Debian 1.2 Released
Software in the Public Interest
*** Debian GNU/Linux 1.2 ***
* 848 software packages. Twice as many as in Debian 1.1!
* 120 active package maintainers. Largest staff of any Linux distribution!
* Compatible with RPM and Slackware packages!
* Upgrade-in-place means you never have to re-install a Debian system.
* Retrieves and installs new software packages automatically via FTP!
Debian is a free Linux distribution. Its creators are 160 unpaid
volunteers from all over the world who collaborate via the Internet.
The quality of Debian can be favorably compared with the best of
commercial Unix and Linux systems. A detailed catalog of the software
packages in Debian can be found at http://www.debian.org/FTP/ .
Debian 1.2 is a special release for us. With this release we have shown
that Debian is a mature system, and we're capable of becoming the leading
Linux distribution. Debian's dedication to free software, our non-profit
nature, and our open development model make us unique among Linux
The Debian 1.2 system features the Linux 2.0.27 kernel. A
distinguishing feature of Debian is the most comprehensive package
system available for any Unix or Linux system. The package system
retrieves software packages from a Debian FTP site automatically or
reads them from a disk or CD-ROM, and can upgrade, install, or
un-install packages at your request. Package "dependencies", a feature
pioneered by Debian, mean that if one package requires another package
to work the package system will offer to retrieve and install the
required package. A new feature is automatic conversion of Red Hat or
Slackware packages to Debian packages using our "alien" program. The
converted packages are capable of installing, upgrading, and
un-installing themselves just as native Debian packages do.
There are ports of Debian 1.2 to the m68k, ALPHA, and SPARC in
progress. Prototype systems for the 68k and ALPHA already exist and
are available to developers. SPARC is just being bootstrapped, and a
MIPS port is expected eventually.
There are two versions of the Debian distribution: the "stable", and
the "development" version. The "stable" directory currently contains
Debian 1.2.0 . Point releases of "stable" happen every few weeks as
bug-fixes are submitted, but there are no large changes until the next
major release. The "development" version is where we are building
Debian 2.0 . The development directory is updated continuously, and you
can retrieve packages from the "development" archive on our FTP sites
and use them to upgrade your system at any time. Thus, users who need
stability are well-supported, and those who wish to be constantly at
the leading edge are accommodated just as well.
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. Although we're a separate organization
from FSF, our goals are similar and we maintain cordial relations with
Debian FTP sites are everywhere from Kansas to Croatia! A list of them
is available at http://www.debian.org/ftplist.html . Some sites have not
caught up with the Debian 1.2 distribution. Those that have caught up will
have a "Debian-1.2" directory. Two good FTP sites are:
The above sites carry a mirror listing in the file README.mirrors, so that
you can find your local FTP mirrors.
The installation floppy disk images and a full installation manual are
in the Debian-1.2/disks-i386/current subdirectory on these sites.
You can access the installation manual using the URL
The rest of the software packages are in the Debian-1.2/binary-i386
Visit our web site http://www.debian.org/ for more information about
To subscribe to the mailing lists, send the word "subscribe" to one of
There are a lot of experienced users on this list who can answer
any question you might have. There can be 50 messages a day or more
on this list.
Major system announcements. Averages only a few messages per month.
This is a list for announcements of new package uploads with bug fixes
for the stable version of the Debian system. It may carry many
announcements per day.
This is a list for announcements of new package uploads and bug fixes in
the development version of the Debian system. This is where you'll find
out about programs that have just been packaged for Debian. It may carry
many announcements per day.
The mailing lists have a "spam filter". As soon as you subscribe, you'll
be sent the mailing list rules, and you must agree to them before posting.
Questions and Answers
Q: How should Debian be compared to other Linux systems?
A: Debian is at least as good as any other Unix or Linux distribution,
even the most professional. Debian's most important feature is it's
package system, which is the most comprehensive available for any Unix
or Linux system. Red Hat's "RPM", used by a number of Linux
distributions, is the only comparable package system. RPM has picked
up a number of features that were pioneered in Debian, including our
use of package dependencies. Now we've made Debian capable of converting
Red Hat packages automatically, so that commercial programs for these
other Linux distributions can be installed on Debian.
One major difference between Debian and other Linux distributors is
that Debian is a non-profit organization, and the others are commercial
companies. Debian's aim is to work together with other Linux distributions
rather than compete with them. We respect these organizations and their
employees. We encourage all creators of Linux distributions to derive
components or their entire distributions from Debian.
Q: How compatible is Debian?
A: We communicate with other Linux distribution creators in an effort
to maintain binary compatibility across Linux distributions. Most
commercial Linux products run as well under Debian as they do on the
system upon which they were built. Our "alien" program allows you to
treat packages created for these other systems as if they were Debian
Q: What about Internationalization?
A: There's an active subgroup of our developers who are internationalizing
Debian. Translations of Debian documentation are available in several
different national languages.
Q: How do I become a Debian Developer?
A: We're looking for people who would like to contribute work to Linux
and be members of an international community of software developers
that's making something that matters! You can find all of the
developer's information in the "Debian Policy Manual" and "Dpkg
Programmer's Manual", available on our web site http://www.debian.org .
Q: Can I make and sell Debian CDs?
A: Go ahead. You don't need permission to distribute anything we've
_released_, although you should tell us you're making a CD so that we
can help you avoid a few costly mistakes. You don't have to pay us
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. Of course all CD manufacturers must
honor the licenses of the programs in Debian. For example, many of the
programs are licensed under the GPL, which requires you to distribute
their source code.
Q: What is "Software in the Public Interest"
A: It's a non-profit organization we formed to sponsor the Debian
effort. The purpose of the organization is to develop and distribute
free software. Our goals are much like those of FSF except that our
main project is a Linux system. We encourage programmers to use the GNU
General Public License or another license that allows free
redistribution and use of software.
* * *
The trademarks "Unix", "Red Hat", "Slackware", and "RPM" are the
property of their respective owners. Ownership of the name "Linux" is
currently in dispute.
Bruce Perens K6BP Bruce@Pixar.com
Finger bruce@master.Debian.org for PGP public key.
PGP fingerprint = 88 6A 15 D0 65 D4 A3 A6 1F 89 6A 76 95 24 87 B3
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