Debian is a free operating system (OS) for your computerDebian uses the Linux kernel (the core of an operating system), but most of the basic OS tools come from the GNU project; hence the name GNU/Linux.
Debian GNU/Linux provides more than a pure OS: it comes with more than 3950 packages, precompiled software bundled up in a nice format for easy installation on your machine.
What is Debian? Debian is a linux distribution. A distribution is a set of packages, utilities and scripts alongside the kernel itself. It is the differences in these and not the core kernel itself that creates the different 'flavours' of linux that you so often here about. One of the hardest choices, then, for the aspiring linux geek is to ascertain what is the best distribution for their needs. Why choose Debian? Debian differs from other linux distributions in that it is entirely non-commercial. Debian has a set of guidlines called the Debian Free Software Guidelines to which a package must conform for it to be accepted as part of the distribution. Packages that fail to meet the criteria are moved to a non-free distribution area. Packages that are free but depend on non-free software are moved to a contrib area, and packages that cannot be exported due to export or patent restrictions are moved to a non-US area. Products typical for the non-US area would be strong encryption software which are not allowed to be exported from the US, as they are regarded as "munitions". Debian has an extensive bug tracking system developed and mainained by themselves. Often you will get an answer to your query witing 15 minutes (or less) for FREE and by the people who developed it! Debian are not subject to commercial pressure are not bound by typical IT deadlines and it is for this reason that Debian releases are renowned for their quality. Debian have developed their own package management system that makes use of .deb files. The depednency resolution, and options from the available front ends to the "dpkg" utility make maintaining a debian system a breeze once you have got used to the plethora of options. Debian's strong package management, easy upgradability and reputation for good security makes it popular with ISPs and devout linux advocates alike. Why not choose Debian
? (Versatility is a double edged sword) Debian can be a bit of a scary operating system for the linux newbie as the user is asked a set of questions when installing specific software instead of default values being set (like in other distributions). Also the install interface is perhaps more daunting than the likes of Redhat or Mandrake but this is so that versatility and flexibility of the distribution are not undermined.