduled but tend to be about once every two years. As a result of this large gap between releases, Debian can be seen as being quite slow to introduce new technology. The software and technology in Debian is usually fairly outdated. In fact, it’s usually outdated when the distribution first ships. Now, that’s not much of an issue for servers, but it’s awful for desktops. 

On the positive side, since the older packages that it ships with have been tested and verified, so they’re less likely to have bugs thus making the Debian stable releases insanely stable. I cannot think of any other distribution bieng as reliable as Debian. 

It offers security support for stable releases until 1 year after the next stable release. Debian 8 was released in April ’15, which meant that security support for Debian 7 ended in April ’16. And Debian 7 was released in May ’13, so effectively it’s about 3 years. On top of the security support, for newer releases, long-term support (LTS) is offered for 5 years after the initial release date.

Debian Testing, on the other hand, is much more fluid. The Debian project actively engineers their next stable release in the testing branch. Finally, Debian has it’s unstable, Sid, release. Its where Debian tests out the absolute latest software. While you can run Sid, but i’ll recommend that you do not. You can, however, use Apt preferences to use certain packages from Sid, like Firefox, to get the latest releases early.

Who Uses Debian?

This Linux flavor is often considered to be more suitable for Linux advanced users than beginners. It’s more complicated to install as there’s an assumed level of knowledge required. Assuming the user has this knowledge, the Debian installer gives a higher degree of control and customization over its configuration. This is one of the reasons it’s the preferred Linux distro for experienced users.

What Software’s Available On It?

The default Debian install makes a vast amount of software available, all of it easily installable from within Debian itself using the package management tools. Historically Debian has had more software in its repositories than any other Linux Distribution. However, Unlike some other Linux distros, only free software packages are available.

Debian takes a strict stance on free software. They see proprietary software as a sort of last resort. You won’t find any proprietary software in a default Debian installation. Although, you will be able to find some non-free binaries in the Debian non-free repositories.

Where to Get It?

You can easily download it from its official website

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