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DeveloperDebian_header_cell_0_0_0 The Debian ProjectDebian_cell_0_0_1
OS familyDebian_header_cell_0_1_0 Unix-likeDebian_cell_0_1_1
Working stateDebian_header_cell_0_2_0 CurrentDebian_cell_0_2_1
Source modelDebian_header_cell_0_3_0 Open sourceDebian_cell_0_3_1
Initial releaseDebian_header_cell_0_4_0 September 1993; 27 years ago (1993-09)Debian_cell_0_4_1
Latest releaseDebian_header_cell_0_5_0 10.7 (Buster) (December 5, 2020; 8 days ago (2020-12-05))Debian_cell_0_5_1
Latest previewDebian_header_cell_0_6_0 11 (Bullseye)Debian_cell_0_6_1
RepositoryDebian_header_cell_0_7_0 Q7715973#P1324Debian_cell_0_7_1
Available inDebian_header_cell_0_8_0 75 languagesDebian_cell_0_8_1
Update methodDebian_header_cell_0_9_0 Long-term supportDebian_cell_0_9_1
Package managerDebian_header_cell_0_10_0 APT (front-end), dpkgDebian_cell_0_10_1
PlatformsDebian_header_cell_0_11_0 x86-64, arm64, , armhf, i386, mips, mipsel, mips64el, ppc64el, s390x, riscv64 (in progress)Debian_cell_0_11_1
Kernel typeDebian_header_cell_0_12_0 Linux kernelDebian_cell_0_12_1
UserlandDebian_header_cell_0_13_0 GNUDebian_cell_0_13_1
Default user interfaceDebian_header_cell_0_14_0 Debian_cell_0_14_1
LicenseDebian_header_cell_0_15_0 DFSG-compatible licensesDebian_cell_0_15_1
Official websiteDebian_header_cell_0_16_0 Q7715973#P856Debian_cell_0_16_1

Debian (/ˈdɛbiən/), also known as Debian GNU/Linux, is a Linux distribution composed of free and open-source software, developed by the community-supported Debian Project, which was established by Ian Murdock on August 16, 1993. Debian_sentence_0

The first version of Debian (0.01) was released on September 15, 1993, and its first stable version (1.1) was released on June 17, 1996. Debian_sentence_1

The Debian Stable branch is the most popular edition for personal computers and servers. Debian_sentence_2

Debian is also the basis for many other distributions, most notably Ubuntu. Debian_sentence_3

Debian is one of the oldest operating systems based on the Linux kernel. Debian_sentence_4

The project is coordinated over the Internet by a team of volunteers guided by the Debian Project Leader and three foundational documents: the Debian Social Contract, the Debian Constitution, and the Debian Free Software Guidelines. Debian_sentence_5

New distributions are updated continually, and the next candidate is released after a time-based freeze. Debian_sentence_6

Since its founding, Debian has been developed openly and distributed freely according to the principles of the GNU Project. Debian_sentence_7

Because of this, the Free Software Foundation sponsored the project from November 1994 to November 1995. Debian_sentence_8

When the sponsorship ended, the Debian Project formed the nonprofit organization Software in the Public Interest to continue financially supporting development. Debian_sentence_9

Features Debian_section_0

Debian has access to online repositories that contain over 51,000 packages. Debian_sentence_10

Debian officially contains only free software, but non-free software can be downloaded and installed from the Debian repositories. Debian_sentence_11

Debian includes popular free programs such as LibreOffice, Firefox web browser, Evolution mail, K3b disc burner, VLC media player, GIMP image editor, and Evince document viewer. Debian_sentence_12

Debian is a popular choice for servers, for example as the operating system component of a LAMP stack. Debian_sentence_13

Kernels Debian_section_1

Several flavors of the Linux kernel exist for each port. Debian_sentence_14

For example, the i386 port has flavors for IA-32 PCs supporting Physical Address Extension and real-time computing, for older PCs, and for x86-64 PCs. Debian_sentence_15

The Linux kernel does not officially contain firmware without sources, although such firmware is available in non-free packages and alternative installation media. Debian_sentence_16

Desktop environments Debian_section_2

Debian offers CD and DVD images specifically built for XFCE, GNOME, KDE, MATE, Cinnamon, LXDE, and LXQT. Debian_sentence_17

MATE is officially supported, while Cinnamon support was added with Debian 8.0 Jessie. Debian_sentence_18

Less common window managers such as Enlightenment, Openbox, Fluxbox, IceWM, Window Maker and others are available. Debian_sentence_19

The default desktop environment of version 7.0 Wheezy was temporarily switched to Xfce, because GNOME 3 did not fit on the first CD of the set. Debian_sentence_20

The default for the version 8.0 Jessie was changed again to Xfce in November 2013, and back to GNOME in September 2014. Debian_sentence_21

Localization Debian_section_3

Several parts of Debian are translated into languages other than American English, including package descriptions, configuration messages, documentation and the website. Debian_sentence_22

The level of software localization depends on the language, ranging from the highly supported German and French to the barely translated Creek and Samoan. Debian_sentence_23

The Debian 10 installer is available in 76 languages. Debian_sentence_24

Installation Debian_section_4

Debian offers DVD and CD images for installation that can be downloaded using BitTorrent or jigdo. Debian_sentence_25

