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Linux has been garnering strength for a number of years now, and its growing popularity drives more and more users to make the jump. The first step on that path is to pick a distribution. This is an important decision, because each distribution has its own peculiarities, and future migration costs can be avoided if the right choice is made from the start.
Debian GNU/Linux is a “generic” Linux distribution that fits most users. The purpose of this book is to show its many aspects so that you can make an informed decision when choosing.

1. Why This Book?

Linux has gathered a fair amount of media coverage over the years; it mostly benefits the distributions supported by a real marketing department — in other words, company-backed distributions (Ubuntu, Red Hat, SUSE, Mandriva, and so on). But Debian is far from being a marginal distribution; multiple studies have shown over the years that it is widely used both on servers and on desktops. This is particularly true among webservers where Debian is the leading Linux distribution.
The purpose of this book is to help you discover this distribution. We hope to share the experience that we have gathered since we joined the project as developers and contributors in 1998 (Raphaël) and 2000 (Roland). With any luck, our enthusiasm will be communicative, and maybe you will join us sometime…
The first edition of this book (in 2004) served to fill a gaping hole: it was the first French-language book that focused exclusively on Debian. At that time, many other books were written on the topic both for French-speaking and English-speaking readers. Unfortunately almost none of them got updated, and over the years the situation slipped back to one where there were very few good books on Debian. We hope that this book, which has started a new life with its translation into English (and several translations from English into various other languages), will fill this gap and help many users.