Debian Linux, one of the oldest and most influential operating systems based on the Linux kernel, is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2023. Since its inception in 1993, Debian has grown into a robust, stable, and widely used distribution that supports many hardware platforms and devices. Debian is also the basis for many other popular distributions, such as Ubuntu, Knoppix, PureOS, and Tails.
Debian was founded by Ian Murdock, who announced the project on August 16, 1993, as “the Debian Linux Release”. The name Debian was formed as a portmanteau of the first name of his then-girlfriend (later ex-wife) Debra Lynn and his own first name. Murdock envisioned Debian as a community-driven project that would adhere to the principles of free software and provide a high-quality operating system that would be easy to install, configure, and maintain.
Debian’s first version (0.01) was released on September 15, 1993, and its first stable version (1.1) was released on June 17, 1996. Since then, Debian has released 12 major versions, each named after a character from the Toy Story films. The current stable version is Debian 12 “Bookworm”, which was released on June 11, 2023.
Debian is known for its commitment to free software, its extensive software repository, its rigorous quality control, its flexible package management system, its smooth upgrade process, its support for multiple architectures and processors, its high stability and security, its democratic governance structure, and its vibrant and diverse community.
Debian is free software in both senses of the word: it is free of charge and free of restrictions. Debian follows the Debian Social Contract, the Debian Constitution, and the Debian Free Software Guidelines, which define the criteria for software to be included in the main section of the Debian archive. Software that does not meet these criteria can be placed in the contrib or non-free sections, which are clearly separated from the main section. Users can choose whether to enable these sections or not.
Debian has one of the largest software repositories among Linux distributions, with over 59,000 packages available in the main section alone. These packages cover a wide range of applications, from desktop environments and web browsers to scientific tools and games. Debian also provides tools for developers to create their own packages and extend the software available in the Debian archive.
Debian provides smooth upgrades between major versions without requiring users to reinstall their system or lose their data. Users can simply update their sources.list file to point to the new release name and then run apt update and apt full-upgrade commands to perform the upgrade. Debian also provides security updates for each release during its lifetime through the Debian Security Team and the Long Term Support Team.
Debian is a vibrant and diverse community that consists of more than 1,000 official developers and many more volunteers and contributors from around the world. Debian welcomes anyone who wants to join the project regardless of their skills, background, or location. Debian has a code of conduct that defines the expected behavior and values of the community members. Debian also organizes various events and activities to foster collaboration and communication among the community, such as Debian conferences, Debian sprints, Debian parties, Debian mentors, Debian outreach, etc.
Debian is a remarkable project that has achieved a lot in its 30 years of existence. It has provided a reliable, secure, and versatile operating system that has been used by millions of users and has inspired many other distributions. It has also created a strong, diverse, and passionate community that has contributed to the advancement of free software and the common good. Debian is more than just an operating system; it is a way of life.
Happy birthday, Debian! Thank you for your service and your spirit!