Physical discs can also be bought from retailers. Debian_sentence_26

The full sets are made up of several discs (the amd64 port consists of 13 DVDs or 84 CDs), but only the first disc is required for installation, as the installer can retrieve software not contained in the first disc image from online repositories. Debian_sentence_27

Debian offers different network installation methods. Debian_sentence_28

A minimal install of Debian is available via the netinst CD, whereby Debian is installed with just a base and later added software can be downloaded from the Internet. Debian_sentence_29

Another option is to boot the installer from the network. Debian_sentence_30

Installation images are hybrid on some architectures and can be used to create a bootable USB drive (Live USB). Debian_sentence_31

The default bootstrap loader is GNU GRUB version 2, though the package name is simply grub, while version 1 was renamed to grub-legacy. Debian_sentence_32

This conflicts with e.g. Fedora, where grub version 2 is named grub2. Debian_sentence_33

The default desktop may be chosen from the DVD boot menu among GNOME, KDE Plasma, Xfce and LXDE, and from special disc 1 CDs. Debian_sentence_34

Live images Debian_section_5

Debian releases live install images for CDs, DVDs and USB thumb drives, for IA-32 and x86-64 architectures, and with a choice of desktop environments. Debian_sentence_35

These Debian Live images allow users to boot from removable media and run Debian without affecting the contents of their computer. Debian_sentence_36

A full install of Debian to the computer's hard drive can be initiated from the live image environment. Debian_sentence_37

Personalized images can be built with the live-build tool for discs, USB drives and for network booting purposes. Debian_sentence_38

History Debian_section_6

Debian version history Debian_section_7

Main article: Debian version history Debian_sentence_39

Debian distribution codenames are based on the names of characters from the Toy Story films. Debian_sentence_40

Debian's unstable trunk is named after Sid, a character who regularly destroyed his toys. Debian_sentence_41

Founding (1993–1998) Debian_section_8

Debian was first announced on August 16, 1993, by Ian Murdock, who initially called the system "the Debian Linux Release". Debian_sentence_42

The word "Debian" was formed as a portmanteau of the first name of his then-girlfriend (later ex-wife) Debra Lynn and his own first name. Debian_sentence_43

Before Debian's release, the Softlanding Linux System (SLS) had been a popular Linux distribution and the basis for Slackware. Debian_sentence_44

The perceived poor maintenance and prevalence of bugs in SLS motivated Murdock to launch a new distribution. Debian_sentence_45

Debian 0.01, released on September 15, 1993, was the first of several internal releases. Debian_sentence_46

Version 0.90 was the first public release, providing support through mailing lists hosted at Pixar. Debian_sentence_47

The release included the Debian Linux Manifesto, outlining Murdock's view for the new operating system. Debian_sentence_48

In it he called for the creation of a distribution to be maintained openly, in the spirit of Linux and GNU. Debian_sentence_49

The Debian project released the 0.9x versions in 1994 and 1995. Debian_sentence_50

During this time it was sponsored by the Free Software Foundation for one year. Debian_sentence_51

Ian Murdock delegated the base system, the core packages of Debian, to Bruce Perens and Murdock focused on the management of the growing project. Debian_sentence_52

The first ports to non-IA-32 architectures began in 1995, and Debian 1.1 was released in 1996. Debian_sentence_53

By that time and thanks to Ian Jackson, the dpkg package manager was already an essential part of Debian. Debian_sentence_54

In 1996, Bruce Perens assumed the project leadership. Debian_sentence_55

Perens was a controversial leader, regarded as authoritarian and strongly attached to Debian. Debian_sentence_56

He drafted a social contract and edited suggestions from a month-long discussion into the Debian Social Contract and the Debian Free Software Guidelines. Debian_sentence_57

After the FSF withdrew their sponsorship in the midst of the free software vs. open source debate, Perens initiated the creation of the legal umbrella organization Software in the Public Interest instead of seeking renewed involvement with the FSF. Debian_sentence_58

He led the conversion of the project from a.out to ELF. Debian_sentence_59

He created the BusyBox program to make it possible to run a Debian installer on a single floppy, and wrote a new installer. Debian_sentence_60

By the time Debian 1.2 was released, the project had grown to nearly two hundred volunteers. Debian_sentence_61

Perens left the project in 1998. Debian_sentence_62

Ian Jackson became the leader in 1998. Debian_sentence_63

Debian 2.0 introduced the second official port, m68k. Debian_sentence_64

During this time the first port to a non-Linux kernel, Debian GNU/Hurd, was started. Debian_sentence_65

On December 2, the first Debian Constitution was ratified. Debian_sentence_66

Leader election (1999–2005) Debian_section_9

From 1999, the project leader was elected yearly. Debian_sentence_67

The Advanced Packaging Tool was deployed with Debian 2.1. Debian_sentence_68

The number of applicants was overwhelming and the project established the new member process. Debian_sentence_69

The first Debian derivatives, namely Libranet, Corel Linux and Stormix's Storm Linux, were started in 1999. Debian_sentence_70

The 2.2 release in 2000 was dedicated to Joel Klecker, a developer who died of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Debian_sentence_71

In late 2000, the project reorganized the archive with new package "pools" and created the Testing distribution, made up of packages considered stable, to reduce the freeze for the next release. Debian_sentence_72

In the same year, developers began holding an annual conference called DebConf with talks and workshops for developers and technical users. Debian_sentence_73

In May 2001, Hewlett-Packard announced plans to base its Linux development on Debian. Debian_sentence_74

