This document is a tool for people evangelizing Debian to potential users with little or no Debian knowledge. It's specifically aimed towards volunteers staffing Debian booths at conferences, but would probably also be useful for making presentations at ?LUGs or other user groups as well as schools or community functions.

The document is structured in question-and-answer format. It's broken down into sections for easy reflection.


What is Debian?

     Debian is a Linux-based operating system consisting entirely of
     Free Software.

What features does Debian have?

     Debian 3.0 includes almost 9000 software packages. They range
     from mail, database, and Web servers to desktop environments like
     KDE and Gnome. There are tools for programming, scientific computing,
     clusters, graphics, multimedia, mail, news, and calendaring.
     All this is tied together with Debian's advanced packaging tool,
     'apt', which makes installation and upgrades really easy.

Who makes Debian?

     Debian is created and maintained by a group of more than 800 volunteer
     developers. Software in the Public Interest, Inc. (SPI) is a non-profit
     organization that manages Debian resources and finances.


What do you mean by 'Free Software'?

     Free Software, to Debian, is software that's free to install and
     use, free to share, free to explore and free to modify. We have a
     set of guidelines called the 'Debian Free Software Guidelines'
     (DFSG) that help us decide what software is appropriate for Debian.

What about non-free ('proprietary', 'commercial') software?

     Although Debian itself is only made up of Free Software, we
     recognize that users may need or want to use non-free software.
     We support infrastructure for packaging and delivering non-free
     software with apt, and we include software for accessing non-free 


What platforms does Debian run on?

     Debian has official ports for the following architectures:

     * i386 - Most 'IBM PC'-style computers
     * m68k - Motorola 680X0 processors, including older Macintoshes,
              Suns, Amigas and Ataris
     * sparc - Sun ["SPARCstations"]
     * alpha - DEC Alpha chip, used in older servers
     * ppc - ["PowerPC"] chip, used in modern Macintoshes and some older
             IBM workstations
     * arm - ARM chips, used in NetWinder and some hand-held computers
     * mips - MIPS chips like SGI workstations
     * hppa - PA/RISC architecture, used in Hewlett Packard machines
     * ia64 - New 64-bit Intel processors
     * s390 - IBM S/390 servers

     There are unofficial ports to these platforms:
     * amd64 - the new AMD 64-bit processors
     * sh - Hitachi SuperH processors

Which versions of major software does Debian use?

     * Linux 2.4.26 and Linux 2.6.7
     * KDE 3.2, GNOME 2.6
     * OpenOffice.Org 1.1.2
     * ["XFree86"] 4.3.0
     * Mozilla 1.7.1, Mozilla Firefox 0.9.1
     * Vim 6.3, Emacs 21.3 / ["XEmacs"] 21.4

Does Debian conform to the Linux Standard Base?


What's the difference between Debian and Fedora (Red Hat Linux)?

What's the difference between Debian and Gentoo?

What's the difference between Debian packages (.deb) and RPM packages (.rpm)?

     RPM has no intrinsic ability to handle package dependencies 
     (software you need to install to get other software 
     installed and working.) It will complain if you have failed
     to install libraries or files that packages need and makes 
     you install them yourself. apt/dpkg handle dependencies on a
     package-level, not file-level basis, and apt can resolve 
     dependencies recursively so that a single command can pull 
     in a package and all of its precise dependencies.

What's the difference between apt and rpm?

What's the difference between apt and Fedora's YUM?

What's the difference between apt and Gentoo's Portage?


What is the next version of Debian?

     The next version of Debian is codenamed 'sarge', and will
     probably have version number 3.1.

When will sarge be released?

     Probably by September. As of July 31 our 'base' and 'standard'
     packages have already been frozen, meaning no further changes
     will be accepted without manual intervention by the archive
     staff, so we are well on our way.


Some factoids about the Debian organization.


History of Debian and the Debian project.


Some common critiques and responses.

     the previous debian installer asked a lot of hardware details
     this led to a group of debian-derived distributions that included
     autodetection of hardware, the new installer is the answer to that
     from the programmers of debian. It is now really user friendly,

Debian, is by far one of the hardest to install but is one of the best linux platforms around to date ;)!