Debian Linux: The Universal Operating System

In 1993, the American software engineer Ian Murdock set out to build a new, truly open-source Linux distribution, developed firmly in the spirit of both GNU and Linux. A distribution to be meticulously and conscientiously assembled, being supported an maintained in like fashion. Ian along with a small, committed group of Free Software hackers began what has turned into one of the largest Linux projects in history know as The Debian Project.

Debian, pronounced /ˈde.bi.ən/, comes from the names of the creator of Debian, Ian Murdock, and his wife, Debra.

The Debian Project is a cooperative group bent on creating the free, (openly shared), operating system known as Debian. The core of the Debian operating system utilizes the Linux kernel which was started by Linus Torvalds and is currently supported by thousands of programmers across the globe.

So as the typical end-user, what does all this mean? Simply put, it amounts to one of the most widely used, free operating systems today, Debian. An operating system that is concerned about your privacy, security and freedom by default, supported by a wonderful community.

Here are some of the reasons to use Debian. This list is by no means complete, but a brief collection of rationalizations which I feel sets apart Debian from other Linux distributions:

  • Is very, very easy to install.
  • Has a highly configurable desktop environment.
  • Is fast and easy on memory resources. In fact running some Windows applications under WINE at times run faster than when under Windows itself.
  • Natively supports GPG email encryption.
  • Is easy to use, but allows you to do complex things if you want to.
  • Debian has unparalleled support which is  maintained by its users.
  • Is the most stable Linux distribution available. Even the debian-testing version is often more stable than Ubuntu.
  • Massive amounts of easily upgradable, free software (over 43000 pieces of software), using an unsurpassed, well-integrated packaging system.
  • Offers very good system security. In fact in my experience, at times it seems as Debian prioritizes security over all else.

It would be unfair and unbiased if I did not share some of the potential drawbacks as well:

  • Some hardware, such as certain printers can be difficult to configure. If these certain hardwares are not configured at the point of installation, they will need to be addressed manually. This is rare, but it can happen; not as often today as it has been in the past.
  • Some hardware is not supported. As I mentioned earlier, old, new, and unique hardwares may not be supported. Also, sometimes hardware vendors don’t make make specifications to their hardware available.
  • The lack of commercial software. This is mostly a result of Debian’s strict adherence to its free software policy. However, there are often free programs that mimic the most valued features of proprietary softwares. (Open Source Alternatives)

In my opinion, there are are a few rare instances where Debian can be difficult, but not so much more than any other operating system. However, there are many many more reasons to use Debian. Coming in at no cost, with a very easy installation which provides a true multi-taking environment, there is no good reason to not give Debian a shot.

Default Debian Desktop under Gnome

Default Debian Desktop under Gnome

If you are interested in using a very stable, free operating system, which is developed and well supported by it’s own users strictly under the GNU protocol, then there is really no other option than to use Debian Linux. More and more people every day are moving away from  invasive operating systems, such as Windows and Apple, whom support unscrupulous business practices with total disregard for your freedom of privacy, in order to acquire massive profits. If you are interested, and are thinking to install Debian, I will provide a couple of very helpful links below.

Finally, if you do decide to install and use Debian, here are a few thing you might consider doing strait off to make things a bit easier for you. All of this is done via the command line, so I separate plain text from the command strings in ‘orange‘.

  • Granting yourself SUDO access will keep you out of the root terminal and from the need of using the root password.

apt-get install sudo
usermod -a -G sudo <username>

  • The Synaptic Packaging Tool allows you to install/remove software packages in a friendly fashion; gdebi is an easy to use tool that installs deb packages; gksu is a graphical front-end for su; apt-xapian-index provides maintenance and search tools for a xapian index of Debian packages. To install all these applications at once, use the following (omit any you don’t want).

sudo apt-get install synaptic apt-xapian-index gdebi gksu

  • Enable flashplayer for Icewaesle (the Debian fork of Firefox):

sudo apt-get install flashplugin-nonfree

  • Install Icetea, a browser pluging that executes java scripts:

sudo apt-get install icedtea-plugin

  • A few applications I use that you might find useful as well:
  • evince : PDF reader
  • qalculate : Calculator
  • clementien : Audio player
  • gimp : A photoshop-like application
  • gnome-disk-utility : Disk Utility

sudo apt-get install evince qalculate clementine gimp gnome-disk-utility

That should give you a fairly decent start. Now explore Debian, and tailor it to your specific needs. You will quickly find there is little reason to continue supporting restrictive, paid operating systems that care only for your hard-earned money, and little for your privacy and security.

This is the first of a four-article series I am preparing to help people in their quest for freedom from surveillance whilst using the internet.

  1. Debian Linux: The Universal Operating System
  2. Whonix: What Is It?
  3. Oracle’s Virtual Box: What Is It?
  4. The Anonymous Personal Computer

 

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