In July 2002, the project released version 3.0, code-named Woody, the first release to include cryptographic software, a free licensed KDE and internationalization. Debian_sentence_75

During these last release cycles, the Debian project drew considerable criticism from the free software community because of the long time between stable releases. Debian_sentence_76

Some events disturbed the project while working on Sarge, as Debian servers were attacked by fire and hackers. Debian_sentence_77

One of the most memorable was the Vancouver prospectus. Debian_sentence_78

After a meeting held in Vancouver, release manager Steve Langasek announced a plan to reduce the number of supported ports to four in order to shorten future release cycles. Debian_sentence_79

There was a large reaction because the proposal looked more like a decision and because such a drop would damage Debian's aim to be "the universal operating system". Debian_sentence_80

Sarge and later releases (2005–present) Debian_section_10

The 3.1 Sarge release was made in June 2005. Debian_sentence_81

This release updated 73% of the software and included over 9,000 new packages. Debian_sentence_82

A new installer with a modular design, Debian-Installer, allowed installations with RAID, XFS and LVM support, improved hardware detection, made installations easier for novice users, and was translated into almost forty languages. Debian_sentence_83

An installation manual and release notes were in ten and fifteen languages respectively. Debian_sentence_84

The efforts of Skolelinux, Debian-Med and Debian-Accessibility raised the number of packages that were educational, had a medical affiliation, and ones made for people with disabilities. Debian_sentence_85

In 2006, as a result of a much-publicized dispute, Mozilla software was rebranded in Debian, with Firefox forked as Iceweasel and Thunderbird as Icedove. Debian_sentence_86

The Mozilla Corporation stated that software with unapproved modifications could not be distributed under the Firefox trademark. Debian_sentence_87

Two reasons that Debian modifies the Firefox software are to change the non-free artwork and to provide security patches. Debian_sentence_88

In February 2016, it was announced that Mozilla and Debian had reached an agreement and Iceweasel would revert to the name Firefox; similar agreement was anticipated for Icedove/Thunderbird. Debian_sentence_89

A fund-raising experiment, Dunc-Tank, was created to solve the release cycle problem and release managers were paid to work full-time; in response, unpaid developers slowed down their work and the release was delayed. Debian_sentence_90

Debian 4.0 (Etch) was released in April 2007, featuring the x86-64 port and a graphical installer. Debian_sentence_91

Debian 5.0 (Lenny) was released in February 2009, supporting Marvell's Orion platform and netbooks such as the Asus Eee PC. Debian_sentence_92

The release was dedicated to Thiemo Seufer, a developer who died in a car crash. Debian_sentence_93

In July 2009, the policy of time-based development freezes on a two-year cycle was announced. Debian_sentence_94

Time-based freezes are intended to blend the predictability of time based releases with Debian's policy of feature based releases, and to reduce overall freeze time. Debian_sentence_95

The Squeeze cycle was going to be especially short; however, this initial schedule was abandoned. Debian_sentence_96

In September 2010, the backports service became official, providing more recent versions of some software for the stable release. Debian_sentence_97

Debian 6.0 (Squeeze) was released in February 2011, introduced Debian GNU/kFreeBSD as a technology preview, featured a dependency-based boot system, and moved problematic firmware to the non-free area. Debian_sentence_98

Debian 7.0 (Wheezy) was released in May 2013, featuring multiarch support and Debian 8.0 (Jessie) was released in April 2015, using systemd as the new init system. Debian_sentence_99

Debian 9.0 (Stretch) was released in June 2017. Debian_sentence_100

Debian 10.0 (Buster) was released in July 2019. Debian_sentence_101

Debian is still in development and new packages are uploaded to unstable every day. Debian_sentence_102

Debian used to be released as a very large set of CDs for each architecture, but with the release of Debian 9 (Stretch) in 2017, these have been dropped. Debian_sentence_103

Throughout Debian's lifetime, both the Debian distribution and its website have won various awards from different organizations, including Server Distribution of the Year 2011, The best Linux distro of 2011, and a Best of the Net award for October 1998. Debian_sentence_104

On December 2, 2015, Microsoft announced that they would offer Debian GNU/Linux as an endorsed distribution on the Azure cloud platform. Debian_sentence_105

Microsoft has also added a user environment to their Windows 10 desktop operating system called Windows Subsystem for Linux that offers a Debian subset. Debian_sentence_106

Packages Debian_section_11

Package management operations can be performed with different tools available on Debian, from the lowest level command dpkg to graphical front-ends like Synaptic. Debian_sentence_107

The recommended standard for administering packages on a Debian system is the apt toolset. Debian_sentence_108

dpkg provides the low-level infrastructure for package management. Debian_sentence_109

The dpkg database contains the list of installed software on the current system. Debian_sentence_110

The dpkg command tool does not know about repositories. Debian_sentence_111

The command can work with local package files, and information from the dpkg database. Debian_sentence_112

APT tools Debian_section_12

An Advanced Packaging Tool (APT) allows administering an installed Debian system to retrieve and resolve package dependencies from repositories. Debian_sentence_113

APT share dependency information and cached packages. Debian_sentence_114


  • The apt command itself is intended as an end user interface and enables some options better suited for interactive usage by default compared to more specialized APT like apt-get and apt-cache explained below.Debian_item_0_0
  • apt-get and apt-cache are command tools of the standard apt package. apt-get installs and removes packages, and apt-cache is used for searching packages and displaying package information.Debian_item_0_1
  • Aptitude is a command line tool that also offers a text-based user interface. The program comes with enhancements such as better search on package metadata.Debian_item_0_2

