Debian 1.1 Public Beta-Test Announcement
Public Beta Test Announcement
This is the announcement of the public opening of the Debian 1.1 beta
test. We've had some problems with the mirror systems, so the message
_after_this_one_ will contain special instructions for downloading the
last few files that will make up your system.
Debian is a free-software Linux system. It is entirely free to use and
re-distribute, and there is no consortium membership or payment
required to participate in its distribution and development. The
development organization is non-profit.
The 1.1 system is based on ELF executables, and can be compared with
proprietary Unix systems and the very best of commercial Linux
distributions. A distinguishing feature of the system is the very
sophisticated "package system". This allows the user to install,
upgrade, and delete individual system components without reformatting a
disk, losing configuration files, etc. The package system is based on
"dependencies" - for example, the "gcc" compiler package depends on
another package called "binutils" that includes the linker and assembler.
If you ask to install "gcc", the package system will point out that you
also need "binutils", and will install it if you approve.
There is a port of 1.1 to 68k processors in progress at present, and
ports to Alpha and Sparc are expected after this.
Debian is derived from software licensed under the GPL, BSD,
Artistic, and other licenses. The entire core of the system and almost
every software package is freely redistributable software. A few
non-critical programs that are not freely redistributable are in the
non-free directory of our FTP archive, but none of these are necessary
to install or operate the system.
Debian was created by Ian Murdock in 1993, and Ian's work was sponsored
for one year by FSF's GNU project. Debian should be considered a direct
descendent of the GNU system. The goals of the Debian developers
correspond to those of FSF and the Free Software movement, however we
currently are a separate entity from FSF.
Besides being an excellent full-featured stand-alone ELF Linux system.
Debian is also a base upon which value-added Linux distributions can be
built. By providing a reliable, full-featured base system, Debian
provides Linux users with increased compatibility, and allows Linux
distribution creators to eliminate duplication-of-effort and focus on
the things that make their distribution special.
Debian's WWW pages can be found at http://www.debian.org/ . Documentation,
a mailing-list archive, pointers to CD manufacturers, and our bug-list
can be found at that site.
To subscribe to the mailing lists, send the word "subscribe" to one of these
This is a very low-traffic list for major system announcements.
This is a list for announcements of new package uploads for the Debian
system. It may carry several announcements in a day.
This is a high volume list of user questions and answers.
Questions and Answers
Q: How should Debian be compared to other Linux systems?
A: Debian is at least as good as any other Linux distribution, even the
most professional. Debian's most important feature is it's package
system, which allows the entire system, or any individual component,
to be up-graded in place without reformatting, without losing custom
configuration files, and (in most cases) without rebooting the system.
Red Hat, which we consider to be the best non-Debian system available,
is the only other distribution with a similar upgrade mechanism. One
major difference between us and Red Hat is that Red Hat is a for-profit
business, and Debian is a non-profit organization. Both distributions
share a dedication to free software. We like the people at Red Hat,
we admire the work they've done, and we see no reason to put down their
system in order to promote our own.
Debian's aim is to work together with other Linux developers rather
than compete with them. For example, we encourage all creators of Linux
distributions to take components from Debian. We are aware of the
parallel work that Red Hat has done on packaging systems, and would
like to come to some sort of package merge with them.
Q: What about the Free Software Foundation's GNU Project?
A: FSF is still planning a GNU operating system which is based on HURD.
I think they considered Debian as a first step toward this system.
We still encourage them to derive from Debian. We had a more
formal relationship with FSF some time ago, in that they employed Ian
Murdock for a year while he was project leader, and we then called the
system "Debian GNU/Linux". We still support the goals of FSF and like to
think of Debian as "Son of GNU". However, we've separated our organization
from FSF so that we can have exclusive control over our technical direction.
Q: Can I make and sell Debian CDs?
A: Go ahead. You don't need permission to distribute anything we've
_released_, so that you can master your CD as soon as the beta-test
ends. You don't have to pay us or anything. We will, however, publish a
list of CD manufacturers who donate money, software, and time to the
Debian project, and we'll encourage users to buy from manufacturers who
donate, so it's good advertising to make donations.
Q: Can Debian be packaged with non-free software?
A: Yes. While all the main components of Debian are free software, we
provide a non-free directory for programs that aren't freely
redistributable, and CD manufacturers may be able to distribute the
programs we've placed in that directory, depending on their license
terms with the authors of those software packages. CD manufacturers
can also distribute the non-free software they get from other sources
on the same CD. This is nothing new: GPL-ed and commercial software are
distributed on the same CD by many manufacturers now.
We still encourage software authors to release the programs they
write as free software.
Q: Is source code included with the system?
A: Source code is included for everything. Most of the license terms of
programs in the system require that source code be distributed along with
the programs. Thus, it's not OK to make a CD of executable programs without
the source code.
Q: I'm making a special Linux distribution for a "vertical market". Can
I use Debian 1.1 for the guts of a Linux system and add my own
applications on top of it?
A: Yes. For example, one person is building a "Linux for Hams"
distribution, with specialized programs for Radio Amateurs. He's starting
with Debian as the "base system", and adding programs to control the
transmitter, track satellites, etc. All of the programs he adds are packaged
with the Debian package system so that his users will be able to upgrade
easily when he releases subsequent CDs.
Q: Can I put the Beta-Test software on a CD?
A: We'd rather you wait for the release. We feel that the delay in CD
production would mean that by the time your CD was sold, the released
software would be available and your CD would be obsolete. However, if
you are able to produce CD-writable "gold CDs" from an up-to-date mirror
of our FTP archive and get them to users within a few days of when they
are written, that would be a good way to help people who don't have the
bandwidth to download the entire archive over the net.
Q: How do I become a Debian Developer?
A: First, download the Distribution and install it on your system.
Then, find a program you'd like to package that is not presently
part of Debian. Then, write to Bruce@Pixar.com requesting to be
added to the Developers list. Developers documentation can be found
on our WWW site http://www.debian.org/ .
* * *
The message after this one will contain special download instructions.
Debian Project Leader