Thank you for considering using Debian to run your machine. If you aren’t quite convinced why you should try Debian, consider the following:
- It is maintained by its users.
- If something needs to be fixed or improved, we just do it.
- Unparalleled support
- Mail sent to the mailing lists often gets answers within 15 minutes (or less), for free, and by the people who developed it. Compare that to typical phone support: hours spent on the phone, for money, only to get someone who doesn’t know the system well enough to even understand your question.
- You wouldn’t be alone in your choice
- A wide range of organizations and individuals use Debian. See our Who’s Using Debian? page for a description of some high-profile sites which use Debian, and have chosen to submit a short description of how they use Debian and why.
- The best packaging system in the world.
- Tired of old files from software three versions old cluttering your system? Or installing a piece of software only to find it causes your system to crash because of software conflicts? Dpkg, Debian’s endured packaging system, takes care of these issues for you.
- Easy installation
- If you have heard that Debian is difficult to install, then you haven’t tried Debian lately. We are constantly improving the installation process. You can do the installation directly from CD, DVD, Blu-ray, USB stick or even over the network.
- Incredible amounts of software
- Debian comes with over 43000 different pieces of software. Every bit of it is free. If you have proprietary software that runs under GNU/Linux or GNU/kFreeBSD, you can still use it – in fact, there may even be an installer in Debian that will automatically install and set up everything for you.
- Packages well integrated
- Debian surpasses all other distributions in how well its packages are integrated. Since all software is packaged by a coherent group, not only can all packages be found at a single site, but you can be assured that we have already worked out all issues regarding complicated dependencies. While we feel that the deb format has some advantages over the rpm format, it is the integration between the packages that makes a Debian system more robust.
- Source code
- If you are a software developer, you will appreciate the fact that there are hundreds of development tools and languages, plus millions of lines of source code in the base system. All of the software in the main distribution meets the criteria of the Debian Free Software Guidelines (DFSG). This means that you can freely use this code to study from, or to incorporate into new free software projects. There are also plenty of tools and code suitable for use in proprietary projects.
- Easy upgrades
- Due to our packaging system, upgrading to a new version of Debian is a snap. Just run apt-get update ; apt-get dist-upgrade (or aptitude update; aptitude dist-upgrade in newer releases) and you can upgrade from a CD in a matter of minutes or point apt at one of the over 300 Debian mirrors and upgrade over the net.
- Multiple architectures and kernels
- Currently Debian supports an impressive number of CPU architectures: alpha, amd64, armel, hppa, i386, ia64, mips, mipsel, powerpc, s390, and sparc. It also runs on GNU Hurd and FreeBSD kernels besides Linux, and with the debootstrap utility you will be hard-pressed to find a device that can’t run Debian.
- Bug tracking system
- Debian’s bug tracking system is publicly available. We don’t try to hide the fact that software doesn’t always work the way users want. Users are encouraged to submit bug reports and are notified when and why the bug was closed. This system allows Debian to respond to problems quickly and honestly.
If you are not already a Debian user, you may also enjoy the following benefits:
- There are many cases of machines that run for over a year without rebooting. Even then, they are only rebooted due to a power failure or a hardware upgrade. Compare that to other systems that crash multiple times a day.
- Fast and easy on memory
- Other operating systems may be as fast in one or two areas, but being based on GNU/Linux or GNU/kFreeBSD, Debian is lean and mean. Windows software run from GNU/Linux using an emulator sometimes runs faster than when run in the native environment.
- Drivers for most hardware is written by GNU/Linux / GNU/kFreeBSD users, not the manufacturer.
- While this can mean delays before new hardware is supported and no support for some hardware, it enables support for hardware long after the manufacturer has stopped producing it or gone out of business. Experience has shown that Open Source drivers are usually much better than proprietary ones.
- Good system security
- Debian and the free software community are very responsive to make sure that fixes of security problems get into the distribution quickly. Usually, fixed packages are uploaded within a few days. The availability of source code allows the security in Debian to be evaluated in an open setting which prevents poor security models from being implemented. Also, most free software projects have peer-review systems, which prevents potential security problems from being introduced in essential systems in the first place.
- Security software
- Unknown to many, anything sent over the net can be read by any machine between you and the receiver. Debian has packages of the famous GPG (and PGP) software which allows mail to be sent privately between users. In addition, ssh allows you to create secure connections to other machines which have ssh installed.
Of course, Debian is not perfect. There are three areas that are common causes of complaints:
Lack of popular commercial software.
- It is quite true that some popular software is not available for Debian. There are, however, replacement programs for most of those, designed to mimic the best features of the proprietary programs, with the added value of being free software.
Lack of office programs such as Word or Excel should no longer be a problem, because Debian includes three office suites composed entirely of free software, LibreOffice, Calligra, and GNOME office applications.
Various other proprietary software is coming out in greater numbers, too, as more companies discover the power of GNU/Linux / GNU/kFreeBSD and its largely untapped market with a rapidly growing user base (since GNU/Linux and GNU/kFreeBSD are freely distributable, sales figures can’t be used for user estimates. Best estimates are that GNU/Linux has 5% of the market, giving 15 million users as of early 2001).
Debian is hard to configure.
- Note that this says configure, not install, as some people find the initial installation of Debian easier than Windows. A lot of hardware (printers for example) could be made easier to set up, though. Also, some software could have a script that would walk the user through the configuration (at least for the most common setups). This is an area that is being worked on.
Not all hardware is supported.
- Particularly, really new, really old, or really rare hardware. Also hardware that is dependent on complex
driversoftware that the manufacturer only supplies for Windows platforms (software modems or some laptop wifi devices for example). However, in most cases, equivalent hardware is available that does work with Debian. Some hardware is not supported because the vendor chooses not to make the hardware specifications available. This is also an area that is being worked on.
If the above isn’t enough to convince you to use Debian, consider the following: low cost (as little as the cost of a network connection), easy installation, and true multi-tasking that could easily double your productivity. How can you afford not to try it?