GDebi and other front-ends Debian_section_13

GDebi is an APT tool which can be used in command-line and on the GUI. Debian_sentence_115

GDebi can install a local .deb file via the command line like the dpkg command, but with access to repositories to resolve dependencies. Debian_sentence_116

Other graphical front-ends for APT include Software Center, Synaptic and Apper. Debian_sentence_117

GNOME Software is a graphical front-end for PackageKit, which itself can work on top of various software packaging systems. Debian_sentence_118

Repositories Debian_section_14

The Debian Free Software Guidelines (DFSG) define the distinctive meaning of the word "free" as in "free and open-source software". Debian_sentence_119

Packages that comply with these guidelines, usually under the GNU General Public License, Modified BSD License or Artistic License, are included inside the main area; otherwise, they are included inside the non-free and contrib areas. Debian_sentence_120

These last two areas are not distributed within the official installation media, but they can be adopted manually. Debian_sentence_121

Non-free includes packages that do not comply with the DFSG, such as documentation with invariant sections and proprietary software, and legally questionable packages. Debian_sentence_122

Contrib includes packages which do comply with the DFSG but fail other requirements. Debian_sentence_123

For example, they may depend on packages which are in non-free or requires such for building them. Debian_sentence_124

Richard Stallman and the Free Software Foundation have criticized the Debian project for hosting the non-free repository and because the contrib and non-free areas are easily accessible, an opinion echoed by some in Debian including the former project leader Wichert Akkerman. Debian_sentence_125

The internal dissent in the Debian project regarding the non-free section has persisted, but the last time it came to a vote in 2004, the majority decided to keep it. Debian_sentence_126

Branches Debian_section_15

Three branches of Debian (also called releases, distributions or suites) are regularly maintained: Debian_sentence_127


  • Stable is the current release and targets stable and well-tested software needs. Stable is made by freezing Testing for a few months where bugs are fixed and packages with too many bugs are removed; then the resulting system is released as stable. It is updated only if major security or usability fixes are incorporated. This branch has an optional backports service that provides more recent versions of some software. Stable's CDs and DVDs can be found in the Debian website.Debian_item_1_3
  • Testing is the preview branch that will eventually become the next major release. The packages included in this branch have had some testing in unstable but they may not be fit for release yet. It contains newer packages than stable but older than unstable. This branch is updated continually until it is frozen. Testing's CDs and DVDs can be found on the Debian website.Debian_item_1_4
  • Unstable, always codenamed sid, is the trunk. Packages are accepted without checking the distribution as a whole. This branch is usually run by software developers who participate in a project and need the latest libraries available, and by those who prefer bleeding-edge software. Debian does not provide full Sid installation discs, but rather a minimal ISO that can be used to install over a network connection. Additionally, this branch can be installed through a system upgrade from stable or testing.Debian_item_1_5

Other branches in Debian: Debian_sentence_128


  • Oldstable is the prior stable release. It is supported by the Debian Security Team until one year after a new stable is released, and since the release of Debian 6, for another 2 years through the Long Term Support project. Eventually, oldstable is moved to a repository for archived releases.Debian_item_2_6
  • Oldoldstable is the prior oldstable release. It is supported by the Long Term Support community. Eventually, oldoldstable is moved to a repository for archived releases. Debian 8 is the current Oldoldstable release.Debian_item_2_7
  • Experimental is a temporary staging area of highly experimental software that is likely to break the system. It is not a full distribution and missing dependencies are commonly found in unstable, where new software without the damage chance is normally uploaded.Debian_item_2_8

The snapshot archive provides older versions of the branches. Debian_sentence_129

They may be used to install a specific older version of some software. Debian_sentence_130

Numbering scheme Debian_section_16

Stable and oldstable get minor updates, called point releases; as of September 2020, the stable release is version 10.6, released on September 26, 2020; 2 months ago (2020-09-26), and the oldstable release is version 9.13 Debian_sentence_131

The numbering scheme for the point releases up to Debian 4.0 was to include the letter r (for revision) after the main version number and then the number of the point release; for example, the latest point release of version 4.0 is 4.0r9. Debian_sentence_132

This scheme was chosen because a new dotted version would make the old one look obsolete and vendors would have trouble selling their CDs. Debian_sentence_133

From Debian 5.0, the numbering scheme of point releases was changed, conforming to the GNU version numbering standard; the first point release of Debian 5.0 was 5.0.1 instead of 5.0r1. Debian_sentence_134

The numbering scheme was once again changed for the first Debian 7 update, which was version 7.1. Debian_sentence_135

The r scheme is no longer in use, but point release announcements include a note about not throwing away old CDs. Debian_sentence_136

Code names Debian_section_17

The code names of Debian releases are names of characters from the Toy Story films. Debian_sentence_137

Debian 8, the old old stable, was named Jessie after the cowgirl in Toy Story 2, Toy Story 3 and Toy Story 4. Debian_sentence_138

Debian 9, the current old stable, was named Stretch after the toy rubber octopus in Toy Story 3. Debian_sentence_139

Debian 10, the current stable, is named Buster, after the pet dachshund in Toy Story. Debian_sentence_140

