Debian GNU/Linux is a stable, complete Linux distribution that has the best software update system of any Linux distribution eWEEK Labs has seen—which helps explain why Debian is one of the worlds most widely used Linux distributions. According to a Netcraft Ltd. report covering July 2003 to January 2004, Debian was the fastest-growing distribution among Linux Web servers, and Debian trailed only Red Hat Inc.s Red Hat Linux in the number of Web sites it serves.
And yet, because its the product of the noncommercial Debian Project, Debian doesnt garner the same level of attention as do distributions from Red Hat and Novell Inc.s SuSE Linux division.
More important, Debian doesnt enjoy the same number of independent hardware and software vendor certifications that SuSE Linux or Red Hat Linux do, a fact that contributes to Debians low profile among enterprise Linux implementations. Also, Debian is a community-supported distribution, and its project mailing lists are the primary source of support.
However, for organizations unwilling or unable to pay for enterprise Linux—Red Hat Enterprise Linux, for example, ranges from $179 to $3,000 per year per machine—Debian offers a solid, capable alternative with broad hardware platform support.
One indicator of Debians attractiveness is the number of other Linux distributions based on it. Several well-known Linux distributions, including Lindows, Xandros and Knoppix, trace their lineage to Debian.
Also under way is a project based on Debian called UserLinux, which is aimed at building a free, enterprise-stable Linux distribution that includes certifications, service and support options. Although UserLinux is still early in development, the project has produced several alpha packages that are available at www.userlinux.com.