Debian 11 will be called Bullseye, after Woody's horse. Debian_sentence_141

Debian 12 will be called Bookworm, after the intelligent worm toy with a built-in flash-light seen in Toy Story 3. Debian_sentence_142

Debian 13 will be called Trixie, after the blue plastic toy Triceratops seen in Toy Story 3. Debian_sentence_143

The unstable suite is permanently nicknamed Sid, after the emotionally unstable boy next door who regularly destroyed toys, with many of his own toys being either destroyed, have missing pieces, or replaced with parts from other toys. Debian_sentence_144

This naming tradition came about because Bruce Perens was involved in the early development of Debian while working at Pixar. Debian_sentence_145

See also: Debian version history Debian_sentence_146

Derivatives and flavors Debian_section_18

Main article: List of Linux distributions § Debian-based Debian_sentence_147

Debian is one of the most popular Linux distributions, and many other distributions have been created from the Debian codebase. Debian_sentence_148

As of 2018, DistroWatch lists 141 active Debian derivatives. Debian_sentence_149

The Debian project provides its derivatives with guidelines for best practices and encourages derivatives to merge their work back into Debian. Debian_sentence_150

Pure blends Debian_section_19

Debian Pure Blends are subsets of a Debian release configured out-of-the-box for users with particular skills and interests. Debian_sentence_151

For example, Debian Jr. is made for children, while Debian Science is for researchers and scientists. Debian_sentence_152

The complete Debian distribution includes all available Debian Pure Blends. Debian_sentence_153

"Debian Blend" (without "Pure") is a term for a Debian-based distribution that strives to become part of mainstream Debian, and have its extra features included in future releases. Debian_sentence_154

Debian GNU/kFreeBSD Debian_section_20

Debian GNU/kFreeBSD is a discontinued Debian flavor. Debian_sentence_155

It used the FreeBSD kernel and GNU userland. Debian_sentence_156

The majority of software in Debian GNU/kFreeBSD was built from the same sources as Debian, with some kernel packages from FreeBSD. Debian_sentence_157

The k in kFreeBSD is an abbreviation for kernel, which refers to the FreeBSD kernel. Debian_sentence_158

Before discontinuing the project, Debian maintained i386 and amd64 ports. Debian_sentence_159

The last version of Debian kFreeBSD was Debian 8 (Jessie) RC3. Debian_sentence_160

Debian GNU/kFreeBSD was created in 2002. Debian_sentence_161

It was included in Debian 6.0 (Squeeze) as a technology preview, and in Debian 7.0 (Wheezy) as an official port. Debian_sentence_162

Debian GNU/kFreeBSD was discontinued as an officially supported platform as of Debian 8.0. Debian_sentence_163

Debian developers cited OSS, pf, jails, NDIS, and ZFS as reasons for being interested in the FreeBSD kernel. Debian_sentence_164

It has not been updated since Debian 8. Debian_sentence_165

As of July 2019, however, the operating system continues to be maintained unofficially. Debian_sentence_166

Debian GNU/Hurd Debian_section_21

Debian GNU/Hurd is a flavor based on the Hurd microkernel, instead of Linux. Debian_sentence_167

Debian GNU/Hurd has been in development since 1998, and made a formal release in May 2013, with 78% of the software packaged for Debian GNU/Linux ported to the GNU Hurd. Debian_sentence_168

Hurd is not yet an official Debian release, and is maintained and developed as an unofficial port. Debian_sentence_169

Debian GNU/Hurd is distributed as an installer CD (running the official Debian installer) or ready-to-run virtual disk image (Live CD, Live USB). Debian_sentence_170

The CD uses the IA-32 architecture, making it compatible with IA-32 and x86-64 PCs. Debian_sentence_171

The current version of Debian GNU/Hurd is 2019, published in July 2019. Debian_sentence_172

Logo Debian_section_22

The Debian "swirl" logo was designed by Raul Silva in 1999 as part of a contest to replace the semi-official logo that had been used. Debian_sentence_173

The winner of the contest received an email address, and a set of Debian 2.1 install CDs for the architecture of their choice. Debian_sentence_174

There has been no official statement from the Debian project on the logo's meaning, but at the time of the logo's selection, it was suggested that the logo represented the magic smoke ( ) that made computers work. Debian_sentence_175

One theory about the origin of the Debian logo is that Buzz Lightyear, the chosen character for the first named Debian release, has a swirl in his chin. Debian_sentence_176

Stefano Zacchiroli also suggested that this swirl is the Debian one. Debian_sentence_177

Buzz Lightyear's swirl is a more likely candidate as the codenames for Debian are names of Toy Story characters. Debian_sentence_178

The developer of Debian also used to work for Pixar. Debian_sentence_179

Multimedia support Debian_section_23

Multimedia support has been problematic in Debian regarding codecs threatened by possible patent infringements, without sources or under too restrictive licenses, and regarding technologies such as Adobe Flash. Debian_sentence_180

Even though packages with problems related to their distribution could go into the non-free area, software such as libdvdcss is not hosted at Debian. Debian_sentence_181

A notable third party repository exists, formerly named, providing software not present in Debian such as Windows codecs, libdvdcss and the Adobe Flash Player. Debian_sentence_182

Even though this repository is maintained by Christian Marillat, a Debian developer, it is not part of the project and is not hosted on a Debian server. Debian_sentence_183

The repository provides packages already included in Debian, interfering with the official maintenance. Debian_sentence_184

Eventually, project leader Stefano Zacchiroli asked Marillat to either settle an agreement about the packaging or to stop using the "Debian" name. Debian_sentence_185

Marillat chose the latter and renamed the repository to Debian_sentence_186

The repository was so popular that the switchover was announced by the official blog of the Debian project. Debian_sentence_187

Hardware support Debian_section_24

Hardware requirements Debian_section_25

Hardware requirements are at least those of the kernel and the GNU toolsets. Debian_sentence_188

Debian's recommended system requirements depend on the level of installation, which corresponds to increased numbers of installed components: Debian_sentence_189


TypeDebian_header_cell_1_0_0 Minimum RAM sizeDebian_header_cell_1_0_1 Recommended RAM sizeDebian_header_cell_1_0_2 Minimum processor clock speed (IA-32)Debian_header_cell_1_0_3 Hard-drive capacityDebian_header_cell_1_0_4
Non-desktopDebian_cell_1_1_0 256 MBDebian_cell_1_1_1 512 MBDebian_cell_1_1_2 Debian_cell_1_1_3 GBDebian_cell_1_1_4
DesktopDebian_cell_1_2_0 512 MBDebian_cell_1_2_1 2 GBDebian_cell_1_2_2 1 GHzDebian_cell_1_2_3 10 GBDebian_cell_1_2_4

The real minimum memory requirements depend on the architecture and may be much less than the numbers listed in this table. Debian_sentence_190

It is possible to install Debian with 170 MB of RAM for x86-64; the installer will run in low memory mode and it is recommended to create a swap partition. Debian_sentence_191

The installer for z/Architecture requires about 20 MB of RAM, but relies on network hardware. Debian_sentence_192

Similarly, disk space requirements, which depend on the packages to be installed, can be reduced by manually selecting the packages needed. Debian_sentence_193

As of May 2019, no Pure Blend exists that would lower the hardware requirements easily. Debian_sentence_194

It is possible to run graphical user interfaces on older or low-end systems, but the installation of window managers instead of desktop environments is recommended, as desktop environments are more resource intensive. Debian_sentence_195

Requirements for individual software vary widely and must be considered, with those of the base operating environment. Debian_sentence_196

Architecture ports Debian_section_26

Official ports Debian_section_27

As of the Stretch release, the official ports are: Debian_sentence_197


  • amd64: x86-64 architecture with 64-bit userland and supporting 32-bit softwareDebian_item_3_9
  • arm64: ARMv8-A architectureDebian_item_3_10
  • armel: Little-endian ARM architecture (ARMv4T instruction set) on various embedded systems (embedded application binary interface (EABI))Debian_item_3_11
  • armhf: ARM hard-float architecture (ARMv7 instruction set) requiring hardware with a floating-point unitDebian_item_3_12
  • i386: IA-32 architecture with 32-bit userland, compatible with x86-64 machinesDebian_item_3_13
  • mips: Big-endian MIPS architectureDebian_item_3_14
  • mips64el: Little-endian 64 bit MIPSDebian_item_3_15
  • mipsel: Little-endian MIPSDebian_item_3_16
  • ppc64el: Little-endian PowerPC architecture supporting POWER7+ and POWER8 CPUsDebian_item_3_17
  • s390x: z/Architecture with 64-bit userland, intended to replace s390Debian_item_3_18

Unofficial ports Debian_section_28

Unofficial ports are available as part of the unstable distribution: Debian_sentence_198


  • alpha: DEC Alpha architectureDebian_item_4_19
  • hppa: HP PA-RISC architectureDebian_item_4_20
  • hurd-i386: GNU Hurd kernel on IA-32 architectureDebian_item_4_21
  • ia64: Intel ItaniumDebian_item_4_22
  • kfreebsd-amd64: Kernel of FreeBSD on x86-64 architectureDebian_item_4_23
  • kfreebsd-i386: Kernel of FreeBSD on IA-32 architectureDebian_item_4_24
  • m68k: Motorola 68k architecture on Amiga, Atari, Macintosh and various embedded VME systemsDebian_item_4_25
  • powerpc: 32-bit PowerPCDebian_item_4_26
  • powerpcspe: PowerPCSPE architecture, incompatible with PowerPCDebian_item_4_27
  • ppc64: PowerPC64 architecture supporting 64-bit PowerPC CPUs with VMXDebian_item_4_28
  • riscv64: 64-bit RISC-VDebian_item_4_29
  • sh4: Hitachi SuperH architectureDebian_item_4_30
  • sparc64: Sun SPARC architecture with 64-bit userlandDebian_item_4_31
  • x32: x32 ABI userland for x86-64Debian_item_4_32

Embedded systems Debian_section_29

Debian supports a variety of ARM-based NAS devices. Debian_sentence_199

The NSLU2 was supported by the installer in Debian 4.0 and 5.0, and Martin Michlmayr is providing installation tarballs since version 6.0. Debian_sentence_200

Other supported NAS devices are the Buffalo Kurobox Pro, GLAN Tank, Thecus N2100 and QNAP Turbo Stations. Debian_sentence_201

Devices based on the Kirkwood system on a chip (SoC) are supported too, such as the SheevaPlug plug computer and OpenRD products. Debian_sentence_202

There are efforts to run Debian on mobile devices, but this is not a project goal yet since the Debian Linux kernel maintainers would not apply the needed patches. Debian_sentence_203

Nevertheless, there are packages for resource-limited systems. Debian_sentence_204

There are efforts to support Debian on wireless access points. Debian_sentence_205

Debian is known to run on set-top boxes. Debian_sentence_206

Work is ongoing to support the AM335x processor, which is used in electronic point of service solutions. Debian_sentence_207

Debian may be customized to run on cash machines. Debian_sentence_208

BeagleBoard, a low-power open-source hardware single-board computer (made by Texas Instruments) has switched to Debian Linux preloaded on its Beaglebone Black board's flash. Debian_sentence_209

Roqos Core, manufactured by Roqos, is a x86-64 based IPS firewall router running Debian Linux. Debian_sentence_210

Organization Debian_section_30

Debian's policies and team efforts focus on collaborative software development and testing processes. Debian_sentence_211

As a result, a new major release tends to occur every two years with revision releases that fix security issues and important problems. Debian_sentence_212

The Debian project is a volunteer organization with three foundational documents: Debian_sentence_213


  • The Debian Social Contract defines a set of basic principles by which the project and its developers conduct affairs.Debian_item_5_33
  • The Debian Free Software Guidelines define the criteria for "free software" and thus what software is permissible in the distribution. These guidelines have been adopted as the basis of the Open Source Definition. Although this document can be considered separate, it formally is part of the Social Contract.Debian_item_5_34
  • The Debian Constitution describes the organizational structure for formal decision-making within the project, and enumerates the powers and responsibilities of the Project Leader, the Secretary and other roles.Debian_item_5_35

Debian developers are organized in a web of trust. Debian_sentence_214

There are at present about one thousand active Debian developers, but it is possible to contribute to the project without being an official developer. Debian_sentence_215

The project maintains official mailing lists and conferences for communication and coordination between developers. Debian_sentence_216

For issues with single packages and other tasks, a public bug tracking system is used by developers and end users. Debian_sentence_217

Internet Relay Chat channels (primarily on the Open and Free Technology Community (OFTC) and freenode networks) are also used for communication among developers and to provide real time help. Debian_sentence_218

Debian is supported by donations made to organizations authorized by the leader. Debian_sentence_219

The largest supporter is Software in the Public Interest, the owner of the Debian trademark, manager of the monetary donations and umbrella organization for various other community free software projects. Debian_sentence_220

A Project Leader is elected once per year by the developers. Debian_sentence_221

The leader has special powers, but they are not absolute, and appoints delegates to perform specialized tasks. Debian_sentence_222

Delegates make decisions as they think is best, taking into account technical criteria and consensus. Debian_sentence_223

By way of a General Resolution, the developers may recall the leader, reverse a decision made by the leader or a delegate, amend foundational documents and make other binding decisions. Debian_sentence_224

The voting method is based on the Schulze method (Cloneproof Schwartz Sequential Dropping). Debian_sentence_225

Project leadership is distributed occasionally. Debian_sentence_226

Branden Robinson was helped by the Project Scud, a team of developers that assisted the leader, but there were concerns that such leadership would split Debian into two developer classes. Debian_sentence_227

Anthony Towns created a supplemental position, Second In Charge (2IC), that shared some powers of the leader. Debian_sentence_228

Steve McIntyre was 2IC and had a 2IC himself. Debian_sentence_229

One important role in Debian's leadership is that of a release manager. Debian_sentence_230

The release team sets goals for the next release, supervises the processes and decides when to release. Debian_sentence_231

The team is led by the next release managers and stable release managers. Debian_sentence_232

Release assistants were introduced in 2003. Debian_sentence_233

Developers Debian_section_31

The Debian Project has an influx of applicants wishing to become developers. Debian_sentence_234

These applicants must undergo a vetting process which establishes their identity, motivation, understanding of the project's principles, and technical competence. Debian_sentence_235

This process has become much harder throughout the years. Debian_sentence_236

Debian developers join the project for many reasons. Debian_sentence_237

Some that have been cited include: Debian_sentence_238


  • Debian is their main operating system and they want to promote DebianDebian_item_6_36
  • To improve the support for their favorite technologyDebian_item_6_37
  • They are involved with a Debian derivativeDebian_item_6_38
  • A desire to contribute back to the free-software communityDebian_item_6_39
  • To make their Debian maintenance work easierDebian_item_6_40

Debian developers may resign their positions at any time or, when deemed necessary, they can be expelled. Debian_sentence_239

Those who follow the retiring protocol are granted the "emeritus" status and they may regain their membership through a shortened new member process. Debian_sentence_240

Development Debian_section_32

Each software package has a maintainer that may be either one person or a team of Debian developers and non-developer maintainers. Debian_sentence_241

The maintainer keeps track of upstream releases, and ensures that the package coheres with the rest of the distribution and meets the standards of quality of Debian. Debian_sentence_242

Packages may include modifications introduced by Debian to achieve compliance with Debian Policy, even to fix non-Debian specific bugs, although coordination with upstream developers is advised. Debian_sentence_243

The maintainer releases a new version by uploading the package to the "incoming" system, which verifies the integrity of the packages and their digital signatures. Debian_sentence_244

If the package is found to be valid, it is installed in the package archive into an area called the "pool" and distributed every day to hundreds of mirrors worldwide. Debian_sentence_245

The upload must be signed using OpenPGP-compatible software. Debian_sentence_246

All Debian developers have individual cryptographic key pairs. Debian_sentence_247

Developers are responsible for any package they upload even if the packaging was prepared by another contributor. Debian_sentence_248

Initially, an accepted package is only available in the unstable branch. Debian_sentence_249

For a package to become a candidate for the next release, it must migrate to the Testing branch by meeting the following: Debian_sentence_250


  • It has been in unstable for a certain length of time that depends on the urgency of the changes.Debian_item_7_41
  • It does not have "release-critical" bugs, except for the ones already present in Testing. Release-critical bugs are those considered serious enough that they make the package unsuitable for release.Debian_item_7_42
  • There are no outdated versions in unstable for any release ports.Debian_item_7_43
  • The migration does not break any packages in Testing.Debian_item_7_44
  • Its dependencies can be satisfied by packages already in Testing or by packages being migrated at the same time.Debian_item_7_45
  • The migration is not blocked by a freeze.Debian_item_7_46

Thus, a release-critical bug in a new version of a shared library on which many packages depend may prevent those packages from entering Testing, because the updated library must meet the requirements too. Debian_sentence_251

From the branch viewpoint, the migration process happens twice per day, rendering Testing in perpetual beta. Debian_sentence_252

Periodically, the release team publishes guidelines to the developers in order to ready the release. Debian_sentence_253

A new release occurs after a freeze, when all important software is reasonably up-to-date in the Testing branch and any other significant issues are solved. Debian_sentence_254

At that time, all packages in the testing branch become the new stable branch. Debian_sentence_255

Although freeze dates are time-based, release dates are not, which are announced by the release managers a couple of weeks beforehand. Debian_sentence_256

A version of a package can belong to more than one branch, usually testing and unstable. Debian_sentence_257

It is possible for a package to keep the same version between stable releases and be part of oldstable, stable, testing and unstable at the same time. Debian_sentence_258

Each branch can be seen as a collection of pointers into the package "pool" mentioned above. Debian_sentence_259

Release cycle Debian_section_33

A new stable branch of Debian gets released approximately every 2 years. Debian_sentence_260

It will receive official support for about 3 years with update for major security or usability fixes. Debian_sentence_261

Point releases will be available every several months as determined by Stable Release Managers (SRM). Debian_sentence_262

Debian also launched its Long Term Support (LTS) project since Debian 6 (Debian Squeeze). Debian_sentence_263

For each Debian release, it will receive two years of extra security updates provided by LTS Team after its End Of Life (EOL). Debian_sentence_264

However, no point releases will be made. Debian_sentence_265

Now each Debian release can receive 5 years of security support in total. Debian_sentence_266

Security Debian_section_34

The Debian project handles security through public disclosure rather than through obscurity. Debian_sentence_267

Debian security advisories are compatible with the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures dictionary, are usually coordinated with other free software vendors and are published the same day a vulnerability is made public. Debian_sentence_268

There used to be a security audit project that focused on packages in the stable release looking for security bugs; Steve Kemp, who started the project, retired in 2011 but resumed his activities and applied to rejoin in 2014. Debian_sentence_269

The stable branch is supported by the Debian security team; oldstable is supported for one year. Debian_sentence_270

Although Squeeze is not officially supported, Debian is coordinating an effort to provide long-term support (LTS) until February 2016, five years after the initial release, but only for the IA-32 and x86-64 platforms. Debian_sentence_271

Testing is supported by the testing security team, but does not receive updates in as timely a manner as stable. Debian_sentence_272

Unstable's security is left for the package maintainers. Debian_sentence_273

The Debian project offers documentation and tools to harden a Debian installation both manually and automatically. Debian_sentence_274

AppArmor support is available and enabled by default since Buster. Debian_sentence_275

Debian provides an optional hardening wrapper, and does not harden all of its software by default using gcc features such as PIE and buffer overflow protection, unlike operating systems such as OpenBSD, but tries to build as many packages as possible with hardening flags. Debian_sentence_276

2008 OpenSSL vulnerability Debian_section_35

In May 2008, a Debian developer discovered that the OpenSSL package distributed with Debian and derivatives such as Ubuntu made a variety of security keys vulnerable to a random number generator attack, since only 32,767 different keys were generated. Debian_sentence_277

The security weakness was caused by changes made in 2006 by another Debian developer in response to memory debugger warnings. Debian_sentence_278

The complete resolution procedure was cumbersome because patching the security hole was not enough; it involved regenerating all affected keys and certificates. Debian_sentence_279

Value Debian_section_36

The cost of developing all of the packages included in Debian 5.0 Lenny (323 million lines of code) has been estimated to be about US$8 billion, using one method based on the COCOMO model. Debian_sentence_280

As of 2016, Black Duck Open Hub estimates that the current codebase (74 million lines of code) would cost about US$1.4 billion to develop, using a different method based on the same model. Debian_sentence_281

Forks and derivatives Debian_section_37

A large number of forks and derivatives have been built upon Debian over the years. Debian_sentence_282

Among the more notable are Ubuntu, developed by Canonical LTD. and first released in 2004, which has surpassed Debian in popularity with desktop users; Knoppix, first released in the year 2000 and one of the first distributions optimized to boot from external storage; and Devuan, which gained attention in 2014 when it forked in disagreement over Debian's adoption of the systemd software suite, and has been mirroring Debian releases since 2017. Debian_sentence_283

See also Debian_section_38


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